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Lumangwe Falls

Lumangwe Falls
Lumangwe Falls, dry season./ Robert Shula Mutale, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  In short

One of the largest waterfalls in Zambia is Lumangwe Falls. This waterfall is approximately 30-40 m tall and some 160-200 m wide.

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GPS coordinates
9.5424 S 29.3869 E
Location, address
Africa, Zambia, Northern Province, Mporokoso District and Luapula Province, Kawambwa District, on Kalungwishi River
Approximately 35 m
Around 160-200 m
Around 100 m3/s or more
Kalungwishi River

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

The best known Zambian waterfall – Victoria Falls – in fact, is shared with Zimbabwe. The largest waterfall fully inside Zambia is Lumangwe Falls, and, surprisingly, it is somewhat similar to Victoria Falls, although considerably smaller.

Description of falls

Lumangwe Falls have formed on Kalungwishi River – a fairly large river that flows through miombo woodlands – dry tropical shrubland with sparse trees. This river has several magnificent waterfalls over a short distance: Chimpepe Falls, then Lumangwe Falls, and then – the gorgeous Kabwelume Falls with several smaller steps in between. All three waterfalls are included in a national monument, and Lumangwe Falls are protected since 1964.

Waterfall has formed on quartzite and red-colored siltstone.

Lumangwe Falls at first have several smaller steps and then comes the main plunge. During the dry season, the curtain of falling water is divided into multiple smaller parts but in April-May, when the rains come, the waterfall forms a giant curtain of falling water. But in the rainy season, it is harder to take images of the falls because the air is filled with mist that rises up to 100 m high.

The river in this area is some 70-90 m wide, but at the falls it becomes significantly wider. The rim of the falls is some 160-200 m wide, but, usually, it is assumed that the falls are some 160 m wide.

Island of rainforest

Below the falls has formed a small rainforest: the frequent mist around the falls allows surviving quite a rich community of moisture-lowing species, such as diverse epiphytic plants. This is a kind of biodiversity hotspot with several species that are known only from this locality – diatoms, fungi, ferns, and some others.

Thus, for example, below the falls is the only known find of the unusual Zygotritonia atropurpurea – an up to 1.3 m tall plant with small purple flowers.


To local communities this waterfall has been a sacred place and due to this, for long years this natural monument was off-limits to tourists. The name of the waterfall comes from the snake spirit Lumangwe who is told to be stretched between Lumangwi and Kabwelume Falls.

There are gruesome stories about the sacrificing virgins by pushing them over the falls that, reportedly, continued until 1935. (1)

Until recent times this wonderful waterfall was not too touristy – which is both good and bad because it has maintained its natural charisma and there are no crowds, and at the same time – not everyone would be happy with the basic services.

Currently, there is a plan to develop the tourist infrastructure around these and other falls in this region. Additionally, there is a partly realized plan to develop the Kalungwishi Hydroelectric Project with a yield of 247 MW. This project envisages two power plants – one at Kundabwika Falls and the other at Kabwelume Falls.

  1. Mich Bond, From Northern Rhodesia to Zambia, Recollections of a DO/DC 1962-73. Lusaka, 2014. ISBN 9789982240901. 56. page.

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