The Upper Zambezi River

In contrast to the raging torrents of water flowing over the mighty Victoria Falls waterfall, the upper Zambezi River is a tranquil wide river, with shady banks home to a plethora of birdlife and animals too. David Livingstone commented on the river that, “The whole scene was extremely beautiful; the banks and islands dotter over the river are adorned with sylvan vegetation of great variety of colour and form.” You certainly have so much to look forward to when you choose one of our luxury cruises to explore the beautiful Zambezi River!  On your trip, you will notice some islands – some of the islands can be visited, but many are still wild, home only to wildlife. Here are some historical facts and figures about them from the book, “Shongwe” by Rob Burret and Clare Mateka, but be sure to ask our knowledgeable captains about them too.

Zambezi River Map

Lwando Island: This is one of the main river islands at 4km long and 2km wide and it splits the channel. It is predominantly sandy, and its banks are heavily treed, with marshy areas around the edges of the channels. Lwando is the name of a son of Cheif Mukuni who once lived on the island. Another name for the island is is Siloka Island, after the first Mukuni leader, Siloka 1, who was temporarily buried there. It is also called Long Island on several maps for its shape and size.

Canary Island: This is a small, lens shaped sand island that lies off the north-west tip of Lwando Island, and is really just an extension of it. This island is known for its very vocal canaries – a feature of the rich indigenous birdlife of the river.

Kalunda Island: This means “a small hump” and is also a long, droplet shaped island similar to Lwando Island. Historically there was much dispute over who the island belonged to – it has now been agreed that by international convention, it is Zambian territory.

Princess Elizabeth Island – once known as Siachikola or Syatshikola Island, after a long-dead resident, the island was renamed in 1947 after the visiting Princess, now Queen Elizabeth II. This long, narrow island is well-treed and has deep water channels on both sides. It lies in Zimbabwean waters.

Princess Island Zambezi River 1

The picturesque Princess Elizabeth Island – photo taken on a breakfast cruise.

Princess Island Zambezi River 2

Princess Elizabeth Island is picture perfect during our sunset cruise too!