Lakes & Rivers
Scenic Waterfalls, Rivers and Lakes
The major strength of Northern Province is its abundance of scenic waterfalls, rivers and lakes. The Province is endowed with beautiful mountainous landscapes giving it very beautiful scenery.
The major lakes are Tanganyika, Bangweulu, Chila, Mweru-wa-Ntipa and corresponding swamps and wetlands. The Province is also endowed with exotic beaches and Islands around Lake Tanganyika, which is the second deepest lake in the World.
Due to the mountainous landscape of the province, waterfalls are found in many places. The major waterfalls include Kalambo falls located in Mbala district, Lumangwe, Kabwelume water falls found in Mporokoso district 84km along Kawambwa road, Kundabwika falls found in Kaputa district and Chishimba falls.
Lakes of Northern Province
This vast inland sea was first made known to the European world in the mid 1800’s by the English explorers Richard Burton and John Speke. They pursued it as the source of the Nile, arriving at its shores in February of 1858, only to discover that the Ruzizi River in the north, which they thought to be the Nile, flowed into and not out of the lake.. It is the longest fresh water lake in the world and the second deepest after lake Baikal in Russia. The immense depth is because it lies in the Great Rift Valley, which also has created its steep shoreline. It reaches a depth of 1433 metres (4 700 feet), which is an astounding 642m below sea level.
The clear water host more than 350 different species of fish and is well known for aquarium fish exports and excellent angling.
Lake Chila is one of the beautiful lakes in, Zambia with an estimated terrain elevation above sea level of 1612 meters. Lake Chila is no more than a kilometre long and 800 metres wide. Though small, it is of interest to historians because on its bed lies a collection of historic military weapons that have been there for more than half a century. The arms were dumped into the mini-lake at the end of the First World War after soldiers from Germany East Africa (Tanzania) surrendered.
A number of these guns were fished from the lake seven years ago by Zambian commandos who were on a training exercise but it is believed a lot more remain below.
Lake Mweru Wantipa
Lake Mweru Wantipa is located at an elevation of 921 meters above sea level. Lake Mweru Wantipa is also known as Lake Wantipa. The lake shares boundary with three districts namely Kaputa and Nsama in Northern Province and a small part is in Chiengi district of Luapula Province.
When one looks out over Lake Bangweulu, the grey blue waters disappear into the horizon, blending in completely with the colour of the sky. It is difficult to tell just where the horizon is. ‘Bangweulu’ means ‘The Place Where the Water Meets the Sky.’
The Lake is exploited more as a fish source than for its tourist potential. This is unfortunate, as its beauty is breathtaking.
The main catches in the Lake are Cychlids (bream, tiger fish, and yellow belly) and catfish. About 57 000 metric tons of fish are harvested from the Lake each year. Although fish stocks are not in danger, catches are declining and the favoured species are becoming thinner.
Bangweulu Swamps and Wetlands
The Great Bangweulu Basin, incorporating the vast Bangweulu Lake and a massive Wetland area, lies in a shallow depression in the centre of an ancient cratonic platform, the North Zambian Plateau. The basin is fed by 17 principle rivers from a catchment area of 190 000 kms2, but is drained by only one river, the Luapula.
The area floods in the wet season between November and March, and receives an average annual rainfall of about 1200mm, but 90% of the water entering the system is lost due to evapo-transpiration. The resultant effect is that the water level in the centre of the basin varies between one and two meters, causing the flood line to advance and retreat by as much as 45 kilometers at the periphery. It is this seasonal rising and falling of the flood water that dictates life in the swamps.
Man has inhabited the periphery of the swamp area for hundreds of years as it has always provided a rich source of food, but the area is so incredibly vast, it is largely left to the abundant wildlife that live off the rich resources.
The current inhabitants of the Northern Province are descendants from a series of emigrations from the Congo Basin. The earliest settlers were known as the Ba-twa or Wild Men by the more recent arrivals. Formerly they occupied the islands around the confluence of the Chambeshi with the Luapula Rivers and lived by fishing and hunting from temporary shelters. Today they have become assimilated into the surrounding tribes building permanent villages and speaking the same Bemba language.