DID SOMEONE SAY WHITE BEACHES?

Zambia 2014 | TOURISM | FOCUS: SAMFYA

Off the beaten track is somewhat of an understatement when it comes to Samfya, a hidden gem nestled away in Luapula Province on Zambia's Lake Bangweulu.

While the majority of touristsheading to Zambia are familiar with Livingstone, a key colonial-era town and tourism node for the Victoria Falls, Samfya could one day take pride of place on the southern African travel itinerary. The town is situated on Lake Bangweulu in Luapula Province in the north of the country, and boasts the kind of white-sandy beaches typically associated with the Caribbean. To call Samfya unspoiled would be doing a major disservice to the potential tourist magnet, with insiders hoping that it could become the next big thing. The town sits on the longest stretch of usable shoreline on west Lake Bangweulu, with the north, east, and south considerably marshy. Dotted with several guest houses, visitors are treated to an idyllic getaway, perhaps only troubled by the presence of a small number of crocodiles in the lake. Locals partake in fishing, while Samfya is also the place to go if you're looking to get to the islands on the lake itself. Further inland, the white beaches give way to farmland and timber plantations, while visitors in October can look forward to the Kwanga Festival of the Ngumbo people.

One man who is keen to unlock the potential of Samfya is Sebastian C. Kopulande, CEO of the Zambian International Trade & Investment Centre (ZITIC). Discussing the need to build a better setup, Kopulande commented that, “we have to invest in actual tourism infrastructure—roads, as well as hotels and lodges," adding that, “we have to understand the terrain and explore what is available." And here is where Samfya comes in—an “exceptional" area he also describes as “currently unknown in tourism terms." And, being a landlocked country, a handful of white-sandy beaches could go a long way. “We have the Victoria Falls, but it only takes an afternoon to see them. A tourist wants to go on holiday for one or two weeks," he continued, advising that, “we need to take them to Samfya's beaches, which have the whitest sand in the country and on the continent." But there is plenty to do, and, as Kopulande highlights; “we do not [yet] have the facilities or infrastructure to introduce tourists to this area."

The local authorities in Samfya are on board, and have given Kopulande a mandate to promote the town. “I think that there is considerable excitement being built around it. At the moment, I am trying to build interest from within the country so that people can see its potential. Moreover, this is the right time for the outside world to know about it," he concluded.