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Lake Kariba, 280km long and covering some 5 200 sq.km is one of Zimbabwe's main holiday resorts. Kariba town is situated in the eastern basin is the starting point for most activities on the Lake. Daily flights go into Kariba airport from Harare, Hwange and Victoria Falls and there is a daily coach service from Harare as well. There are a range of hotels and self catering facilities in and around the town and camping is permitted in the Kuburi Wilderness area next to the airport. This area is managed by the Wildlife Society of Zimbabwe. Many more facilities are located along the length of the lakeshore stretching all the way to the other end of the lake, 280km away. But the eastern basin is probably the most popular and includes the Matusadona National Park.

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Birding

1. Kariba. The checklist for Lake Kariba stands at over 375 species and many of these can be found in and around the town itself. Grey-headed Gull and White-winged Tern are common in the harbours and out on the lake. Raptors are plentiful and African Hawk-Eagle, Ayres's Hawk-Eagle and African Crowned Eagle can be seen flying over the dense riverine forest around the town. Peregrine Falcon is often seen around the dam wall and from July to December. Rock Pratincole can be seen in amongst the rocks below the wall. African Fish-Eagle is probably the most common raptor along the shoreline.

2. The Kuburi Wilderness area offers access to both the lakeshore and the woodland. Visitors must bear in mind that the area abounds with big game including Elephant, buffalo and Lion and extreme care must be taken when walking here. The shoreline attracts large numbers of waterbirds including Black Heron, White-crowned Lapwing and Long-toed Lapwing. The woodland is home to birds such as Livingstone's Flycatcher, Eastern Nicator, Red-capped Robin-Chat, African Golden Oriole and Eurasian Golden Oriole and, in late summer, Thrush Nightingale. African Pitta has been recorded here but is extremely difficult to find.

3. Matusadona. The many safari lodges along the Matusadona shoreline offer very exciting birding, and it is possible to walk in this wilderness area with armed professional guides, a big plus in this area. The shoreline around areas such as Fothergill Island and Bumi Hills can be particularly good for waders including huge numbers of Kittlitz's Plover which breed here. Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Common Greenshank and Little Stint are all common and Caspian Plover is often seen in the summer months. Broad-billed Sandpiper has been recorded on a few occasions. Large flocks of Collared Pratincole feed in the area, and are particularly noticeable in the late afternoon. Osprey occurs throughout the year. Rosy-throated Longclaw can be found in some areas. Other species to look out for include Böhm's Spinetail, Mottled Spinetail and White-browed Coucal. A boat trip into the Sanyati Gorge could produce African Finfoot and White-backed Night-Heron.

A walking safari in the Matusadona can produce more exciting species such as those mentioned above as well as Arnot's Chat, Mosque Swallow, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Orange-winged Pytilia, Red-throated Twinspot, Cape Parrot, Bat Hawk, Narina Trogon and, if out with an experienced guide, maybe even Pel's Fishing-Owl.

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General

There are various National Park camp sites in the Matusadona, but access is not easy and the roads are not good, so 4x4 is recommended. In the height of the rains these roads become impassable. At Tashinga and Sanyati camp sites there is an ablution block and some sites have camping shelters, otherwise the facilities are very basic. The other camp sites are totally undeveloped. There are also three exclusive camps, accessible by boat from Kariba with chalets. All bookings must be made with the National Parks Central Booking office in Harare who will also provide detailed instructions on how to get into these remote sites.

From Harare take the Lomagundi Road and travel through Banket, Chinhoyi and Karoi. Immediately before Makuti the road to Kariba is well signposted, and it winds down the escarpment to Kariba. The distance from Harare to Kariba is 365km.

Zimabawe Parks Website

Derek Solomon 1997.



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