It was on 24 February 2017 that Chipata was declared a city. The city is a gate way to Malawi and the Luangwa game parks; it is just 19 km from Malawi. The name is derived from a Ngoni word “Chimpata”, meaning “large space”.
The primary language spoken in the city is Ngoni. Others are Nyanja, English and some Indian languages since a large number of Zambian Indians live in the town.
The town lies on the Great East Road which connects the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe 130 km away and the capital of Zambia Lusaka, 550 km away. The city now joins other four towns in Zambia with city status, i.e. Lusaka, Kitwe, Livingstone and Ndola.
With a population of about 455,783, the town is also the capital of the eastern province. Situated in a valley, it is surrounded by fertile land suitable for agriculture, although the locals practice it on the low scale.
The town, formerly known as Fort Jameson, was the capital of North Eastern Rhodesia until 1911, when Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), was created.
Getting around town is fairly easy. Cabs are plenty in town and can even take you as far as neighbouring Malawi on a shopping spree or sightseeing.
The town has for a long time been associated with bicycles. This could be due to the defunct Luangwa Industries which used to assemble bicycles. Many people use the bicycles as a source of income – bicycles taxis.
Next time you go to Chipata, and if you are on a low budget, just run to the bicycle taxi rank, the “taxi” will take you to your destination!
The place has got a large Indian population. And this is evident by the presence of several mosques around town. Most of them are shop owners in an area commonly called the “Indian shops”. This is an area where the local people congregate for their shopping.
For a rural community, it is quite busy. A stroll along the Umodzi highway which goes up to the Malawi border will give you an idea. This road is initially the Great East Road and will take you to Lusaka. From here, you can connect northwards to Mfuwe in the Luangwa national park and Lundazi. There are a variety of buses from here to the rest of the country. By luxury coach, it is a 7 to 8 hours journey to Lusaka.
Indeed, the town has earned its city status as it has a modern market, hospitals, shopping malls, University, Colleges and a number of schools, several banks, airport, post office, railway line, many hotels and lodges.
The town is full of places where you can spend a night, (or several nights). Along the Lundazi highway is the Katuta lodge, offering single and double rooms with bathrooms. The menu includes both local and western foods.
About 2 km off the main road, along the Lundazi road, is Mama Rulas. It offers guest rooms including some which are en suite. And also about 18 kilometres from Chipata is the Kwa A Manda Lodge. The lodge is an ideal holiday destination.
Just off the main Lusaka road towards Mfuwe is the Chipata Motel. It’s a low budget motel offering the basics in accommodation. Mostly used by the locals.
Some places worth trying are the Crystal Springs Hotel, located just opposite the mosque and the Pine View, situated on the south east side of town.
The town has been a busy trading post for over 100 years. Today, its colourful markets and “Down Shops” sell everything from fruit and vegetables to clothing and curios.
Due to the town's closeness to Malawi, you can take advantage and go shopping there. Most people make use of taxis (cabs) to drive to Malawi.
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