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A Hidden Gem, Lake Kariba

By: Mishka Ramdas, Digital Copywriter at Africa Tailormade

Many describe Lake Kariba as Zambia’s hidden Riveira! It provides beautiful vistas, gorgeous sunsets, excellent fishing, boating options, water sports, and fantastic peaceful vacations or weekends spent soaking up the sun. Lake Kariba covers an area of almost 6,000 square kilometres and is fed by the Zambezi River, which originates in Zambia and flows through Mozambique towards the Indian Ocean.

The dam, which was completed in 1959, has provided a wide range of benefits to the people of Zimbabwe and Zambia, as well as visitors from across the world. Lake Kariba has a fascinating history, which is why it is considered to be one of Zimbabwe’s most popular tourist attractions and the ideal family safari spot for locals and international travellers.

Due to the construction of the dam, the surrounding areas would be flooded. This in turn would be catastrophic resulting in the loss of habitat for both humans and animals. As a precautionary measure, the Tongan tribes of the Gwembe Valley were relocated. This relocation was negotiated based on the economic benefit for both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ultimately, the concept of Lake Kariba had become a topic of controversy. The local people believed that the dam’s construction would anger the Zambezi River God, Nyaminyami and believed he would break down the bridge leading to catastrophic floods.

To this day, it is believed that Nyaminyami lives under a rock close to the Lake Kariba dam wall. The rock has been named “Kariwa“ meaning to trap. Locals have warned that canoeing past this location can be fatal. The history of Lake Kariba is riddled with historic mythology and is described by locals as a spiritually powerful body of water that is revered and respected by the locals of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Due to the construction of the dam, the surrounding areas would be flooded. This in turn would be catastrophic resulting in the loss of habitat for both humans and animals. As a precautionary measure, the Tongan tribes of the Gwembe Valley were relocated. This relocation was negotiated based on the economic benefit for both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ultimately, the concept of Lake Kariba had become a topic of controversy. The local people believed that the dam’s construction would anger the Zambezi River God, Nyaminyami and believed he would break down the bridge leading to catastrophic floods.

The history of Lake Kariba is riddled with historic mythology and is described by locals as a spiritually powerful body of water that is revered and respected by the locals of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Not only did the Tongan tribe lose their land as a result of Kariba’s construction, but the wildlife in the surrounding areas lost their habitats as well. Thousands of wild animals fled, in search of higher ground away from the powerful body of water. Rangers and volunteers from national parks in both Zimbabwe and Zambia, rallied together to save animals stuck on islands and in trees. They were later called “Operation Noah” and succeeded in saving over 6,000 animals, including elephant, zebra, antelope, lion and rhino.

Today, Lake Kariba is the 4th largest man-made lake in the world and the 2nd largest in Africa.

5 Interesting Facts About Lake Kariba

  • The weather is mild and dry from late April through early August. Even though it’s winter, the days are usually pleasant, with highs in the early to mid-20s and lows seldom falling below 13 °C.
  • It’s located halfway between the mouth and source of the Zambezi River, 200 km downstream from the Victoria Falls.
  • Kariba Dam is made up of a double arch wall. It measures 128 meters high, 617 meters long, 13 metres wide at its peak, and 24meters at its base.
  • Andre Coyne was the leading designer. He was an inventor and engineer from France. He designed 70 dams in 14 different countries after the Kariba dam was built.
  • Between 1958 and 1963, the sheer weight of the water filling the Kariba dam caused more than 20 earthquakes. These earthquakes were above 5 on the Richter scale.

Our Favorite Lake Kariba Lodge

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is strategically situated on a range of remote hills in one of Zimbabwe’s finest wilderness locations. With the Zambezi escarpment as its backdrop, this haven of pure serenity overlooks the glistening waters of Lake Kariba. Not only is the Kariba shoreline teeming with wildlife, but the lodge’s proximity to Matusadona allows for other species of wildlife to move freely between the national park and Bumi Hills’ private concession. Therefore, providing endless game-viewing opportunities, led by a passionate team of qualified guides.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge boasts ten spacious suites which are tastefully appointed to provide you with the best views and a truly exclusive experience. Each suite offers to air-condition, an en-suite bathroom, hairdryers, battery charging points, a well-stocked minibar and a private viewing deck boasting the most magnificent views of Lake Kariba. The Baobab Villa, is a 2-bedroomed private villa, complete with its own living room bar and indoor and outdoor dining decks is ideal for families. Offering a personalised experience, the villa comes with the services of a private butler, safari guide and a dedicated safari vehicle.