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.
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.
Start your African Adventure
Popular Tours in Zimbabwe
Guided Tour of Zimbabwe Featuring Chobe
This tour will take you to most of Zimbabwe's tourist attraction which will give you the opportunity to explore the diverse landscape and culture of the country. A must do tour as it takes you to two countries in one trip.
Wildlife Galore and The Falls
This tour gives you the opportunity to see abundant wildlife as well as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, The might Victoria Falls.
3 Days Amazing Victoria Falls Safari in Zambia
This safari will take you to Victoria Falls, the largest sheet of falling water in the world, roughly twice the height of Niagara Falls. In the 1800s, it was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area as "Mosi-oa-Tunya" or "the smoke that thunders." It presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls & Chobe
The Victoria Falls constitutes one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. Known locally as the "Mosi-oa-Tunya" -- the smoke that thunders, the Falls are remarkable. Combine your Vic Falls holiday with the Chobe game reserve, about an hour away in Botswana, which hosts the largest concentration of elephants in Africa.
Wildlife and Birds
- Cheetah, wild dog, leopard, black rhino
- 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:
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.
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.