These houseboats are a Zimbabwean institution
Relax in stunning surroundings, either on boat cruises or walks along the shore. Whilst you're there, enjoy a safari in the adjacent Matusadona National Park.
Lake Kariba was formed from the building of the Kariba Dam, covering 5,580km² of farmland and valleys and creating the world’s largest man-made reservoir – over 4 times larger than China’s Three Gorges Dam for those keen on facts!
The underlying vegetation was burned prior to the flooding of the land and the thick layer of fertile soil means the lake is incredibly bio-diverse, with a huge variety of fish species, which in turn means the birding here is superb. Crocodile and hippo inhabit the lake as well and can often be seen sunning themselves on the bank. Giant leadwood trees, part submerged when the lake was created, are found at the edge of the lake and their dead limbs sticking up in the air create an eerie, but photogenic backdrop to the lake.
A number of lodges overlook the lake and these are wonderful places to spend a few days relaxing, taking things a little slower and enjoy boat cruises or walks along the shore. For us one of the best features of a tailor-made Lake Kariba safari are the houseboats that can be rented for a few days, either cabin-by-cabin or exclusively to allow for a few days exploring from a different perspective. The houseboats are a Zimbabwean institution and an integral part of any luxury Lake Kariba holiday. Definitely a special way to discover more of this incredible country.
The adjacent Matusadona National Park is found on the southern shore of Lake Kariba. It’s a well-stocked wildlife area benefiting in no small part from the relocation scheme (known as Project Noah), that took place as the waters of Lake Kariba rose and authorities realised that huge amounts of wildlife were stranded on old hilltops – now islands in Lake Kariba.
Elephant and buffalo can be found in large numbers in the park, especially close to the lake shore owing to the abundance of lush grass, whilst plains game such as zebra and impala are also common. Lion and leopard are often seen and there has been a recent reintroduction of rhino into a Special Protection Zone to help alleviate the poaching epidemic. A visit to Kariba and Matusadona is a superb way to break up a safari trip through Western Zimbabwe, enjoy relaxing out on the water or to spend some time with one of the anti-poaching teams that work within the park. Although the area doesn’t get the same exposure as some of Zimbabwe’s other parks, it is a wonderful place in its own right, worth the visit for the stunning sunsets alone!
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