Kalambo Falls is a world heritage site about 65-70km from Mpulungu. It’s a gorgeous park, and it’s one of the longest water fall (drop) in Africa. It’s stunningly gorgeous, and although it’s a little difficult to reach, it’s definitely worth it if you are up in the region.
As a teaser, here’s a photo of me and Kalambo Falls:
We left Mpulungu early that morning, hoping to catch the 8-9am bus up to Mpulungu (we managed to catch a Rosa Minibus instead) we made it into Mbala, where we hired a taxi ( a four seater Spacio) and after a brief stop at the gas station we were off. Now up until this point we’d been pretty lucky travel wise, we hadn’t had any major break downs, and we’d been on decent roads (mostly 30-40 years old but still paved). This little expedition would be the end of that, at least in terms of good roads. The road from Mbala to Kalambo falls is miserable to say the least.
As we headed out into the bush, we passed from manageable dirt roads with just a few large pot holes and puddles and began to reach the washed out – unmaintained country roads. We had to disembark the vehicle five or six times because it couldn’t make it through patches of road with more weight than the driver – there was a bit of scraping, a lot of clunking, and we squeezed by with more than a few inches of luck. Our most interesting experience was crossing a local bridge – there was a patch of water about four-five feet deep, and 12-14 feet across, with a solid dirt and tree trunk bridge spanning two little juts of clay and earth. Unfortunately it’d been raining, and needless to say, the termites had done their wet season work and the bridge had begun to collapse. We got out of the vehicle and our driver measured, and we crossed the hole without issue, we just barely fit, wheels on the edges as he gunned it across and then we were off once again. We passed some Tanzanian villagers hauling goods on donkeys as we came closer and closer to the border, the falls and river itself are the boundary.
At least the frequent stops and poor road quality led to plenty of opportunities to enjoy the clouds and surrounding land, I managed to take this gorgeous photo during one of those little breaks:
Beautiful clouds on the way to Kalambo:
We finally saw a sign, and turned and dropped down steep slick rock into the valley, sliding and bumping down into the gorge. We were almost there, and as we turned the corner we were shocked to see a beautiful visitors center under construction. Given the condition and lack of maintenance on the road we were quite surprised by the scale and level of construction being done at the site. Mostly at how the materials could have been transported out there. We paid our park fees and then dropped down to the falls.
The first view as we climbed down the steep cut steps was of the head of the falls. The very top, a beautiful open pool, surrounded by thick brush and bush trees, tranquil and lazily swirling before it’s awe inspiring drop down into the deep gorge.
The head of the falls at Kalambo:
We found ourselves a sturdy rock off to the edge of pool, and sneaked a peak over the edge following the spray and white froth of the water as it dropped 725 feet down into the valley. We posed for photos, and enjoyed the roar of the falls, which drowned out all other sound and reverberated off the canyon walls – a thick hearty roar of power and life.
We continued along from the head of falls, and climbed up these gorgeous stairs to reach the other viewing points.
Beautiful stairs at Kalambo:
As we continued on, we came to a perfect place looking out at the falls –
A spot that was just right for us to settle in, enjoy the beauty of the falls themselves, and take time to center ourselves and do some yoga. The sense of peace and contentment offered by the falls is spectacular to say the least. The roar is soothing, and the light mist and cool air rising from the falls themselves leaves your body feeling refreshed and revitalized. I settled down on a perch of rock which afforded a good view of the valley and the falls, and started into the process of settling, taking time, and releasing the pent up stresses and frustrations on these last months.
Finding peace at Kalambo:
I know that I’ve been a little negligent about writing over the last few months, and I apologize for that. I’ve been in a place of deep personal revelation, and struggling with a lot of pain, frustration, emotional hurt and of course responsibility. That’s been a major block to my writing process, and although I won’t be going over those feelings or expressing them at this time, I can happily say that this trip has helped to reopen those thought pathways, and allow much of that negative energy to flow away – especially the healing time spent at Kalambo falls.
We spent a few more hours at the falls, and then with a threat of rain and a real fear that the vehicle woulden’t be able to climb back out of the valley if the road was wet we collected ourselves, piled in, and headed back to town. When we arrived we were greeted with that same stunning beauty:
Returning to Lake Tang : back on the water
As our evening progressed it started to rain again, and as the storm raged I managed to get this photo. It was a perfect conclusion to the day.
Storm break back at the waterfront: