Itimbwe Gorge – Mbala, Zambia - Atlas Obscura

Itimbwe Gorge

A series of caves within the gorge hold artifacts from the Stone Age.  


Itimbwe Gorge is a small but beautiful valley cutting through the escarpment east of Mbala, Zambia. The gorge walls are lined with a series of caves formed from when the silica in the rock dissolved away as groundwater penetrated from above. 

Archaeological excavations of the caves revealed artifacts such as buried pots and stone tools—including awls and scrapers—that date back to the Stone Age. The different caves in the valley show different levels of habitation, from occasional use by hunters to long and continuous use revealed by artifacts throughout the strata of the cave floors.

Unfortunately, the most recent archaeological work on the site was in the 1950s. A lack of funds or interest has prevented further excavations of the caves since then.

In modern times, the gorge is still inhabited by farmers, and an old homestead can be found at the bottom of the gorge. Although game is rare in the area, the hills are easily accessible and offer stunning views of the plains to the west of the escarpment. 

Know Before You Go

Although a good dirt road leads to the valley, the gorge and the caves are unmarked and there are no signs to guide the way. The best option for adventurous travelers is to use a map program and GPS to ensure you are going the right away. The turnoff to the gorge is located approximately four miles down the Nakonde road as you are coming from the turnoff to Mbala. The caves are on the right-hand side of the gorge as you are descending down the escarpment.

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September 19, 2018

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