What are the Major Tributaries That Feed Into the Zambezi River?

Exploring the Major Tributaries of the Zambezi River: Sources and Significance

Zambezi River tributaries

Zambezi River tributaries

The Zambezi River, often referred to as one of Africa’s mightiest rivers, is a lifeline for the countries it traverses. Stretching approximately 2,574 kilometers across six African nations, it is celebrated not only for its sheer size but also for the network of tributaries that contribute to its grandeur. These tributaries play a vital role in shaping the Zambezi’s course and nourishing the ecosystems that rely on its waters. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to discover the major tributaries of the Zambezi River, uncovering their sources and the significance they hold.

The Kabompo River:

Source: The Kabompo River originates in the highlands of northwestern Zambia, near the border with Angola.

Significance: The Kabompo River serves as one of the significant left-bank tributaries of the Zambezi, contributing to its flow during the wet season. Its waters support local agriculture and provide habitat for various species of fish and wildlife.

The Lungwebungu River:

Source: The Lungwebungu River begins its journey in the western part of Zambia.

Significance: As it joins the Zambezi, the Lungwebungu River contributes to the overall volume of the Zambezi, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall. Its floodplains are crucial for wildlife and birdlife.

The Kafue River:


The Kafue River’s source is found in the central part of Zambia.

Significance: The Kafue River is one of the largest tributaries of the Zambezi. Its extensive floodplains are a vital habitat for various species, including the iconic African elephant. It also supports local communities through fishing and agriculture.

The Luangwa River:

Source: The Luangwa River originates in the Mafinga Hills in eastern Zambia.

Significance: The Luangwa River, a major right-bank tributary, is known for its incredible biodiversity, with numerous species of fish and wildlife. It sustains national parks and game reserves along its course.

The Cuando (Linyanti) River:

Source: The Cuando River, also known as the Linyanti River, starts in the highlands of Angola.

Significance: This river forms part of the border between Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana before flowing into the Zambezi. It is vital for the wetlands and wildlife in the region, including elephants, crocodiles, and various bird species.

The Chobe River:

Source: The Chobe River has its origins in northern Botswana.

Significance: The Chobe River, another right-bank tributary, feeds into the Zambezi and is renowned for the rich wildlife found along its banks. Chobe National Park, situated along its course, is famous for its large elephant herds.

The Okavango River (Cubango River):

Source: The Okavango River begins in the highlands of Angola.

Significance: While the Okavango River doesn’t directly flow into the Zambezi, it is part of the Zambezi Basin. It forms the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland deltas, which is crucial for sustaining diverse wildlife.


The Zambezi River’s majesty is not only attributed to its sheer size but also to the vital contributions of its tributaries. These rivers, each with its unique source and significance, collectively form a complex network that sustains ecosystems, supports local communities, and nurtures a rich biodiversity. As we explore the Zambezi’s major tributaries and their sources, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate web of life that relies on this iconic African river.

Whether you’re an adventurer, ecologist, or simply someone intrigued by the wonders of nature, the Zambezi River and its tributaries offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

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