The Source of The Zambezi

The Zambezi starts as a trickled fountain at a place called Mwinilunga in Zambia and after 45 Kms opens into a wide fan with mini rapids. It continues to flow southward in this country for approximately 337 Kms until it crosses into neighbouring Angola. The river is quite wide at the starting point in Angola and remains so for the length of this country. In Angola it flows directly south for about 460 km until it again crosses into Zambia.


 In Angola, my worst fears were attacks from MPLA soldiers (not Unita rebels) who shot and killed or maimed fishermen for their daily catch. In fact, during my research, I came upon many Unita rebels who offered me the most wonderful hospitality any white man could image under such harsh conditions.

I once came upon a village that had been wiped out by MPLA soldiers. They set fire to the village huts, vegetation fields, the villagers they shot their salvoes into, and all livestock, which they hacked into pieces for food. They also disemboweled all the villagers including children in the event they swallowed diamonds, which the villagers traded for food and supplies.

This dangerous river then meanders through Namibia with the Namibian bank on the westerly side and Zambian soil on the easterly side. Botswana is the next country on the westerly side and it continues through Botswana’s famous Barotse Plains, which flood so heavily during the rainy season, that local tribes have to vacate their islands and seek refuge on the mainland. When the floods subside, the locals give thanks to the Gods by dancing and staging a river thanksgiving. This is in the form of literally hundreds of Mokoro (dugout) canoes, which they decorate with flowers and adorn with colourful cloth. The decorated flotilla is feverishly canoed upstream to a designated island where the partying begins in earnest. Locals become so inebriated that most pass out within hours although the bantering and partying continues for many days.

From Botswana, the river snakes straight to the east and continues until it flows once again solely in Zambia for approximately 270 kms and then joins Zimbabwe as its southerly neighbour. Zambia and Zimbabwe share the world famous Victoria Falls. It is here where David Livingstone christened the Falls after Queen Victoria. At statue is erected in his honour at the Falls and I am at liberty to say at this point in time that it remains to be seen whether the Zimbabwean government will keep it there or remove it because of its link to colonial days. There is rumour and I must reiterate that it is only a rumour and that is that President Robert Mugabe (I can take what I want from the colonials because they stole from us Shonas. But hell, what about the minority group – the Matabele who are beautiful peace loving people) wants it removed because of the fact as I’ve just mentioned. The latest news is that the war vets have set fire to the copper statue in an attempt to burn it down. At present I advise that no one travels this country because it is racked with these idiots who kill at random. Damn, how I dislike these despots.

Between Zambia and Zimbabwe, these two countries also share the largest manmade dam in the world called Lake Kariba and the Zambezi flows between the two countries for approximately 1500 Kms until it flows solely through Mozambique, who also has a manmade lake called the Cahorra Bassa Dam.

From Cahorra Bassa dam, the Zambezi flows through a narrow granite gorge 800 metres high with an average width of 20 metres. The gorge length is 37 Kms long and suddenly opens very wide. In fact, the Zambezi is at its widest through most parts of upper Mozambique until it reaches the town of Tete. The most frightening part of the Zambezi is the gorge section from below the wall to the town of Songa because the river flows extremely fast through these granite walls. Being narrow, the water is forcibly channeled between the walls and the current is also extremely powerful. From Tete, the Zambezi flows down to the sea with many confusing channels until it reaches the last town at a place called Chinde.