Kariba Town - collaborating to revive tourism

Wild Zambezi • 2 November 2019

The magnificent inland sea of Lake Kariba, with its splendid little "Riviera" town built into the hills of the Kariba Gorge (where the hydro-electric dam bridges the Zambezi River) is, in Wild Zambezi's opinion, Zimbabwe's most under-sold tourism jewel.

For years this water and wildlife wilderness - sandwiched between Zimbabwe's two most famous World Heritage Sites - Victoria Falls and Mana Pools, has played second fiddle to them both. 

In recent years, lack of reliable and affordable air access linking Kariba with other tourism hotspots has hampered the area's potential as an international tourism destination.  

The "houseboat" (cruiseboat) industry has managed to survive on local and regional interest (which tends to be seasonal and self-drive) for the past few decades, but has struggled to develop to its full potential without international tourism numbers.   

However, there are encouraging signs that things are beginning to look up.

Some recent investments have resulted in the development of luxury cruising opportunities on Lake Kariba (check out Zambezi Cruise & Safaris and Croisi Europe's The African Dream).

The stunning new 50-bed Kariba Safari Lodge  (pictured above) and its smaller sister Crowned Eagle Boutique Hotel (shortly to open) are brand new luxury additions to the accomodation options in the resort town of Kariba.

The October 2019 announcement that non-profit conservation organisation, African Parks has signed a 20-year agreement to manage the wonderful Matusadona National Park on the southern shores of Lake Kariba is an enormously positive boost for both conservation and wildlife tourism in the area.

Talks are underway to revive scheduled air links between Kariba and the tourism hotspot of Victoria Falls.

And there are encouraging signs that the little community of Kariba Town  itself has begun to take its future into its own hands. 

A new initiative to revive the potential of the resort town as a tourism attraction in itself has begun - spearheaded by a collaborative group of residents widely representative of the Kariba community. They have some exciting and visionary ideas in the pipeline, but their first efforts have focused on the the basics.  

Early October 2019 saw the start of an intensive CLEAN UP CAMPAIGN focused on Kariba's main tourism attractions at The Heights (on top of one of the hills with a panoramic view overlooking the Lake), and the Kariba Dam Wall Observation Point, which houses the offices of the Kariba Publicity Association (KPA) and the Zambezi Tourism Authority (ZTA).   

The campaign was spearheaded by Caribbea Bay Resort, Zambezi Cruise & Safaris, Natureways Safaris, Hornbill Lodge, Riluc Pools, the KPA, ZTA and others. 

The KPA/ZTA office at the Observation Point  (which provides a wonderful view overlooking the curve of the Kariba dam wall) is being spruced up to house a re-organised small museum collection of fascinating archival photographs and documents showcasing the building of the Kariba Dam in the 1950s and the subsequent flooding of the Zambezi Valley to create what was to become Lake Kariba. 

The stories of the displacement of the Tonga people who were forced to move away from their ancestral homes in the Zambezi Valley to higher ground, and their subsequent challenges for survival, will feature, as well as the heroic wildlife rescues of "Operation Noah" - when hundreds of wild animals were saved from the rising waters of the new lake and released into what is now the Matusadona National Park.

Meantime, in a seperate exercise, volunteer Kariba community teams have been busy helping to clean up the Kariba District Hospital, and are raising funds to assist with the re-building of part of the building that burnt down earlier this year.  (Contact Heartveld Adventures if you'd like to make a contribution).

Following on from the new initiative by Hornbill Lodge to provide bicycles for hire to guests staying at their facility, there are plans afoot to create some scenic cycling routes linking sites of tourism interest in and around Kariba Town. 

And there's lots more exciting plans in the pipeline...

Wild Zambezi congratulates the people of Kariba Town for their sterling efforts in pulling together community spirit to help develop pride in their town and to revive and develop its tourism potential.     

We look forward to Kariba and its beautiful lake taking back its rightful place as one of Zimbabwe's prime tourism destinations. 

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