Chirundu

Zimbabwe

Border town where two major road bridges cross the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Popular tigerfishing and boating location.

The little settlement of Chirundu on the Zambezi River and is the main border town between Zimbabwe and Zambia.  

It owes its existence to two large transport bridges which carry the central traffic highway linking Southern and Central Africa across the river at this point.
 
The first bridge was completed in 1939.  It is a steel suspension bridge, known as the Otto Beit Bridge (after the younger brother of the mining magnate, Alfred Beit, whose Beit Trust sponsored the project)  The bridge is built as a single span 382 metres across.   At the time, this was the first modern suspension bridge with parallel wire cables to be constructed outside America.  But it had its drawbacks.  It required constant and heavy maintenance, and, because it was only single lane, congestion was soon a problem, with vehicles from each side having to wait in a queue until oncoming traffic had crossed.  It was not designed to carry large trucks, and, as these started to replace the railways as a way of moving goods across the continent, it became apparent that a second bridge was required. 

This was achieved in 2002.  The new Chirundu Bridge was built 90m downstream of the old bridge and funded by the Kajima Corporation of Japan.  It is a typically modern concrete box girder bridge - 400m long and 10.3m wide - with two traffic lanes.  The old bridge was closed in 2005, but after inspection and renovation, was subsequently reopened to pedestrians, cars and buses to alleviate the problem of ever-increasing congestion.   The two bridges allow access between Zimbabwe and Zambia through a new One-Stop Border Control and Customs Post based on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi River.  

However, with the massive increase in haulage truck traffic in the last decade, it is obvious that even two bridges are insufficient to cope with demand.  Long queues of trucks and transport vehicles waiting to clear customs before crossing the border bridge still can be found lining the main road.  Facilities in Chirundu are inadequate to cope with this and the result is an apparent chaos which does not leave a good first impression on visitors passing through. 
 

The town and river are overlooked by a range of hills from which there are spectacular views. Wildlife, including elephants are often seen wandering around in the urban area apparently unconcerned by the presence of people and trucks. Chirundu is legendary for elephants drinking from swimming pools, but, with the huge increase in border traffic in recent years, this familiarity has led to conflict and often the destruction of "problem" animals.

Chirundu town itself has little appeal because of the haulage truck queues. However, the main attraction for visitors is the fishing on the Zambezi River.  

There are a number of private holiday homes on the hill overlooking the river, and along the river frontage, slightly away from the town, there are several attractive accommodation options and fishing camps which welcome visitors and offer fishing boats for hire.   

Sport fishing by boat for the Zambezi's magnificent Tigerfish is excellent here, and access is easy because of proximity to the international highway.

For more information about accommodation options in Chirundu, see Chirundu Accommodation

There are also accommodation options for visitors and fishermen at Mongwe, some 20 kms downstream of Chirundu.   

LINKED NEWS STORIES & BLOGS 

Latest ZimParks Fees (Travel Advice)

Chirundu Area - River Lodges & Camps along the Zambezi - September 2015

Chilli gun helps protect Chirundu's elephants - April 2015

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