My bike trip around Lake Bangweulu and through Luapula Province was a highlight of my time in Zambia, combining good ol’ physical exertion, catching up with PCV friends, and, of course, lots of time spent on the water. You can read more about it on the “Northern Zambia by bike” post.
A family that invited me to eat ubwali with them, about 70 km into my first day on the road. When I heard, “Iseni! Tulye ubwali!” (“Come here! We’re eating ubwali!”) from the side of the road, I took it as a good sign. And of course I couldn’t say no.
The journey begins – with Adam, who biked with me from his site in Mfungwe to Taylor’s site, 80 Km away in Chungu.
Adam negotiating the first of six janky log bridges over a braided wetland stream, on the way to Taylor’s village in Chungu.
Me getting across a janky log bridge on the way to Chungu. I took my heavy panniers across separately.
Adam and Taylor cooking breakfast in the morning sunshine.
Adam, Taylor, and me at Taylor’s site, where we parted ways.
Burned hillside below Kasaba. We saw a LOT of burned landscapes along the ride, as this was the hottest, driest, and smokiest time of year in Zambia.
Crowded ferry crossing.
Bike loading for the ferry crossing to Kasaba.
Loading up bikes onto the rowboat that would ferry us across to Kasaba. I think we had six bikes in all on that boat, plus the passengers.
Biking through a wetland between Chungu and the Northern-Luapula provincial border town of Kasaba.
First views of the network of lakes that make up the Lake Bangweulu floodplains.
Sunrise over Lake Chifunabuli, seen from PCVs Jim and Julie’s yard in Lubwe.
Life along Lake Chifunabuli in Lubwe.
Adam, Julie, and Jim in Julie and Jim’s cozy hut, where we spent our first rest day.
Surrealist, album-cover photo that Julie took of Adam, me, and Lucas in Lake Chifunabuli. The sand on the hills in the background looked so much like snow, it kinda killed me!
For a few hundred kilometers beyond Samfya, we switched to smooth tarmac, accompanied by bizarre road signs. This one did not advertise a picnicking spot but a typical vehicle lay-by.
Charcoal for sale on the side of the road between Samfya and Mansa.
Biking along the road from Lubwe to Samfya, which totally reminded me of biking through scrub brush in coastal California.
There were little fishing shanty towns all along the road from Lubwe to Samfya, but sadly, this is the only photo I got. It doesn’t really do the places justice.
Adam, me, Julie, Jim, and Lucas in front of Jim and Julie’s place, before we all hit the road again.
Hayley, Jesse, and a random guy whose name I now forget in front of one of the funnier business combos we found in Luapula’s provincial capital, Mansa. I ate three ice cream cones that day, but purchased no wedding dresses.
At the Luapula Provincial House in Mansa, Jacob eats his first icisongole fruit, with encouragement from Samwell.
Adam pickin’ at the Luapula Provincial House.
Me and my favorite guys in Zambia: Samwell, Zach, Jacob, and Adam.
Views from the hilly ride between Mansa and Mwense.
Ryeon on the way to Intumbachushi Falls.
Hoes in a partly-tilled field between Mwense and Kazembe. In the distance is the Luapula River and, on the other side, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ryeon, me, and Samwell, at Ryeon’s site just outside Mwense. We’d planned to set off at first light on our long ride to Intumbachushi Falls, but a lost key delayed us until well after daybreak. At least we got to take this photo!
A bizarre painting of North American and African wildlife, which Samwell and I found in a hole-in-the-wall ubwali restaurant in Mwense.
Me at the top of the long hill (which wasn’t really that long) right before Intumbachushi.
Ryeon and I arrive at the falls!
Hayley rock-hops to a “secret” pool at Intumbachushi.
Pristine forest in the valley below.
PCVs bathing in one of the many pools at Intumbachushi Falls.
Cody puts his wrestling moves into action.
Jacob and Michael discuss a particularly high cliff jump.
Samwell jumps into the “secret” pool.
Me and Samwell.
Sunset from the “secret” pool.
Another of the falls at Intumbachushi.
Swimming spot with crazy Dr. Seuss-like trees.
Ryeon and I doing our best Zam poses, showing off the shoes!
Me posing for a “Zampic,” the way our Zambian neighbors like to do it. Squatting, smiles forbidden.
Gathering storm clouds over a lower falls. We got rained on a fair bit during our two-and-a-half days at Intumbachushi.
One of my favorite spots along the falls. You can just make out Ryeon’s morning stretching on the rocks.
Ryeon on the road from Intumbachushi to Lumangwe falls. Those clouds soon dumped rain on us!
I could make a career out of photographing hilarious signs in various Zambian towns. This was my favorite in Kawambwa. I liked it so much that I stopped, even though it was pouring rain and I was soaked.
Warming and drying our butts around a charcoal brazier kindly loaned to us by the ladies cooking us ubwali at Nayafede Restaurant in Kawambwa, where we took refuge from the downpour.
Lucas biking with friends on the way from Kawambwa to Lumangwe Falls.
The Kalungwishi River, just downstream from Lumangwe Falls.
Ryeon flies while I cling, terrified, to the railing.
Ryeon and I discuss the jump.
Woo hoo! Lucas does a back flip off the bridge.
Adam eyes the jump while local boys swim below.
Lucas and Adam eye the jump from a bridge above the Kalungwishi River. All the local kids were doing it …
Finally I get up my courage. Must’ve been the awesome Spiderman leggings I found in Mansa!
The biking quartet arrives at the entrance to Lumangwe Falls.
Adam at Lumangwe Falls.
The group above Lumangwe Falls. MUCH smaller than the crowd at Intumbachushi.
I won’t even try to explain what was going on in this photo.
Jacob, me, and Adam.
Adam and Ryeon.
The four of us bikers take bad-ass muscle photos.
Images from my two-week bike trip across Northern and Luapula provinces.
Me and Lucas at Kabweluma Falls.
Me and Adam at Kabweluma Falls.
Most of Kabweluma Falls. There was so much going on, it was hard to get it all in one photo.
The right side of Kabweluma Falls, which we agreed were actually the most beautiful of the trip. You could just stare at them for hours …
Lucas takes a nap on a rock step above Kabweluma Falls.
Lucas and Adam try to look manly while making a home-made spear for killing frogs. Their hunting expedition was less than spectacular.
Sweet vine-covered tree below Lumangwe Falls.
Me at Kabweluma Falls.
Lucas cooking a killer lunch at Kabweluma Falls, courtesy of his methylated spirit stove.
Lucas and Adam napping at the falls. I slept for quite a while myself. It was so cool and peaceful after so many days of biking and socializing …
Sunset and storm clouds over Lumangwe Falls on our last night there.
Rain just on the other side of the falls.
Rainbow over Lumangwe Falls on our last morning of camping. I took it as a good omen, but that day proved to be one of the toughest of my trip: 90 hot, sweaty, bone-shaking kilometers on the worst road I’d ever seen in Zambia.
A small stretch of the worst road I’ve ever biked on, between Lumangwe Falls and the town of Mporokoso. This photo doesn’t nearly do it justice, as the worst parts were much worse, on steep uphills where picture-taking was out of the question. I was just trying to make it through.
Adam eating our “last supper” of the trip, in Mporokoso. It wasn’t a romantic dinner; the restaurant had just lost power.
A waterfall just off the road on the last and longest leg of my trip, from Mporokoso to Kasama. It was only 2 km off the road, but it kind of wasn’t worth it in the broader picture of biking 159 km, half of it on another awful road, but that was only halfway into the ride, and I didn’t realize it at the time.
Last river crossing of the trip, over a tributary waterway flowing – fittingly – right back into Lake Bangweulu. This was my last and longest day of riding, and at this point I was only about 30 km from Kasama.