Lakes & Dams
Bangweulu translates as ‘The place where the water meets the sky’. This area is often described, in clichéd terms, as one of Africa's last great wilderness areas – which might be overstating its case a little, but it is certainly a very large and very wild area, which very few people really know and understand. The low-lying basin containing Lake Bangweulu and its wetlands receives one of the highest rainfalls in the country – over 1,400mm per annum. On the north-western edge of the congo basin is Lake Bangweulu itself, about 50km long and up to 25km wide. This is probably the largest body of water within Zambia's borders, and an excellent spot for watching the local fishermen, it also has remarkable white, sandy beaches. It is easily reached at Samfya, a small town on the main road from Serenje to Mansa.
The more fascinating areas here are the vast wetlands to the southeast of the lake, which cover an area two to three times the size of the lake, and the seasonally flooded grasslands to the south of those wetlands.
Image Credit: Emmanuel Mwiche
Beyond Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River flows through the Batoka Gorge then enters the waters of Lake Kariba. Formed behind the massive Kariba Dam, this is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. It's enormous, and a spectacular sight with the silhouettes of jagged Zimbabwean peaks far across its shimmering waters. For those who make it here, this remoteness is the very attraction.
The main base for activities on and around the lakeshore is Siavonga, which is a small town with accommodation. Sinazongwe, almost halfway between Livingstone and Siavonga, is even less set up for tourism. Only 17km away across the water, closer to Zimbabwe (150m away) than Zambia, is Chete (27 sq km), the largest island on the lake. It has lions, leopards, elands, waterbucks, bushbucks, impalas and kudus, and of course hippos and crocs, as well as an astonishing variety of birds – but no roads or accommodation.
Image Credit: Tatenda Sasa
Lake Kashiba is the best known of the several small, very deep pools in the Luanshya district called "the sunken lakes." They are found in limestone and were caused by the action of water on the rock, dissolving it and forming caves which eventually collapsed, leaving deep holes filled with water. It is about 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres) in area and about 100 metres deep. The water level is about 10 metres below the surrounding forest.
Image Credit: Richard Steward
Spreading over a massive 34,000 sq km, and reaching almost 1500m deep, cavernous Lake Tanganyika is the second-deepest lake in the world and contains about 15% of the earth's fresh water. Believed to be up to 15 million years old and lying in the Great Rift Valley, the shores of the lake reach Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. The climate here is always very hot, especially at the end of the dry season.
Of most interest to visitors are its white sandy beaches that, along with palm trees and snorkelling in crystal clear waters with multi-coloured tropical fish, can make it feel more like Thailand than Zambia.
Image Credit: Gareth Zebron
Approximately seven kilometres west of Kitwe, the Mindolo dam offers good camping, a restaurant, game viewing, walking trails, fishing, boating and other leisure activities in a beautiful setting.
Image Credit: Chuma Kabaghe
Musangezhi Dam was constructed for the Trident Copper Project by First Quantum Minerals under a water abstraction permit approved July 2012 for a rate of 40,000 m3/day, with the initial period valid for 5 years and renewable.
The dam is located on the outskirts of Solwezi town, in North Western Province
Image Credit: Matthew Blair