Here the Kalungwishi River forms the boundary between Luapula and Northern provinces of Zambia, and also the eastern boundary of Lusenga Plain National Park. This has three major waterfalls in a relatively close succession – Lumangwe, Kabweluma and Kundabwika.
If you've time to spend here then there are miles of pleasant walking upstream, and a small self-contained cottage here, Cascade Cottage. Perhaps consider staying here and using a day to explore the other falls further downstream.
Other falls on the Kalungwishi include Lumangwe, Kabweluma and Chimpembi. Reached by heading off the Kawanmbwa–Mporokoso Road, crossing the Kalungwishi, turning left and driving for 13km, Lumangwe is the most straightforward of the falls to find. Kabweluma, on the other hand, 5km further on, is the most beautiful and dramatic, and a definite must for anyone in the vicinity.
Where to stay
You can camp at Lumangwe or Kundabwika Falls, or very nearby there's a small cottage:Cascade Cottage
There are two ways to reach the cottage. One is off the road to the Lumangwe Falls from the main road. However, the easiest way is to follow a clear sign to 'Cascade Cottage Tourist Accommodation' which is about 300m from the Chimpempe pontoon on the road between Kawambwa and Mporokoso. The cottage is about 2km from the sign; just follow the tracks.
The cottage is simply furnished, though has more home comforts than you would expect in such an isolated area. It has four beds and two sofa-beds (which can be used separately or joined to make a double bed). Linen and mosquito nets are provided if requested, and the kitchen has cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery.
There's a solar-powered system of lights and the cottage has running water which is powered ingeniously by a paddle wheel driven by the Kalungwishi River. There are plans to set up a simple methane generator for the kitchen, making the cottage completely environmentally self-contained.
There is a small cascade in the river nearby, Chimpempe Falls. The main Lumangwe Falls are 5km away, Kabweluma Falls 10km. A caretaker, called Happy, usually looks after the cottage. He will guide you around if you want to walk down to Kabweluma (for which he appreciates a tip).
The cottage is owned by an Australian couple, Ron and Lyn Ringrose, who now live mostly in Lusaka (mobile tel: 01 772052). They came out to Zambia on an aid project in 1992, and were offered the land near the waterfalls by the local chief, in return for their help for the local community. Despite being due back in Australia in 1995, they've stayed in Zambia ever since.
To reach these, turn off the Kawambwa-to-Mporokoso road about 2km east of the Chimpempe pontoon – which crosses the Kalungwishi River about 65km from Kawambwa and 86km from Mporokoso. Note that this only operates from 06.00 to 18.00.
The falls are clearly signposted on the north side of the road, and the outside of a bend. The track bends left and continues for about 9km to the falls themselves. There's a caretaker here and you may have to sign in. It is possible to camp here and quite safe.
Lumangwe is a solid white-and-green wall of water, 100m across and 40m high. The noise is deafening and the air is filled with fine mist. The energetic might want to climb to the bottom of the falls in order to reach the bottom of the rainbow that's seen on most days. (There are no pots of gold here though…) It's perhaps the most spectacular of the waterfalls in this region and bears comparison with Victoria Falls.
These falls are 5km downstream from Lumangwe, which makes a pleasant walk for two or three hours through the forest. Ask for precise directions at Lumangwa. The vegetation is quite lush and thick, and you'll emerge to see a most magnificent waterfall – a curving curtain of water 20m high and 75m across. Below is a deep pool, which itself flows over a second fall of 20m. On the left are two cataracts falling the whole 40m; on the right water pours down the cliff face. Look about you and this makes 180º of water – with the cataract, the main waterfall, and the waterspout. It's a lovely spot.
Though on the same river, these falls are accessed from a different road. The normal route starts about 63km from Mporokoso and 88km from Kawambwa, where there is a junction. Most maps mark this as a place called Mukunsa. To reach Kundabwika take the road northwest that doesn't lead to either Kawambwa or Mporokoso.This passes through villages for about 30km, and then descends into less populous woodlands. After about 45km from Mukunsa there is a left turning with two small signs saying 'Hydro' fixed to trees either side of a track. This leads down to the river, where there are plenty of places to camp. However, this road was washed out in about February 1999, and has not yet been repaired. Now the best route to these falls is to drive 65km north of Nchelenge to the town of Mununga, on the banks of Lake Mweru. From there it's 35km to the falls on an OK dirt road, turning south at n 9°11.401'S; 29°19.887'E to continue for 6km to the Upper Falls. The main falls are a further 1km of clambering over boulders.
These are the last major falls on the Kalungwishi before it flows into Lake Mweru. To get the best view of the falls, walk to the top of the rock outcrop. It's not possible to get very close to the falls, but there are good long-distance views from here. Kundabwika is a geometrical waterfall, a 25m-wide rectangular block of green and white water. The camping here is superb, quiet and safe with no villages nearby, just the occasional fisherman.
Mumbuluma Falls II
These falls lie 3km from the Kundabwika Falls turn-off, between Nyausa and Lumpa villages. Just before Nyausa School and past Kakoma Stream there's a 1km winding path to the falls. To be honest, it's little more than a rapid (they're also known as Mwesa Rapids) but it's quite scenic, with views of the Lusenga Plains Game Park.
There is said to be another set of falls, Yangumwila, on the Itabu River. From Lumangwe Falls, head towards Mporokoso. The falls lie a three-hour walk away from Chiwala Primary School. Ask around for details.