Kapishya hot springs
Kapishya hot springs is a nature reserve and lodge in the Muchinga Province of Zambia.
I would highly recommend making the trek to Kapishya hot springs! The scenery is beautiful and unlike the Copperbelt Province and southern parts of the country. It’s a relaxing vacation that can be made affordable. The Shiwa Ng’andu manor is a once in a lifetime experience. Beautiful sunsets and quiet mornings. Swimming and other activities. Clarification — although it is referred to as hot springs (plural) there is only 1 hot spring. Don’t expect more! It's situation along this river.
Things to do
Kapishya hot springs is not busy when it comes to activities. It really is more of just a nature experience but you can still find a number of things to do! Most of the activities are free. I believe there was a small fee for the river “rafting” and the Africa House tour costs $20. Here are the ones I recommend:
Floating the river
Sunset from tree house
Hike/walk and cave carvings
Swimming in the hot spring
Swimming pool and river side
Loft bar area
The Africa House: Shiwa Ng’andu manor
Recommended amount of time to go
Kapishya hot springs is about a day of travel from Ndola. Therefore, I recommend 2-3 nights. We loved going for a long weekend with 3 nights. 1 night would be too short to relax and enjoy due to travel time. The house tour times are during the week so if you only go for 1 night, it's likely you'd miss the tour if not planned properly. 4-5 nights would probably be the most you’d want to stay since there isn’t a lot to do.
Recommended time of year to go
I’d say the best time to go is May-August: dry/cold season. We went early July which was perfect weather. Going around April/May I’m sure would have been more fun for the river rafting being more recently after raining season. But the weather wouldn’t be as cool yet. The months I would not recommend are November-April: rainy season. There is a long dirt road to both kundalila falls and the hot springs, so we were glad it was dry season. But most of all, the chilly nights are perfect for the hot spring. Since the days are also cooler, we swam in the hot spring in the day, as well. I can imagine during September-November would not be as ideal with such hot weather when the nights don’t cool off as much.
We stayed in a bungalow which was very fun and a lovely location right along the river. It is basically one large room with a simple bathroom and loft. There are just 2 double beds in the bungalow, 1 on the main floor and one in the loft. It costs $75 per person to stay in the bungalows, which meant it cost $300 per night, $900 for 3 nights. I do not feel that the bungalows are worth their price and would rather recommend camping!
Most people we met were camping and said the facilities are great. The campgrounds are also closer to the hot spring than the bungalows! It costs $15 per person to camp.
One advantage to staying in the bungalow, is having access to the restaurant’s kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed cooking all our meals together and eating either in the dining room or on an outside table by the river. It was a little awkward at points being in the same space as the chefs, owners and helpers as they are preparing meals for those dining in the restaurant, but overall, everyone was friendly. There was a separate fridge reserved for us to use (we filled up most of it) and a corner space for preparing. The utensils, pots, pans, microwave, stove, etc were available for use.
Had we camped, I’m sure we would have had some of our meals from their restaurant, but since we were spending a fair amount on lodging, we decided to fully eat self catering style and bring all of our own drinks. They do have instant coffee and tea with a kettle in the room, so we just brought our own coffee and french press to enjoy coffee in the mornings from the room (something I recommend for all coffee lovers traveling around Zambia).
Heres how we did it! 3 night/4 day itinerary.
Friday - We left Ndola early morning, stopped at kundalila falls for a hike and lunch, arrived to Kapiysha about 7pm, just as it was getting dark.
Saturday - We enjoyed morning coffee on the bungalow deck and brunch by the river. Pool and hot springs swimming. Hike around the property with beautiful views and seeing historic cave and rock paintings.
Sunday - We had another slow morning on the bungalow deck and brunch by the river. Pool and hot springs swimming. Floating the river in the late afternoon. Sunset at the tree house.
Monday - We woke up early, Africa house tour in the morning fog, drove back to Ndola.
A few notes about the Africa house —
Once in a lifetime experience
Truly beautiful and antique
Overpriced at $20 with no discount for Zambian citizens or residents
Less than average tour
It is possible to stay there
Check out my full blog post about the Shiwa Ng’andu experience here! I also recommend stopping at Kundalila falls on the way! Details about the waterfall can be found on my blog post here. There are also cave paintings about 30 minute detour on the road if you’re interested in two stops!
This could be a very budget trip if camping! It was a little more on the moderate style with the bungalows, but all other costs were pretty minimal. We ate REALLY well, had lots of fun cooking together and had left overs.
Full trip budget (per person)
$40 food and drinks
$20 Africa house tour
$225 Lodging — $75 per night
*at the time we went, the kwacha was k10 to $1. I kept all prices in dollars for this post due to the Kapishya prices being in dollars, and for a hopefully more accurate pricing of what food and gas would also cost today since in kwacha it was cheaper then.
Have you been before? Tell me about it if you have! Anything you'd add on?
I hope this was helpful!