What to see & do
Although not as impressive as Victoria Falls, the Ngonye Falls are spectacular, and if the former didn't exist then they would certainly draw visitors. The geology of the area is the same as that of Victoria Falls, and these falls are formed in a similar process with erosion taking advantage of cracks in the area's basalt rock.
Ngonye's main falls form a rather spectacular semicircle of water, with lots of smaller streams and falls around the edges. Some of these create little pools, ideal for bathing, though be careful to remain here as the main river has too many crocodiles to be safe. They are at their most spectacular when full, from January to around July.
A guide at the National Park office will escort you on a 15-minute walk to the falls. Seeing the falls is easy, though getting a really good view of them in their entirety is much harder. Your guide may simply walk you to the nearest viewing point on the western bank, and tell you that's all there is to see.
S/he has a point. However, most of the main falls cannot be seen from the bank, and you certainly won't appreciate them fully. To get a really good view, you must cross on to an island in the river in front of the falls – which requires you to go a little downstream, and to find a boat.
There used to be a small metal boat/ferry, which had been made by Brother Hugh at the Sioma Mission, but on my last visit that seemed to have gone. There was certainly a new motor boat moored nearby, owned by Mutemwa Lodge – although that seemed only to be for the use of their guests.
Eric and Mieke Van den Broele visited in 2003 and reported that a few local families had started a mokoro service across the river, and that they would guide visitors on a beautiful one-hour walk (each way) to the best views of the Ngonye Falls. To reach these shuttle services. The ferry and guide cost Kw5,000 per adult, plus an extra Kw10,000 to keep an eye on your vehicle.
The rapids below the falls are graded as a class III white-water run and Maziba Bay used to take rafting trips here which run them in a couple of hours. It's not really very serious rafting, especially after a trip below Victoria Falls, but is fun and makes a lovely afternoon activity.
The raison d'être
of coming to the camps on the Upper Zambezi always used to be fishing – for bream and tiger fish. Now the area has a wider attraction, but still many visitors are attracted here by the excellent fishing. The Zambezi River here is generally wide, although in parts of its course between Senanga and Sesheke it becomes shallow, is broken by forested islands and rocky outcrops and you'll also find waterfalls and rapids. So there are conditions suitable for challenging fly-fishing and spinning. Tiger fish are the most sought-after challenge, whilst various bream species, particularly the predatory yellow-belly and the thin-face breams, make good sport fishing in the faster sections. In the slower sections, fishermen find the more sedentary three-spot, red-breast and greenhead bream.
For a more gentle interaction with some of the wildlife, this area has some excellent, undisturbed birdwatching – with various species frequenting different areas of the river and the surrounding vegetation. A few of the area's 'specials' include rock pratincoles, seen darting about the rocks of many sections of rapids; African finfoots, which lurk at the water's edge in areas of thick, overhanging vegetation; African skimmers, which nest on some of the river's exposed sand-banks; and Pel's fishing owls resting in some of the old riverine trees. You'll also have chance to spot Schalow's and Lady Ross's turacos, yellow-spotted nicator, narina trogon and wood owls (Mutemwa Lodge area is particularly good for these).