Twelve facts you may not know about Lake Kariba

Changa Safari Camp (with additions by Wild Zambezi) • 5 July 2018

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Changa Safari Camp is perfectly located on nearly 4 kilometres of prime lakeshore frontage on the world’s largest man-made lake: Lake Kariba. This large expanse of water is often referred to as “Africa’s Inland Sea”.

Kariba is well-known for its spectacular and mesmerizing sunsets, wildlife-rich shorelines and incredible fishing opportunities. It covers an area of nearly 6,000 square kilometres and is fed by the mighty Zambezi River, which begins its 2700-kilometre journey in north-west Zambia and reaches the Indian Ocean through Mozambique.

Since the dam across the Kariba Gorge was completed in 1959, its lake has brought an abundance of tourism, industry, activity and delight to Zimbabweans, Zambians and the people from around the world who have been lucky enough to visit these life-giving waters.

The story of how Lake Kariba came to be, is an interesting one. 

Did you know?

  • The chief designer of the Kariba Dam Wall, Andre Coyne, was a well-known French engineer and inventor. He went on to design 70 dams in 14 countries globally.
  • It took up to three years for the dam wall to be completed. Construction began on the 6th November 1956, and was finished in 1959.
  • Well over 1 million cubic metres of concrete was poured into the walls to sustain the pressure of nearly ten million litres of water passing through the spillway each second.
  • The sheer weight of the water filling Lake Kariba between 1958 and 1963 caused more than 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitude on the Richter Scale.
  • Operation Noah, a 5 year rescue operation, successfully relocated more than 6,000 wild animals, mostly into what was to become the Matusadona National Park, whilst Lake Kariba was filling up after the completion of the dam wall
  • Lake Kariba Dam is located approximately halfway down the Zambezi River
  • The structure is 128 meters high with a crest of 579 meters in length.
  • The dam has a volume 1,032,000 cubic meters of water!
  • The name Kariba comes from the local word Kariva or karinga, meaning “trap”, which refers to a rock that was thrust out of the swirling water at the entrance of the gorge, where the dam wall was to be built
  • Lake Kariba has many mooring opportunities both on the main land and on islands, offering beautiful and romantic spots with idyllic waterfalls in places like the Sanyati Gorge.
  • Lake Kariba is home to some fantastic fish species including the famous Tiger fish, Tilapia Bream, Catfish and the mighty Vundu. For most of the year, Lake Kariba is truly one of the greatest places in Africa for fishing.
  • Best of all, Lake Kariba has the perfect climate to visit all year round

We look forward to welcoming you to Changa Safari Camp and sharing with you our little piece of paradise in this untouched part of the world.

Editor's Note:  Zimbabwe and Zambia recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create a Joint Tourism Facilitation committee to look at unlocking tourism potential for the benefit of both states.  Lake Kariba has huge potential as a future tourism destination shared between these two countries, but unlike Victoria Falls, it has received little attention in recent years.  This could be set to change!

Comments (1)

Lake Kariba is a paradise. Been there many times and just came back from another journey. There is a great potential for Zimbabwe and Zambia to develop this place for tourism as long the Wild is respected.

Alice Stotter2 September 2018
Thank you Alice. We couldn't agree with you more! WILD ZAMBEZI

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