Modest Mansa

I began my journey from Lusaka aboard Mahogany Airlines to Ndola with a connecting flight to Mansa, the provincial capital of the Luapula province. The flight time from Lusaka to Mansa was under 2 hours. Fun fact! Mansa was formerly called Fort Rosebery before Zambia’s independence and it is a mere 50 kms away from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The first leg of my trip to Luapula province was a weekend retreat in Samfya on the shores of Lake Bangweulu, refer to my Serene Samfya blog post for more about my adventure there. After my weekend in Samfya, I proceeded back to Mansa for a to up-skill professionals at a local establishment.

I did my prior research about accommodation options and decided to stay at Henry Courtyard Lodge due its proximity to my work location and I later stayed at the Mansa Lodge due to its centrality in town. Henry Courtyard Lodge (0974 722 123 / 0977 272 744) was fairly decent for a privately owned lodge with room rates at ZMK 600 ($35) for bed and breakfast in a standard room while the state-run Mansa Lodge (0979 579 300) was priced at ZMK 280 ($16) for a ‘small apartment’ with a queen-sized bed, a bathroom with a tub, a toilet and living room with couch, bar fridge and smart television. It was truly convenient and served it purpose well.

I got the sense that Mansa had very little going on under the radar, even though there were reports of mineral deposits being discovered several kilometres outside town, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, after an afternoon stroll beyond the central business area, I learned that Mansa’s ‘small town’ vibe was deceptive because the streets in the outskirts were a hive of economic activity and there was quite a bit of construction and rehabilitation of some buildings taking place. The winds of change were clearly blowing this way and it gave me such hope for the economic future of this provincial capital. I was glad I took that walk because I got to see some unique corners of Mansa too.

I first glanced at the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary on my shuttle to Samfya so I decided to revisit it and get a better look at the beautiful site. I had the pleasure of meeting the presiding priest who gave me a short tour and background of the prominent building. Construction of the cathedral begun the 1930’s and today, the structure still stands in great condition with accompanying neat surroundings, in the true form of most cathedrals in Zambia. It was interesting to see the differences and common threads in the architecture of Christian denominations.

I later walked through the neighbourhood and found the Mansa Hotel, a piece of history that was christened by our first republic president, Dr Kenneth D. Kaunda in 1987. The hotel is still relatively small and true to its era but it has evolved its space to accommodate complementary businesses from the airline and logistics sector.

I found myself veering off from the hotel to the only grocery chain-store in the distance to get a few supplies before I returned to the lodge to prep for my 190 km journey north to Kawambwa town. Kawambwa was going to be my base for the next phase of my adventure. This particular phase made me nostalgic and anxious, as I had only learned about the subset of the waterfalls I was planning to visit in my junior high school Geography class and now I was going to see them live in vivid colour!

Travel Tips

  • If you are not able to fly to Mansa you could still drive to Mansa using the Great North road – detour at Serenje in the Muchinga province and onward to Samfya which is under 80 kms away from Mansa. The total driving distance is about 760 kms.
  • Using a vehicle within the Mansa central business area may not be relevant as the government offices, banks, grocery chain-store and bus station are within a 5 km radius. However, both the Henry Courtyard Lodge and Mansa Lodge are able to recommend some good taxi’s that normally shuttle guests to and from the airport and around town.
    • Airport shuttle costs range from ZMK 250 ($15) – ZMK 400 ($23) depending on the price of fuel and how well you negotiate.
  • There are few places to grab a bite to eat away from the in-house restaurants at both lodges and the option in the lodge may not consistently be up to par.
    • I recommend that you buy some additional food and beverages from the local grocery store as they had more options. On the plus side, any left overs can be easily stored in the room refrigerators.
    • There are a few local restaurants near the grocery store that sell local staples but I was not planning to take such a risks this far from home 😅.
  • Henry Courtyard Lodge had a point of sale for guests to swipe and settle their bills but Mansa Lodge did not it. However, there are several bank atm’s within the central business area near Mansa lodge.

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