Lualaba River

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The Lualaba River is the greatest headstream of the Congo River by volume of water. However, by length the Chambeshi River is the furthest headstream. The Lualaba is 1800km long, running from near Musofi in the vicinity of Lubumbashi in Katanga Province. The whole of its length lies within the Democratic Republic of Congo. It rises at an elevation of 1400m above sea level and flows northwards to Kisangani, where the Congo River officially begins. The Lualaba River's source is on the Katanga Plateau; it then descends to the Manika Plateau, with waterfalls and rapids marking the descent. As it drops to the Kamalondo Trough (457m in 72km), it is harnessed for hydroelectric power at Nzilo Dam near Nzilo Falls. At Bukama the river becomes navigable for about 640km through a series of marshy lakes (including Lake Upemba and Lake Kisale). Below Kongola, the river becomes unnavigable as it enters a narrow gorge, Portes d'Enfer. Between Kasongo and Kibombo, the river is navigable for about 100km, before rapids make it unnavigable again at Kindu-Port-Empain. The river's end is marked by the Boyoma Falls, made up of seven cataracts over a stretch of 100km between Ubundu and Kisangani.

The Lualaba serves as the northern and western boundary of the Upemba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Lualaba was once considered a possibility for the source of the Nile, until Henry Morton Stanley journeyed down it and proved that it drained into the Atlantic Ocean.

The largest tributaries of the Lualaba are

the Lowa River
the Ulindi River
the Luama River
the Lukuga River, which drains Lake Tanganyika
the Lufira River
the Lubudi River
the Luvua River
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Lualaba River

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