Beautiful, tranquil, Lake Kariba is an inland sea, formed in the 1950s when the Zambezi was dammed to provide power for Zambia and Zimbabwe. As water levels rose, money flooded into to fund Operation Noah, a project to rescue the displaced wildlife (we should also mention that the displaced Batonga community saw only a fraction of the same support).
Many of the animals ended up on the high ground of Matusadona National Park, on Kariba’s southern shoreline. Today there are good herds of buffalo and ellies, alongside zebras, waterbuck and impala. Most safari-goers see the odd lion, and if you’re lucky you may well also spot Matusadona’s black rhinos. There are plenty of hippos and crocs to be spotted throughout much of the lake, and birding is a real delight. The sound of the lake really is the fish eagle’s cry, but look out for herons, saddle-billed storks and cormorants too.
Both Matusadona and wider Lake Kariba are rather lovely, languid places, with spectacular sunsets and even more spectacular thunderstorms. There are the skeletal remains of flooded forests along the shoreline, and distant hills on the horizon make this a glorious area for photographers.
What can I do at Kariba and Matusadona?
For guests wanting to wind down at the end of a long safari, a few days on a houseboat on Lake Kariba is a wonderful way to relax. If you’re in, or near, Matusadona, there are excellent game drives, walking safaris and boat safaris– the latter are particularly lovely at sunset. Remaining on the water, many of the lodges and house boats also offer fishing for bream and tiger fish, while on land, a cultural visit to one of the local communities is a great way to learn more about this area beyond the admittedly lovely, wildlife.
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