ESCAPE FROM THE HUSTLE & BUSTLE

Attractions

Mkushi Town

Mkushi town has a couple of small supermarkets, Sunshine and Alfa with a good selection of groceries. Mkushi is also the closest fuel supply with Police, Post Office and hardware stores. A vibrant market is situated near the district hospital. There is also a small private hospital, Tusekelemo.

Kapiri Mposhi is slightly bigger with a well stocked Shoprite supermarket.

Mkushi Forests, Birding & Wildlife

For Nature lovers, the rich Mkushi miombo forests offer unique birding and walks. Around the Forest Inn grounds several trees have been identified and labelled, and bird baths attract a lot of birds.

Flora

The woodlands of Mkushi, and the protected forests around The Forest Inn, are typical miombo flora of high trees with shrub and grassland below, with more evergreen trees than in most miombo woodlands. These forests are dominated by subfamily Caesalpinioideae , particularly the classic miombo trees Brachystegia, Julbernardia, and Isoberlinia, while under the trees are important herbaceous plants such as Crotalaria and Indigofera. Miombo woodlands form a broad belt across south-central Africa, running from Angola in the west to Tanzania to the east.

Characteristically the trees shed their leaves for a short period in the dry season to reduce water loss, and produce a flush of new leaves just before the rainy season. The new leaves with their rich gold and red colours evocative of the autumn colours in Europe but the actual reason for this colouration is to mask the underlying chlorophyll and so protect the leaves from sunburn.

The name miombo is used in a number of Bantu Languages such as Shona, Swahili and Bemba. In Bemba, the word “miombo” is the plural of the word “muombo”, which is the specific name for the species Brachystegia longifolia.

These miombo woodlands are also important to the livelihoods of many rural people, who depend on the resources available from the woodland. The wide variety of species provides wild fruits, caterpillars, honey, traditional medicines, wild mushrooms, fodder for livestock, timber and firewood.

Birding

The woodlands around the Forest Inn are widely regarded to offer some of the best  miombo birding in Zambia.  Specialties here are the superb Black-collared Eremomela, which mostly occurs in small groups or mixed/species bird parties. A  typical bird party may contain ten or twenty species, mainly of territorial insectivorous birds.The Fork-tailed Drongo or Arnots Chat may be the first to be seen or heard, followed by a mixed party. The Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Weaver can be difficult to see and is best located by its high-pitched, penetrating trilling call.  Both Yellow-breasted and Southern Hyliotas occur as well as Orange-winged Pytilias and Cabanis’s Bunting. Sousa’s Shrikes often perch quietly on the smaller shrubs and trees. Bird parties may include Red-capped Crombec, Starlings, Orioles, Barbets, Eremomelas, Woodpeckers, Rufous-bellied and Miombo Tit, Violet-backed Sunbird, Spotted Creeper, Chinspot Batis, White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher, Boehms Flycatcher, Miombo Barbet, Little Spotted Woodpecker, and Scaly-throated Honeyguide. Fork tailed drongos, African pied wagtails, Grey Headed Bushshrikes, African hoopoos and Scimitarbill Hoopoo Look out for Miombo scrub robins in the denser vegetation. At night listen out for Barn Owls, Wood Owls and White Faced Owl.

Please ask at reception for a checklist of birds sighted at Forest Inn. (compiled by various birders, visitors and ourselves over the years). We are always updating our checklist, so please inform reception of any new sightings. Thank you.

Flying Squirels
(Anomalurus derbianus)

Lord Derby’s Scaly-tailed Squirrel, Derby’s Flying Squirrel

Flying squirrels have been sighted for several years at Forest Inn. Nesting boxes have been put up for them. The flying squirrel  is unmistakable with its specialised membrane of skin linking the fore and hind legs, and the base of the tail. This helps it glide when leaping from a higher branch down to a lower one. These solitary, arboreal species prefer miombo woodlands, and occur from Liuwa, across Mwinilunga and the Copperbelt, and into the western side of northern Zambia.

Sun Squirrels
(Heliosciurus Rufobrachium and Heliosciurus Mutabilis )

A common resident of Forest Inn seen playing often in pairs in the trees, or soaking up the morning sun. This species is found mostly in lowland or montane evergreen forest, but also occurs in the riverine forest and thickets of Brachystegia/Julbernardia woodlands.They nest in holes in trees or in dense clumps of vines high in forest trees. They are diurnal, and either solitary or found in pairs. There is substantial colour variation between individuals, and seasons, from light fawn to greyish brown, but its long bushy tail is typically ringed by numerous whitish, longitudinal stripes.

TRAVELING IN THE AREA

Excursions

The Mkushi Community

The predominant people are the Swaka (from Chilata down to Kapiri) who are Bemba speakers. The local authority is overseen by Chief Chitina, Chief Shaibila and Chief Mulungwe. Mkushi is home tome to the annual harvest festival, Chibwelamushi which translates as “return to the village”. Held every September the festival brings together the Bisa, Swaka and Lala people. Mkushi farm block attracts labour from all over the country giving it a cosmopolitan community comprising Tonga, Nyanja and Lalas from Serenje along with the mixed bag of commercial farmers -the big Greek community came south from Tanzania, English, South African, Zimbabweans, Yugosslavs who came to build the Kafue Gorge Power Station and many more.

Mkushi was initially opened up to tobacco but later developed into a major cattle, maize, wheat and soya producing area. Later it also became a major supplier of tomatoes and onions to the Copperbelt and Lubumbashi. More recently the farm bloc is diversifying into macademia, game ranching, avocado, citrus and essential oils.

An interesting character in Mkushis colonial history was Chirapula Stevenson who was the Governer of North West Rhodesia. He is not only famous for his many wives and subsequent extensive family, but also for pioneering flood irrigation on the Chibwefwe stream which runs through Mkushi town into the Lunsemfwa. It is still used today to grow huge amounts of tomatoes and other vegetables by the local people at Kasala Mkanga.

Chengelo School & Ndubaluba Outdoor Centre

Mkushi is home to the prestigious Chengelo School which was founded in 1988. It offers a high level of education from primary to 6th Form. The Ndubabluba outdoor centre offers a range of courses in adventure activities.

Changwena Falls

This lovely waterfall, near to Fort Elwes and Mount Mumpu is about two hours north (approx. 40km) of Mkushi town, reached by a bush track road through a forest reserve. These tracks are seasonal, so do ask for local directions from Mkushi before setting off and 4WD is essential. The site is almost on the border of the DRC so be careful not to inadvertently cross.

A small stream leaves its dambo and cascades through a series of three rock pools. These waterfalls, flowing over attractive copper coloured rocks are beautiful and wonderful to swim in. Camping is allowed, and from there you can climb Mumpu, visit the huge cave and easily visit Fort Elwes (see below).

Fort Elves

The fort was built around 1896–97 by Frank Smitheman and his group of gold prospectors who feared attacks from the Ngoni people.
This impressive structure offers stunning views of the surrounding hills. Four huge dry-stone walls, up to 2m thick and 3m high, form a rectangular structure, which originally had a single entrance. Although today some of the walls are disintegrating, some of the original wooden structures still survive.

Latitude/Longitude: S13°24’11.99″ E29°36’32.36″ (-13.40333, 29.60899)

Wonder Gorge and Bells Point

This spectacular gorge marks the confluence of the Mkushi River and the Lunsemfwa, as they gouge 300-meter-deep gorges into the sedimentary rocks of the Muchinga escarpment. The best viewpoint is Bells Point. It was named after a Miss Grace Bell, a friend of the first European to see the gorge, who visited in 1913. Bell Point is a National Monument but entry is free and there are places to camp. It’s in a very rural, remote area so you’ll need a reliable 4WD and take plenty of water.

It is east of Kabwe, and about 130km south of Mkushi, further south than what is known as Old Mkushi. From the Forest inn go 5km past Mkushi town and take the road right to Masansa, (used to be called Picadilly Circus) and then to old Mkushi. From Old Mkushi turn south just before the Lunsemfwa Power Station on the Kabwe Road downstream of Mita Hills Dam. Follow the road to Bells Point.

From the south the best access is from Kabwe. Coming from Lusaka turn right just before crossing the railway line on the southern end of town. Follow this road parallel to the railway, cross a railway side-track, and then turn left and cross at a bigger railway crossing. Take the dirt road to the right which is signposted Mulungushi boat Club 55km on the mulungushi dam. There is a good campsite at the club. Or continue across the Mulungushi following the power lines north-east to Kampumba and on to Lunsemfwa River. Cross the bridge over the river and follow the D204 to Old Mkushi. Around 20 km from the Lunsemfwa is the turn off to Bells Point. It is a good track to the right. After 1km there is a fork, take the right track. Stay on this track for 22km, then following some farmland, take a left to a less used track to the last village. After this the scenery becomes even more beautiful. At 32km is an old car wreck, apparently, a casualty of the Rhodesian war, and at 35 km is Bells Point.

Kundalila Falls

East of the Great North Road near Kanona in Central Province, in an area of spectacular scenic beauty, the Kaombe River drops in stages of 70 to 80 meters down the Muchinga escarpment. At Kundalila the river falls 70 meters into a deep pool famed for its wild flowers. Visitors can swim in the natural pool at the foot of the falls and there is a camp site nearby. The top of these Falls offer spectacular views over the vast Luangwa Valley, the name Kundalila means “crying dove” in Bemba.

Drive north from Mkushi up T2 “Great North Road” to Kanona, in Serenje District where you see a junction signposted “Kundalila Falls 14km – National Monument” (GPS above). Follow the gravel road. After 500m cross the TAZARA railway tracks until the end of the road.

T2 junction to the falls (Kanona): 13.070171°S 30.63445°E

  • Kundalila Falls: 15428°S 30.702484°E

Friwila Mission

The Anglican’s established the outpost in 1918 and it continues to play a role in spreading Christian values and western education to this day. The mission lies on the road to Chief Mboroma in the Luano Valley 35 km east of Masansa.

Further North

  • Kasanka National Park
  • Mutinondo Wilderness
  • Shiwa Ngandu and Kapisha Hotsprings
  • Bengwelu Swamps
  • Nsala Caves
  • Moto Moto Museum, Mbala