Around Lake Kariba

Lake Kariba in the far North West of Zimbabwe is the enormous man made lake created as a result of the enormous Kariba hydro dam. The dam was built from 1955-1959, and is made up of over a million cubic meters of concrete. It’s over four hundred feet high and a sight that must be seen!

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Kariba Dam, from which the Zambezi river flows

After checking out the dam and the town of Kariba, we look into catching the ferry across. People rave about time spent on the lake, and it seems like an overnight ferry would be a fantastic way to break up the adventure. Unfortunately the ferry only sails once every ten or so days, and we’ve just missed it. Though we really want to checkout the lake, we’re not willing to sit still for those ten days.

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The driver of one of the vehicles

Looking at maps and the GPS we plan a route on tiny roads that circle to the South of the lake, winding it’s way through tiny villages and near wildlife reserves and parks.
Over a couple of days we explore tiny tracks, rutted roads and out of the way places. At night we simply camp off to the side and enjoy a campfire in the cook night air.

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Gravel roads to the South of Lake Kariba

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Sunset over a wildcamp

In one remote location we come across a huge crowd of locals gathered around two vehicles. We soon learn they have patched their flat tire, though they don’t have an air compressor. Everyone lights up when I say I have one, and they can’t believe their luck when I get out and pull out the air hose. These people are on their way to church, and have been waiting for more than four hours without a single vehicle passing. They are packed into two seriously overloaded vehicles, and are jubilant with our help.

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Airing up the tire with a crowd of locals

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Local transport

When the tire is back on the rim and up to pressure it still leaks a little, and the locals get a good laugh when I take a valve cap off the jeep and it actually seals the damaged valve. I’m equally impressed a minute later when three men simply pickup the front of the vehicle to get the jack out from underneath it!

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This old landrover seems to go and go

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The front tire was flat. I wonder why

In the West we decor into the little town of Binga, where are friend has invited us to stay at his Crocodile Farm. Right on the lake edge is a large and modern operation, and we throughly enjoy exploring the area for a couple of days. There is a legitimate hot spring here an I can’t believe one of the restaurants has a natural hot pool we can soak in, and we’re welcome to do so for free at sunset.

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One of the larger breeding crocs

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Chibwatata Hot Spring

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The hot water is spurting from the ground under extreme pressure – I have never seen that before!

Sitting in a natural hot spring watching sunset over Lake Kariba is a sight to behold!


P.S. Yes the Kariba vehicle ferry is real. It really does run and you really can get on it. Get into Kariba and ask around and you’ll be directed to the right place.

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