Matusadona National Park

Situated on Lake Kariba’s endless shores, it’s no wonder that Matusadona National Park is teeming with game, including large herds of elephant and buffalo – and, it’s been suggested, the greatest concentration of lions outside Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.

The construction of a hydro-electric dam across the Zambezi River flooded the Kariba Gorge and led to the creation of Lake Kariba in 1958, the world’s largest manmade lake. The kilometres of dead trees drowned when the lake was established still lend an eerie beauty to the lakeshore. The 250km-long lake has since become a family-friendly holiday playground, with watersports, houseboat cruising, excellent fishing and safaris.

When the lake started filling, ‘Operation Noah’ was launched to save the wildlife in the Kariba Gorge. Most of these animals, including the Big Five, found a home in the game reserve that became Matusadona National Park in 1975. And what a home it is, the lake and park are part of the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve which supports large numbers of wildlife, including leopards, spotted hyenas, cheetahs and wild dogs. Lucky visitors may even get the chance to tick off both black and white rhino.

Highlights In Matusadona National Park

  • Sunsets over Lake Kariba are achingly beautiful, especially with the mountain backdrop of the Matuzviadonha Hills (from where the park gets its name)
  • Take in the park’s wildlife on unforgettable game viewing drives or nature walks
  • Enjoy cruises on Lake Kariba, it’s a wonderful vantage point for birding; the fish eagles nesting in the ‘drowned forest’ compete for attention with herons and storks, darters, ducks and cormorants, plovers and pratincoles, kingfishers and more
  • The plentiful crocodiles and hippos are a highlight — no swimming here! —while the endemic tiger fish remains the big prize for keen anglers