Lake Kariba - a wild inland sea
A few hundred kilometres downstream from Victoria Falls there is a narrow, steep-sided gorge in the course of the Zambezi River. It was here, in the middle of the 20th century, that the waters of the Zambezi were suddenly halted by a gigantic, arched concrete wall. The construction of this wall created a vast inland sea for 282 kilometres (174 miles) behind it, an area of more than 5 000 square kilometres and up to 42 kilometres (25 miles) wide.
When all floodgates are open in the dam wall at Kariba, about 540 million litres of water per minute surge into the valley below - this is more than the maximum flow that plummets over the edge at Victoria Falls.
The wall at Kariba was constructed primarily to generate hydro-electric power for Zimbabwe and Zambia. But a major spin-off of the project was the development of a major fishing and tourist industry.
The deep waters of Lake Kariba provide an aquatic playground for water sports, sailing and fishing whilst the succulent grazing along its shores attract Africa’s big game in their numbers. Elephant, buffalo, rhino, hippo and warthogs as well as antelope like impala and waterbuck are all attracted to the nutritious plant life between the high and low water levels .
On the southern side of Lake Kariba is Matusadona National Park and, further upstream on the steep escarpment is Chizarira National Park, accessible only by 4x4 vehicle, on foot or on horseback.
Bush lodges on the islands of Lake Kariba can be reached by boat or aircraft. But, in and around the town of Kariba there is a broad range of accommodation from tented campsites to star-rated hotels, lodges and bed and bed breakfast places. Whether you’re interested in putting your ‘lucky chip’ on a number on the roulette wheel in a casino, baiting your hook for ‘the catch of the day’ or indulging in a wide selection of water and wilderness activities in between, Lake Kariba is all yours.