Dusty little town - Yes, there are some reviews and description of Mpika. Just brows the web and you’ll find information, facts and figures.
But all this reviews cannot describe the simple fact that this little dusty town, fare away from any civilisation is home to the most friendly, helpful and charming people along Great North Road in Zambia. The filling station attendant, who will recommend the best mechanic. Or the taxi driver, who brings you to the guesthouse of your choice. And please don’t forget all the marketers, competing with their fresh products.
Yes, Mpika is called a town, but the mentality of the inhabitants is much more village like. You just have to find the right people and your stay could remind you of the village, your parents grew up nearby.
There are some recommendable guesthouses and lodges (e.g. Bayama’s, Mazingo, Mango Grove, Fresh Air), but the restaurants are rather few (e.g. Bayama’s, CIMS). Three filling stations usually provide adequate supply of fuel and you’ll find common spare parts and a mechanic in case of a breakdown (…just ask the friendly fuel attendant). Mpika is the last real stopover before Nakonde (Tanzania) and Lake Tanganyka. What you can’t find here, you wont find it the next 400km or so.
The Boma market, Fortune Supermarket and G.M.Shopping Complex offer a good variety of foodstuffs, toiletries and hardware. And if it was a too dusty drive, a nearby waterfall can splash you from the outside and watering hole (bar) from the inside. Mpika will be the gateway to three national parks (North- and South Luangwa, Lavushi Manda). Kasanka National Park and Bangweulu Wetlands (comparable only to Okawango Delta) are only few hours away. Mpika will be…? Yes, as soon as the roads are not so dusty anymore. But one thing for sure, also better roads won’t take away the unique character of this little dusty town and its friendly people…
Mpika as a Destination - Mpika is situated in northern Zambia of the muchinga province; it is 660km from Lusaka the capital city of Zambia. As from the provincial name (MUCHINGA) Mpika has the best unique scenic view of the muchinga escarpment which stretches and passes through mpika. Mpika is also surrounded by three big national parks, North and south Luangwa national parks, and the lavush manda national park in the west of mpika.Together this destination offers what is arguably one of the finest tourist destination in Zambia.
The north Luangwa national pack is home to the only Black rhino in Zambia, and the south and lavush manda packs are the home to the only black lechwe in Africa. This makes mpika to have a competitive advantage over other destinations. Among the other animals found in the national pack are ; lions, buffalo, elephants, giraffe, zebras, hippos, black rhino, kudu, warthog, hyena, wildebeest, velvet monkeys, etc.
In the bird family you will be able to see the eagle, shoebill, lilian’s love bird, black checked love bird etc. In Africa it is the only safe place you will be able to watch the shoebill apart from Sudan.
Mpika also has a very interesting historical background. The Bushmen are believed to have been the earliest settlers in mpika, this is derived from the remains of their rock art paintings. These rock art paintings can still be seen at the nachikufu cave heritage site in mpika. Nachikufu curve houses a small field museum exhibiting art fact from the stone age to the early iron age. Other Iron Age caves and huts grooves are found at chibwe malima rock shelter on the muchinga escarpment.
Mpika boasts of a rich culture, the bisa people who form a majority have an annual festival called ‘chinamanongo ‘which happens every September in senior chief kopa’s palace near the bangweulu wetlands. The ceremony is centred on the chief feasting with his subjects from one tradition large pot. This is a special occasion because the chief normally does not eat with his subjects. In the south Luangwa national pack hosts another chiefdom called nabwalya of the bisa people of the valley. These also celebrate an annual ceremony called malaila, this happens in October. The ceremony takes place near a big baobab tree pieced with spears and arrows; It is a thanks giving to thank the ancestors for a successful hunt. In November their is a big fall and harvest for ground- horn bill (caterpillars) it is a must not miss occasion when you are visiting mpika around October.
Three seasons based on temperature and rains are categorised for the area;
1. September to November (Hot and Dry)
2. December to March (Hot and Wet)
3. April and August (cool and Dry)
Mpika has an ecosystem characterised with miombo and mopane woodlands with unique scenic views in different landscapes.
Mpika is also dotted with river water falls and hot springs.
The national packs around Mpika can suitably be reached with a 4*4 motor vehicle.Mpika has a number or commercial banks with visa automatic teller machines,hospitals,police station, post office, air strip to accommodate only small planes. Mpika also has for major mobile phone operators with good internet links to keep you up-to-date with the rest of the world. Thank you and hope to see you soon.