Heard Of Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba? Probably Not, But That May Change Soon

Thursday, July 26, 2012


When you think hydroelectric dam build in the 1950’s by an Italian company in Zimbabwe, you probably don’t think environmental wonderland in Southern Africa, but this may change soon. Lake Kariba, located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. As the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe improves, more and more travelers are discovering this water wonderland bordered by numerous hunting-free nature reserves where elephants, zebras, lions, antelope and hippopotamus all call home.

As the WSJ notes, Lake Kariba may soon be mentioned in the same breath that other well-known spots like Botswana’s Okavango Delta or the country’s Victoria Falls are when talking about sights in the region.

In contrast to well-trod spots in neighboring countries—like Botswana’s Okavango Delta, with its exclusive safari lodges—Lake Kariba is playing catch-up after a decade of unrest and often violent political upheaval in Zimbabwe. Most of the country was abandoned by international travelers when farm seizures took off along with inflation. Election violence in 2008 again caused a dip in visitors from abroad. But since then a measure of stability has encouraged some tourists to return, a handful of them to forgotten gems like Lake Kariba.

And what’s a trip to Southern Africa without a safari? Kariba specializes in “water safaris,” where travelers cruise the lake on catamarans while checking out the wildlife who line up on the shores to drink, or in the case of the crocodiles and hippos, line up along the sides of the boat waiting for a tasty meal by way of your hands dangling just above the water line.

But, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of an elephant swimming along with its trunk sticking out of the water for air, an incredible sight you’re not likely to see at many other lakes in the world.

[Lake Kariba by David Holt/Flickr]

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