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Open Africa

Munjili Wilderness Experience: 'Home of the Muchinga Walking Safari'



Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Mazingo Hotel
Mazingo is an established hotel offering accommodation in en-suite double, twin and single bedrooms. All rooms are equip...

Bayamas Lodge, Pub & Grill
“Bayama” is a Bemba word which means 'Uncle'. Bayamas is also a tourist information service and houses the h...

Buffalo Camp
Situated on the banks of the Mwaleshi River, Buffalo Camp is a seasonal camp open from June to October, in an area known...

Chintumukulu Campsite
Chintumukulu campsite was established by the Mpumba Natural Resource Conservation Society (MNRCS). Chintu literally mean...

It's Wild Chifunda Bush Camp
This camp is operated by Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) and is located in Chifunda Game Management Area. Th...

Institute of Christian Leadership (ICL)
The Institute of Christian Leadership is owned by the Catholic Church. It started as a training facility for people in d...

Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge & Campsite
Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge and Campsite is located 25km off the Great North Road and a few hundred metres south of the K...

Shiwa Ngandu Estate
Shiwa Ngandu is a grand English style house built on a remote estate by the late Sir Steward Gore-Brown in the 1920&rsqu...

Tusha Safari Lodge
Accommodation is offered in self-catering chalets. The campsite is equipped with electricity lighting and a spacious car...

Kapishya Hot Springs & Buffalo Camp
These springs are completely natural and sulphur free. Accommodation includes six chalets and camping. Each chalet slee...

Natwange Community Campsite
Natwange means 'let’s celebrate and have fun’. The camp is owned and managed by the local community. It...

MACO-Site Travel Lodge
Accommodation is offered in chalets and flats. It is owned by the Government Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives....


Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Kapamba Falls Walk
Robert and John takes visitors on a walk to this little known, but spectacular, waterfall. The walk takes approximately...


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The Munjili Wilderness Experience is in northern Zambia and stretches from Lavushi Manda in the south to the Kapishya Hot Springs in the north and also includes the North Luangwa National Park. The route shares boundaries with the Bangweulu Wetlands in the west, North and South Luangwa National Park and Lavushi Manda National Park. Together, these destinations offer what is arguably one of the finest tourist destinations in Zambia - still largely unknown to many tourists. 

The area has three predominant seasons: September to November (hot and dry), December to March (hot and wet) and April to August (cool and dry). Daily temperatures range between 18° and 24°C. 

The towns of Kapiri-Mposhi and Serenje usually have sufficient fuel stocks unless there is a countrywide fuel shortage. Driving time from Lusaka is approximately six hours (660km). If you intend to continue further north, carry enough supplies with you for the onward journey. Consult local tour operators for information about status of the roads as they can be inaccessible during the rainy season. This route is in a malaria risk area, so contact your doctor or pharmacist about appropriate prophylactics.

Mpika market is a worthwhile stop for stocking up on supplies. The market is normally stocked with a variety of veggies, forest products such as the delicious mopane worms (caterpillars), dry fresh water fish and chikanda (a delicacy prepared from wild orchid tubers and peanuts).

Reasons to visit:

The route includes a number of well-known attractions such as the Mutinondo Wilderness Area, a haven for bird-lovers at the edge of the Muchinga Escarpment, the Shiwa Ngandu Estate, a grand English-style homestead, built in the 1920s, the Kapishya Hot Springs and rock art Nachikufu Caves. 

The unique scenic views of the escarpment, wilderness areas, rich cultural heritage and abundant wildlife resources makes this route a real African experience. The Luangwa ecosystem with its characteristic Miombo and Mopane Woodlands has unique scenic views in alternating landscapes. The Muchinga escarpment and plateau supports one of the largest and most significant wildlife populations in Africa. Among the regular wildlife to spot while on this route include black lechwe, buffalo, elephant, hippo, zebra, kudu, impala, greater kudu, eland, waterbuck, black rhinoceros, warthog, leopard, spotted hyena, baboon, velvet monkeys and lions. Two endemic ungulate subspecies, Cookson's wildebeest (connochates taurinus cooksoni) and Thornicrofts giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis thorncrofti), are confined to the Luangwa Valley. The region is the wintering ground of the white stork (ciconia ciconia) and a habitat for the endemic Lilian’s lovebird (agapornis lilianae) and the black-cheeked lovebird (agapornis nigregenis).

The Munjili Wilderness Experience has an interesting historical background. The San Bushmen, with their simple Stone Age technology and hunter-gatherer techniques are believed to be the earliest inhabitants of the area. Their characteristic rock art paintings still survives today at the Nachikufu Cave heritage site. They were displaced by the migrating Bantu-speaking people from the Luba-Lunda Empire in Southern Democratic Republic of Congo. As the Bantu's agricultural and Iron Age culture spread southwards, the San Bushman could not compete and they were either assimilated into these migrant groups or pushed into areas that could not be farmed. 

The route has seen some of Europe's famous explorers including David Livingstone and Dr Francisco de Jose Maria de Lacerda. Dr Francisco was a Portuguese explorer, and sometime Royal Astronomer at the court of Lisbon. In 1798 he led an expedition from Mozambique to establish a chain of fortified trading posts across Africa to Angola. Unfortunately he soon fell ill and died before he could complete his mission. A monument depicting their east-west continental route stands on the Great North Road between Mpika and Chinsali.

Perhaps the most famous European to visit the area was Dr David Livingstone, who was also the first European to see Victoria Falls in 1855. His quest for the source of the Nile and his work to end the slave trade through Christianity, commerce and civilization saw him fall ill and later lead to his death. He died in Chief Chitambo's village, where his heart was buried underneath a Mupundu tree in 1873.


The Bisa people form the majority group within this route. Other groups include the Nsenga and Bemba groups. The Bisa group, also called the Mushroom clan, descended from the Bantu who came down to the Plateau from the present day Democratic Republic of Congo. They settled in the area after avoiding the Bemba-Ngoni tribal wars in the 1830's and were efficient middlemen for the Portuguese slave trade. The present day Bisa people lead a rural subsistence life rich in folklore. Their traditional diet consists of the staple thick porridge, locally called Ubwali or Nshima, prepared from milled maize or millet. It is served with vegetables, fish or meat. The Bisa harvest forest products which include forest fruits, mushrooms, medicinal plants, caterpillars, wild orchids, wild yams, and legumes.  The orchids grow in dambos (hollows) within the Miombo woodland. Wild yams grow on termite mounds while the legume is a woodland species used to prepare a sweet beverage called Munkoyo. The orchid tubers are used in the preparation of thick jelly called Chikanda and served as relish.

The Bisa celebrate an annual feast around September called Chinamanongo. For more on the Bisa people read the Book 'Large Mammals and a Brave People - subsistence hunters in Zambia' by Dr. Stuart Marks.

Cultural ceremonies:

Chinamanongo Cultural Ceremony is celebrated by the Bisa people of Mpika. Senior Chief Kopa hosts this annual event in October and November at his palace near the Bangweulu Wetlands. The ceremony is centred on the chief feasting with his subjects from one traditional large pot. This is a special occasion because the chief normally does not eat with his subjects. It is believed that, during the Bantu migrations from the present day Democratic Republic of Congo, the Bisa people found a dead antelope - considered as a sign of a good reception to a new land. There was only one pot available and the chief decided to break with tradition and eat with his subjects. The name 'Chinamanongo' means "eating together from one pot". The ceremony proceedings begin at Chief's Kopa’s Palace.  A procession moves to a central arena where the festivities are carried out. No ancestral worship is carried out. Tribal elders tell traditional stories about the Bisa migrations and dance groups take their turn performing dances.

Malaila Cultural Ceremony - Kabuswe Yombwe in Munyamadzi is a big baobab tree pierced with spears and arrows. This is the venue of Malaila, a Bisa thanksgiving ceremony to thank the ancestors for a successful hunt. The site also serves as a place of prayer before war or during adverse conditions such as disease and drought.

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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.



The Munjili Wilderness Experience is situated in northern Zambia and includes Mpika town, the Mutinondo Wilderness Area and Shiwa Ngandu. The route further extends to cover the major Mpika area from Kapishya Hot Springs in the north to the Nachikufu Caves near Lavushi Manda in the South.

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Key Contacts

Wesley L. Wakun'uma

Telephone: Click here
Mobile: Click here

Andreas Pruffer

Mobile: Click here


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