On a recent visit to Zambia, Peace Parks Foundation’s Chief Development Office, Lilian Spijkerman, and a group from the Dutch non-profit organisation, DOB Ecology, needed to get a birds-eye view of the Ngonye Falls Community Partnership Park situated on the Zambezi River to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s development potential.

After the group is picked up by two helicopters at the Zambian Horseback Safari lodge in the Simalaha Community Conservancy, they follow the meandering Zambezi River, which delivers spectacular views of unspoilt nature. Long stretches of empty riverbanks are lined with wildlife such as crocodiles and hippos, who call these waters home until the river gives way to thundering rapids as they come closer to the falls.

Ngonye Falls is truly a sight to behold and makes for a great addition to anyone’s trip to Zambia. Situated some 340 kilometres upstream from Victoria Falls, Ngonye forms one of the main tourist attractions in the upper part of the Zambezi River and marks the transition point of the river’s flow from the vast Kalahari sand floodplains to harder basaltic rock. This dark volcanic rock formed around 180 million years ago, which contributes to the magnificent sheer cliffs and gorges of both falls.

As the name suggests, Ngonye Falls forms a part of a Community Partnership Park, a project which is being spearheaded by the local communities, the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife and supported by Peace Parks Foundation. Tourism infrastructure is well underway, with a visitor’s centre and six new campsites already constructed, with the planning of a new lodge overlooking the falls marking the next phase of development.

The area promises immense community upliftment opportunities, all the while conserving a large part of one of Africa’s greatest rivers and the wildlife that depend on it.

Here, it seems, time has stood still and getting lost in Ngonye’s wilderness leaves one inspired and connected to nature. When looking across this vast landscape, it becomes easy to understand why Peace Parks is working with various organisations and governments to make sure that it remains intact and protected, and sustainable development here benefits the people relying on it for survival.