Lake Kariba is the closest Zimbabwe will come to owning a coastline. No wonder, then, that it is endearingly referred to as Zimbabwe’s own Riviera, after the French Riviera. It is adulation that has been earned and there are similarities between the two.
The French Riviera (known as Cote d’ Azur in French), initially rose to fame as a health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. Lake Kariba rose to fame in its infancy as the playground and vacation spot of the rich Rhodesian farmers soon after filling up between 1958 and 1963. It is these farmers, having noted the beauty of what was created after the damming of the Zambezi River at Kariba, that conceived the idea of the Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Tournament (KITFT hereafter). Today, the KITFT is internationally acclaimed and draws entries from across the globe. It is Kariba’s signature sport fishing event loved by hordes of adrenalin junkies and other outdoorsy townsfolk who leave the hustle and bustle of their cities and metropolises to flock to Kariba.
And just like the French Riviera, which is a major yachting and cruising area, Lake Kariba has plenty of marinas along its coastline with all manner and sizes of vessels to support not only the fishing, but the leisure industry as well. The house boating sector, after a long lull, is now rising in leaps and bounds. Kariba and Binga, the major resorts along this coastline, are favourite spots of the rich and famous of Zimbabwe who either own their leisure yachts there or hire those for rent. Binga’s sandy beaches are getting a new wave of interest, particularly on the domestic market.
A combination of a land and water holiday is the best way to take in Kariba’s stupendous offerings. This is aided by a climate that endows Kariba with a lot of sunshine throughout the year. Once again, the comparison with the French Riviera comes into focus. The Riviera enjoys between 280 and 300 days of sunshine in a year, drawing hordes of foreign tourists to its coastline. In summer, Kariba draws Zimbabweans starved of a coastline, like fish to water.
If fishing is not your thing, take the time to explore the beauty and biodiversity offered by the Matusadona National Park on the lake’s shoreline. There you will find some impressive gems of safari lodges, headlined by the award-winning iconic Bumi Hills Safari Lodge. These resorts are only a speedboat ride away from Kariba town or a short flight from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city.
Summer is the best time to travel to Kariba, not just for the health benefits the sun will give you, but it is also the time to enjoy Low Season rates on leisure facilities. There is often a “special price” galore everywhere you look. The kids are in school, so what’s stopping you from taking that weekend break? For Kariba, this is like the calm before the storm of the festive season when the resort is filled to the brim by holidaymakers.
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Words and Images By Laiton Kandawire
About the author: Laiton is a writer and Kariba Destination Planner with over 20 years’ experience promoting travel in the wild areas of the Zambezi River and Kariba. He has written numerous articles for several publications and has made many a holiday memorable. His Kariba Holidays blogs are widely followed on social media platforms. He can be contacted for comments, enquiries and commissioned work on +263 772817733 or +263 712702771 or by e-mail on: email@example.com
Also check out the Tourism Guide Africa Travel Guide