Kundalila Falls (sometimes spelled Nkundalila Falls) was a gorgeous waterfall set in the escarpment country of the Central Province near Serenje. It dropped in multiple stages over a cumulative height of around 30m. The shape of the falls was like rivulets of rocky cascades at its top, then it converged into a double barreled drop at its mid-section before consolidating over its last drop to its base. Of the waterfalls that we saw in Zambia during our May 2008 trip, this one very well could have had the most unique shape.
This was the first waterfall we saw on our very adventurous waterfall safari through Northern Zambia. It would turn out that our experience at this waterfall was one of the tamer ones on the safari (from the standpoint from both accessing it by vehicle and accessing it by foot).
After reaching the car park, we were greeted by a local villager who guided us to the viewpoints and ultimately to the base of the waterfall. As we approached the white rocky escarpment near the top of the falls, we enjoyed the panorama looking towards what appeared to be rolling hills and low mountains fronted by more white rocky outcrops as well as some bush and trees seeming to suggest this area was either temperate or arid.
The walking path started becoming more like a scramble as we saw the waterfall's rivulted top. We couldn't see the bottom of the falls from this vantage point, and the foliage was blocking some of the view anyways. Nonetheless, we could readily see that the trajectory of the water was twisting so what we were able to see up here probably wasn't going to be seen when we made it to the base.
So we followed the guide on a roundabout path eventually leading down a somewhat steep but very doable trail. Ultimately, the trail would lead us down to the misty and slippery rocks at the bottom of the falls. It was from here that we were able to see Kundalila Falls as you see photographed at the top of the page.
All told, we spent about 75 minutes at the waterfall encompassing the hike and the photos.
We were told by the local guide that "kunda" means "dove" in Bemba (the most widely spoken language in Zambia) while "lila" means "crying." The falls was named after crying doves because it was said that white prospectors used to kill the now-extinct doves that used to be in this area for their gizzards. They believed that these gizzards contained gold dust since they thought the birds might have picked a few of these while trying to pick for worms or whatever else was on the ground. I'm not sure if they were successful or not, but it was certainly too bad for those doves (assuming of course that the story was true).
One more thing worth mentioning was that Kundalila Falls was one of several waterfalls in the escarpment lands between Serenje and Mpika. We actually spent one night within this region at the Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge. Unfortunately, due to bad planning, we couldn't supplement our waterfalling around that eco-friendly lodge. Nonetheless, Kundalila Falls wasn't very far from the Mutinondo Wilderness (geographically speaking) and we hope to come back to that lodge one of these days to explore the area more thoroughly. From the one night we were there, it was very scenic, and it reminded me very much of what some of the scenery in the Red Centre of Australia was like (i.e. think Uluru and Katja-Tjuta formerly known as Ayer's Rock and the Olgas, respectively).
Looking past the top of Kundalila Falls towards the rolling hills and vegetation growing on the escarpment lands of the Central Province
Attractive domes at sunrise seen from outside our eco-friendly Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge exhibiting the escarpment lands of the Central and Northern Provinces reminding me of Australia's Red Centre
We really wished we could've spent more time at the Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge because there were also waterfall walks in addition to soaking up escarpment scenery like this
Driving the Great North Road towards Serenje at the pre-dawn hours
Just as we turned off the Great North Road east of Serenje, we were on this unpaved road towards the falls
Spur road to the falls starts off sandy
Despite the road being unsealed, it was pretty straight shot
The dirt got redder the further down this road we went
Our guide Chester talking to Julie while on the trail
Following the local guide across a narrow makeshift bridge
Scrambling amidst some scenic escarpment lands to get a closer look at the top of the falls
The top of Kundalila Falls with its rivulet-like appearance
The guides leading us down towards the base of the falls, which can be seen at the topright corner of this photo
Descending towards the bottom of the falls. We were almost there.
We finally made it to the falls. Notice our guides were standing near the base of the falls for somewhat of a sense of scale. Also note that we couldn't see the rivuleted top part of the falls from down here.
Julie checking out the falls. She didn't go quite as far as our guides did.
We did this as part of a waterfall safari tour (as tourists, I don't think self-driving these parts was either a very good idea or even an option). From what we could tell, access was from a signposted 14km unsealed detour off the Great North Road east of Serenje.
It was about a 2.5-hour drive (186km) east from Mkushi, where we started the day.
Further east on the main highway from the turnoff leading to Kundalila Falls was also the Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge, which we're mentioning here because we thought it was a pretty special place even if we didn't get to explore the wilderness area as much as we would've liked. The turnoff for the lodge was said to be 72km south of Mpika.
Just to give you an idea of the distances, Mkushi is 300km northeast of Lusaka. Even though GoogleMaps says this is around 3 hours drive, you have to keep in mind that it takes longer on the road to go the same distance as you're used to in industrialized countries because many of the rural roads in Africa are littered with deep potholes and/or lack of pavement.
You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.
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