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Kariba Travel Guide

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Lake Kariba © David Highbury

Kariba Town, located in the north of Zimbabwe near the Zambian border, is the Zimbabwean centre for the tourist industry orientated around the magnificent Lake Kariba. It is also a good base from which to explore surrounding game reserves and attractions in northern Zimbabwe such as Mana Pools, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or as a stopover en route to Zambia. The town has a number of restaurants, casinos, quality resort hotels and safari lodges, not to mention a number of large luxury houseboat hotels which use Kariba as a base.

The airport at Kariba town is small, but regular flights to Kariba come in from Victoria Falls and Harare. The town is also only about four hours from Harare by road. Once there, the town is easily walkable, or you could make use of local taxis.

Lake Kariba itself is one the largest man-made lakes in the world. It powers the hydroelectric Kariba Dam in the Zambezi River basin, which provides much of Zambia and Zimbabwe's electricity. The large dam walls are an impressive sight, and worth a day trip. Such a large body of water attracts a multitude of game, especially in the dry seasons, so the game reserves bordering the dam make for excellent game viewing. Lake Kariba has a thriving commercial fishing industry and is also a world-renowned tiger fishing spot. The annual tiger fishing contest attracts teams from around Southern Africa and beyond every year.

Because of its size and the abundance of wildlife it attracts, Lake Kariba is ideal for a safari holiday all on its own. You can travel the lake by canoe or on a houseboat for several days at a time, camping on the shore at night (at designated spots) as you go, or for a more relaxed trip hire a luxury cruiser or join a tour guide group for a day. The lake is no less impressive for being man made: there are lots of islands and thousands of tiny inlets to explore. The Matusadona National Park, with its iconic half-submerged forest still standing after the lake was flooded half a century ago, is a favourite with photographers.

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