Lake Kariba is landlocked Zimbabwe’s answer to the seaside: a massive manmade lake that provides a magical combination of water and wildlife. Situated in the north of the country and sharing a border with Zambia, Lake Kariba is best explored by a slow cruise on a houseboat over a few days. Whiling away hours spotting birds, hippos and crocodiles from the deck couldn’t be more relaxing, but you can also spend your days on smaller tender boats or canoes going fishing and spotting wildlife in Matusadona National Park on the lake’s shores.
Cruising Lake Kariba on a houseboat is one of Zimbabwe’s top experiences. Spending a few days on a boat is the perfect way to unwind and soak up the magic of this vast watery wilderness and its beautiful islands.
Matusadona National Park lies on the southern shores of Lake Kariba and is home to the Big Five, as well as the rare roan and sable antelope and 240 species of birds (herons and saddlebill storks are particular highlights). A highlight of visiting Kariba is the water-based game viewing you can do from the lake in small boats or canoes, which allows you to get thrillingly close to elephants and other animals.
Fishing for tigerfish and bream is another big attraction of the lake, and there’s an international tigerfishing tournament held here each October. Houseboats offer fishing trips, or you can book a specific fishing safari.
June to October is the best time to visit Lake Kariba for wildlife viewing, although be aware that September and October are extremely hot months.
Don’t be tempted to swim in the lake, and be careful when you’re fishing on the shoreline because of the threat of crocodiles.
Malaria is present in Lake Kariba and the risk of contraction is highest during the rainy months from November to April – take the necessary precautions.