Keith Ballantyne of Kariba Houseboat Cruises has his tongue firmly in his cheek in this article about the situation with Kariba Dam and the lake's water levels. But, as a long-standing resident of Kariba, he brings some level-headed sense to all the recent media-hype: READ ON....
"You may have heard all the stories about the imminent collapse of the Kariba Dam wall. There has been some serious undermining of the foundations from the water cascading into the Spilling pool over many years with very little maintenance having being carried out. All very alarming news.
When the wall goes, so will everything downstream, Chirindu, Mana, Cahora Basa, Tete and most of Mozambique, millions will perish. The water may hit Madagascar and onto Perth in Australia. My goodness, what a mess! Heaven forbid! Some expert even mentioned Lusaka. Not sure how that will work when it’s about 180 km north of the wall and some 2500 feet above the lake level ??
Well, let me tell you something as a resident of Kariba. It hasn’t happened yet. The Wall is still here. I crossed it yesterday. All seems good to me.
Yes, we have problems, but there seems to be a plan to sort it out, so let’s hope so ??
The biggest problem we currently have in Kariba is the lake level. We have had a drought throughout Central and Southern Africa, no inflow from the local rivers or from the Upper Catchment of the Zambezi this year.
Zambia commissioned two new turbines and combined with the other four they have and the six we have in Zimbabwe, it appears that more water was consumed for the power that we all so desperately need, resulting in the levels dropping rapidly. We are now about ten meters below the Maximum levels and with the heat wave we are experiencing, the lake is dropping even further.
We did have lower levels back in the drought years of the 90’s, some thirteen meters down from the max, so we still have about three more to go to that level. The difference now is that the lake has dropped to the current level over the past two years rather than about seven in the 90’s. If we have no rain this year we are all in big trouble and definitely no power, so brace yourselves.
All too awful to contemplate!!
Ah, but wait?? Whilst this is all going on, a couple of other things have happened. This lake is huge, some 2000 square Km surface area, not sure of what it is when down ten meters, but let me tell you, it’s still large, a very long way to the other side and you still can’t touch the bottom if you dive off your boat!!
Some of you may remember the 90’s when the lake was down - all the floodplains exposed - the huge herds of Buffalo, Elephant, so many Lions, Cheetahs, buck of all sorts, even Rhino, so much game to be seen and all the bird life, just amazing, remember ??
Well, that’s what is happening now, the game are back out on the floodplains. I was out recently; saw so many Ele, Hippo, Crocs, big ones and very big ones and plenty of them. No swimming near the shore for sure.
Impala, Kudu, Waterbuck, Hyena, heard the Lion very close but never saw them. A herd of about 150 Buff are back behind Fothergill, shame there are no Rhino left, got eaten by some impotent fool !!
So many different birds to see out of the bush. Was up the Gache Gache River yesterday - so many Ducks and Geese to be seen. Wonderful! Nice fishing as well.
We have the fish cornered - nowhere to go to get away now. Hopefully with the rains just round the corner they will come on the bite again and we can have some fun with the Tiger and a few bream snax on the boat in the evening, how nice is that ??
People read all about the sad state of Kariba and decide to stay away, now how crazy is that ?? This is the time to come here to see all of the above, catch a fish, spend time with friends, share a “Cool Drink” and have some fun on a Houseboat.
You never know.... if the wall goes, how much fun would that be, surfing down to the sea on a Houseboat, all the sights and sounds of Africa in the package, no extra charge, just look after the boat! What a thrill! If you can keep your bait fresh you may be able to catch a fish somewhere in the Mozambique Channel, all for the cost of a few nights on Kariba, how nice would that be ??
So, don’t give up on Kariba just yet. We are still here, as are so many lovely Houseboats.
Get on the net and book now before it’s too late and the Lake is gone !! Boats are filling up as you read this nonsense, so get a move on.
Our boat “Osprey” is one of the finest fun boats on the lake, sleeps up to 26 pax. but we will cater for any number. Just make a plan now. Wedding parties, Birthdays, Anniversaries, any party, or just to relax in the pool Too easy. We are Wheelchair friendly so no one needs to feel left out; and we have one on board if you are overcome by the experience or all the water you drink !!
Come on, do it now.
KARIBA, AFRICA’S BES T KEPT SECRET
Keith Ballantyne can be contacted at: Karibahouseboatcruises@gmail.com