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National Park on the southern shores of Lake Kariba, offering wildlife and water-based activities. Fabulous birdlife and great tigerfishing. This is a favourite destination for houseboat holidays.

The Matusadona National Park is one of the Zambezi valley's wildlife and wilderness treasures. Remote, rugged and accessible only by air charter, 4 x 4 or boat, this wonderful park encompasses Lake Kariba's most beautiful southern shorelines, creeks and bays, a vast flat bush-covered plateau cut by numerous riverlines and the wild, wide, 600m-high Matusadona mountain range which divides the Zambezi valley from the upland farmlands behind. The Park lies about 20km across the lake from the town of Kariba, and is bounded by two spectacularly beautiful rivers, in the west, the Ume, which meets the lake in a wide estuary and in the east, the Sanyati with its magnificent, steep sided, rocky gorge.

Many of the wild animals rescued from the rising waters of the newly-formed Lake Kariba by conservationist Rupert Fothergill and his teams during the much-publicised Operation Noah in 1958 were released into the Matusadona National Park. Today, it is an Intensive Protection Zone for the endangered black rhinoceros and one of the few places in Southern Africa where visitors may be lucky enough to see this magnificent animal in the wild. This park is a treat for visitors wanting to see Africa's other big mammals including elephant, buffalo, hippo, lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra and various antelope species.

The population of woodland birds, raptors and waterfowl to be found in the Matusadona National Park is staggering: there are more than 240 species. Take binoculars, camera and field guides as essential equipment and be prepared for an ornithological and wildlife extravaganza!

A major attraction of the lake shores of the Matusadona is the fishing. The magnificent tigerfish, endemic to the Zambezi River, is a thrilling sport fish for avid anglers, and the focus of an International Tigerfishing Tournament held on Lake Kariba in October each year. Various other species including several types of bream make good eating and can be found in abundance among the drowned forests and shallow weedbeds all along the shoreline of the National Park.

Visitors to the Matusadona can expect a truly wild safari experience. Once you have left Kariba, facilities are limited. There are no shops, electricity supply is usually by generator, and although cellphone networks are available, the signal can be erratic. Accommodation choices, in addition to chartered houseboats, vary from private luxury safari lodges and tented bush camps to basic self-catering accommodation and camping. If you are walking in the wild, it is advisable to ensure that you are accompanied by a qualified and experienced professional guide or National Parks ranger who can ensure your safety and enhance your enjoyment of this magnificent wilderness. Note that, for safety reasons, passengers on houseboats are not allowed off the boats unless an armed guide is employed to accompany them.

Swimming anywhere in the lake, although tempting, is extremely foolish because of the presence of crocodiles. Most safari lodges have swimming pools, as do the larger houseboats. Some of the latter have safe swimming cages in which the intrepid are lowered into the water over the side of the boat! In all other cases, the best option for cooling down is to use a bucket shower!

If you want to get away from it all and enjoy a wilderness experience which combines the harsh beauty of the African bush with the wide horizons of a vast inland lake, the Matusadona National Park is for you.

For private safari camps located within the Matusadona National Park, please see the Travel Listings for this area (below) - Click View ALL.

For Matusadona National Park's own facilities and activities (as opposed to public safari camps) contact African Parks who co-manage this Park with ZimParks.   Email:-  Whatsapp:  +263 78 6774616

Linked stories:

Latest ZimParks Fees  (Travel Advice)

TRAVEL ADVICE FOR SELF-DRIVERS: Tackling the remote "Back Route": Victoria Falls/Hwange to Kariba/Mana Pools (Travel Blog April 2022)

First fossils of crocodile-like phytosaurs from Southern Africa discovered at Lake Kariba (News March 2020)

Cruising in Paradise on Lake Kariba: the perfect holiday  (March 2019)

The legend of Rupert Fothergill  (Oct 2017)

Where dinosaurs roamed:  the Matusadona reveals its fossil treasures  (April 2017)

UNESCO declares Zambezi Valley a Biosphere Reserve - June 2010

Cheetah where there were none before - Jan 2010


Travel listings for this area

Crispy Fresh supermarket, catering - Kariba Hub - Kariba accommodation

Kariba-focused hub for fresh food supplies, houseboat catering, and accommodation options in Kariba Town.

Musango Safari Camp

Classic family-run safari camp on its own island in Lake Kariba, with wildlife and boating activities and top quality professional guiding

Spurwing Island Lodge

40-bed, family-friendly resort for fishing and wildlife experiences in the Matusadona National Park, Lake Kariba.

Zambezi Drift - Kingfisher Lodges & Houseboats

Self-catering lodges, houseboat hire and day-boat hire for fishing and sundowner trips out of Andora Harbour, Kariba.

Executive Air

Private, professional air charters throughout Zimbabwe and the Africa region, including remote areas.

Fothergill Island

Luxury, modern, tented rebuild of an historic camp on the shores of Lake Kariba within the Matusadona National Park.

Changa Safari Camp

Lake Kariba shoreline luxury tented camp within the Matusadona National Park

Roar & Explore Tours

All-inclusive tours around Zimbabwe's prime tourism, wildlife & cultural areas, combining transport, accommodation, meals and activities.

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