Lake Kariba

Enjoy this watery wilderness combining the beauty of Lake Kariba with superb big game sightings in Matusadona National Park.

Overview

Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe was formed when the Zambezi river was dammed in the late 1950’s. This has brought not only hydroelectricity, but it also created a beautiful lake with wildlife sanctuaries, mesmerizing sunsets and wraparound views. Now Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake in the world, 200km long and 40km at its widest point. This shimmering lake, with its characteristic silhouettes of dead trees, is mezmerising and the Matusadona Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop. A Lake Kariba safari offers a paradise for photographers, particularly at sunset.

Visitors come to Lake Kariba mainly for the wildlife of the surrounding Matusadona National Park. When the river was dammed the wildlife congregated on the southern shores of Lake Kariba and the Matusadona National Park was created to protect it.

Before the ground was flooded by the dam, the existing vegetation was also burnt. This created a layer of fertile soil on both the lake bed and surrounding floodplains. So now the lake has a vibrant ecology with plenty of hippos and crocodiles. Plus the kapenta and tiger fish attract large numbers of fish eagles, cormorants and other birdlife.

A safari in Matusadona affords superb game viewing on both land and water. Elephant, buffalo and black rhino roam in large numbers on the flood plains. (The melodious Matusadona actually means ‘constant dripping of dung’ which refers, rather unmusically, to the huge elephant population!)

staff image

Sonja Brand

Africa Travel Specialist
Our experienced band of Safari Planners can create a bespoke plan for you. More enriching, more restorative and making more of a difference. Discover how working with a specialist adds value to your African adventure.

Features

Why you may love it

  • More than 40 species of fish with the most notably the famous fighting tiger fish, makes this a fishing paradise.
  • The birdlife is excellent due to the diversity of terrain (wooded hills, plateau and lakeshore) and the plentiful fish on offer. There are plenty of African fish eagles with their distinctive haunting call. You may also spot other raptors such as the harrier hawk, martial eagle and bateleur eagle. Many other water birds such as grey heron, open-billed stork, saddle-billed stork, sacred ibis, malachite kingfisher and even flamingos can be seen.

Explore the Lake Kariba map

When to visit Lake Kariba

Mid-November to mid-April

Summer in Lake Kariba

Summer is not the ideal time for Lake Kariba and many of the camps close for safari visitors during the summer rainy season. However many lodges stay open and summer is a good time for tiger fishing. And summer is the time for mosquitos so ensure you have taken malaria prophylactics and cover up at night.
AVG RAINFALL 173 mm
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 88 ℉
MIN TEMP 21 ℃ / 70 ℉

Mid-April to May

Autumn in Lake Kariba

This is the start of the safari season in the Matusadona National park which surrounds part of Lake Kariba. The landscape is still green and lush, birding is still excellent. And the sunsets are superb as the skies are clearer. This is still quite a mosquito time of year so ensure you have taken malaria prophylactics and cover up at night. Safari prices are keen during this time.
AVG RAINFALL 59 mm
MAX TEMP 30 ℃ / 86 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 62 ℉

June to August

Winter in Lake Kariba

Traditionally this is the best time to visit as the dry season continues. The bush becomes less dense and the animals flock to the lake to drink. The days are sunny and dry and the Malaria risk declines as there are fewer mosquitos around.
AVG RAINFALL 1 mm
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 79 ℉
MIN TEMP 11 ℃ / 52 ℉

September to mid-November

Spring in Lake Kariba

It is hot, hot, hot in late September and October prior to the start of the summer rains. October is known as suicide month here! So make sure you are comfortable with heat! Game-viewing remains very good though the very high temperatures in late October make for uncomfortable game-viewing.
AVG RAINFALL 42 mm
MAX TEMP 35 ℃ / 95 ℉
MIN TEMP 23 ℃ / 73 ℉

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Milandi’s Review of Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, Lake Kariba

Bumi Hills was actually one of my favorite lodges on this trip.  It is situated on a hill overlooking Lake Kariba. And the lake adds a lot of dimension to your experience. You immediately feel at home with friendly, engaging staff, a great infinity pool overlooking the lake and a spa.

It was not as uber-deluxe as Thorntree, but still had a great overall standard of accommodation, as well as a stunning setting overlooking the lake. They reduced the original number of rooms down to 12 rooms including the Baobab Villa. All air-conditioned rooms overlook the lake with an outside balcony, inside and outside showers, separate enclosed loo and twin vanity. However there are plenty of steps to the rooms so not ideal for the very old or frail. The two-bedroom Baobab Villa takes 4 adults or 2 adults with 2 kids so it's a stunning family unit. It could also be used by two couples travelling together as both en suite rooms are identical

Add in friendly, helpful staff, good food and enjoyable activities.  What more could you ask for? Steve, our guide made it all fun.  He was very good and engaging. The sunset cruise was stunning with a phenomenal sunset. And the game drive was enjoyable with a large herd of buffalo, elephant, zebra and lots of impalas. There are many activities including visiting some of their empowerment projects, the clinic, bush walks, fishing on a catch and release basis. In the evening, you see hundreds of small fishing boats fishing for Kapenga but this may not be very sustainable.

Overall a wonderful experience. Two nights will be ideal at Bumi Hills; even three nights if time and budget allows.

I would definitely include a stop at Bumi Hills in a Zimbabwe safari to Hwange and Mana Pools It is ideal to be between Hwange & Mana Pools, which are both big wildlife areas. Alternatively you could add it at the end so that you can relax after your main safari. However do see it as a secondary safari experience to that at Hwange and Mana Pools.

Cedarberg : Milandi Joubert
Did you know
  • SizeThe world's largest man-made lake
  • LocationPart of the lake falls in Zimbabwe