We had one last stop that day. To the north of Samfya was a resort hotel and we had seen from the main road that it sat above sand dunes. We decided to investigate further and took a turning off the tarmac just at the entrance to the town. We surfed over the crest of these dunes and dropped under the hotel to a beach bar. The sand was whiter than by our own hotel; you could have been in the Caribbean. A guy was sweeping the sand clear of detritus from the nearby trees, preparing the beach for weekend trippers and locals. I’m not sure I wanted to enter the lake myself as there were a few water snail shells around and I was not keen on contracting bilharzia. But the scene was alluringly beautiful and surreal. This beach was the westernmost point of the open water of Lake Bangweulu and lakewashed sand from the rest of the basin must be blown here on prevailing easterly winds, particularly in the dry season when the lake is low and sediment exposed. Over the years the sand has been whipped up into 20m dunes as if you were on the coast or desert plains.
These bizarre natural phenomena in amongst the marshland and rolling agricultural land are not protected though, and sand is a valuable building commodity, so it is no surprise that the leeward side of the dunes are being excavated at an alarming rate. But the beachside has an elegant beauty all of its own.