About 180km north of Chipata, well off any obvious route for travellers, lies the small, pleasant town of Lundazi. It's perched high above the eastern side of the Luangwa Valley, and close to a quiet border crossing to Malawi.
Lundazi has no huge supermarkets, but plenty of small, local shops where you can buy most essentials. It's a friendly place and there are a lot of farming areas around it, so fresh produce is available. It also has a few banks, a post office, a police station, an airstrip, assorted places of worship (Christian and Moslem), a mission station, a convent – and a fairytale Norman-style castle with a dungeon, turrets and battlements.
The easiest way to reach Lundazi is from Chipata. Then it's just 180km of (very potholed) tar, accessible in a sturdy 2WD if you've got the patience. This drive will take about five hours in a strong high-clearance 4WD; longer if you need to be gentle with your vehicle.From the north
reaching Lundazi is trickier, requiring a 4WD and even more time and patience. Travelling northeast from Mpika, you pass the turning to Isoka, on the left. Shortly afterwards is a turning to the right, signposted to the 'airport bar', which you take. This will lead you through Ntendere and up into the mountains. After about 75km, there's a fork and you turn right, heading almost south to reach Muyombe 50km later. It's a rocky road on the escarpment with many gullies, but the scenery is beautiful. A high-clearance 4WD is essential.
From Muyombe, continue south towards Nyika Plateau and the border with Malawi, dropping down from the mountains as you do so. After around 25km, just before the Malawi border, turn right (southwest) on to a dirt road. This is generally good, though sandy in parts. After shadowing the border for some 70km, there's a fork and Lundazi is signposted to the left, whilst Chama is about 35km away if you take the right turn. Lundazi is now about 110km south of you; making the whole journey a very full day's drive from Isoka.From the Luangwa Valley
there are two roads. Both are impassable during the rains, and require hours of hard 4WD travel in the dry season. The better of them leaves the main road on the east side of the valley about 20–25km north of Luambe National Park. It then climbs up the escarpment directly to Lundazi, about 130km away. It's a five-hour drive.
The second turns eastwards around the northern boundary of South Luangwa National Park and then cuts up the escarpment through Lukusuzi National Park. It then joins the Chipata–Lundazi road some 60km south of Lundazi (120km north of Chipata).
Where to stay
There's only one place of choice, but if the castle's full then the town has several other small, basic resthouses. Lundazi Castle Hotel
Dick Hobson's excellent Tales of Zambia
(see Further Reading
) tells of how the district commissioner in the late 1940s, Errol Button, needed to build a resthouse here. Tourism was then taking off and visitors needed to stop between Nyika Plateau and the Luangwa Valley (the same could be said today!).
He designed and had built a small castle in Norman style, with thick walls and narrow slits for archers, overlooking a lake. It has a dungeon, high turrets at each corner and battlements all around. It was christened 'Rumpelstiltskin' after a fairytale character favoured by his daughter, and cost a mere £500 at the time. The castle quickly became very popular, and was extended in 1952 to accommodate more visitors.
Now the castle remains a small hotel. It is very basic, but despite this it is often fully booked. It has 14 rooms, sharing four bathrooms with hot and cold running water. There is electricity here after 17.00, but not usually earlier in the day. Very simple traditional meals are served, normally a choice of meats with nshima
for both lunch and dinner. It's the best place around, but like any castle can be very cold in the winter.