Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park is situated on the beautiful banks of Lake Kariba. Home to the Big Five, this park boasts some incredible wildlife viewing against the stunning lake scenery. Old, bare trees emerge from the waters in an eerie forest where fish eagles perch to watch over the lake. This is a place where you can find the rare and endangered black rhino as you journey on foot through the wilderness. From the lake shore and grassy plains to dense Mopane forests, the landscape of Matusadona is picturesque, diverse and definitely worth seeing!

  • Best Time To Go

    July - October

  • Average Safari Cost

    $200-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $15

  • Highlights

    Stunning scenery, Lake Kariba, beautiful sunsets over the lake, game drives, walking safaris, boating and canoeing, fishing, the Big Five, the "drowned" forest, excellent bird watching opportunities and more!

Why Visit Matusadona National Park?

Matusadona National Park is one of the few places where you are likely to see the rare black rhino as you can track them through the plains on foot. This Zimbabwean park has an abundance of wildlife and birdlife to see as the landscape is diverse and offers different ecological habitats for different species.

There's nothing quite as beautiful as watching the sun go down over the beautiful lake scenery. The skies fill with brilliant oranges and reds and create a breathtaking backdrop behind silhouettes of the skeletal trees sprouting from the lake waters.

Travel to Matusadona and view the wildlife from a new perspective as you canoe or boat through the lake's creeks. From houseboats to camping out in the wilderness, the park offers an array of authentic safari experiences to enjoy.

Pros And Cons

  • Incredible wildlife viewing opportunities
  • Big Five
  • Great birdwatching destination
  • Many activities to do including boat trips, walking safaris, canoeing and fishing
  • Different types of accommodation options including remote camping, house boats and private camps.
  • Not as accessible as some other parks, a 4x4 is necessary
  • There are many mosquitoes present during the wet months

Best Time To Go

The best time to visit Matusadona National Park for wildlife viewing is from June to October, which is during the dry season. This is when the animals congregate around the waters of Lake Kariba and can easily be seen through the thinning vegetation. The dry season occurs from April through to October and consists of warm, dry days and cold nights. Temperatures during the day average about 82˚F (28˚C) but peak in October reaching above 104˚F (40˚C) in some lower lying areas. Nights and mornings are quite cold with temperatures around 54˚F (12˚C). There is also a lower risk for malaria during this time as there are less mosquitoes.

November marks the start of the wet season as it brings rainfall and the days are hot with high humidity. Average daytime temperatures range from 84˚F (29˚C) to 89˚F (32˚C) and nights are about 66˚F (19˚C). Afternoon rain storms are frequent from December to February which may disrupt activities and travel plans. Fresh, green scenery and newborn animals can be seen during these months, however, the roads can become more unstable and difficult to drive on. Certain lodges may close down from January to March as this is the low season.

For more details about when to visit broken down by months/seasons see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Start your African Adventure

Wildlife And Birds

From the Big Five to hippos, crocodiles and many different antelope species, Matusadona offers an abundance of wildlife to see. Track the rare black rhino, find hippos and crocodiles along the shoreline and see giant elephants slowly wander through the plains. Lions are frequently sighted throughout the park along with the occasional leopard and cheetah. The diverse landscape of Matusadona also makes it a great spot for birding as raptors and water-birds surround the lake and the woodlands are filled with many other species
List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo

Rare Animals

  • Leopard, cheetah, wild dog

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, lion, hippo, buffalo


There are over 240 recorded bird species in Matusadona National Park which makes this a great destination for bird watching. African fish eagles and osprey are commonly found around Lake Kariba as they perch on the bare branches of the "drowned" trees. Many other water-birds can frequently be seen along the shorelines such as saddle-billed storks, grey herons, goliath herons, geese and plovers. Migratory species can also be found in the park from November to April.

Endangered Birds

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

Getting There And Safety


The best way to get to Matusadona National Park is by charter plane or by boat over the lake from the town of Kariba. You can book charter flights from Victoria Falls or Harare Airports. These flights and transport to and from airports are often included in safari packages so check with your operator.

You could also drive to the park during the dry months with a 4x4.

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

For more details about visas see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

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 here.
Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Zimbabwe. The country lacks good health care facilities so if anything happens you would need to be airlifted out of the country and taken to South Africa to be treated. Ensure you are covered for any activities you may partake in, delays, luggage cover, cancellations, full medical coverage, repatriation and emergency air evacuation. 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 the 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.

A 4x4 vehicle is vital when travelling to and through Matusadona as the roads are difficult and limited. You are not able to drive around the park during the wet months but walking, canoeing and boating activities would still be available
Overnight Stay
There are multiple accommodation options in Matusadona such as remote campsites, private camps with good facilities, house boats and lodges.
There are no shops within Matusadona National Park so pack all your supplies in advance to bring with you into the park.