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Routes in Zambia - Macheni

Bees Knees, The TR 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Gothic TR 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Gothic Direct TR 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Not Just a Shadow TR 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
There Are No Thorns in Zambia (And the Streets are Paved with Cheese) TR 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
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Elevation: 3,732 ft
GPS: -15.584, 28.429 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 1,375 total · 38/month
Shared By: willclimb4pants on Nov 30, 2015


A waterfall cut out a great overhanging south-facing limestone crag full of tufas about an hour from Lusaka. Climbs are around 30m (90 ft) tall. This was first found by a local aspiring climber, Damien, who scoured GoogleEarth to find images of shadows that may indicate cliffs. Pete Hart, Hillary Waters, and Rolf Wienand established the crag.

I'm not sure why I can't change the "season" chart, but the season is likely between April or May and December. Immediately after it rains or in the late rainy season (Jan - March) if it has rained a lot this could be drenched in water and very difficult to get to or climb (has thus far not been a problem, even the day after a rain). Because it is south-facing and there are trees at the base it is quite comfortable to climb even on incredibly hot days.

This is secluded (there are about 4 climbers in the entire country), but locals walking by do tend to stop, watch, and cheer us on. It doesn't look like this land is being used or that there's a problem with us using it, but nothing official has been worked out regarding access (we just asked a few locals and explained what they were doing and they seemed excited about it) so be friendly to all those around. If you're into it, locals may also want to try climbing, as we often asked people if they wanted to and they were quite keen.

For now, the crag is trad and top-rope only--whether it will be bolted depends on rock quality and whether someone with equipment will come bolt. Keep checking for updates. Right now the tops of most climbs are on tufa-like stalagtites that sound hollow, so it's unclear whether it can be bolted. Since the rock is porous we are also looking at stringing cord through holes to create some way to lead the climbs. So far, very little rock has broken off.

As of 2015, a team of four of us are cleaning the area--taking down some trees that are in the way of routes, setting up a trail, clearing brush, dealing with the many thorns at the base and top of the cliff, and doing small amounts of cleaning on the rock face. We are also looking into removing some bees hives on the cliff to make the climbs safer. It is highly recommended to rap the route first to check for bees hives, snakes, and owls in the holes!! There are some huge African Rock Python snake skins in the area, so be generally aware of snakes, though bees are much more of a problem.

Getting There

Option 1:

From Leopards Hill Road leaving Lusaka, take the first right after the boom. Then take a right turn at the taxidermy shop, going past a private game reserve and a place called "Bush View". Follow the road until you see a green building to the right and a plot of land with only a foundation to the left. Just after the foundation there's a road going left, follow that road until you arrive at the cliff.

Option 2:

Take the same route out of the city as "option 1". Keep going on the "Bushview" road past the Chinese mine, turn south @ -15.560874, 28.433213
Turn west toward the crag @ -15.589710, 28.434706. You'll pass an apostolic church @ -15.588972, 28.432617 and the crag is @ -15.584420, 28.429320

Note: the GPS coordinates given are the exact location of the crag and the crag was originally found using google earth maps, so access to the satellite photos may likely be much more useful than the above directions.

You should be able to park a vehicle on the western side of the crag in an area locals seem to use for charcoal making. The hike from the road to the crag should take about 2 minutes, the trip from Lusaka will take anywhere from an hour to longer, depending on how fast you can go on terrible roads with your vehicle. You'll definitely want a 4x4 to go to this area.

Option 3: (deemed the easiest on your vehicle after many trips):

Take Kasama Road south out of Lusaka and turn left at the T junction (towards Lilayi Lodge) and then take a right at the next T junction. After the Katoke Catholic school take a right south past a stone quarry (you'll have to drive past it almost as if you're going into it, the road gets bad from here). Follow around a 'mountain' and into a farming community, turning right where you would instead have to go straight through someone's field. Follow that road to the crag.


The crag is obvious and easy to spot. To get to the top, you can choose to class V scramble up the waterfall (it's slippery but there are only 2 moves that make you nervous) or walk to the top via climber's left and then cross the river at the top. At one point there was a path and some of the trees have markings along the path to the top and at the tops of some climbs.

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Kevin Frederick
Lusaka, ZM
Kevin Frederick   Lusaka, ZM
Went down on Sunday afternoon to take a look at this crag. Much better looking than anticipated! Didn't have much time to actually climb as we were with four kids under age 10 and daylight was going fast.

Some notes:

1. I tried to follow the approach described above but found it overgrown and rough. Better is to turn off the road and go past the Chinese mine, then turn east at a small village. I will post a GPX track of this when I have time. This road is passable for 2WD sedans with some care to within 600m of the crag. (You could park at the large church parking area.) You could drive closer but turning around might be difficult. A 4WD can get closer.

2. We got to the base of the crag by walking up the dry riverbed and then scrambling out very close to the base. With some help, 4-year-old in our party was able to do this. This part of the approach is quick.

3. We didn’t have time to investigate how to get to the top of the crag. What’s the beta??

4. It seems that the local MTB community calls this one "Jimmy Cliff".

5. Would be very excited to see this get cleaned up and bolted, and would be happy to contribute monetarily to such an effort. I don't have much spare time to donate, unfortunately. May 17, 2016
Kevin Frederick
Lusaka, ZM
Kevin Frederick   Lusaka, ZM
Here's a GPX file with four relevant waypoints:

1. The turn south from the Bushview road, to go past the Chinese mine. @ -15.560874, 28.433213

2. The turn west toward the crag. @ -15.589710, 28.434706

3. The Apostolic church, where one could park if so inclined. @ -15.588972, 28.432617

4. The crag itself. @ -15.584420, 28.429320

Again, the roads up to the church should be navigable by 2WD, since I saw a little sedan parked next to the church.

Macheni-wpt.gpx May 17, 2016
So, are all of these climbs top ropes from trees and no lead climbing has ever been done? What does it mean that “anchors are redundant”? Jun 16, 2018
willclimb4pants   Zambia
James - there have been a few leads on gear (not sure which ones, I think squirrel groove, which I don't even think is up here; probably 5-6 more climbs were done than are up here). All else were climbed top rope. An example anchor would be a sling around the only tree around or a sling around a thorn bush - usually there was just one place to use gear / slings so the anchors don't have multiple points to create redundant, equalized anchors. Aug 31, 2018

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