Matusadona National Park is situated on the shores of Lake Kariba. It offers superb wildlife viewing and birdlife - and is one of the few parks in Zimbabwe where you'll find the Big 5 (black rhino). It also has the highest concentration of lion in Zimbabwe. It's a great safari destination for game viewing - by houseboat, canoe or boat, and on foot, preferably with an expert guide. The roads are rough and gruelling and 4x4 vehicles are required.

Highlights
  • Superb scenery and views
  • Relaxed houseboat vacations
  • Excellent game viewing and birding
  • Tiger fishing
  • Uncrowded safari destination
  • Matusadona National Park
  • Sunset cruises

Matusadona is not as well-known as Hwange or Mana Pools but it is a large national park, on the shores of Lake Kariba, established mostly to accommodate all the wildlife that fled the valley when the dam was built and the water started to flood huge areas (early 1960s). Operation Noah was launched in a bid to rescue those animals, large and small, which were stranded on islands and brought to the shore.

Home to the Big 5

Matusadona is one of the few national parks in Zimbabwe where you can still see rhinos (black). Two-thirds of the park is set on high ground, an area above the escarpment to the south of the park, which is very remote and not often visited. The remaining third forms the low-lying land toward the lake shores, and here is where you’ll find most of the luxury lodges and the best game viewing areas.

Game Rich Area

There are vast floodplains with the characteristic mopane tree skeletons dotting the shores. Especially in the dry season, the grasslands attract large herds of buffalo with prides of lion not far behind. There are plenty of elephants and the shallows are alive with hippos and crocodiles. You also have a good chance of spotting hyena (spotted), leopard and the occasional cheetah. Some of the rarer antelope species like the majestic sable and roan also grace these shores. Over 260 bird species have been identified.

Climate

The climate is warm to hot, with the warmest months from September to April. Temperatures also vary according to the changing altitudes which range from sea level to over 1200 m (4250 ft). The wet season lasts from November to March and usually consists of afternoon rains followed by sunshine. At the peak of the wet season, the lake level can rise substantially, lapping at the edges of the mopane forests, leaving very little floodplains on which the animals can graze and game viewing can be disappointing. Humidity levels are also very high and mosquitos can be a problem.

General winter temperatures range from about 11 - 27°C (52 - 81°F) and summer temperatures can fluctuate from 18 – 40°C (64-104°F).

Best Time to Go

The dry season is more rewarding (June to October) when the lake levels are lower and the floodplains are wide open and inviting for the wildlife. It’s also far less humid and insects, particularly pesky mosquitos, are far less evident.

Getting There

The easiest options are fly-ins from the major centres or by boat from Kariba town, which is only about 17 km away. Road access is only recommended with 4x4 vehicles but during peak wet season, the roads may be impassable.

Accommodation

There are several excellent luxury lodges operating private concessions along the shores of Lake Kariba that offer superb safari experiences by boat and game viewing by open safari vehicles and on foot. Houseboats are also a popular option. Speak to us about your preferences and we gladly give you unbiased recommendations.

Musango Safari Lodge
Musango Kariba View Over Lake

Sitting atop its very own island in the expanse of Lake Kariba, not far from Bumi Hills, is Musango Safari Lodge. As with Bumi Hills, it’s just outside the Matusadona National Park. A small, well-established safari lodge, Musango is owned and run by the well-known Steve Edwards, former conservationist and warden of Matusadona, who personally guides and shares his incredible wealth of knowledge about the area, its wildlife and its history.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge & Spa
Bumi Hills Safari Lodge Gameviewing By Boat

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge & Spa is a luxury lodge situated on a high hilltop overlooking the massive expanse of Lake Kariba - the world's largest man-made lake - and it's game-rich shores. Various game activities and excellent tiger fishing are on offer at this tranquil, exclusive lodge.

Rhino Safari Camp

Rhino Safari Camp is a rustic safari camp situated on the shores of Lake Kariba, in the Matusadona National Park in northern Zimbabwe.

Changa Safari Camp

Changa Safari Camp is an upmarket tented camp on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe's Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park is a remote, pristine and uncrowded wilderness area on the edge of Lake Kariba. The floodplains of Lake Kariba and the lush valleys of the escarpment draw large numbers of animals to this area, particularly in the dry season.

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Bumi Hills Safari Lodge Gameviewing By Boat
Bumi Hills

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge & Spa is a luxury lodge situated on a high hilltop overlooking the massive expanse of Lake Kariba - the world's largest man-made lake - and it's game-rich shores. Various game activities and excellent tiger fishing are on offer at this tranquil, exclusive lodge.

Musango Kariba View Over Lake
Musango Safari Lodge

Sitting atop its very own island in the expanse of Lake Kariba, not far from Bumi Hills, is Musango Safari Lodge. As with Bumi Hills, it’s just outside the Matusadona National Park. A small, well-established safari lodge, Musango is owned and run by the well-known Steve Edwards, former conservationist and warden of Matusadona, who personally guides and shares his incredible wealth of knowledge about the area, its wildlife and its history.

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