Zambezi River: Everything You Need To Know About The Great African River

Africa is home to some of the world’s famous rivers: Nile, Congo, Niger with Zambezi as the 4th longest river in Africa, having a measurement of 2,574km. Zambezi by a discharge average of 120,070 cu ft is the largest flowing African river in contact with the Indian Ocean. Zambezi is sourced from the Plateaus of Central Africa; flows through six countries- Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, diverts into tributaries and then empties into the Indian Ocean. Zambezi is a clear gentle running water till it gets to the rapids and the falls.

Geographical Location


The river rises from Angola and traverses through Southern African Countries- Eastern Angola, Zambia-Zimbabwe borders, Mozambique, Namibia-east and Botswana northern border. Zambezi river functions as a typical boundary between her host countries and is found in the midst of savannas, wetlands and forest. In other words, the river has helped to sustain the lives of the people, plants and animals.



The 2,574 km long Zambezi river has a catchment area of 1 390 000 km2. Zambezi is responsible for the popular Victoria Falls, Ngonye Falls (Zambia) and the Chavuma Falls. Besides that, Zambezi is home to several species of fish and birds; while the delta harbors reptiles and a number of wild life game. Ever heard of the bull sharks? Those are the typical sharks seen in Zambezi river. Over a 240 km distance, the river flows into two major channels- Luena and Chifumage. There are several other tributaries, sand and rock islands across all the six countries.

Historical Significance

Kuomboka Ceremony

As the Zambezi basins experience an annual flood, it signifies the high point of the “Kuomboka” – a ceremony that is particularly native to Zambians and celebrated on the river and at the end of the rainy season. This ceremony likewise takes place annually and attracts tons of people(tourists) to Zambezi river.

Secondly, the river has made possible the construction of dams that have immensely served the Southern African Countries- Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa. The most prominent dams are the Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe, which is acclaimed to be the largest in the world, with a 128m high and 598m long measurement; and the  Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. As great and beautiful as the river is, it is not navigable, thus, has not contributed to the commerce of the people over time.



Though not highly explored, Zambezi river is the tourists’ delight. The ravines of the Victoria Fall has encouraged water rafting and kayaking activities by tourists in the zone. And just like it’s common with the other rivers, the surrounding areas of the river have inspired natural reserves and parks in the countries that they cut across.

Current Condition


It is only logical that the construction of dams and tourist activities, coupled with gross sewage contamination has contributed to the pollution of the water. Worse still is that a remedy is not in sight for any of the countries that it flows across.