The Great East Road
The Great East Road leads from Lusaka to Chipata, the Luangwa's 'gateway'. That is about 570km of tar which is good in places, and potholed in others. It's a long drive. Hitchhiking is possible, though even leaving Lusaka early in the morning might not get you to Chipata by evening. Buses leave Lusaka for Chipata frequently, from early morning through to late afternoon, and take 10–12 hours. Expect them to cost around Kw13,000.
There's relatively little en route, and just beyond Chipata is the little–visited town of Lundazi, notable mainly for its anachronistic castle.
Luangwa River area
There's one place to stay on the west bank of the Luangwa River, close to the Great East Road. It's the obvious place to sleep between Lusaka and the Luangwa (or Malawi):Bridge Camp
This camp, operating under Changa Changa Adventures, consists of a wide range of accommodation from twin and three-bunk chalets to family chalets with four beds. All the chalets are very basic: thatched roofs with windows of gauze (chicken-wire), separate ablutions and sometimes questionable electrics. There's also a bar and a small pool (which was empty when I last visited).
Activities include hiking to the confluence of the Lunsemfwa and Zambezi, followed by canoeing back the following morning; trekking in the Lunsemfwa Gorge, and fishing. Bridge Camp will probably not be the highlight of your trip, but it does make a convenient stopover.
Little more than a dot on the map, this small town does have a campsite and a simple motel.
Where to stayNyika Motel
This comes recommended as a clean and safe place to stay, and as serving a decent meal of chicken and rice if requested.Zulu's Kraal Campsite
I received news of a campsite here from its manageress, Nellars Tembo. She wrote that the camp offers campsites and a couple of simple A-frame chalets, each sleeping four people. Hot showers and a fully equipped kitchen are also available for campers to use. Perhaps this is just the place for breaking the long journey from Lusaka to the Luangwa Valley?
This is another fairly nondescript town on the way to Chipata from Lusaka. Katete is home to a large mosque, a useful BP filling station and half a dozen grocery shops. There's also a Smart Choice Restaurant and Takeaway
, a Catholic church on the southern side of the road at the western end of town and, perhaps of most interest to travellers, a couple of small resthouses, including, on the north side of Katete a couple of kilometres from the centre, the basic Tikandone Guest House