Lake Kariba — a special place

Lake Kariba is a special place of incredible beauty, which is a nature lover’s dream.

The scenery at this African holiday spot also makes it a photographer’s paradise. A visit to Lake Kariba is highly recommended. It is a most relaxing form of holiday.

Along the Zambezi River is Lake Kariba. The lake was created when a dam was built across the Zambezi in the early sixties to provide hydro-electric power.

The building of the dam was controversial as many people lost their homes and thousands of animals had to be rescued in something called Operation Noah,
organised by a man called Rupert Fothergill.

Animals of all sorts were saved from drowning, with many having to be rescued as the waters rose around them.

Now, the lake, which covers an area of 5 000 square kilometres is a wildlife paradise, both in the water with crocodile and hippo, including as some of the
world’s best fish, especially the tiger, which fishermen have to really fight to catch, and on the shores where the Matusadona Wildlife Reserve has the highest
number of lions per square kilometre of any reserve in the African continent.

The most iconic image of Lake Kariba is of the fish eagles, who sit in the fossilised trees in the lake, hunting for fish and whose haunting cry is a sound you
will never forget.

Visitors can stay in one of the game lodges along the shores or perhaps enjoy a few days in a houseboat, just drifting along and enjoying the spectacular
scenery and watching the wildlife come down to the shores to drink.

Lake Kariba is a special place of incredible beauty, that is a nature lover’s dream. The scenery at this African holiday spot also makes it a photographer’s
paradise.

Lake Kariba is among the four largest man-made lakes in the world and the second largest in Africa.

It lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The dam wall was built across the Kariba gorge to harness the river’s flow to provide hydroelectric power
for the growing industries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Although both the local people and wild animals were initially displaced when the dam was filled between 1958 and 1963, safe relocations were made and the new
ecosystem provides life in many forms. Villagers and their livestock have constant access to water.

Covering an area of nearly 6 000 square kilometres, the lake has also become a year-round source of water for an abundance of animal and bird-life, and a
popular travel destination for both local and foreign tourists.

The main town that lies at one end of the massive lake is Kariba Heights. It is carefully situated 600 metres above the lake, up a steep hill.

The area generally has very hot summers, averaging 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), and an average rainfall of 660 millimetres.

The winters are usually warm, with an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Wintertime, from April to August, is the best time to
go to Kariba.

Several stories have been told to explain the origin of the name Kariba. Some elders in the area note that close to the dam wall lies a rock that resembles a
traditional stone trap, riva, hence Kariva, literally meaning “little trap”, later mispronounced by Europeans to Kariba.

Another version is that the rock was named “Kariva” due to the fact that when the river flooded the rock, it trapped water, thereby making it difficult for the
locals who often crossed the river to return to either side of the Zambezi River.

Whatever the origin of the name, it is generally agreed that the name Kariba is a mispronunciation of the rock which lies beneath the water surface, close to
the dam wall.

Lake Kariba is a tremendous wildlife experience. Gamefish, particularly tiger fish, which was among the indigenous species of the Zambezi river system, now
thrive on kapenta, a small species of sardine-like fish that was introduced into the lake as a commercial fishery venture. Fish eagle, cormorant and other
water birds frequently visit the shorelines.

Elephants, crocodiles and hippos are also commonly seen.

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