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Location of Kalabo in Zambia

Kalabo is a small town and administrative district in the Western Province of Zambia, on the plains west of the Zambezi River and the Barotse Floodplain, about 70 km from the border with Angola.


It is situated on the south-eastern bank of the Luanginga River across which a small pontoon ferry connects to a dirt track going north-west to the Angolan border. Kalabo is the base for the Liuwa Plain National Park which can be reached by off-road vehicles about 20 km north of the pontoon. Western Province was formerly known as Barotseland, and Liuwa Plain was the Barotse king's hunting grounds which Lewanika made into a game reserve in the 19th century.


Access to Kalabo by road was difficult but now after the completion of the mongu-kalabo road, it is now easier. Before the construction of the road, it was usually cut off by road in the rainy season; the dirt tracks across the floodplain from Mongu become flooded, and frequently in poor condition at other times. The tracks go to two ferries across the main channel of the Zambezi, a northern one near Libonda accessed from Mongu via Limulunga, and a southern one at Sandaula accessed via Lealui. In recent years dirt roads on raised earth embankments have been constructed from Mongu to Lealui and from Kalabo to Sandaula; this is part of an ambitious long-term regional plan to provide the first ever major link between the road networks of Zambia and Angola via a paved causeway across the floodplain and a bridge over the Zambezi, replacing the ferry. A paved highway would then be built from Kalabo north-west to the Angolan border and beyond. Although originally intended for completion in 2006, construction has proved more difficult than anticipated and large sections were washed away in floods in 2003/4, resulting in funding shortfalls.[1]

Except at the end of the dry season, small boats can go from the harbour at Mongu all the way to Kalabo, a distance of about 50 km.

A dirt track also goes 200 km north-north-east to Kalabo from the Kalongola Ferry south of Senanga, but it is in very poor condition.

Coordinates: 14°58′S 22°41′E / 14.967°S 22.683°E / -14.967; 22.683