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Lake Kariba and Matusadona National Park

Why visit Lake Kariba and Matusadona NP

Lake Kariba is an impressive body of water, the second largest man-made lake in Africa. It’s a favourite amongst fishermen looking to snag a hefty tigerfish. Originally dammed in 1958 to build a hydro-electricity facility to provide power to Zambia and Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba is now a popular 'coastal' destination in its own right.
Lake Kariba has nature reserves on all sides, one of them being Matusadona National Park. With stunning landscapes and it’s remote, isolated location Matusadona receives fewer visitors than other parks thus offering a more exclusive safari experience.
Reasons to visit Lake Kariba and Matusadona include:

Lake Kariba

  • At about 300km long and 32km at its widest point, it is pretty impressive particularly when seen from the air.
  • When the sluice gates were closed the water level began to rise rapidly and a large resident animal population was threatened as land was swallowed up and only small islands remained. Collectively, National Parks and Government of both countries rescued around 7,000 animals, today the surrounding areas are rich in wildlife.
  • Steeped in folklore, locals believe that the waters are protected by the Nyaminyami River God, a dragon-like amphibious creature with the head of a fish and torso of a snake. Nyaminyami is the subject of many souvenirs. 
  • Sport fishing is big business in Kariba,and it's a great place to try your hand at landing a tigerfish.
  • Enjoy a stay on a houseboat and watch the wildlife grazing on the shoreline.
  • Sundownwers on the water are always fabulous.
  • Winters on the lake are sunny and warm and during the summer there is usually a breeze floating across the water.

Matusadona National Park

  • Matusadona is home to the much sought after Big 5.
  • In 2019 African Parks took over management of Matusadona with the aim of improving wildlife populations, tourism and socio-economic growth and restoring the park to its former glory.
  • There are large herds of buffalo here along with elephant, hippo, sable, roan antelope and waterbuck. Wildlife is often seen grazing at the shoreline.
  • The birdlife is equally impressive due to the diverse habitats, there is nothing more haunting than the cry of the fish eagle, there are storks and herons aplenty too.
  • Sunsets over the water are spectacular, with the impressive Matusadona mountains in the background.
  • Matusadona is an 'Intensely Protected Zone' since the reintroduction of rhino which can often be seen here, it is possible to track them on foot.
  • Safaris can be enjoyed of foot, by vehicle, by boat or canoe ”“ such variety.

When to visit Lake Kariba and Matusadona NP

Summers in Kariba are hot with temperatures pushing 40 degrees, if it’s fishing you are after than this is the right time. April and may enjoy warm days with temperatures in the mid-twenties, and cooler nights. The rainy season may bring occasional storms between November and March, these can be quite impressive with the rain accompanied by thunder and lightening.

How to do it

Matusadona is accessible by speedboat from Kariba, but a lot of visitors opt to fly a bush airstrip and you will be collected from there. Where you are staying determines your means of access, but our consultants can guide you every step of the way.

Accommodation in Lake Kariba and Matusadona NP

There is accommodation in Kariba town, but most visitors to the area prefer to stay on the lakeshore in Matusadona for an authentic safari experience and there are a number of good options available. The recently refurbished Bumi Hills offers comfort in classy surroundings while those wanting a simple and rustic place to stay could opt for Rhino Safari Camp and be assured of a warm welcome.

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Lake Kariba and Matusadona National Park accommodation

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Time: GMT + 2 hours

Flight time:

Flights from UK to Harare or Victoria Falls are usually via Johannesburg and can take 12+ hours, although once the new Victoria Falls airport is fully operational there may be an option of direct flights – watch this space.

Language: English is the official language of Zimbabwe. Shona or Ndebele are also widely spoken by the majority of the population.


Visas are required for UK passport holders and can be obtained on entry into Zimbabwe.  


Malaria is a risk in many areas of Zimbabwe.



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