Lake Kariba

Lake Kariba is one of the world's biggest artificial lakes and is known as Zimbabwe's inland sea. With Matusadona National Park situated on its banks, there is plenty of wildlife to see, including the Big Five. An eerie drowned forest sprouts up from the lake waters, providing perches for magnificent fish eagles. Cruise around the beautiful lake and see stunning panoramas, breathtaking sunsets and a diverse array of wildlife and birdlife. 

  • Best Time to Go

    July - October

  • Average Safari Cost

    $200-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $10 + additional lake usage fee.

  • Highlights

    The drowned forest, motor boating, fishing, wildlife viewing, game drives and walking safaris, staying in houseboats or floating chalets on the lake.

Why Visit Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe

A visit to Lake Kariba is a rewarding and truly unforgettable experience. There is abundant wildlife along the shoreline and adjoining park, as well as hippos and crocodiles in the lake itself. This is an ideal destination for anglers as the lake is teeming with fish and is a particularly good place to try catch the tigerfish, which is quite a challenge.

Whether you want to cruise in a houseboat, camp on one of the islands or relax in a floating chalet, Lake Kariba is an ideal and unique safari destination. See some of the most glorious sunsets as the dying light transforms the water into a brilliant gold. The silhouettes of the ghostly dead trees emerging from the lake creates an incredible landscape and special photographic opportunities. Travel here for a unique safari experience, filled with wildlife encounters and truly exquisite scenery.

Pros and Cons

  • Stunning scenery
  • Excellent fishing spot
  • Many accommodation options
  • The Big Five
  • Adjacent to Matusadona National Park
  • There are many mosquitoes during the rainy season (November - March)
  • Can get extremely hot and humid

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Lake Kariba is from June to October, which is during the dry season. This is when the animals congregate along the shorelines of the lake so they can easily be seen. The dry season is from April through to October and consists of warm, pleasant days followed by cold nights. Temperatures during the day average about 82˚F (28˚C) but it can get much hotter in October and could peak to 104˚F (40˚C). Nights and mornings are quite cold with temperatures around 57˚F (14˚C).

The wet season is from November to March, which consists of hot and humid days with frequent afternoon rainfall. Temperatures average about 86˚F (30˚C) during the day but November and December are often hotter. Scenery around the lake is more lush and green during these months, but animals tend to move away from the shorelines.

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Wildlife and Birds

Lake Kariba and its surrounding area is teeming with wildlife, birds and fish. The Matusadona National Park is situated on the lake's shoreline and is home to the Big Five. Many crocodiles and hippos dwell in the waters of Lake Kariba and can be seen peering out from the surface. Multiple antelope species can be seen along the shoreline during the dry months as the lake becomes an important source of water. Lake Kariba is also an excellent birding destination as it's fish-filled waters provide food for many water birds and fish eagles.
List of Animals

Rare Animals

  • Cheetah, wild dog, leopard, black rhino

Common Animals

  • Elephant, hippo, crocodiles, buffalo

Lake Kariba is a great birding destination, especially for water birds. See ospreys and magnificent fish eagles perch on the drowned trees and cry out over the lake. Many different water birds, including cormorants, egrets and herons, wander the shoreline searching for fish to eat.

p>Endangered Birds

  • Hooded vulture, white-backed vulture, white-headed vulture, grey-crowned crane

Getting There and Safety


The easiest way to get to lake Kariba is to fly to Harare in Zimbabwe and then travel to the Kariba Town. You can either drive to Kariba Town or schedule a charter flight. Kariba Town is situated on the northern side of the lake.

For the flights to Zimbabwe, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Zimbabwe.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Zimbabwe.


All foreign visitors must have a passport, with a minimum of 3 blank pages, that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit. Foreign visitors of most nationalities may obtain a visa upon arriving in the country. You can check whether you can obtain a visa upon arrival or if you need to apply for one in advance on Zimbabwe's evisa website.

For more information on visas see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Country Guide.


The vaccinations recommended for Zimbabwe are cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is also a risk for malaria, especially from October - May, so anti-malarial drugs are advised as well as bringing insect repellent.

It is better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Zimbabwe. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What to Pack

Pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and quite cold at night depending on what time of the year you go. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours and white. Other essential items are a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, first aid kit, binoculars and camera.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.

Swimming in the lake is not safe as there are many crocodiles and hippos.
You need a permit to fish in the lake and it is advised to bring your own equipment. You should be able to obtain a permit from the harbour at Kariba.