On the way from Kapiri Mposhi up the Great North Road, Mkushi (GPS: MKUSHI) is not just another stop on the TAZARA line. It is also the centre for a prosperous farming area, with a number of large commercial farms in the vicinity keeping cattle and cultivating cash crops. There are shops, fuel, a post office, two banks and a police post, as you'd expect in a small town this size.
Where to stay
Just outside Mkushi, two farms operate small, pleasant guesthouses for passing travellers:Forest Inn
(10 chalets) Shenton Safaris, PO Box 810064, Kapiri Mposhi; tel: 05 362003; fax: 05 362188; email: email@example.com
Forest Inn is just beside the Great North Road, about 30km south of Mkushi, and is clearly marked. Approaching from Kapiri Mposhi, the inn is on the right side of the road, about 7km past the small bridge over the Lunsemfwa River. About 2km beyond the inn is the main farm.
This is a small camp run by the Shentons, owners of Kaingo Lodge in the South Luangwa (see page 299). There are ten thatch-on-brick chalets with simple wooden furniture and electric lights; most also have en-suite (hot) showers and toilets. These are secure, clean and functional rather than opulent, but set in large grounds – almost like a large garden with cultivated plants and trees, cut grass, and even an old steam engine. The gate is always closed, but there's a gatekeeper and guard here 24 hours.
The farm's fresh produce is available, and there is a restaurant, bar and lounge area – complete with a real fire for the cooler winter evenings. Outside are barbecue facilities and a campsite. If you're not just passing through, then the inn has a grass badminton court and signposted trails for short walks.Sweetwater Guesthouse
(7 rooms) PO Box 840041, Mkushi; tel/fax: 05 362245; evenings tel: 05 362271; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Run by Vernon and Michelle Cantley on their working farm beside the Mkushi River, this small guesthouse is signposted about 123km northeast of Kapiri Mposhi, on the road to Mpika. After passing Mkushi, the turning is left from the road, and the guesthouse is about a kilometre up the hill. Approaching from the north, this is about 90km from Serenje, just after you cross the Mkushi River.
Sweetwater has seven rooms, in a row, all with en-suite shower and toilet. One is a family room and sleeps four, the others are all doubles. The furniture is simply made, using local timber, and furnishings are basic. Electricity is from an enterprising combination of the farm's own small hydro-electric system, solar power and a small generator.
Behind the rooms a bar/dining room doubles as a lounge. Everyone normally eats together, but at separate tables. The food is copious and fresh, with home grown vegetables and beef. Real coffee on request!
Most people use this as an overnight stop, but if you have more time then there are some interesting walks (with good birding) in the local area, and you are within reach of Kundalila Falls