Who they are
Luangwa Valley is home to the Kunda people who migrated to the area from the Luba area in Congo during the first half of the 19th century. The Kunda are a small tribe of about 40,000 people. Traditionally the Kunda were hunters, but today the majority live as subsistence farmers. Despite the conditions being tough, with extreme seasons and crop raiding wild animals affecting food security, villagers in the area still live in the traditional way.
In 1997 teachers from Kawaza School in Nsefu Chiefdom, along with members of the local community, Robin Pope Safaris and Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), took the innovative step of introducing cultural tourism to the Luangwa Valley. They believed that certain types of visitors to Zambia were not only interested in viewing wildlife but were also interested in meeting with, and learning from, rural communities. And they strongly felt that local school children would benefit from interacting with guests from a different culture. The people of Kawaza Village hence developed a unique opportunity for visitors to experience genuine Kunda culture and ‘ways of living’ by inviting a small numbers of guests to spend time in their village and participate in everyday life.
What they offer
Kawaza Village offers the more adventurous traveller a stay in a traditional rural, Zambian village. Visit them for the day or stay with them for longer.
Upon arrival an itinerary based on the wishes and interests of the visitor is drawn up. A walk in the bush to hear about the different trees and their traditional medicinal uses, a visit to the Chief’s Palace to meet the Senior Kunda Chief Nsefu, a visit to the local health clinic, attending a local church service, or seeing how the children are taught in the nearby school are among the many options. If you are a teacher why not offer to give a lesson yourself! Spirits and other non-physical entities play an important role in Zambian belief. To learn about this fascinating aspect of Kunda culture, a visit to a traditional healer can be arranged. Or why not take a visit to the sacred place where rainmaker ceremonies are conducted and where a Chief in 1876 was turned into a Baobab tree! The choice is yours.
The villagers at Kawaza are fascinated with the different cultures they meet and love to exchange ideas and experiences with visitors. Probably the best way to get to know the local people and their ‘way of life’, is to take part in daily activities. Visitors are therefore invited to join the villagers when they go into the fields to work or to the lagoons to fish, or when the women are grinding maize using stones, carrying water on their heads or preparing traditional local dishes like stiff maize porridge (Nshima) with relish made out of local meat, peanuts and pumpkin leaves.
In the village there is no electricity but that does not mean that overnight guests have to go to bed at sunset! In the dark, tropical night, villagers and school children will entertain you with drumming, dances and drama and the finest storytellers will recount the old Kunda stories with everyone seated around the fire.
Kawaza is located in the Luangwa Valley , bordering South Luangwa National Park, in Zambia ’s Eastern Province .
International flights for the Luangwa Valley arrive in Lusaka , Zambia ’s capital, or into neighbouring Malawi (Lilongwe). From Lusaka or Lilongwe, the Luangwa Valley can easily be reached by an internal flight (to Mfuwe Airport), private vehicle or coach/bus.
Coaches and local buses run every day from the main bus station in Lusaka and Lilongwe to the market town of Chipata. The journey from Lusaka takes approx. 6 hours, and from Lilongwe 2.5 hours and costs approx. US$10.00.
Coaches and local buses then run from the bus station in Chipata to Mfuwe (approx. 3 hours journey time).
Get Chipata bus to drop you at Flatdogs Camp and transfers can be arranged from there to Kawaza for a modest cost.
4WD Vehicles can be hired in Lusaka , Lilongwe or Chipata. View www.voyagerszambia.com for details. From Lilongwe or Lusaka head for the market town of Chipata, then take the dirt road to Mfuwe (2.5 hours drive). Once reaching the tarmac T-junction in Mfuwe, turn right towards South Luangwa National Park . The turn-off for Kawaza is a few miles along this road on the right hand side (sign-posted to Tena Tena). The journey from here should take less than 30 minutes. Continue along the dirt track, through two sandy riverbeds, until you see a turn-off on the right sign-posted to Kawaza Village Tourism Project (KVTP). Kawaza Basic School is on the left hand side 200 metres after this turn-off. Kawaza Village is located on the right opposite the school. If in doubt ask villagers along the way and drop in at the school when you arrive!
What to bring
- Mosquito repellent
- Toiletries (biodegradable)
Accommodation & Amenities
- The villagers have built four roundavel huts with mud walls and thatched roofs for guests. Each has two beds complete with clean linen, blankets and mosquito nets
- There are open-air showers surrounded by reed screens, for which villagers heat water over an open fire for you to use in the mornings and evenings. Toilets are traditional ‘long-drops’ with a comfortable, wooden throne to sit upon.
- There is no electricity.
- Traditional fare is freshly made over an open fire and served to guests three times a day (breakfast, lunch and evening meal). The food is delicious and includes the staple Zambian food nshima (ground maize that sets like polenta), along with a variety of vegetable and meat relishes including ndiyo zo vundula (ground peanut and pumpkin leaves), nyemba (red bean stew), nyama ya mbuzi (goat), nkhuku (chicken) and nsomba (fish).Tea, coffee and boiled, filtered water are also available throughout the day. The local brew Seven Days Beer and Kachasu (very strong spirit) are also beverages that should be sampled! You may wish to bring your own stock of soft drinks and beers with you.
- A day visit to Kawaza costs USD $20.00 per person. This includes all activities and a traditional lunch. Excludes travel costs to Kawaza.
An overnight stay at Kawaza costs USD $70.00 per person per night. This includes accommodation, meals and all activities. Excludes travel costs to Kawaza.
The village is able to receive visitors from April through to the end of November. At other times (the rainy season), the village is difficult to access as the journey entails crossing two sandy rivers.