Untamed Zambia offers a diverse kind of adventure, leading you deep into the virgin forests, down to the tranquil freshwater rivers. You’ll often find contact with wild animals and can discover unique prehistoric paintings. When it comes to exploring Africa, Zambia is filled with wildlife and natural wonders that you don’t want to miss.
About 33% of the land is made up of national parks, and the pleasant surroundings in the city of Livingstone highlight the historical sites that mix well with modern buildings. It is worth mentioning that it is a landlocked country that is circled by 7 countries:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo
The country may be completely landlocked, but it’s a water-rich country with access to 3 major rivers: the Kafue, the Luangwa, and the Zambezi, the fourth-longest river in Africa.
Though traveling to Zambia may be a challenge because of its dilapidated roads and old facilities, the rewards of coming to this country are mesmerizing wildlife experiences – so if you’re planning a trip to Zambia, we recommend checking out the special charm of the 19 most beautiful waterfalls. Read on for the ultimate guide to these spectacular falls!
The best waterfalls are in the Northern Province, which is very remote and unspoiled. Exploring the region without a tour guide is quite an adventurous ride; the pathways may feel like hunting down a treasure chest from a map as there are no concrete roads to follow.
Not to worry, the local people are usually helpful around tourists – but you can always hire a tour guide to help you out. Most of the waterfalls are considered sacred places for locals, so it’s always best to treat the place with the utmost respect by following its traditions.
As a quick guide, the 5 major waterfalls to visit in Zambia are:
- Victoria Falls
- Ngonye Falls
- Kundalila Falls
- Lumangwe Falls
- Kalambo Falls.
The other waterfalls mentioned below are some of the minor or small waterfalls that are often overlooked – but they’re are also worth visiting for a quick stopover or campout. While they may be small, they promise an out-of-this-world experience that is mysterious, historically rich, and sacred.
Table of Contents
The glorious Victoria Falls – known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or ‘The Smoke that Thunders’ – is the greatest falling curtain of water in the world. It’s measured approximately 108m high, which is double the height of Niagara Falls in Canada.
It has two locations since it forms the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The misty Victoria Falls can be visited via Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe or Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia. It’s one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and among the largest waterfalls, spanning about 1.7km.
If you wish to see the entire length of the grand waterfall, you’ll need to visit it via both entrances from the two countries. For a more thrilling experience, take an exhilarating chopper flight over Victoria Falls. In this spectacular sight, columns of spray, heavy mist, and rainbows are endless – and seeing this grandeur only costs $30.00 for international visitors.
Joining tour guides is very common in touring the waterfalls. Try to find the best deals online on tour websites or find some of the best bargains once you reach Zambia. The tour packages you may find include a wide selection of fun activities for solo travelers and families, including:
- White water rafting
- Helicopter flights
- Devils pool tours
- Sunset cruises
- An overnight safari tour
Whichever fits your budget and preference, there’s surely something for every kind of traveler.
The neighboring Ngonye Falls, known as Sioma Falls, is known for its low and wide falls that are often compared to the majestic Victoria Falls. Its 20m tremendous drop can be quite astonishing, as you can feel and hear the sounds of water rushing down the stream.
The Ngonye Falls is remembered for its unique horseshoe-shaped falls. It’s only a few hundred kilometers away from Victoria Falls and is located in the small town of Sioma. The best way to visit the waterfall is by staying at Maziba Bay Lodge, which is about 5km south of Sioma.
Although you can visit the falls at any time of year, the best months to come are still in June or July, when you can witness the wild animals that are forced to come out and drink water from the flowing rivers in the dry season.
Take a river canoe downstream for a clear look at the picturesque waterfall, and when the water is low, you can also enjoy a picnic near the river.
Kundalila Falls, also known as “Crying Dove”, is a waterfall located on the Kaombe River, east of the Great North Road. The falls got their name after the cooing doves that frequent the area.
This awe-inspiring sight is filled with natural wonders in every corner, as it’s surrounded by a natural botanical garden. Staying at the top of the remarkable waterfall, you’ll have a glimpse of the breathtaking Luangwa Valley. At the foot of the fall is another scenic setting where you can swim in a crystal clear deep pool, surrounded by different types of wildflowers.
After taking the plunge from the pool, you can explore the nearby forest – and if you’re lucky, you can meet some blue monkeys as well. To experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, international visitors will have to pay $15.00/person. However, those with children should take extra caution – as the surroundings have no fences, and most of the paths lead to a deep fall.
Lumangwe Falls is located by the Kalungwishi River in the Northern Province. It’s a hidden gem that has a similar depth of falling water to Victoria falls. The fall is a 35m drop, and it’s approximately 100m wide.
If you visit the waterfall in April or May, the spray of the falls could go as high as 100m into the air. To get there, you’ll have to get off the main road between Kawambwa and Mporokoso, but expect the roads to be pretty bumpy as you drive. If you’re curious about local myths, consider this as a side trip or a short stopover for only $15.00/person or $5.00/vehicle.
Local legend has it that this tranquil place is guarded by a great snake spirit, residing all the way to Kabweluma Falls. To get a better look, head over to the base of the waterfall where you will find a small rainforest that is considered a sacred place for the locals.
Not only will you get an impressive view from the base of the fall, but you’ll also discover prehistoric art from the rocks and see hundreds of frogs living in the area.
Kalambo Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Africa and among the highest in the world, is included in UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage Sites. It’s also known as an important archaeological site, having more than 250,000 years of evidence of prehistoric human activity.
The Kalambo Falls is situated at the southeast end of Lake Tanganyika, about 32km from the town of Mbala. Moreover, it serves as a border between Zambia and Tanzania. When you reach this place, you’ll find yourself looking at a single stream of sparkling falls with a 221m drop.
For experienced hikers, the top of the falls can be reached by about a 2-hour steep hike and a 4-hour relaxing hike in the rocky trails. If you’re lucky, you might encounter the nesting site of the rare Maiou stork, a large African bird from the stork family Ciconiidae.
Most tourists prefer reaching the waterfall via a 4×4 through a dirt road. To experience the Kalambo Falls, it’ll cost $15.00 – which includes a campsite with amenities including a bathroom.
Chipman, or Chipempe Falls, translates as “something overhanging”. This small waterfall shares the same river as Lumangwe Falls, feeding into the Kalungwishi River – and has become a popular location for bream fishing by the local people. If you’d like to try some delicious bream fish, this is the place to be.
In the dry season, you can reach this waterfall by crossing the river on foot – so it’s best to have a guide when coming here since the pathway to the falls is not commonly visited.
Since there’s no resting place or campsite here, it is recommended to make Chipembe Falls your first stop so you can rest at the next waterfall with campsites. If you purchase a tour package, most include side trips that stop at Chipembe Falls as well.
The spectacular Chishimba, or Chisimba, Fall is among the monuments and historic sites of Zambia. It is located in the Luombe River, about 33km from the town of Kasama in the Northern Province. The waterfall has three successive falls: Mutumena Falls, Kaela Rapids, and the main fall – Chishimba itself – which has a drop of 30m to the gorge.
The three falls are about 1,000ft away from each other. The Bemba people treat the place as a holy site and a place for prayer and offerings for the spirits who live there. According to locals, this remarkable waterfall is where the nature spirit Chishimba lives – staying in the cave beneath the sheer falls.
Some interesting features of the Chishimba Falls are the hidden cave at the bottom of the falls and the spellbinding view of a riparian forest. Additionally, you can appreciate the calmness of the water before even reaching the main Chishimba Falls.
If you plan to take a break, picnic areas and restaurants are available in the area – and if you wish to camp out here, you can do so via the campsite on the east bank.
The gushing Ntumbachushi Falls is situated between Kazembe and Kawambwa, by the Ngona River in Luapula Province. This double waterfall is formed by the river that splits into two running streams.
Each waterfall has an approximate 10m width and a large 30m drop, and the site is a good camping spot for those needing a break from traveling. However, keep in mind that the Ntumbachushi Falls is considered a powerful shrine for the Lunda and Chishinga people.
The waterfall is known to be a place for spiritual cleansing and traditional ceremonies for reigning leaders of the tribes. A fun fact to know about the history of Ntumbachushi Falls is that the land was given to the brother of Mwata Kaembe Chinyanta Munona VI. History says that he married his brother’s wife, and gave the land to his brother as a form of repayment – eventually becoming the border of the Lunda people.
Kabweluma, or Kabwelume Falls, is a waterfall on the Kalungwishi River – 5km downstream from Lumangwe Falls. The waterfall is formed with 3 interconnected cascades.
Beneath the falls is a forested ravine and ancient art carved into the rocks. The locals consider this a sacred shrine where many snake spirits reside, so to preserve its purity, you won’t find any houses in the area.
Visiting the Kabweluma Falls can be quite a challenge, as accessing the waterfall requires passing through rough and rugged roads.
The mystical Kundabwika Falls, another sacred place where rituals and prayers are offered, is located by the Kalungwishi River near Kabweluma Falls, Lumangwe Falls, and Chipembe Falls. It runs along the same river as the other 3 waterfalls, but can only be reached from a different path.
Additionally, it is about 60km from Mporokoso and 80km from Kawamba. Kundabwika is comprised of two small waterfalls, the main fall being 25m high and 70m wide. This is one of the most ideal places for a campsite stopover, as it is quiet and safe.
Mumbuluma Falls, consisting of two streams of waterfalls, is considered a national monument of Zambia. It is located 33km from the town of Mansa in the Luapula Province, and between the villages of Nyausa and Lumpa.
Here, you’ll find a sacred temple for the protective spirits Makumba and his sister Ngosa – who are believed to have fallen from the sky. Their temple holds a sacred fire that is always lit, and should never be put out.
To get to Mumbuluma Falls, head to the 1km-long path upon reaching the Nyausa School after Kakoma Stream. From here, you can enjoy a picturesque view of the Lusenga Plains Game Park.
Just above the Chishimba Falls is the Mutumuna Falls, where the Bemba people believe the spirit of Mutumuna lives. Their high priest, Chitemenwe, gives offerings to Mutumuna.
To preserve the sanctity of the falls, negative acts including arrogance and sexual intercourse are forbidden in the area. At the base of the falls, people can swim and relax – however, there are no facilities here to wash up or rest.
Nyambwezi Falls is located 204km south of Solwezi to Mwinilunga Road in the North Western Province. You’ll find the 20m high falls cascading down into the Nyambwezu River.
Near the lip of the falls is a rock shelter cave that has ancient carvings reflecting historic signs of the Stone Age – which is believed to be a prehistoric settlement.
If you wish to camp, there’s a campsite in the south of the Solwezi to Mwinilunga Road. The fee to enter the falls is $15.00/person, which already includes access to the camping facilities.
Chavuma Falls lies in the Zambezi River in the town of Chavuma of the North-Western Province. This small waterfall is only a few meters high – and is located in the south of the border with Angola.
In the rainy seasons, the waterfall is less visible – so the best time to see the beauty of the fall is in the dry seasons.
This 62m high waterfall is located within an indigenous forest in Kasama, Northern Province. Getting to the waterfall can be done by foot and can be accessed from about 40km west of Chishimba Falls.
As you trail into the path, you’ll walk through banana plantations and an old wooden bridge. While Chilambwe Falls is smaller than Chishimba Falls, its unique beauty can still be appreciated.
The less known Fwaka Falls is one of the less popular waterfalls in Zambia, located approximately 1000m upstream of the Ngona River. You’ll likely have the views of the falls all to yourself!
As you head west from the Great North Road and approximately 24km south of Chinsali, you’ll reach the Chipoma Falls in the Northern Province. The name Chipoma in Bemba is translated as “the echoes of rushing water” since you can hear the gushing waterfall sounds before even reaching the falls.
Moreover, the waterfall is connected to the Chimanabwe River. For the best view, visit Chipoma falls in January, when you can see its maximum height.
Mpwasha Falls is located by the Mpwasha River in Manenekela, Luano Valley. Its name means “difficult passage” since the pathway is rough and steep.
You’ll encounter the Mpwasha Falls from an unlikely location near a busy main road, about 40km west of the Luangwa Bridge. Though it’s close to people passing by, it is one of the waterfalls that is rarely toured – and very little is known about it.
If you plan to drop by at Mpwasha Falls, be on the lookout for Dorylus – otherwise known as driver ants or safari ants – that can painfully bite and latch on to you.
Also called Lwitikila Falls, Chinsokolo Falls is located in Mpika, Muchinga Province, and can be visited after going to Chipoma Falls. It is situated close to Lwitikila High School, so it can be filled with students on the weekends.
If you want the whole place to yourselves, try to visit the falls on the weekdays. To enter the campsite of Chinsokolo Falls costs $0.50 for international tourists and $1.50 for those with vehicles.
Generally, the best time to visit Zambia is during the dry season from the months of June-November. You’ll need to brace yourself for the extreme scorching temperatures in September-October.
Traveling in the dry months is the most suitable time to watch wild animals and enjoy the best scenic views. The rest of the year is the wet season, and most camps tend to close due to heavy rains – however, it’s also the time some camps open at a cheaper price.
If you plan to visit Victoria Falls, the best month is March – since the water flows tremendously after the rains, and it’s the perfect time for bird watching.
By the month of May, campsites are open for service again – but you can expect the roads to be still quite muddy after the heavy rains.
Our verdict: June is still the best month to visit Zambia since all the camps are open, offering a fair price – and tourists are only a handful during this month. On top of that, the ground is typically already dry so you can appreciate fresh and green landscapes.
Know Before You Go
Before you travel to Zambia, check for visa requirements and vaccination certificates that you may need to present. Once you arrive in the country, a yellow fever vaccine certificate must be shown.
Aside from packing your passport, pack essentials including:
- Mosquito nets
- Wide hats
- Mosquito repellants
- Bug spray
- Clothes to keep you warm and protect you from the rays of the sun.
Lastly, it’s much safer and convenient to bring cash in South African Rand currency. If you bring US dollars, you’ll have to exchange them for a minimum amount.