The Mighty Zambezi River of Zambia!

Did you know that the Mighty Zambezi River stretches nearly 2,700 kilometers? Did you know that the name of Zambia came from Zambezi River?


Did you know that the Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa? Well, if you didn’t know, here are some of the details about the Zambezi River…

Source of The Zambezi

First, let’s start with the source of the Zambezi. Where do you think it starts from?

Of course you may answer with confidence, drawing from your school knowledge that the Mighty Zambezi River starts in Zambia, in Mwinilunga district of the North Western province, from the Kaleni hills some where near where the borders of Zambia, Angola and Zaire meet! 

But that's no so, according to Mr. Willy Chiwaya, an assistant conservationist at the heritage site. Willy Chiwaya is a Lunda from a village near the source of the Zambezi River and he knows the history of the place like the back of his hand.

“The Kaleni Hills are 48 kilometers from the source of the Zambezi. The source of the Zambezi River is in Nkakawami Village. 

Nkakawami is the headman for the nearby village. However, maybe someone had difficulties in pronouncing the word Nkakawami and they chose the more easier name of Kaleni Hills’’ - Mr. Willy Chiwaya as reported in the Post Lifestyle of 11th November 2008.

According to the same report, the real name for Zambezi is Yambezhi. Hence the greeting “Shikenu Mwani Kunsulu ya Yambezhi” which is a Lunda term, meaning, welcome to the source of the Zambezi.

The river flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, passing through Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean. 

From Angola the river re-enters Zambia and passes through the Barotse Plains and turns to the east where it forms the border between Zambia and Namibia. It briefly forms the border between Zambia and Botswana and as it passes over the Victoria Falls, it forms the boarder with Zimbabwe.

Other Uses

Economic

Through out its course, people have harnessed its power in various ways. However, its main use is to produce hydroelectric power.

For example, the Kariba Dam provides power to Zimbabwe and Zambia. 

After completion of Kariba Dam, Lake Kariba was finally filled up in 1963. The lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. 

Another man made dam on the Zambezi River is the Cahora Bassa in Mozambique, constructed in 1974. Yet, another smaller power station is found at Victoria Falls. 

Victoria FallsVictoria Falls

The Mighty Zambezi River is also a host to water falls.Victoria Falls, one of the largest water falls in the world is on this river. Others are the Ngonye falls, near Sioma, Western province and Chavuma Falls, at the border between Angola and Zambia.

Recreational Activities

The river has been recognized as one of the top 10 water ways in the world for boating and white-water rafting activities.

It flows through wild and dangerous terrains such as open stretches of rapids, some only passable by carrying the boats through the surrounding bushes.

Not surprising therefore, boat racing has been done on the river for only short distances.

You can also take a boat cruise on the river using many of the luxury boats available, like the African Queen or the African Princess of the African Queen Cruise Company which undertakes boat cruises on the Zambezi River. 

Tributaries

The first of the large tributaries to enter the Zambezi is the Kabompo River in north-western province of Zambia. Others are the Luanginga, the Luangwa and the Kafue River

Social Life of The People

The annual flood cycle of the river has dominated human life and culture in the Zambia region of the barotseland. For example, the Kuomboka Ceremony is one of Zambia’s best known festivals.

Wildlife

The Mighty Zambezi River supports large populations of many animals. Among such animals are crocodiles, hippopotamuses, Zebras, elephants and buffalos.

 The river is also a haven of various types of fishes. You will be able to find different types of fish species such as tiger fish, catfish and yellow fish. The Mighty Zambezi is also a source of drinking water for humans.

Economy

The river provides fishing activities for people living near by. Fishing for food and game fishing are significant activities here.

Towns

The towns found along the Zambezi River in Zambia are Mongu, Lukulu, Livingstone and Sesheke. 

So, next time you come to Zambia, don’t forget to see one of the greatest rivers in Africa, the Mighty Zambezi River!

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