The first stop on our Luanshya-Lake Tanganyika trip was at Kundalila Falls. This falls is actually in Central Province but is quite close to the border with Northern Province as you head up the Great North Road from Kapiri Mposhi toward Tanzania.
Located near Kanona, the falls can be reached by a short drive to the south off the main highway. In this very scenic area of hills, the Kaombe River falls 70-m (220-ft) into a gorge, breaking into smaller veils of spray as it does so. We did not have time to visit the deep swimming pool at the foot of the falls or its picnic site, but it made for a great break in the drive!
If you look closely at the photo, you can see, between two trees at the centre-bottom of the photo, an Australian hitch-hiker that we had picked up to help him on his way to Tanzania!
Located near Kasama, the Chilubula Mission has a very interesting story behind it. Joseph Dupont, a French Catholic 'White Father' was posted to the Lake Tanganyika area in the mid-1890s to see what he could do the bring Christianity to the local Bemba tribes. Dupont was a bit of a character, having quit his seminary studies in 1870 to join the French army when the Franco-Prussian War broke out. He fought with distinction and then returned to his studies 2 years later. Following completion of his studies, he spent time in Tunisia and the Congo before finally arriving in Zambia.
Here, Dupont established the Chilubula Mission to convert the war-like Bemba people to Christianity. He used unusual techniques like taking the young students on hunting expeditions while giving them the catechism as they went along! His non-stop energy, medical skills and authoritarian manner impressed the local Bemba chiefs and they accepted him into their circle. The turning point in his relations with the Bemba came in 1898, when the paramount chief died after telling Dupont that he wanted him to be his successor! Taking the chief at his word, Dupont declared himself the inheritor of the chief's wives and children.
Using his considerable influence, Dupont was able to get the lesser Bemba chiefs to pledge their allegiance to the British authorities, who were trying to exert their control over modern-day Zambia and Malawi at that time. In gratitude, the British gave him temporary power as a Native Authority, with jurisdiction over all villages within ten miles of Chilubula.
When we were there, the old Mission was immaculately kept, although no longer used very often.
The Kalambo River forms the boundary between Zambia (right) and Tanzania in this area where the high plateau drops sharply down into the Great Rift Valley.
Along the 6-mile stretch of river here, the elevation (including the 700-foot waterfall) drops by 3000 feet to the level of Lake Tanganyika.
Other than the small concrete viewing platform that allows you to almost 'hang' out over the abyss, there were no other barriers at all when I visited this site. There were also no other tourists, making it all the more special to enjoy the majesty of this site and listen to the roar of the water from the gorge below. Judging from recent reports that I have read, the isolated and 'all-to-yourself' situation has not changed much in the 30 years since I was there!
Approaching the waterfall along a trail at the top of the gorge (which was fun in itself!), you can see the huge plume of spray rising from the forest below as you walk along the edge. If you enlarge this photo, you can barely make out a small white blob to the right of the falls (Zambian side) with something even smaller sticking up from it - that is me standing in a concrete viewing platform at the lip of the Falls!
It was really exhilarating to stand so close to the edge of such a dramatic drop and watch the water pour over the edge! The moist climate in the forest at the foot of the falls also makes this a breeding location for Africa's famous Maribou Storks!
Leaving the viewing platform, we strolled (or should I say 'edged our way') over to the actual precipice where the Kalambo River begins it's long decent to the the forest below!
It was quite a rush to stand so close to a drop-off of this magnitude!
This photo also shows the gorge through which the River runs for the last few miles before it reaches Lake Tanganyika. The headland on the left is Zambia and is roughly from where you begin your walk toward the falls.
A short drive from Mbala brought us to Kalambo Falls, the most impressive sight by far that I saw on this whole trip! At 220-m (700 feet), this 2nd highest waterfall in Africa plunges off the escarpment and into the gorge below in one continuous leap. It was a sight to behold out in the middle of nowhere with not another soul around to enjoy it!
This photo shows the first view of the Falls that you will get as you start the trail walk along the edge of the gorge. In all my travels since, this is still one of the most impressive sights that I have ever seen (along with Victoria Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Ireland's Cliffs of Moher)!
After leaving Kasama, we finally decended from the high ground of Northern Province into the Great Rift Valley and reached the shores of 420-mile long Lake Tanganyika at the small village of Mpulungu. Located near the border with Tanzania and at the very southern end of the lake, this sleepy village is reputed to be where South, Central and East Africa meet!
The temperature was much hotter at this lower elevation and the pace of life was very easy-going! We took some walks along the stoney shore of this fabled lake, the 2nd deepest in the world at 4700 feet (1430 m), to see if we could cool off a bit! Of course, the great depth is the result of plate tectonics as the Kenya/Somali section gradually breaks free of the remainder of Africa.
Some of the village huts of Mpulungu can be seen on the distant point in the photo.
Near the shore of Lake Tanganyika, we came across these impressive old ruins. It turns out that they are the remnants of a church built by the London Missionary Society in 1895-96, just about the time that Bwana Moto Moto was also moving into the area! These relics are the oldest surviving stone-built church in Zambia.
It's demise came in 1906 when an outbreak of sleeping sickness forced the construction of a new church 10 miles inland and away from the tsetse flies of the coast.
While we were visiting the Chiluluba Mission, we decided to cool off with a refreshing dip in the Lwombe River. Here, I am joined by a volunteer from Nova Scotia who travelled to Africa with me and was posted to the secondary school in Kasama.
Laurence's wife had had a baby girl six days earlier, so we helped him celebrate the great event during our evening stop-over!
The current in the Lwombe was flowing well, because I normally did not do too much swimming or wading unless the water was moving fast. This was because of the Bilharzia parasite (schistosomiasis) from snails that infested still-water and would invade your bloodstream through your skin. Once in the body, the parasites lay 200-3000 eggs per day for the duration of their 5-year life span! I did catch the disease at one stage, but took some pills to clean the old system out!!
This amazing Catholic church was built in 1902, during the time of the energetic Father Joseph Dupont. The Bemba people were so enamoured of his activities that they called him 'Bwana Moto Moto' - the 'Fiery One' (no relation!).
Dupont's authoritarian manner and total integration into the ways of the Bemba eventually led to conflict with the Church authorities in Europe, leading to his forced resignation in 1911. After spending a few years in France, he retired to Tunisia where he spent the remainder of his life until his death in 1930, aged 80-years.
In 1997, on the centenary of his consecration in Chilubula, plans were made to return his remains to Zambia. In December, 2000 'Bwana Moto Moto' was interred at the church he had built almost 100-years earlier in his distant 'homeland'.
After wrapping up our activities in Kasama, we drove west toward Kasenga for only about 20 miles (33 km) so we could visit the impressive display of Chisimba Falls.
After parking the car, we waded up the fast-flowing and rocky Lwombe River to reach the waterfalls. The falls shown here is actually the first of a series of three waterfalls, located with a nice rain forest on the western side of the river and a campsite just above the falls on the opposite bank.
In the years since I was there, a small hydro-electric dam has been developed above the falls, but enough water is released to allow the falls to continue to impress.