Lake Kariba is Zambia’s undiscovered Riveira ! It offers spectacular views, stunning sunsets, great fishing, boating opportunities, water sports or wonderful relaxing holidays or weekends just soaking up the sunshine.
The weather here is mostly sunny and fine. It can get quite hot in mid summer, but even mid winter days are warm and the nights are balmy.
This is Africa’s largest man made dam, 226km long and in places up to 40 km wide. It provides considerable electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe and supports a thriving commercial fishing industry. The sheer size of it makes one forget it’s a dam and in certain places it almost feels like an ocean!
A houseboat holiday is a great way to spend a few days under the sun, and the best time to plan it is over a full moon. The twilight atmosphere between sunset and full moon rise on this lake is quite magical.
Accommodation ranges from well established lodges on the banks with spectacular views to self catering chalets and campsites.
What to do
Sport fishing is good and the major lodges, Lake Kariba Inns and Lake Safari lodge offer boats and tackle. Further down the lake shore at Sinazongwe, the annual Tiger Fishing Competition attracts anglers from all over the subcontinent and is held in May.
If you have your own boat, the lake is a superb playground for all kinds of watersports. The bigger lodges have many boats to hire if you don’t.
A trip on a houseboat is highly recommended. The tranquility of watching the deep orange sun sink on the one side of the lake and the moon rise over the shimmering waters on the other is very special. Try Lake Kariba Inns or Lake Safari Lodge if you need to launch a boat at Siavonga.
Fishing has been improving over the last few years and the main catches are tiger and the tasty bream. The tiger fish, considered by many to be one of the finest game fish around have flourished in the rich waters of the lake. The largest average weight caught in competition is just under eight pounds, but the speed, courage and strength of the tigerfish make it a worthy opponent for the skilful angler.
The introduction to Kariba of kapenta, tiny sardine-like fish, has proved very successful. Shoals were airlifted from Lake Tanganyika to Lake Kariba in 1967. Kapenta are also dried for easy distribution as a high protein food supplement to areas where fish are scarce.
From Lusaka, it’s and easy 2.5 hour drive to Siavonga through the beautifully scenic Zambezi Rift Valley. Take the T2 to Chirundu and turn right onto the M15, 18km before the Zimbabwe border. From Harare, take the turnoff to Kariba and cross over the dam wall to Siavonga. An airstrip does exist at Siavonga but is unmanned.
Anytime spent in the Kariba or Siavonga area should include a visit to the Dam Wall if nothing but to witness the size of this awesome structure. There is a display at the entrance of the bridge describing the building of the wall and the statistics involved. The wide bridge offers ample room for walking on either side. The contrasting views — the vast lake stretching to infinity on the one side and the sheer drop to the gorge on the other side, is breathtaking. The story of the building of this dam is a very interesting one.
Chirundu Fossel Forest 21 km from Chirundu, on the road to Lusaka, lies a fossil forest with remnants of trees over 150 million years old. Sections of tree trunks up to three meters long are exposed as a result of erosion of the surrounding soft red sandstone. Scattered over the area are sparse Middle and late Stone Age industries, indicating that these people sometimes made use of fossil wood for making stone implements.