Chambeshi River
The Chambeshi River of northeastern Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 is the most remote headstream of the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 (in terms of length) and therefore considered its source. (However, in terms of volume of water, the Lualaba River
Lualaba River
The Lualaba River is the greatest headstream of the Congo River by volume of water. However, by length the Chambeshi River is the farthest headstream. The Lualaba is 1800 km long, running from near Musofi in the vicinity of Lubumbashi in Katanga Province. The whole of its length lies within the...

 is the greater "source" of the Congo.)

The Chambeshi rises as a stream in the mountains of northeast Zambia near Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia; it is also the world's longest freshwater lake...

 at an elevation of 1760 metres above sea level. It flows for 480km into the Bangweulu Swamps, which are part of Lake Bangweulu
Lake Bangweulu
Bangweulu — 'where the water sky meets the sky' — is one of the world's great wetland systems, comprising Lake Bangweulu, the Bangweulu Swamps and the Bangweulu Flats or floodplain...

, and by the end of the rainy season in May, it delivers a flood which recharges the swamps and inundates a vast floodplain
Zambezian flooded grasslands
The Zambezian flooded grasslands is an ecoregion of southern and eastern Africa that is rich in wildlife.-Setting:The Zambezian flooded grasslands can be found on seasonally or permanently flooded lowlands in the basin of the Zambezi and neighboring river basins...

 to the southeast, supporting the Bangweulu Wetlands ecosystem. The water then flows out of the swamps as the Luapula River
Luapula River
The Luapula River is a section of Africa's second-longest river, the Congo. It is a transnational river forming for nearly all its length part of the border between Zambia and the DR Congo...


For more than 100 km of its length as it flows to the east of Kasama
Kasama, Zambia
Kasama is the capital of the Northern Province of Zambia, situated on the central-southern African plateau at an elevation of about 1400 m. Its population, according to the 2000 census, is approximately 200,000. It grew considerably in the 1970s and 1980s after construction of the TAZARA Railway...

 the river consists of a maze of channels in swamps about 2 km wide, in a floodplain
A floodplain, or flood plain, is a flat or nearly flat land adjacent a stream or river that stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls and experiences flooding during periods of high discharge...

 up to 25 km wide. Further downstream, where it is bridged by the Kasama-Mpika
Mpika is a town in the Northern Province of Zambia, lying at the junction of the Great North Road to Kasama and Mbala and the Tanzam Highway to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It also has a railway station on the TAZARA Railway about 5 km away. Mpika is situated between the Muchinga Escarpment to...

 road and the Tazara Railway, the permanent main channel is about 100 m wide, and up to 400 m wide in flood.

External links

  • Chambeshi River Floods at NASA Earth Observatory
    NASA Earth Observatory
    NASA Earth Observatory is an online publishing outlet for NASA which was created in 1999. It is the principal source of satellite imagery and other scientific information pertaining to the climate and the environment which are being provided by NASA for consumption by the general public...

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