Matusadona National Park is one of northern Zimbabwe’s most remote wildernesses and is named after the 600m-high Matuzviadonha Hills, which create a striking contrast to the flat water frontage of Lake Kariba. This 1400km² national park is situated on the lake’s southern shore and bordered by the Ume River on the west and the Sanyati River on the east, which offer a unique collection of habitats for a variety of mammal species.
Following the construction of Kariba Dam in the 1950s, the middle Zambezi Valley was flooded, forming Lake Kariba, one of the world’s largest human-built lakes. It remains a popular destination due to its stunning scenery, variety of activities, and unique lodgings, specifically the houseboats that offer a wonderful way to experience the lake. One of our favourite parts of staying at Lake Kariba is watching the setting sun turn the lake orange and purple, while the dead trees protruding out of the water slowly become silhouettes against the sky.
The animals that were rescued from the area during Operation Noah were released into Matusadona and some of the lake’s larger islands. The park holds healthy populations of most mammals occurring in the Zambezi Valley, with a particularly impressive sight being the 1000-strong buffalo herds that congregate along the shoreline during the dry season. In 2019, Matusadona became the first Zimbabwean park to fall under the African Parks mandate and they see its potential for wildlife conservation and tourism.
The lodges make sure you enjoy as much of the lake and park as possible and offer boat cruises, fishing, walking safaris and game drives as their main activities. Access into Kariba as a destination is relatively easy with road transfers from Harare or Lusaka and flights into Kariba Airport and various other airstrips from Harare and other national parks.
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