If there’s one thing that Zambia does well, it’s waterfalls. Zambia famously shares the Victoria Falls with neighbouring Zimbabwe, but did you know there are 17 other impressive waterfalls dotted around the country?
Many visit Zambia and head straight to Victoria Falls (and rightly so), but Zambia has so much more to offer. Explore beyond the tourist hotspots and you’ll discover some of the best waterfalls on the continent. Of course, we recommend you spend a while travelling this incredible country, but for those fleeting visitors here are the top four waterfalls in Zambia.
Unlike many of the other waterfalls on this list, you’ve probably heard of Victoria Falls - it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, after all. This world-famous waterfall is Zambia’s pride and joy and is one of the largest falls in the world. Victoria Falls is a whopping 1,708m wide and can be seen from both Zambia and Zimbabwe. You may hear Victoria Falls being referred to in the local language, Lozi, as the ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, the ‘Smoke that Thunders’. When you get close, you’ll know exactly what they mean - it's loud!
To make the most out of your trip to Victoria Falls here are a few things you absolutely must do. Having entered the falls, it will just be a few seconds before you can hear the roar and only a few minutes before you can see the cascading water. Head across the tiny, precariously-looking bridge to Knife Edge. It’s a spectacular spot to see the falls and grab a shower - between March and June, you’ll get soaked!
Near the entrance you’ll see a path veer off to the left; make sure you take that path. It leads right down to the bottom off the falls where you can see the water churning and daring bungee jumpers at Batoka Gorge. Then head to the back of the falls, behind where the water flows down into nothingness. It’s the perfect spot for seeing rainbows.
If you are still wanting more of the Victoria Falls, pop over the border to Zimbabwe. If you’re not entitled to visa-free entry, all you’ll need is a day-pass visa which you can get from the border post.
There is no doubt that this waterfall is incredible but a small part of me always feels that unless you see it from the sky (by helicopter or microlight) you’ll come away feeling like you were unable to comprehend its immeasurable grandeur.
I have a soft spot for Chishimba Falls - in fact I would even go as far as saying it’s the best falls in Zambia! Head north from the capital Lusaka to the small city of Kasama and, wrapped in silent tranquility seemingly the middle of nowhere, you will find Chishimba Falls. Chishimba Falls is one of three falls along the Luombe River and, depending when you visit, there is a strong possibility that you may just have these waterfalls all to yourself.
When you arrive at Mutumuna Falls you may be mistaken in thinking you’re at the main Chishimba Falls. But no, this is just the teaser waterfall to get you excited. Next you'll see the Kaela Rapids which are furious and beautiful in their own right. One of the things I love about this place is how much you can walk around; you really feel like you’re going on an adventure.
The gem of the area is of course Chishimba Falls standing at around 20 metres tall. You can see the cascading water from the top and then walk all the way down to the bottom. According to the Bemba people this waterfall is home to the spirit Chishimba who lives in the cave behind the falls. The spirit's presence means that no violence, insults, or bad behaviour is accepted in the vicinity of the falls. And, you’ll be so overwhelmed by the beauty of Chishimba Falls that nothing negative could possibly enter your head.
The Lumangwe Falls is the largest waterfall that lies wholly in Zambia. Lumangwe Falls is in Northern Province close to neighbouring Luapula Province. This stunning waterfall almost appears to drop right out of nowhere. At 35m tall and 100 m wide some say Lumangwe is like a miniature Victoria Falls.
One of the best things about Lumangwe Falls is its remote location. You may just find you are the only ones there when you visit. It is also a perfect spot for camping, with spots close to the falls, and basic but newly refurbished facilities for you to use.
One of the best things about Lumangwe falls is the number of view points. You can see the waterfall from its brink, from a spot where you can see its entire length, and from the plunge pool. This final viewing area is easily accessible during dry season (mid-August to mid-November) but is trickier during rainy season (mid-November to April).
Kalambo Falls is on few travellers' radar, yet it boasts the title of the second highest uninterrupted waterfall in the whole of Africa. That’s impressive, and yet, due to its location at one of the northern most points of Zambia (on the border with Tanzania), few people visit it.
One of the nearest towns to Kalambo Falls is Mpulungu, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Even from Mpulungu the drive to Kalambo is around two hours and should only be attempted in a 4x4 vehicle.
You seriously have to earn the view at Kalambo Falls; this waterfall is the most remote on this list and you’ll be in for a hike. People heading to Kalambo on foot tend to start from Luke’s Beach on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. This walk up to the falls is a long one, anywhere between two and four hours one-way. The climb is also quite difficult, there’s an elevation of nearly 500 metres and a lot of scrambling over jagged rocks.
Once you’re there the views are absolutely worth the sweat. There are several vantage points to see the waterfall, all of which will make you feel woefully insignificant in comparison to this natural spectacle.
Combine a visit to the Kalambo Falls with Lake Tanganyika, and Nsumbu National Park for an amazing trip and discover a spectacular, and relatively unexplored part of Zambia.
Last Updated 12 May 2022