Geology

The Irumide belt is a Mesoproterozoic (1-1.6 billion-year-old) crustal province which runs northeast from central Zambia towards the Tanzanian border, spanning approximately 900km. To the East of the belt is the Muchinga Escparpment, which drops down into the Luangwa Valley, an extension of the Great Rift Valley. Around 1 billion years ago, magmatic intrusions into the Irumide Belt led to the formation of a series of plutonic rocks which crystallised below the surface. Some of these rocks now outcrop as large granitic inselbergs, following erosion and subsidence of the surrounding country rock.

Massive majestic domes of granite are spectacular features of the Mutinondo Wilderness. They are extremely rewarding to climb offering great views with a little effort and easy clambering and very beautiful from the lodge, campsites and many of the hiking trails. The steeper faces are waiting for the brave and well-equipped rock climbers at their own risk! This is an exciting archaeological area with microliths (small quartz stone tools) around our lodge, newly found and unrecorded Late Stone Age schematic rock art and late Iron Age workings. Nachikufu Cave 53km from the lodge is also worth a visit. The dominant rock art of this region is Nachikufan named after these caves and relics which were first excavated in 1950.

Inselbergs are also known as whalebacks! so your Whale watching with a difference the highest whaleback is called Mayense which is 1684m above sea level and about 240m above the surrounding plateau. On a clear day from the top of Mayense you can investigate the Luangwa Valley which is over 30km away or just enjoy a horizon to horizon view of pure unspoilt bush.

The following is a charming description of our inselbergs from 'Mutinondo - An example of miombo for the visitor' by Paul Smith reproduced with permission from Plant Talk, the quarterly periodical on plant conservation worldwide (www.plant-talk.org)

"Perhaps the most striking feature is the inselbergs. These granite leviathans dwarf the woodland and dambo below, and by night or day their great amorphous forms conjure up weird and wonderful

creatures in the mind's eye. 'The caterpillar' seems to crawl through the miombo mulch, and Mayense peak rears its head like a lion calling after rain."