Lake Kariba houseboat cruising MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Lake Kariba Houseboat Cruising

Hey there! Let me tell you about an awesome adventure you can have on Lake Kariba. It’s all about cruising on a houseboat called the Matusadona. Trust me, it’s the best way to experience the wildlife and breathtaking thunderstorms of this region, while also diving into its rich history. Let’s dive in!

Imagine this: I’m sitting on the Matusadona, an amazing motor cruiser, while the sun rises above the Zambezi escarpment. The weather is nice, and Lake Kariba stretches out before me. It’s truly incredible to be on Africa’s largest inland body of water. What an adventure it has been so far!

As I look out over the vast expanse of Lake Kariba, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible feat of engineering that is the Kariba Dam. Built in the late 1950s, this dam is a true testament to human ingenuity. Holding over 180 billion tons of water, it is the largest dam in the world in terms of volume. Not only does it provide electricity for vast areas of Zimbabwe and Zambia, but it has also become a prominent feature on the landscape, with its own unique weather patterns.

One of the most awe-inspiring displays of this unique weather phenomenon is the thunderstorms that often emerge in the afternoons. With their spectacular displays of color and lightning, these thunderstorms are a sight to behold. The precipitation from the dam creates the perfect conditions for these thunderstorms to form, resulting in a truly mesmerizing experience.

As I gaze out at the shoreline of Matusadona National Park, I am greeted by the magnificent sight of a herd of elephants quietly drinking from a small inlet. It is moments like these that remind me of the incredible wildlife that thrives in this region. Tim Featherby, the owner of the vessel I am on, shares a fascinating story with us about spotting a pride of lions on the shores of the lake, not too far from where we are anchored. It’s truly amazing to witness the thriving ecosystem that calls this place home.

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In this park, you’ll find lions thriving in their natural habitat. It’s also an important refuge for the endangered black rhino. What sets this park apart is its seclusion, nestled between the Zambezi escarpment and the lake itself.

Even with its remote location, some poachers still manage to reach the area by helicopter, targeting the valuable rhino and elephants that roam freely. Tim, who knows the area well, is aware of the persistent poaching issues that put these animals at risk. He believes that the support and contributions from visitors like you can help tackle this problem and protect the park’s wildlife.

Witness the majestic sight of elephants drinking, with the stunning backdrop of Matusadona National Park.

I hop on board the Matusadona, a boat that exudes elegance and luxury. Out of all the houseboats at the marina in Kariba town, this one stands out as the most beautiful. It’s like a floating safari lodge, offering a stylish and comfortable way to explore Lake Kariba.

As the engines roar to life, the captain guides us away from the mooring. We glide along the shoreline, marveling at the breathtaking view. The vibrant greens of the escarpment create a stunning contrast against the backdrop of distant, dark thunderclouds.

Lake Kariba holds immense economic importance for both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Apart from generating electricity, it supports various subsistence and commercial fishing activities.

Tiger fish love swimming in these waters, which makes this dam one of the best places for fishing in Africa (you should also try tiger fishing on the Zambezi). Matusadona has three smaller speedboats that we can use to explore secret fishing spots or have a relaxing sundowner on nearby islands.

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We start sailing away from the National Park to discover another part of this amazing lake. Tim thinks we should stop in the middle of the dam for a swim. He assures me that crocodiles rarely venture far into the middle.

Jumping off Matusadona into the middle of the lake

Exploring Kariba by boat is truly the only way to fully appreciate the vastness of this body of water. The scope and history of the dam project are truly mind-blowing, especially when you consider that it was all completed long before I was even born.

The views, the thunderstorms, the wildlife, and the comfort of Matusadona all contribute to making this not your average houseboat adventure.

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