Situated in the Zambezi Valley in the north west region of Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba is considered to be one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. It’s just a few hours drive from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and its massive quantity of fresh water is fed by the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river on the African continent.
The man made lake was formed after the construction of the Kariba Dam Wall, which led to the flooding of the Kariba gorge engulfed between high rising hills. It took almost three years to build with a huge workforce.
The subsequent lake that was formed after building the dam wall is a vast expanse of fresh water which, beneath the surface, has become host to several species of fish including the infamous Tiger Fish, a fearsome predator with razor sharp teeth that puts-up one of the best pound for pound fight for Anglers. The lake also boats a healthy population of Nile Crocodiles and Hippos and is a major watering hole for an abundance of wildlife.
The lake’s shoreline also offers the perfect drinking spots for the varied wildlife in the area and boat safaris are popular for visitors wanting to get a close-up look at the animals. Late afternoons are best for this activity and with a backdrop of unmatched African sunsets, Elephants, Buffalos, Giraffes and Zebras are just a few of the many species that can be observed from just a few metres away.
The lake offers a vast array of water sports and several Marinas with mooring facilities are available for permanent residents or visitors. Houseboats are particularly popular and some of these can accommodate up to 20 people..
Several world class hotels have been built on the Lake’s shores and with an almost perfect, year round climate, visitors flock to the lake to enjoy its splendour.
Victoria Falls is aptly listed as one of the wonders of the world. It was named after the British Monarch, Queen Victoria after being discovered by one her explorers, Dr Livingstone, but its true name in the local vernacular is ‘Mosi Oa Tunya’ which means, the ‘smoke that thunders’.
The mighty falls stretch across the boundaries of Zimbabwe and its northern neighbour, Zambia and it is sourced by the Zambezi river. The falls cascade into a gorge almost 300 feet below and the roar of the water can be heard from as far as fifteen miles away.
The two countries are traversed by a railway bridge that looks down at the gorge from a dizzying height and ageing steam trains transport visitors for day rides across the two frontiers with food and drinks offered as an extra treat.
The gorge below the falls winds its way down to the lower reaches of the river and along its course are 25 swirling rapids that have come to be known as the best whitewater rafting rapids experienced in one day.
One of the best vantage points to take in the magnificence of the falls is from a precipice named ‘The Rainforest’. From here, the onlooker can witness the power of the water that fills the gorge below causing a spray that rises above the 300 feet and which will drench anything in its path.
The forest is a short walk from the colonial styled Victoria Falls Hotel, one of many top class hotels in the area which is host to thousands of visitors every year. The hotel’s grounds offer a thriving variety of flora that also attracts active troops of wild Baboons that roam freely.
It’s not surprising to hear Inyanga, referred to as the Scottish Highlands of Africa. The high mountain region shares similarity with its namesake with its rocky landscapes that drop away to vast and open plateaus. The region also boasts several waterfalls that plummet from quite a height into small icy pools.
A mere two hours drive from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, the Inyanga mountain range enjoys a cold climate before stretching across to the neighbouring country of Mozambique before levelling out to undulating hills and a sub-tropical climate.
A vast proportion of the mountain range at Inyanga is covered by coniferous forests where several mapped-out walking trails await exploration and where after a long and steep climb, one of the paths will take the visitor to a spot aptly named ‘World’s View’ from where the valley below falls away to reveal a vast open plateau as far as the eye can see.
Nestled into the foothills are several top class hotels, where visitors can enjoy excellent cuisine in the warm ambiance of a roaring log fire. A few of the hotels also have stocked trout ponds from where visitors can try their luck at ‘Fly Fishing’ for fresh Rainbow Trout.
Matopos, is a short drive southeast of Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo. The Matopos is a sprawling mass of granite rocks that sit atop a range of undulating hills and it derives its name from the local Ndebele language, meaning ‘Bald One’. The area is held in high esteem by the local population as it is believed to be the burial grounds of tribal chiefs from the past.
The rocks are peculiarly rounded at the edges, thought to be caused by centuries of erosion and from the highest point, the view of the rock formations is quite stunning.
There are several paths and walking trails to explore, some of which lead to dark and mysterious caves where ancient rock paintings can be found. The paintings offer the visitor an insight to some of the historical moments shared by the ancient tribes who inhabited the area in times from the past.
Although landmarked as a tourist attraction today, it’s believed that entire communities once thrived in the area where the soil is fertile and where water was supplied by contributories of the Limpopo river which divides Zimbabwe from South Africa.