Apr 032009

Zambia – Angola – Namibia – Botswana – Zimbabwe – Mozambique

The legendary Zambezi River is in itself a spectacle and is the namesake of this pristine wilderness. Along its 2 700 km course, the Zambezi fertilizes the Barotse Floodplains and plunges over the Ngonye Falls. Here, the mighty Zambezi River reaches a 1 500m wide basalt dyke which creates a magnificent waterfall. Above the falls, the river is knotted with reed and wooded islands, forcing the waters into a maze of fast flowing channels. Part of the fun is an adventurous boat ride up the gorge through the rapids to get to the Ngonye Falls and taking a picnic basket along to spend the day swimming in the rock pools and having lunch overlooking the site. The total privacy at Ngonye Falls is amazing – you hardly ever see anyone else there.

Ngonye Falls | Zambia

Ngonye Falls | Zambia

This Ku-omboka Ceremony takes place annually on the Barotse Floodplains at the end of March. The name Ku-omboka signifies “to get out of the water onto dry ground”. Every year towards the end of the rainy season, as the flood plain of the upper Zambezi valley rises, the Lozi King makes a ceremonial move to higher ground. The drums reverberate as a signal to his people who pack their belongings into Mokoro’s and canoes and the whole tribe leaves their dry season home en masse. The chief in his barge, with his family, and a hundred strong troop of traditionally dressed, hand-picked paddlers take the lead. In about six hours they cover the distance between the dry season capital Lealui, and the wet season capital Limulunga. There, the successful move is celebrated with traditional singing and dancing. This ceremony dates back more than 300 years, when the Lozi people broke away from the great Lunda Empire to settle in the upper regions of the Zambezi. The vast plains with abundant fish are ideal for settlement, but the annual floods demand adaptation, so each year the Lozi move to higher ground until after the rainy season.

Further below, the river becomes 1 km wide. It is shallow, slow flowing and the massive indigenous trees form a piece of Africa, beautiful and tranquil. After the confluence with the Chobe River at Kasane, the Zambezi reaches Victoria Falls and replenishes the massive Lake Kariba before reaching the Lower Zambezi. Here, a myriad of islands have formed, creating a home and feeding ground for an incredible amount of diverse wildlife.

Situated on the banks of the Zambezi River in the south-eastern part of Zambia, opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, the Lower Zambezi National Park occupies 4 092 km², with 120 km of river frontage. Its distinguishing features are the rugged escarpment to the north, the river itself, and its numerous islands, lagoons and floodplains which attract most of the wildlife. There are approximately 50  mammal species and 400 bird species which thrive in the Park, as well as a wide variety of spectacular trees, grasses and flowers. Only licensed operators may conduct safaris in the area, and only the few lodges situated within the Park may conduct river & canoeing trips there on a daily basis.

The lower Zambezi’s 650 km (400 mi) from Cahora Bassa to the Indian Ocean are navigable, although the river is shallow in many places during the dry season. This shallowness arises as the river enters a broad valley and spreads out over a large area. Only at one point, the Lupata Gorge, 320 km (200 mi) from its mouth, is the river confined between high hills. Here it is scarcely 200 m wide. Elsewhere it is from 5 to 8 km (3 to 5 mi) wide, flowing gently in many streams. The river bed is sandy, and the banks are low and reed-fringed. At places, however, and especially in the rainy season, the streams unite into one broad fast-flowing river.  About 160 km (100 mi) from the sea the Zambezi receives the drainage of Lake Malawi through the Shire River. On approaching the Indian Ocean, the river splits up into a number of branches and forms a wide delta. Each of the four principal mouths, Milambe, Kongone, Luabo and Timbwe, is obstructed by a sand bar. A more northerly branch, called the Chinde mouth, has a minimum depth at low water of 2 m at the entrance and 4 m further in, and is the branch used for navigation. 100 km (60 mi) further north is a river called the Quelimane, after the town at its mouth. This stream, which is silting up, receives the overflow of the Zambezi in the rainy season. The delta of the Zambezi is today about half as broad as it was before the construction of the Kariba and Cahora Bassa dams controlled the seasonal variations in the flow rate of the river.

The Zambezi Delta covers about 12,000 km². The town of Chinde is on its northern edge, and from there it is about 100 km to Quelimane. The Reserva do Marromeu borders the delta’s southern reaches, about 165 km up the coast from Beira.


Location (from 11º 18′ 59.86″ S, 24º 10′ 28.71″ E to 18° 49′ 60″ S, 36° 16′ 60″ E)

View Zambezi River in a larger map

service providers

Service Providers

Established in May, 2008, the Barotse Tiger Camp is Angle Zambia’s latest innovation, offering fishing enthusiasts and guest’s world-class tented luxury accommodation and unparalleled guided fly fishing adventures in one of the most pristine and remote freshwater fishing locations on earth. Hidden within the upper reaches of the mighty Zambezi’s 20 000 km2 Barotse Flood plain, this unique setting is nestled within a secluded paradise of lush bush land and untouched river waters teeming with trophy Barotse tiger fish as well as several species of bream.

Tucked away along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River in Western Zambia lies a place of serene beauty and splendor: Mutemwa Lodge.

Maziba Bay is 70kms upriver from Mutemwa Lodge, a stone’s throw south of the second largest waterfall on the Zambezi river – Ngonye Falls, where the Zambezi is narrow and has deep fast flowing water, with cascading rapids and lots of black volcanic rock. The fishing at Maziba Bay is excellent and you stand a good chance of catching a big tiger.

Nina Lodge - Khibbu Chalet

Nina Lodge – Khibbu Chalet

Only a few hours scenic drive from Zambia’s gateway to the Victoria Falls and Livingstone International Airport, nature loving adventurists and keen fishermen get to enjoy Nina Lodge. Built using local materials, the individual chalets are comfortable and well-equipped, yet blend unobtrusively into the primitive feel of this perfect slice of wild Africa. Each is totally self-contained with en suite bathing and catering, decking area with integral barbecue – called a ‘braai’ down here – and its own extensive al fresco dining area. From May to November the Zambezi is low and still retains its warmth, leaving the Zambezi Tiger Fish in fighting mood. Also frequently seen amongst the catch are Barbel and Yellow Belly (Nembwe), Three-spot and Thin-face Bream. Whilst we encourage ‘Catch & Release’ for specimen fish, the Bream and other edible fish are headed for the pot. The birdlife of this area of Zambia is legendary for the sheer diversity it offers, and three hundred and something species have been recorded here by visitors. Kayaking, visits to Victoria Falls & Livingstone, boat trips to Chobe National Park, excursions to the Sioma Falls & Sioma Ngweze National Park make up some of the exciting activities to be undertaken.

With good views up- and downstream, Sioma River Camp is on the Zambezi River, close to the main Sesheke-Senanga road just south of the Sioma (Ngonye) Falls, in southwest Zambia.

The Lounge at Sioma River Camp

The Lounge at Sioma River Camp

The Sioma Bush Camp is situated southwest of the Sioma (or Ngonye) Falls, in the Game Management Area, and close to the north-western border of the Sioma Ngwezi National Park.

Situated in the tranquil heart of the Katambora Forest, on the awe-inspiring Zambezi River, the Zambezi Royal Chundu Safari Lodge captures the magnetic allure of the mystique found in the Victoria Falls area, spot lighting the diverse bird and wildlife.

The leading adventure activity operator at Victoria Falls, Shearwater Adventures specializes in providing innovative adventure and safari activities for thrill seekers and adventure enthusiasts alike.

The Stanley and Livingstone All-Suite Hotel, is situated on the outskirts of Victoria Falls on the Nakavango Estate, a 6 000-acre private reserve. Enjoy watching elephants, kudu and waterbuck at the waterhole just 25 meters away.

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is set high on a plateau, which forms a natural boundary to the unfenced Zambezi National Park, and is just four kilometres from the majestic Victoria Falls.

Built under traditional grass thatch, nestling on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river, the Hotel Mercure A’Zambezi River Lodge affords the guests the perfect retreat to relax and unwind whilst enjoying the tranquil ambience and renowned services. The hotel also invites you to experience the Amulonga restaurant – an authentic African open air thatched roof restaurant on the edge of the Zambezi river.

Sussi & Chuma is named after David Livingstone’s faithful companions and consist of an intimate lodge and two exclusive houses, both of which are situated to make the most of the amazing views that the sweeping Zambezi River provides. The lodge is only 15 km from the border town of Livingstone in Zambia.

Gorges Lodge has a heart-stopping location atop the escarpment of the Zambezi River gorge a few miles downstream from Victoria Falls. The ten individual stone and thatch cottages are set on the edge of the gorge over 800 feet above the Zambezi River. A special feature at the lodge is an all day tiger fishing excursion to Sidinda Island Lodge, approximately 50 miles further downstream. This white water and exclusive use area provides some of Zimbabwe’s best tiger fishing. The tiger fish range from 2 to 18 pounds.

Ilala Lodge is ideally situated and is the closest to the Victoria Falls as well as the town centre. The National Park borders the front of property and wild animals often graze on the hotel lawns with the spray of the falls in the background.

Perched on the tip of Lake Kariba’s Siansowa Peninsula, Kariba Bush Club is a relaxed, family orientated lodge.

Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park

In the middle of the unspoiled African bush, on the northern banks of the Zambezi River, you will discover Baines’ River Camp. Named after the famous artist and explorer John Thomas Baines, this safari lodge offers a wide variety of activities in and around the Lower Zambezi National Park, including specialized photographic workshops, birding weeks and fly fishing clinics, each hosted by internationally renowned expert guides who are passionate about the African bush.

The Chongwe River forms the boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park, a 4,000 km² pristine sanctuary teeming with game. The Chongwe River Camp overlooks the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers, directly opposite Mana Pools. Game viewing here is exceptional, and activities include a choice of game drives in open safari vehicles, guided walking, canoeing or motor boating. Serious fly fishermen may wish to bring their own rods and/or tackle. Species include bream and chessa, various catfish such as Vundu and of course Tiger Fish.

Resting peacefully on the banks of the Zambezi River, under a grove of evergreen Mahogany trees, Chiawa Camp holds the prime position in the heart of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. It is at this very spot, where David Livingstone ventured through nearly 150 years previously, where the Cumings Family in 1989 created the very first photo safari operation in the Lower Zambezi National Park and what has since become one of Africa’s most desirable, sought after safari destinations. Constructed mainly of natural materials Chiawa Camp blends in effortlessly with its idyllic surroundings and it is here where guests receive the very best Africa has to offer. A stunning thatched lounge/bar area with upstairs viewing deck provides one of the best views of the Zambezi.

Deep in the game-rich Lower Zambezi National Park, there is the secluded, intimate Zambezi Kulefu Camp. Kulefu – “The faraway place” – is located on a permanent channel of the Zambezi, shaded by massive Winterthorn Acacias providing a cool and relaxing location to watch the world go by.

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