Straddling a portion of the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba is the world's largest man-made lake. Its creation provided perfect conditions for wildlife in Matusadona National Park, located on a section of its shore on the Zimbabwean side, to thrive. Game viewing along Lake Kariba's shoreline can be done by houseboat, canoe or boat, and from inside Matusadona 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
  • Sunset cruises
  • Excellent game viewing and birding
  • Tiger fishing
  • Uncrowded safari destination
  • Superb wildlife viewing inside Matusadona National Park
  • Big 5, including black rhino
  • One of the highest concentration of lion in Zimbabwe

The construction of Lake Kariba put Matusadona National Park, which is not as well-known as Hwange or Mana Pools, on the map. When the dam that feeds the lake was built and water started to flood huge areas of the valley, the wildlife that hadn't fled, was left stranded on islands. Operation Noah was launched in a bid to rescue those animals, large and small, and repatriate them to Matusandona. No visit to Lake Kariba is complete without a game drive in Matusadona.

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 change in altitude which ranges from sea level to over 1,200 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 to 27°C (52 - 81°F) and summer temperatures can fluctuate from 18 to 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'll 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 - Matusadona National Park - Zimbabwe - View from private deck

Located in the remote north of Zimbabwe's rugged Matusadona National Park, Changa Safari Camp overlooks Lake Kariba. Family owned and run, this East African style tented camp offers authentic accommodation and a wide range of lake, beach and bush excursions that take advantage of its unique location.

Matusadona National Park
Africa Travel Guide - Matusadona National Park - Zimbabwe

Matusadona National Park, located in the heart of Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley on the shores of Lake Kariba, offers some of the country's most rewarding game viewing opportunities and is often best explored on foot. Walking safaris are the perfect way to investigate the ruggedness of Matusadona's wilderness which ranges from shoreline grassland and mopane woodland to mountain acacia woodland on the escarpment.

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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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