Zambia waterfalls rip-off

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Zambia waterfalls rip-off

Postby Francois Visagie » 5th January 2011, 09:34

Dear Zambia,

On our December/January trip to Zambia we were really excited to visit the beautiful North Zambian waterfalls we'd heard so much about. Upon reaching the turn-off to the first of these (Mumbuluma Falls) the road was barred by a boom.

A man introduced himself as the caretaker of the waterfall. He told us that Zambia had recently (July 2010) introduced access control to its waterfalls and showed us official-looking circulars and brochures. No facilities had been built, but picnicing and bush camping were allowed at most waterfalls. Villagers who'd previously used or lived around waterfalls were no longer allowed access. It was his job at this waterfall to keep villagers and children away.

On this particular day he would be unable to supervise at the waterfall, but if any villagers or children bothered us we could just chase them away (his words).

For a day visit foreigners pay USD 10 per person and USD 5 per vehicle. Camping would cost them USD 15 per person and USD 5 for the car! At some of the other waterfalls camping is even steeper, USD 20 pppn plus the USD 5 per vehicle! According to him, this is in operation at all waterfalls in Luapula Province. IIRC, he specifically included Mumbuluma, Ntumbacushi, Kundabikwa, Kabwelume and Lumangwe. He showed us the printed and laminated schedule of fees. All of those were on our route.

We were totally shocked by all this - having to pay the equivalent of guesthouse accommodation for bush camping without facilities whilst having to chase away recently displaced villagers! After telling the man we hadn't budgeted for that kind of thing at the waterfalls, he and a side-kick who appeared indicated that we could "negotiate" something different. Basically we'd write ourselves into the visitors' book as day visitors.

We'd planned to overnight at each of these waterfalls, and we realised that we'd run into these problems over and over, at each waterfall. Plus we just plain hadn't budgeted for the kind of money that would cost. That meant we wouldn't be visiting the waterfalls. All that would remain of that part of our tour would be Lake Tanganyika and Kapishya Hot Springs. But from where we were at Mansa the massive round-trip required for those two wasn't justified, so sadly we abandoned the whole North Zambian leg of the trip.

We'd planned to spend most of our remaining money during the 8, 9 days in that region. Instead we ended up spending it at Lake Kariba and back in SA. The steep fees cost the region as a whole a tidy income, and us the opportunity of a lifetime! I don't know when we'll be able to go that way again.

Can someone like Ilse Mwanza perhaps confirm whether this was some opportunistic individual? Or is it official policy to charge these access fees? If official policy, where can petitions be addressed?

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Francois Visagie

Re: Zambia waterfalls rip-off

Postby Chitambi » 5th January 2011, 10:15

have you been to the table mountain in SA, how many rip offs are there? You gotta be smarter than that! Crooks are all over the world.
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Re: Zambia waterfalls rip-off

Postby Sokoto » 5th January 2011, 10:42

I feel sorry for you Francois. I can't tell from your story if these were crooks or not.

But either way, the fault lies with the state officials who manage these resources. They should give out very clear information to the public about what to expect in these places so that tourists don't get shocked on the spot.

If these charges you reported are official charges, then we are really stupid if we expect tourists to come while charging them through the nose. If they are not real and this was just an impostor, then government officials should have been proactive by finding out what crooks are doing and warning the public about this.
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