Northern News

Written By: The Lowdown - Oct• 31•00

Sunset over the Lake at Mpulungu

Beautiful Lake Tanganyika at the very northern tip of Zambia and about 2½ hours drive from Kasama, on a decent road, gives Zambians access to its beauty and resources. But before seeking surf and sun its worth stopping in Mbala (turn right at the main T-junction for Mbala and left for Mpulungu) to see Moto Moto Museum, an impressive collection of African artifacts and history built by a man named Father Corbe and funded by NORAD. The Museum was named after the first Bishop of Northern Rhodesia, Bishop Dupont who smoked a pipe and would often shout “fire, fire” or “moto, moto”, in Swahili. The Museum features an African hut built indoors with explanations and illustrations of various traditions surrounding the design, paintings and family life that take place within, stone age tools and artifacts, various wildlife displays including an impressive snake collection (not living!), and many other historical and cultural features. There is also a small craft shop with post cards, locally made clay pots, baskets, carvings and batiks. Moto Moto Museum has a few books available including one on rock paintings and one on the Museum itself. It is well worth a visit. Drive through Mbala and turn left at the prison.

Kalambo Falls cannot be missed either. The turn-off is 4½ km from the Police Station, turn left and drive about 33 km. This road, unfortunately is very rocky so 4 x 4 vehicles only, but the other way to see the Falls is by hiking via some of the lodges. Regardless of how you get there you‘ll not want to miss the second highest waterfall in Africa, an impressive 221 metre drop, more than twice that of Victoria Falls. Its width is 2 metres in the dry season and 15 metres in the rains. There are some paths around the top of the Falls, a wonderful spot for a picnic. A knowledgeable guide may be able to lead you to the resting place of the Marabou storks not far from the Falls, as well.

Next stop, Mpulungu, the main fishing port and centre of tourist and fishing activity. Not a beautiful town, but bear with it as it will lead to better things.

Just past the fish barriers is Lake Tanganyika Lodge.  Turn left down a rocky but fairly short road to reach this small, reasonably-priced Flintstone-style establishment built of rounded lake stones (the bath tubs are particularly Freddy Flintstone-style!). Tanganyika Lodge lunches are particularly famous – fresh fish, coleslaw and roast potatoes…. simple but hearty and nicely done. The lodge is generally self-catering but our meal was done on request. A variety of fresh fish is usually available to buy and cook yourself as well. The Lodge is a popular place to for scuba diving and a boat can be hired too. Bookings are not always necessary, most people arrive and chance a Flintstone chalet. Tents are also available for hire.


For those interested in a little local history, there is the remains of Niamkolo Church located 2 km east of Mpulungu. It is the oldest stone church in Zambia built between 1893 – 96 by the London Missionary Society. It suffered a fire and therefore the roof is no longer intact but some renovations were made to the walls of this national monument in 1962. More details of its history can be found in National Monuments of Zambia by D.W. Phillipson.

From Mpulungu you can reach Isanga Bay Lodge which will be open by Christmas this year. It was owned and lovingly built by Hugh Smith who sadly died a few years ago, losing his life to cancer. His family, determined to carry on Hugh’s dream hired Clive and Linda Gloss to continue the building of the three beautiful and impeccably-built chalets on stilts, with tongue and groove wood panelling, heavy thatch and en-suite shower and toilets. These luxury chalets are set on the main beach facing the most spectacular sunset in town, by night,  and sand and shady nsakas, by day. The Gloss’s  are in the final stages of building the central dining room/bar/office block as well as three self-catering chalets (one family chalet) on the rock pier. Also planned is a camping area with a separate beach, a main nsaka with braais and running water. Isanga Bay Lodge is without doubt a special experience with something for everyone – full board or self-catering, luxury or budget accommodation, excursions to Kalambo Falls, fishing trips, snorkling to watch the tropical fish or scuba diving (with own equipment) and birding walks. Lodge prices were not available at time of writing, butwith a booking you will be collected from Mpulungu Harbour at Samaki Fisheries and be sipping a ‘cool one’ on the beach in less than an hour.

Just a few bays down from Isanga Bay is Mishembe Bay or as it’s often referred to, Luke’s Beach, owned by Luke Powell. Luke is also in the process of building and will open sometime in 2001. This establishment will be a self-catering operation offering reasonable rates. There will be a main building for the dining area and bar.  Tents are available for hire and a feature of note is the ‘loo with a view’ on the side of the mountain… open concept you could say! Hikes to Kalambo Falls and other excursions can also be organised at Mishembe Bay.

For bookings and information on Lodges in Mpulungu, contact Hazel Powell at Thorn Tree Guest House in Kasama at 04 221-615 or Anthony or Belinda at Samaki Fisheries in Mpulungu on 04 455-103.

Next month’s Northern News will feature Mutinondo Wilderness, a tourist enterprise and community project owned and run by Lari Bosman and Mike Merritt. …. so stay tuned to the North!

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