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  1. #1
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    Default Help needed with Northern Zambia trip planning

    We are planning a trip to the northern areas of Zambia in June/July 2016 and would love advice from anyone who has visited or knows the areas.
    Rough itinerary is as follows:

    Starting from Mkushi, travel to Kasanka NP and Bangweulu Swamps, then head west via Mansa and Kawambwa to take in some of the northern waterfalls - Mumbulumba,Ntumbachushi, Lumangwe, Kabwelume and Chishimba before heading to Lake Tanganyika (Ndole Lodge?) for a couple of days, then south again via Kasama to Shiwa Ngandu and Kapishya Hot Springs before heading back to Mkushi.

    Would love to know the following:

    • Road conditions on this route


    • Places to refuel and get food on the route


    • Accommodation options near Mansa, Kawambwa, Kasama - pref self catering or B&B or guesthouse - we will camp in between but like to have a few nights of relative comfort in between.
    • Is this do-able in 13 days given that we don't want to stay only one night in each place - probably a couple of nights each at Kasanka and Bangweulu, Ndole Lodge and Kapishya?
    • Anything else worth seeing/doing in this area?

    Would be great if the Zambian members especially could give some feedback, but anyone with experience of the area - your feedback would be really valued.


    Thanks so much
    Gillie
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  2. #2
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    Cool

    Hi,

    Just have a look at Anne and Stan Weakley's blog:

    www.slowdonkey.com

    They travelled this year more or less all the places you want to go to and give most comprehensive information (had some days together with them at Kigoma and Arusha, Tanzania)..

    Cheers..

    Eric

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks Eric,
    I have had a look at Anne and Stan's blog but they only visited 2 of the waterfalls so I'm hoping to get information about others. Also I'd like info on other possible options for staying at Lake Tanganyika as we don't want to go through Mbala.
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  4. #4
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillied View Post
    Thanks Eric,
    I have had a look at Anne and Stan's blog but they only visited 2 of the waterfalls so I'm hoping to get information about others. Also I'd like info on other possible options for staying at Lake Tanganyika as we don't want to go through Mbala.
    Hi,

    Then sorry, I cannot help, I did not visit more places than Anne and Stan..

    I already think of returning next year to these places on a slower pace, then up to Rwanda Uganda and Kenya again, maybe to Ethiopia.

    Cheers..

    Eric

  5. #5
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    Default

    Hi

    Did most of the areas you requiring advice on in May/June this year.

    Give me about 2 weeks and I will try and answer most of your questions.

    Kind regards

    John

  6. #6
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    Thanks John,
    Would really appreciate that especially as we are going in June/July so weather and road conditions should be similar hopefully. Will look forward to hearing from you.

    Anyone else with info, please feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions. The more I know that better the planning and the trip will be
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  7. #7
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    Default

    One more question I have is regarding the border crossing into Zambia. Some of our team are not keen on the ferry crossing at Kasane, due to the high volumes of traffic, and have suggested crossing into Zim at Pandamatenga, going up to Vic Falls and crossing at Vic Falls. Would love to hear opinions from anyone who has done either or both of these especially regarding time taken, road conditions in Zim, corruption by border officials etc. We crossed once before at Vic Falls and it was a palaver as the customs is in Livingstone and you have to go there to clear your vehicle after doing passport control at the bridge. They only open at 9 and then we had a 2 hour wait before we finally got on the road at 11. As we would like to do Livingstone - Mkushi in one day, I am keen to get an early start so would prefer to do border crossing as quickly as possible.
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillied View Post
    ............. As we would like to do Livingstone - Mkushi in one day, I am keen to get an early start so would prefer to do border crossing as quickly as possible.
    Doing a border, which ever one, then driving up to Lusaka, fighting the horrific Lusaka traffic and then trying to get to Mkushi on a dangerous road most likely in the dark is certainly not advisable............
    Livingstone to Lusaka is roughly 6- 7hrs, Lusaka traffic from South to North can be 1-2hrs, Lusaka to Kapiri 2-3hrs and then Kapiri to Mkushi 1hr if not longer
    So shortest time is about 10hrs and longest is 13hrs, with 13hrs on a weekday the most likely.

    Trust me its not worth trying to do it all in one day
    Last edited by mfuwefarmer; 2015/10/21 at 03:22 PM.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the helpful info Bertie. Would you perhaps know of any B&B or guesthouse type accommodation between Livingstone and Lusaka. We could perhaps do the border crossing and at least part of the trip in one day.
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  10. #10
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    This is a nice place Rory & Dori, Masuku Lodge, Choma
    http://www.masukulodgezambia.com/

  11. #11
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    Hi Gillie,
    I am not sure if you have seen this report of mine from a trip to Zambia in July 2014. We visited Kundabwika, Kabwelume and Lumangwe Falls and also stayed at Ndole Lodge.
    Malcolm

    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...d.php?t=199232

  12. #12
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    Hi Gillie,
    Sure one does probably travel more slowly with a trailer but I doubt it makes that much difference. (Maybe Bertie will comment as he is familiar with those roads) Maybe because we were travelling alone I was a bit more cautious as the last thing you want to do in those areas is damage your vehicle.

    If you want to see the waterfalls, which I think are worthwhile, then you might as well continue to Ndole Bay. The visibility was terrible when we were there so we have enjoyed visits to Lake Malawi and Lake Kariba more.

    Craig will also be able to supply you with fuel at Ndole Bay if you advise him beforehand.

    I have not studied your proposed routing in detail but doubt that it will be worthwhile/enjoyable doing it in 13 days unless you turn it into a rally.
    Malcolm

  13. #13
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    Thanks Malcolm, your opinions and comments are most appreciated. Not knowing the road conditions it is quite difficult to know if we are fitting too much in to that amount of time. I think I'll maybe pm Bertie and see what he thinks too, especially if he knows those roads well. Anyone else with an opinion please feel free to comment.
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  14. #14
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    Gillied, the roads in Zambia will generally be bad to very bad and will from now on deteriorate further due to lack of funding & the general economic crises in the Country.

    The Northern Province roads are not in good shape and who knows after the rains in what condition it will be.

    But that is not a reason not to visit.....just plan your trip properly and allow for slow going roads. As I said before take it easy and dont race.

  15. #15
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    Default John

    Hi Gillied

    Its good tar all the way from Mkushi to just after Kawambwa, from there to Mporokoso and to Ndole Bay is ungraded, potholed gravel, average speed about 40km/h.
    Unfortunately there is no alternative road out of Ndole Bay (as far as I know), so its the same slow road back to Mporokoso. From Mporokoso heading south now is good tar all the way to just before Kapisha where it changes to reasonably good gravel passing Shiwa Ngandu all the way to the Great North Road.
    Fuel is available at Mansa, Kawambwa, Mporokoso, Kasama and Mpika.
    There are Shoprites in Mansa and Kasama.
    All the waterfalls you mentioned have campsites, Lumangwe being the best, try and get the site at the lip of the falls!
    Kapisha and Ndole Bay (highly recommended) have both lodge accomodation as well as camping. Kasama has Thorn Tree Lodge and Kasembo Guest House, Mutinondo about 75km south of Mpika is well worth a visit and has lodging and camping. There are also waterfalls within walking distance of the lodge, they also sell books on waterfalls in Zambia, comprehensive information is available from the owner.

    I think 13 days for this trip is really pushing it!

    Regarding border posts, I have always found Katima/Wenela border to be an absolute breeze, but may be too much of a detour for you!

    John

  16. #16
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    Thanks John for that information on the road conditions - that's exactly what I was looking for. Interested to hear that you also think 13 days will be pushing it a bit. I think I will have to take another look at the itinerary and travel distances. Your information will help a great deal with planning. If you've done that route, I'd love to hear what you might leave out. For example - do you think it would be worth visiting Bangweulu Swamps in July, and the waterfalls too - will they still have plenty of water at that time of the year?
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  17. #17
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    Default John

    Gillied

    I did virtually your same trip in June this year (plus a lot more) and there was lots of water over the falls. I would imagine it would be similar in July.
    Wouldn't leave anything out.
    Friends of mine did Shoebill Island in July this year and said it was fantastic.
    I didn't get there on my last trip.

    John

  18. #18
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    We really don't want to leave anything out, but our time is limited to 3 weeks to get there and back and see things, so we'll have to plan carefully. Would be interested to hear if folk think that North Luangwa was worth a visit. We'd try to stay in a camp outside the park and go in possibly for a couple of days. Is it very costly to enter the park daily? What campsites are there near the park? I found one listed under Camp Zambia and have enquired but so far no response to my enquiry. Does anyone know if Camp Zambia is still operational? If not I'd appreciate any other suggestions.
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  19. #19
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    NLNP has community campsites at the NW and SE entrances. Both are good, but personally I wouldn't waste time going there!
    SLNP is much nicer and a lot more game.
    There's good and reasonably priced accommodation just outside the gate at Croc Valley campsite/lodge on the Luangwa River.
    Its also possible to drive from Mutinondo (get details from them) southwards through SLNP and out the main gate.

  20. #20
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    Hi,

    We visited this region and 3 of 5 waterfalls you mentioned. Please let me some time to answer on all your questions.

    Gunther

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