We were driving from Mansa to Samfya. I was exhausted as crap because I had traveled a total of more than 1000 Km in the last couple of days. I had heard about Samfya years ago and I had put it on my travel list. We were only going to be in Samfya for 48 hours but I hoped I could get to see the beach. So as we travelled the 45 Km distance to Samfya, I was buzzing with equal portions of exhaustion and excitement.
A few minutes after driving into the town, the lake came into view. I thought it was an illusion of the light of something because it looked like the sky came down and touched the earth. There was no end in sight. Lake Bangweulu was appropriately named. Bangweulu roughly means “Where the earth meets the sky” and I swear that is exactly what it looks like. The view as we drove by the beach was amazing. I was glad to see that there was a luxurious lodge by the beach.
Samfya is a small fishing town. It was previously a village so some of the houses in the neighbourhoods are huts with thatched roofs. It is an underdeveloped town that has a very high potential of being a high traffic destination. It has a few good lodges that overlook the lake but sadly, all of them were fully booked. Apparently there were workshops that were being held by some organisations. I ended up finding a room in a shabby lodge far from the lake and I wasn’t too happy about that. Here’s a tip; if you’re traveling to Samfya, book for your accommodation in advance to save you from shabby lodges.
The next afternoon we drove to the fish market right by the harbour. We were looking to buy as much fish as we could. We walked down to the harbour and I discovered that the harbour had brown sand. It was so full of activity with women selling all kinds of fish. The weird thing was how difficult it was to find fresh fish. Each morning when the fishers get back from fishing, the fish is immediately bought by vendors who go into town to sell. So we were told that if you want to buy good fish, be there when the fishers are getting off their boats.
The harbour is also used as a centre for transport to the many islands on the lake. A nurse I met in Samfya told me a story of how she went to pick up a patient from one of the islands. but on the way there, she and the boat driver (is that what they’re called?) got lost at sea or lake. After an hour of going round in circles, they finally located a small island and were given the directions to their intended island. That story was enough for me to decide to not get on any of the boats there. The vastness of the lake just increased my discomfort with being on water.
The women focused on selling their fish and other merchandise.
The water taxi drivers waited for their next fare. Young boys selling freezits and other snacks.
And across the lake I could see the white sand beach I craved to stand on.
But that would have to be an adventure for the next day. For now I was just content with watching people go about their business and living their lives.
I even met a boat called daily breeze and she was the bluest boat of them all.
Have you been to Samfya? Would you like to visit it? What other interesting lakes do you know of in Zambia or Southern Africa? Let me know.
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