Lake Kariba is found off the middle section of the Zambezi River covering a distance of 226km on the northern border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is actually the largest man made lake in Africa followed by Aswan Dam in Egypt. It is a very important dam that supports hydro-electric power projects for both Zambia and Zimbabwe and commercial fishing for all the countries.
The small town of Kariba Heights is carefully situated 600 meters above the lake and primarily services the population who come here for boating, fishing & to enjoy lakeside holidays. Kariba town exists because the Lake exists and the Lake has an interesting history
Way back in the 1930’s the idea of a hydroelectric scheme on the mighty Zambezi was formed but it was not until 1950 that the work began. New settlements were made for the BaTonga people of the valley though they hated to leave their homes and abandon Nyaminyami, their River God.
In 1959 the 128m high concrete dam wall was complete and the plains began to flood. Today Lake Kariba stretches for 290km, is 42kms wide at its widest point and it has an average depth of 18 meters. One of Africa’s most ambitious projects came to life when Queen Elizabeth officially started the generators on May 16th, 1960.
Lake Kariba Zambia and in Zimbabwe is Tiger Fish territory; the Tiger is a renowned fighting fish that can reach 15kg in weight. Lake Kariba supports an annual Tiger fishing competition that is immensely popular and centers around the town of Kariba. Other catches include sardines and Kapenta
Kariba Lake Canoe safaris and rides are also offered on Lake Kariba and lower Zambezi arranged by many Lake Kariba safari lodges like Camp Zambezi near Mana Pools and many other safari lodges. From the Lake Kariba Dam, one has unparallaled view of the magnificent Victoria Falls on the Zambia Side.
Operation Noah came about just after the dam was completed and the waters began to rise. The aim was to rescue wild animals that became trapped on high ground as the waters rose. By the end of 1959 over 6,000 animals including elephant, antelope, rhino, lion, leopard, zebra, warthog, small birds and even snakes had been rescued. They were trapped, darted and transported by boat to safety and set free again. Some swam to safety after being herded into the waters; others such as rhino were trussed to rafts and taken to the lake edges.
For game viewing at Lake Kariba head to the Matusadona National Park Zimbabwe across the Lake or the Kuburi Wilderness Area just east of the town. Other neighboring Game parks and attractions include Mana Pools, Chizara, Zambezi valley, Siavonga Zambia and Chirundu Fossil forest Zambia among others.
How to get there
From Lusaka, lake Kariba Zambia is only 3 hours to Siavonga via the scenery of Zambezi valley. Drive 18km from the Chirundu to the Zimbabwe border. From Harare Zimbabwe, Kariba is a 5 hour drive and is accessed by private charter using Air Zimbabwe or by private charter by pre-booking. By road, travel via Binga-Magunge road via Bulawayo-Victoria Falls main road.
Lake Kariba Houseboating
Houseboats are an interesting traditional way to spend your Zambezi Africa safari under the African sun, typical African sunsets and mornings filled with chirping birds. There are several hotels and safari lodges offering Lake Kariba Houseboats conditional on Pre-booking.