I had heard about this beautiful place called Samfya since my first visit to Zambia in 2013. Almost 5 years later, I finally made it to the “white sandy beaches in the north.”
Whenever I talked about going to Samfya, everyone alway said, “Oh! It’s so beautiful there, you’ll love it!” But when I asked for recommendations, unfortunately I kept hearing, “Oh, I’ve never been.”
Samfya is a town in Luapula Province of Zambia, situated on the south-western short of Lake Bangweulu. Bangweulu means "where the water meets the sky" which is a beautiful description of a large lake that feels like an ocean/beach.
It is about an 8 hour drive from Ndola, but by bus it is about 12-14 hours.
We jumped many hoops to make this trip happen. We took the slow bus through the long way of Zambia since the Congolese border control is not kind to those of us with american passports. But the long journey was worth it to me.
There is not much to do in Samfya. I would definitely recommend going with a group of people and more or less creating your own fun. The town is very tiny and English is not as widely spoken here compared to other parts of Zambia. We spent most days along the beach and hanging out from Chita Lodge. We looked into boat rides but it wasn't as feasible or affordable for just two people. We did ride in a local canoe for a bit!
Lunch and swimming from Chita Lodge
Walk along the shore (possibly with boat ride)
Any beach games you bring
Beach picnics, cocktails, sunsets, chills
Spending time at Waterfront Lodge
Local Chief Visit
Because I went with a student group, there was an educational activity planned: visit to the local chief. This was a meaningful cultural experience! This is the only chief experience I've ever had in Zambia and it gave insight into the local village way of life. The Samfya chief is very friendly and understanding. We did not come with much as far as offerings which would have been too disrespectful to larger chiefs around Zambia.
Since we stayed at a local church affiliated lodge I can't speak fully to staying at Chita or Waterfront, but we did have a change to see their rooms and establishments. Chita lodge is beautiful to stay there or to spend the day. Waterfront lodge is not as nice as Chita but it still has waterfront views (of course) and we enjoyed a few meals from there. I would love to try camping in Samfya although I don't know much about that side of things!
Recommended time of year to go
Hot season: August-November. We went in April and the weather was also great, but definitely the hotter the weather, the more fun the beach and swimming would be!
Recommended amount time to go
I was there for 3 nights and felt like that was plenty of time. It's really just up to you as far as how much time you want to spend at the beach and without many places to go or activities to do.
By far, I'd recommend going in your own vehicle. If you do want to take public transportation, there are three options:
Ndola-Samfya driving through the DRC: most recommended for Zambian citizens, not recommended for Americans and other foreigners. I have never taken this route. It is $100 for USA passport holders just to pass through on the bus.)
Ndola-Kapiri / Kapiri-Samfya: recommended for non Zambian/DRC passport holders. I split the trip like this on my way back, it was faster and more comfortable. It is slightly more expensive and includes a bus transfer, but very much worth it.)
Ndola-Samfya: Least recommended for all. This is how we went on the way there and it was about 14 hours of sweating, crowding, uncomfortable seating, holding pee, slow driving, chickens making noise and overall thorough confusion by how long it took.)
If you are looking into traveling by bus, read my blog post here all about traveling by bus around Zambia.
_____ What not to miss
Freshly caught fish
Trail walks to the beach
Boat or canoe ride
Chief visit if the opportunity arrises
We passed through them but did not spend any time here. This wetland is world renown and may be worth stopping and staying if you are interested in birds and other unique wildlife in this area.
What else would you add? Let me know if this was helpful! Comment & subscribe :)