Three of Zambia’s most intrepid modern-day explorers have pooled their skills to produce this encyclopaedic guide. The book contains literally hundreds of photographs of more than 150 rapids and waterfalls – enough to tempt even the laziest lounge lizard to pack his camping gear and venture forth in search of some of these phenomena. And searching will be necessary; as the authors say in their introduction, most people are not aware of the existence of so many waterfalls “and this includes people living in the waterfalls’ vicinity”.
The various Trip Reports give an idea of what has to be undertaken to find some of the waterfalls described. For example, Heather and Ilse were in Northern Province in July 2004:
“We went in search of the Chaka and Bulalo Falls. Alas, we only got as far as Nsangu, 2km short of Chungu, where the ‘road’ disappeared altogether and turned into a bicycle track/footpath. Although this is supposed to be the main road from Mbala to Mporokoso, it has vanished completely due to the bridges over the Lubaleshi and Lufubu having collapsed ages ago. We couldn’t find any motorable path at all, therefore left the Chaka and Bulalo Falls area for more intrepid hikers to explore.”
Moral of the story – Don’t trust the maps!!
Ilse and a companion called Karen are looking for accommodation in the Solwezi area:
“On we went towards Mwombezhi River and the nearby Malundwe Mining Camp which was said to have a guest house. It didn’t.”
Moral of the story – Don’t rely on hearsay!!
In fact, the Trip Reports are probably a good way to start to appreciate this Guidebook (especially the saga of Quentin and Steve Robinson’s trip to Eastern Province). Apart from containing a lot of detail regarding quality of roads etc., they give an insight into the sense of humour, patience and tolerance that is an essential part of any explorer’s baggage:
“We picked up two guides from Chama to show us Jesus’ Footsteps at Nundwe Falls. ………. When we got to the top the guides said they did not know where the footsteps had gone. They had lost them. Very careless.”
“Thoroughness” has been the watchword in the production of this definitive guide. For each waterfall there are copious photographs and sketches; co-ordinates and directions are given, along with a brief description of what to expect in terms of facilities (if any). “Kavuna Falls on Lufubu River – just a miserable rapid though there’s a pleasant short walk leading up to it.”
There is even an Appendix, which tries to turn the art of Waterfall Visiting into a science.
Perhaps the best way to utilise this guide is to read the Trip Reports and decide which area and what falls to try to visit. Then obtain some maps (notoriously unreliable) because, unfortunately, the maps in the Waterfall Guide have been reduced too much to be a lot of use. Then, armed with maps and guidebook, pack what you’ll need for a fortnight outside civilisation as we know it, and set forth.
I have personally visited perhaps ten per cent of the contents of the guide, so I am somewhat able to vouch for its authenticity. For example, the description of the approach to and the facilities at Kalambo Falls (one of the “must sees” on anyone’s list) are exactly as I remember from 1998 when I was last there – with perhaps some improvements in the meantime. The account of the approach to Lupupa Falls, however, glosses over the difficulties we had in 2002.
There are many reasons to buy this book: the photographs are plentiful and appetite-whetting; you get miniatures of Quentin Allen’s paintings and sketches (“bushscapes” he used to call them); it is a great memento of the beauties of Zambia (even if you don’t visit any of the contents at all); most of all, it is an invaluable guide if you do intend to go exploring this wonderful country that we live in.
The best photograph of all is on the cover of the book. It is a panorama of Kabweluma Falls between Kawambwa and Mporokoso – by far the most beautiful waterfall in the whole if Zambia, I would contend. I have nicked it and turned it into my own personal desktop background and people who see it (including Zambians) find it hard to believe it’s in Zambia.
Another reason why I find this book so satisfying is that I have been included in a bibliography for the first time in my life.
Thanks are due to Ilse, Quentin and Heather (with support from Timmy, Paul and others) for bringing us this guidebook with a difference. All self respecting cataractologists (cataractophiles?) should make sure it’s in their library. Go buy it!