Northern News

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•00

cover2000-11During last month, I had the pleasure of visiting Mike Merritt and Lari Bosman at their special corner of the earth; Mutinondo Wilderness located between the Great North Road and the Muchinga Escarpment bordering the Luangwa Valley. Mike and Lari enjoy stunning views over dambos and rounded mountains from the dining nsaka, from the bar, from their chalets, .. on foot and on horseback.

Mutinondo is a unique settlement with many faces. It is home for Mike and Lari, tourist destination with camping facilities and full catering chalets, a source of training, knowledge and support for the community which, in itself has many angles to it and it is a naturalists’ heaven with rich plant species, and varied habitats for birds and beasts.

Mike and Lari settled in this area, Chief Mpumba’s area amongst the Bisa people in 1994. They scouted the area for several months looking for a suitable site to start with and after travelling and meeting the people of the area discovered some shocking truths about the region. The area was depressed with very little development, little agriculture due to lack of markets, fertiliser availability and distance to town centres (162 km from Serenje and just under 100 km from Mpika). Many of the people had resorted to poaching in the Luangwa Valley. So Mike and Lari decided to help with agricultural development by being fertiliser and seed distributors, arranging field days for agricultural officers to visit the area and teach more effective methods of tilling the land (than the usual Chitemene ‘slash and burn’ method). And for the non-agricultural types a variety of cottage industries were encouraged which included bee-keeping, oil processing, recycled paper projects and food processing like peanut butter, jam, granola and coffee.



Also, they started Mutinondo Farmers’ Shop in Mpika selling seed, fertiliser, chemicals, livestock goods and providing a selection of agricultural books for farmers to borrow or buy.

Attached to the same building in Mpika is Lari’s silver shop Jaz Jewellery hive of activity producing charms, bracelets, necklaces, rings, in wonderful African shapes and patterns for sale throughout Zambia, Europe and South Africa. All of these enterprises from the building of the camping nsaka to everything in between have in some way supported the community. Local materials are used, bricks, poles, etc. even some of the equipment for jewellery making is produced locally. Silver threads are sent into villages to talented men and women and come out as intricately woven necklaces. The jewellers are all trained by Lari as are the artists who make the recycled paper greeting cards, and gift boxes for jewellery made from recycled fruit juice boxes, banana leaves and Shoprite bags.

Lari is also involved in Jewellery Acts of Zambia, an organisation that promotes small scale mining and in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines does lectures and demonstrations of effective mining and marketing practices in rural areas. Also some appropriate technology is being researched like wind propelled tumblers for polishing gemstones. Mutinondo Products can be purchased at the Dutch Reformed Church Market in Lusaka.

Mike and Lari are in the process of having a feasibility study done for a Community Game Reserve, they support a football league and have encouraged the local Bisa people to write stories and accounts of traditional life and hope to get them published for sale.


Having stayed there for the weekend, it is safe to say things are definitely on the upswing. Their lodge is beautifully built – large nsakas with Barotse thatch and Mubanga poles full of character, flagstone floors and winding paths. Paths are not only for people at Mutinondo … they are also for horses… and some for roan, bushbuck or perhaps leopard! For the tourist or naturalist, Mutinondo Wilderness offers walks, mountain bikes, horse rides through the hills and to the three lovely waterfalls, canoe trips and safe rivers to swim in. The birdlife is fantastic and anyone fond of wild flowers, trees and rare plants will be in heaven. Both Mike and Lari are knowledgeable in these areas of nature as well.

Camping is now open at Mutinondo (as of Sept 30) and chalets will open 1 January 2001. Rates are: US$3 per person per night, US$35 single rate for chalet and full catering and US$50 double rate for chalets and full catering.




Mutinondo Wilderness Area is located 600 km from Lusaka on the Great North Road, 162 km after Serenje turn right at the carved wooden sign post and go 25 km to the lodge. By rail, catch Tazara railway from Kapiri Mposhi to Kalonje station (200 km from the Mutinondo turn-off) and hike or bike in. Porters stop over at campsites en route or transfers can be arranged. There is also an airstrip under construction. Contact Mike and Lari for more information and bookings at Mutinondo Wilderness Limited, PO Box 450126 Mpika, Telefax (04) 370-223.

Next month, a report on Kasanka National Park and a fishing lodge in Samfya called Tigerfish Haven. Some potential Christmas destinations in beautiful Luapula Province.

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