About Kundalila Falls
Kundalila Falls (sometimes spelled Nkundalila Falls) was a gorgeous waterfall set in the escarpment country of the Central Province near Serenje.
The Kaombe River dropped from the Muchinga Escarpment 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 the trailhead by vehicle and accessing it by foot).
Experiencing Kundalila Falls
After reaching the car park, a local villager greeted us and then guided us to the viewpoints and ultimately to the base of the Kundalila Falls.
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.
Such landscape features seemed to suggest that this area was either temperate or arid.
The walking path started becoming more like a scramble as we saw the Kundalila Falls’ rivulted top.
We couldn’t see the bottom of the falls from this vantage point, and the foliage blocked some of the view anyways.
Nonetheless, we could readily see that the trajectory of the watercourse twisted and turned.
So what we could see up here probably didn’t lend itself to revealing more of its bottom until we made it down to the waterfall’s base.
After having our fill of the upper part of Kundalila Falls, we then followed the guide on a roundabout path eventually leading down a somewhat steep but very doable trail.
Ultimately, the path would lead us down to the misty and slippery rocks at the bottom of the waterfall.
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 away from the safari vehicle, which encompassed the time spent at the waterfall as well as the hike and the pauses for picture taking.
We were told by the local guide that “kunda” means “dove” in Bemba (the most widely spoken language in Northern Zambia) while “lila” means “crying.”
Therefore, Kundalila Falls was named after crying doves.
This came about 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).
The Mutinondo Wilderness
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).
Kundalila Falls resides in Serenje District. To my knowledge, there is no official authority administering this waterfall. So for more information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
We did this as part of a waterfall safari tour for 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. That’s because many of the rural roads in Africa are littered with deep potholes and/or lack of pavement.
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