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Messing about in (house) boats on Lake Kariba

A stylish aquatic safari adventure.



Zimbabwe Specialist
Published on

05 Dec 2018

Updated on

22 Apr 2021

Game Viewing Matusadona

When I talk to Zimbabwean friends and work colleagues, there are many consistent themes that come out of their lives growing up there, not least the amazing wildlife experiences they were fortunate to enjoy. But one slightly off-the-wall experience they all seemed to enjoy on a regular basis was spending time on houseboats with friends and family, cruising the waters of Lake Kariba.

Header Mv Matusadona
MV Matusadona on Lake Kariba

As a whole the cruise industry is an enormous part of the luxury travel industry, but sub-Saharan Africa has been somewhat left behind when it comes to boating. The very seasonal water levels in all of the major rivers is a factor behind this and, with so many incredible things to see from the land, cruising isn’t really something that has taken off. Until now…

“…Zimbabwe’s resurgence as a leading African safari destination has opened up the wonders of cruises on Lake Kariba and this is one of our “must-do” experiences for 2019.”
Mv Matusadona Exterior
MV Matusadona on Lake Kariba
Meal At Mv Matusadona
Dining in style on board
The Top Deck Mv Matusadona
View from the top deck

If you have enough people travelling together, or are simply looking to indulge yourselves, then a number of the houseboats, including our favourite, the MV Matusadona, can be rented exclusively, allowing you to spend your time aboard as you please. We suggest either 3 or 4 nights aboard, allowing you to visit areas such as the Sanyati Gorge, often described as an African Fjord, Elephant Point, Tashinga Island and Partridge Island. The boat is accompanied by 2 small tenders, allowing you to get out on the lake and explore the inlets and channels that lead in to the Matusadona National Park – perfect for seeing the area’s varied wildlife from a very unique perspective. The boat usually cruises for 3.5 hours a day, so you cover plenty of miles and there is ample time to relax and enjoy the on-board facilities and ambience.

Cabin Interior Mv Matusadona
Cabin bedroom
Game Viewing Mv Matusadona
Game viewing in the smaller tenders

The crew, comprises a captain, cook, steward and on-board manager so your every whim can be looked after during your cruise. There is an open-air jacuzzi on the top deck, which is a fantastic spot to sit back, relax and watch the world go by as you cruise along the gentle waters of Lake Kariba. Meals are a fun affair aboard Matusadona and the chef will be able to tailor the menu to your exact requirements. With space for up to 6 people, this is a perfect way to spend a few days exploring the lake and relaxing aboard what is fast becoming an icon of Zimbabwean travel.

Outdoor Jacuzzi Mv Matusadona
Jacuzzi deck

For smaller parties, 2019 will see the launching of a boat which can be booked on a cabin-by-cabin basis, making it ideal for those not looking for the extravagance of a whole boat to themselves. The MV Zambezi Adventurer will operate between Binga and Kariba town (and vice-versa), taking three nights to cover the route.

Lioness Mv Matusadona
Lions around Lake Kariba
Landbased Game Viewing Mv Matusadona
Land based game viewing is an option too

With 18 cabins this is a larger boat, but has plenty of communal space, including a lovely pool area, sundeck, bar and dining room. Meals are always a fun affair, with passengers often joining fellow guests on larger tables to share stories of their day on the lake, the wildlife they have seen in Matusadona and compare photographs of their adventures through Zimbabwe.

Cruising on Kariba is easily incorporated in to any Zimbabwe itinerary, so please speak to us if this is something that you are keen on using and we will recommend the best vessel, route and plan to give you a few days out on the lake.

Wondering when to visit? Take a look at this guide on the best time to visit Zimbabwe.

Looking for some more inspiration? Take a look at our best safari holidays ideas, our favourite family safaris, our big five safari guide or our top African safari honeymoon suggestions.

Start planning your tailor-made Zimbabwe safari – call us on 01768 603 715 and speak with a Zimbabwe travel expert.


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