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Kariba and Matusadona

Kariba and Matusadona

Matusadona National Park is located on the shores of Lake Kariba and is perhaps one of the lesser known wilderness areas in Africa – both are strikingly beautiful wildlife destinations.

Lake Kariba is one of the world’s greatest man-made lakes and created when the Kariba dam flooded much of the middle Zambezi Valley.  Prolific game became concentrated on its islands and southern shoreline where the Matusadona national park was created.

Matusadona is most easily accessible by boat or light aircraft to its lakeshore lodges and authentic owner operated bush camps. This is genuine Big 5 country – the park is a designated protection zone for the highly endangered black rhino. Elephants and in particular cape buffalo, are prominent.  

Experienced Zimbabwean guides will lead you through the bush to track the Big 5, as well as take you on game drives into the park.  Lake Kariba adds another game viewing dimension with unforgettable sights and sounds.  It’s a mecca for tiger fishing and a boat safari is a wonderfully relaxing way to observe hippos and crocodiles from a safe distance.  Birdlife is prolific and there’s nothing better than watching the sun set over the lake with the cries of the fish eagle ringing in your ears – a memory you will remember long after you leave this perfect place.

Lake Kariba Houseboating holidays are legendary and it is one of the most unique safari experiences.  All come equipped with a Captain, Chef and Deckhand – all you need do is lie back and relax.  Contact us for more details.

 

 

at a glance

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Introduction

Situated 1300km upstream of the Indian Ocean and along the border with Zambia, Lake Kariba is one of the world’s largest manmade expanses of water. An engineering marvel in its time, the 128 meter high and 580 meter wide dam was constructed between 1954 and 1960. Covering 5,500km² and containing 175 billion tonnes of water, the site is vital for electricity generation for neighbouring countries, however is vulnerable to drought. 60,000 people of the Batonga tribe were displaced from their ancestral homeland, along with extensive wildlife which was relocated including 42 rhinos which were rescued during Operation Noah as the floodwaters rose.

From land and water, one can encounter the raw beauty of this great inland sea nestled by mountains. Regarded as one of the best places in Africa for first class sunsets, boat cruises offer a fantastic photographic opportunity to appreciate the great expanse, with the magnificent Matusadona Mountains in the background. Lake Kariba’s waters are studded with islands and fringed by mountains and forests which offer a range of habitats for the region’s diverse aquatic wildlife and 240 bird species. In contrast, the Matusadona Game Reserve offers exciting land-based wildlife encounters with all the Big 5 in its unique pristine wilderness. Being one of the Zambezi Valley’s wildlife and wilderness treasures, the reserve combines the beauty of the lake with acacia woodlands and a rising wall of majestic mountains as a backdrop. Bounded between the Umi River in the West and the Sanyati Gorge in the East, Matusadona offers the best of Lake Kariba’s water wildlife, coupled with superb inland viewing.

Lake Kariba is a brilliant location for wildlife viewing and birdwatching that can be conducted on land or from small boats, canoes or houseboats that allow you to approach bathing elephant and buffalo within meters. Home to a rich aquatic life and renowned for spectacular fishing opportunities, tiger fish, bream and kapenta are popular catches towards the end of the dry season. The Lake is also teeming with massive Nile crocodiles, on average there is one adult for every 200 meters of shoreline, which are often seen sunbathing on the banks. A unique attraction to Kariba is elephants swimming between the shore and islands. Large herds of 1,000 buffalo, hippo and waterbuck are frequent visitors to the lake shores as are conspicuous populations of water-loving birds. The drowned forests that line the shores are one of Kariba’s most striking and unforgettable features. The bare branches are excellent perches for fish eagles which periodically swoop down to snatch a tiger fish from the lake. White-breasted cormorants, egrets, various herons and saddlebill storks are among other species commonly spotted. Along the shoreline are some first-rate safari lodges which offer a range of activities including walking safaris, canoe and boat excursions to explore the lake’s inlets and creeks.

The diversity of wildlife on land is equally superb, as the Matusadona Game Reserve boasts populations of all the Big Five. The combination of flat plains, shrub land and rugged mountains ensure a rich diversity of species. The reserve is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered Black Rhino, which are most frequently seen at the foot of the escarpment. Numerous species of antelope are present, notably roan and sable antelope, along with the second highest concentration of lion in Africa after the Ngorongoro Crater. Leopard is more elusive as are cheetahs which were re-introduced to the area in 1995. Game drives, walking safaris, boat excursions and canoe trips are all offered, making the reserve an excellent all round safari destination.

For an exclusive experience, Lake Kariba is home to several islands which offer well-appointed lodgings overlooking the natural beauty of the Zambezi Valley. Alternatively, lakeshore lodges, luxurious houseboats and floating chalets provide a rare form of accommodation.

When To Visit

Lake Kariba is an all-year round destination which offers entertainment, sport, relaxation and adventure. However, the dry season is preferential (April to August).

November to March – The rainy summer season brings hot days of 30°C, nights of 22°C and high humidity. Heavy thunderstorms and showers regularly occur during the late afternoon and evening and high winds are not uncommon along the Zambezi. River crossings and dirt roads are often impassable during this time due to floods and the lush vegetation makes wildlife viewing challenging.

April and May – During Autumn there is limited rainfall with warm days of 28°C but cooler nights at 15°C. Long grasses can obscure the wildlife.

June to August – The cool, dry, sunny, clear days of winter bring daytime temperatures of 26°C but bitterly cold nights and early mornings of 8°C. Wildlife viewing is excellent as vegetation is sparse and animals congregate around water sources, including Lake Kariba.

September to October – The hot and dry spring months can be uncomfortable, with temperature around 35°C during the day and 25°C at night. The air is frequently hazy due to dust and smoke from bushfires. This is the peak time for game viewing and the best time for tiger fishing.

There are fewer mosquitoes from June to October (during the dry season)

Temperature & Rainfall

Climate Chart – Kariba

Kariba & Matusadona Highlights

Kariba Houseboat

Kariba Houseboat

Kariba Houseboat

Lake Kariba is famous for its Houseboats and an ideal way to spend a few days. A choice of fully ...

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Kariba Houseboat

Kariba Houseboat

Lake Kariba is famous for its Houseboats and an ideal way to spend a few days. A choice of fully serviced boats are the perfect platform to view game from the water’s edge.

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Walking Safaris

Walking Safaris

Walking Safaris

Accompanied by armed guides, guests can walk in the Matusadona National Park and the nearby ...

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Walking Safaris

Walking Safaris

Accompanied by armed guides, guests can walk in the Matusadona National Park and the nearby wildlife sanctuary, tracking and photographing a wide variety of wildlife, including black rhino.

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Tiger Fishing

Tiger Fishing

Tiger Fishing

Lake Kariba is famed for its freshwater fishing and this is one of the best places to catch the ...

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Tiger Fishing

Tiger Fishing

Lake Kariba is famed for its freshwater fishing and this is one of the best places to catch the elusive Tiger Fish that thrive on the sardine like Kapenta – introduced to Kariba from Lake Tanganyika.

Photo credit: Musango Camp

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Bird Watching

Bird Watching

Bird Watching

As well as the sights and sounds of the iconic African Fish Eagle, 350 bird species have been ...

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Bird Watching

Bird Watching

As well as the sights and sounds of the iconic African Fish Eagle, 350 bird species have been identified in the area including ducks, herons, plovers and storks that congregate along the waterfront and darters and cormorants who use the dead tree base for their fishing forays.

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Kariba Dam

Kariba Dam

Kariba Dam

The desiccated trees of Lake Kariba provide a great lookout point for the cormorants and other ...

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Kariba Dam

Kariba Dam

The desiccated trees of Lake Kariba provide a great lookout point for the cormorants and other birdlife attracted to the Lake. It’s possible to take a tour of Kariba to see the Dam Wall for a fascinating insight into how and why the dam was built and how amazing this feat was over 50 years ago.

Photo credit: Musango Camp

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Boat Safaris on Lake Kariba

Boat Safaris on Lake Kariba

Boat Safaris on Lake Kariba

Getting out on the waters of Lake Kariba is very much part of the Matusadona safari experience and ...

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Boat Safaris on Lake Kariba

Boat Safaris on Lake Kariba

Getting out on the waters of Lake Kariba is very much part of the Matusadona safari experience and the call of the African Fish Eagle once heard will never be forgotten.

And at the end of the day enjoy a refreshing ‘sundowner’ boat cruise whilst you marvel at the unequalled beauty of a lake Kariba sunset.

Photo Credit: Rhino Camp

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camps & lodges

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge and Spa boasts one of Africa’s finest wilderness locations with an elevated position on a range of remote hills overlooking ... Read More

Changa Safari Camp

Changa Safari Camp

Changa Safari Camp is located on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe and provides the unique experience of combined Game & Fishing Safaris. ... Read More

Houseboats on Kariba

Houseboats on Kariba

A Kariba houseboat allows you to explore the beautiful and game-rich banks of Lake Kariba and the Matusadona National Park. Moving to different ... Read More

Musango Safari Camp

Musango Safari Camp

Musango Safari Camp, the only owner-run safari camp on the lake, is situated on its own island just off the shoreline of the Matusadona National ... Read More

Rhino Safari Camp

Rhino Safari Camp

Rhino Safari Camp is an authentic, owner operated, luxury rustic bush camp situated on the shoreline of Lake Kariba on the western boundary of ... Read More