About Lake Kariba

Kariba Dam Wall is an engineering masterpiece

In 1958 Zimbabwe (then the British colony of Southern Rhodesia) became home to the world’s largest man-made lake to provide hydro-electricity to both Zimbabwe and, across the Zambezi River, Zambia. The dam wall is a monument to man’s engineering skills and is 280 kms long, 40 kms at its widest and covers 5,200 sq kms.

Built by an Italian company the mighty task of damming the mighty Zambezi River took 7,000 people six years to build as they battled extreme temperatures and extraordinary floods. The wall is 128m high (420ft) and 579m (1900ft) long. The name Kariba is derived from a local Tongan word kariva (a trap).

The Zambezi (also spelled Zambeze and Zambesi) is the fourth-longest river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres (540,000 sq mi),[1][2] slightly less than half that of the Nile. The 2,574-kilometre-long Zambezi River (1,599 mi) has its source in Zambia at Mwinilunga in the north-west province of Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana, then along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses that country to empty into the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi's most noted feature is the world’s largest curtain of falling water, World heritage Site and one of the seven natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. Other notable falls include the Chavuma Falls at the border between Zambia and Angola, and Ngonye Falls, near Sioma in Western Zambia.

There are two main sources of hydroelectric power on the river, the Kariba Dam, which provides power to Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique, which provides power to Mozambique and South Africa. There is also a smaller power station at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Our Easy Link With Victoria Falls

Nature’s masterpiece, the Victoria Falls, is one of the seven natural Wonders of the World and an attraction that is at the heartbeat of every visitor’s trip to southern Africa. It’s just a one-hour scenic flight away from Bumi Hills Safari Lodge & Spa to step into a remote and wonderful safari wonderland. Just look at some of the comments on Trip Advisor...and be inspired.

At Victoria Falls, either on the Zimbabwe or Zambian sides across the Zambezi River, there is an astonishing array of activities to relish, making this area the epicentre of adventure in all of Africa. Walk with the lions...go on an elephant-back safari, bunji jump 111 metres with the falls as your backdrop...cruise, canoe or raft the mighty Zambezi River...visit authentic mud-hut traditional villages...and, of course, view the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.

Amazing Wildlife rescue of Operation Noah

This wildlife rescue operation from 1958-64 in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) was of biblical proportions and was caused by the creation of Lake Kariba on the Zambezi River. As the gorge was dammed, and the Zambezi Valley flooded, animals were trapped on ever-diminishing islands and more than 6,000 were saved, and relocated to the mainland, by a gallant team of rangers led by the senior warden Rupert Fothergill.

Elephant, rhino, lion, zebra, antelope, warthog and many other species were rescued, even many snakes including the deadly black mamba.

Nyaminyami the Spiritual Tonga River God

In Tonga tribal, spiritual legend their river god, Nyaminyami, is a serpent-like creature and powerful force that lives near the Kariba Dam wall.

As the dam was filling in 1957 more than 57,000 Tonga people were re-settled on high ground forced against their will, to leave their ancestral homes. They swore that Nyaminyami would not allow such actions and, astonishingly, a year into the building of the wall the river rose to flood level, destroying equipment and roads. The odds against another such flood the following year (1958) were 1000/1 and yet this was 3m higher than the previous year, destroying the coffer dam and parts of the main wall.

The Tonga swear it was the angry force of Nyaminyami.

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(1hr flight from Victoria Falls),

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