Lake Kariba in Zambia

lake kariba

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made dam by volume, extending over 5000km2 along Zambia’s southern border. Completed in 1959, the dam provides hydro-electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, and fish stocks – mainly tilapia, kapenta and the prized tigerfish – are also shared. Access to the Zambian side the lake is fairly limited, with Sinazongwe or Siavonga the only two towns of any significance. Siavonga is the larger, a sleepy lakeside holiday village that’s popular with locals and only a few hours’ drive from Lusaka. Sinazongwe is much smaller and less developed, and most head to Siavonga as their base for exploring the lake.

Highlights

fishing on lake kariba during sunset

The Zambian side of the lake is far less wild compared with Zimbabwe and there are no game reserves anywhere along the northern shore. For wildlife, you’ll have to visit one of two large islands, Chete or Chikanka, both in the southwest and accessible from Sinazongwe. Chete is the larger of the two and guided game walks are possible. There’s a small population of elephants, some leopards and plenty of crocodiles, hippos and birds. Chikanka is privately owned, with a single, dedicated fishing lodge. It’s one of many fishing options on Lake Kariba, with tigerfish the most sought-after catch. Various expeditions can be arranged from Siavonga – from live-aboard houseboats to private motorboat trips and canoes. Siavonga is also right next to the dam wall and by flashing your passport you can walk out onto it, or catch a boat from Siavonga for a dam-wall cruise.

Practical advice

”siavongo

Siavonga

It’s not safe to swim along Lake Kariba’s shallow shoreline, both due to the waterborne parasite bilharzia, and the high numbers of crocodiles and hippos. It’s generally okay to swim further out in deeper water so a quick dip from your house boat is usually fine. There are good roads to both Siavonga and Sinazongwe, but Siavonga is easier to reach as it’s closer to Lusaka. Any visit to Lake Kariba is largely about houseboats and/or fishing so if you’re not into either then you might want to look elsewhere. If it’s boating and fishing you’re after then you can’t go wrong. There are hotels, lodges and campsites in Siavonga to suit a range of budgets and whereas fishing is banned on Zambia’s rivers from December to March, Lake Kariba is exempt, with fishing year-round.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

day 1

Your African journey begins today
  • Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)
  • Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)
  • Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)
  • Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)
  • Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)
  • Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

day 2

day 3

Game viewing by river cruising

Popular Zambia Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Camp fire | Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta...

 | Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Why not visit more than one exciting African destination? See the Great Migration, Victoria Falls and wildlife-rich Hwange National Park...

Romantic view | Deluxe Honeymoon Safari in Cape Town, Kruger and Victoria Falls (10 days)

Deluxe Honeymoon Safari in Cape Town, Kruger and Victoria Falls (10 days)

Combine three of Southern Africa's most loved destinations into one romantic getaway and you'll share the memories forever...

Victoria Falls | Grand Zambia Wildlife Safari (9 days)

Grand Zambia Wildlife Safari (9 days)

Combine water and wildlife in a journey that takes you from the Victoria Falls to Kafue and South Luangwa national parks – Zambia at its best...

 | Jewels of Zimbabwe and Zambia Safari (9 days)

Jewels of Zimbabwe and Zambia Safari (9 days)

Fall under the spell of three prime attractions in Zimbabwe and Zambia – Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and the Mana Pools ...

Boating on the Chobe River | Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Visit Livingstone, Zambia, to marvel at the Victoria Falls – or 'the smoke that thunders' – before going on safari and a river cruise in Botswana's Chobe National Park...

 | Best of Zambia Wilderness Safari (10 days)

Best of Zambia Wilderness Safari (10 days)

With some of the wildest and most remote game areas on the continent, and a remarkably low population in a massive country, Zambia has an aura of mystery waiting to be uncovered....

 | Luxurious South Africa and Zambia Honeymoon Safari (10 days)

South Africa and Zambia honeymoon

Explore the romantic Atlantic Ocean with it's multi-cultural heritage and a Big Five safari in the Sabi Sands, finally ending off at Victoria Falls from the Zambian side...

Boat at sunset | Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

One week safari to three Zambian national parks, including the flagship South Luangwa, and end in style with a visit to the remarkable Victoria Falls...

 | City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

Majestic wildlife and the riches of Africa. ...



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