Chishimba Falls.

near Kasama, Northern Province, Zambia

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2
Chishimba Falls
Chishimba Falls (I've also seen it spelled Chisimba Falls) was actually a conglomeration of three components - the main falls, Kaela Rapids (also spelled Kayela), and Mutumuna Falls (the upper falls). The main falls was said to drop about 30m while the Mutumuna Falls was said to drop from a height of 20m. We took a short and well-developed walkway that provided us access to all of the waterfall's sections.

When we went upstream from the car park, the short path eventually led us to the uppermost waterfall called Mutumuna Falls. This waterfall was wider than it was tall, which made it seem attractive to us. We were able to scramble onto a path that fronted its rocky base as well as take the trail towards an upper viewpoint where we could see the falls' context as well as the hydroelectric development behind it.

Distant angled view of the main Chishimba Falls from the main trail As a matter of fact, it would turn out that this part of the waterfall received the most attention for hydroelectric development as we saw power lines and some supporting concrete and metal structures around the upstream from the falls itself. Apparently, this hydro facility supplied power to the relatively busy town of Kasama as well as other neighboring villages.

When we headed downstream from the car park, we had to go past some water diversion channels as the trail went alongside the Luombe River (which all the waterfalls were on). When we looked back upstream, we could see Mutumuna Falls in the distance above some trees. However, just a few minutes further downstream on the trail led us to a series of rapids known as the Kaela Rapids (or Kayela Rapids).

This series of rapids was probably punctuated by a couple of 5m or so plunges. There was a gazeebo-like shelter nearby for viewing this part of the falls. From there, we were able to look upstream at perhaps the most scenic part of this section of the falls, which is shown at the photograph on the top of this page.

Continuing further downstream on the main trail for another 15 minutes or so, we eventually made it to the main Chishimba Falls. This part of the waterfall consisted of a narrower drop than the previous two sections as the water seemed to be more channeled.

From the trail, we were able to get right up to the brink of the falls, take a short scramble to the wet and rocky base of this waterfall, and even get a more distant but profiled view of the falls from another one of those gazeebo-like shelters.

Despite the hydroelectric developments, all sections of the Chishimba Falls still flowed with vigor when we saw them in June 2008. However, we can only speculate as to the longevity and health of its flow as the Dry Season would wear on.

All told, we spent about an hour at this waterfall encompassing the hiking and the photographing.

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The upper Chishimba Falls (Mutumuna Falls) with some hydroelectric infrastructure further upstream from itThe upper Chishimba Falls (Mutumuna Falls) with some hydroelectric infrastructure further upstream from it
Profile view of the main Chishimba Falls as seen from the trailProfile view of the main Chishimba Falls as seen from the trail
At the well-signed car parkAt the well-signed car park

Julie crossing over a diversion channelJulie crossing over a diversion channel

Looking upstream past some flood control and hydro infrastructure towards Mutumuna FallsLooking upstream past some flood control and hydro infrastructure towards Mutumuna Falls

Path leading to the main waterfallPath leading to the main waterfall

Distant view of the main Chishimba Falls from the gazeebo-like shelterDistant view of the main Chishimba Falls from the gazeebo-like shelter

Looking further downstream from the main Chishimba FallsLooking further downstream from the main falls

Profile view of the main fallsProfile view of the main falls

At the bottom of the main fallsThe bottom of the main falls (or Chishimba Falls itself)

Frontal view of the Kaela RapidsFrontal view of the Kaela Rapids. This was the next significant section of waterfalls as we made our way upstream.

Angled view of the Kaela RapidsAngled view of the Kaela Rapids

We could already see Mutumuna Falls from near the car parkWe could already see Mutumuna Falls from near the car park

The base of Mutumuna FallsThe base of Mutumuna Falls

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Fixated on the falls from the upper viewing gazeebo

Fixated on the falls from its base

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It's about 20-30 minutes drive west from Kasama on a mix of tarmac and unsealed roads. However, this waterfall is very well-signed. Since we were driven here, it's hard to say exactly the route that we took, but it has been said that you would take the M3 west for 24km, then take the D20 road for 11km. At that point, the Chishimba Falls signs were conspicuous for further guidance.

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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