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The Matusadona National Park lies on the southern shores of Lake Kariba in the north west of Zimbabwe. Kariba is the vast body of water separating the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. This park is an unparalleled wilderness area measuring 1400 square kilometres.

It is sandwiched between the steep-sided Sanyati gorge to the east, and the wider meandering Ume River to the west. The 700m high rugged Matusadona range of mountains forms the essential escarpment that separates the park from the farmlands and civilisation further south.

Between the mountains which form the most magnificent backdrop and the beautiful shoreline with its inlets and bays, lies the valley floor which consists mainly of Mopani and Jesse bush, but is home to big herds of game.

Major Attractions: The birdlife in Matusadona is exceptional and a bird-lovers paradise, with more than 350 recorded species, of woodland birds, waterfowl and raptors. Of particular interest are some islands and even clusters of petrified trees which have become “Heronries” – exclusive breeding grounds for a variety of gregarious birds, including several species of heron, egrets and cormorants.

It impossible to mention Kariba without mentioning Fishing, the two words go hand in hand. Most well-known and sought after is the ferocious tiger fish, in these water they are abundant but catching them requires quite a bit of knowledge and then to land them even more skill, as they are adept at jumping out the water and flicking the hook from their bony mouths, if it has not been set well enough.

¬†Wildlife: Matusadona National Park is one of the few places where you will still find Africa’s Big 5 animals – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and the endangered rhino. Matusadona is an Intensive Protection Zone because of the existence of the black rhino.

Other game you can find there are impala, warthog, kudu, zebra, yellow spotted dassie, scrub hare, water buck, bushbuck, honey badger, wild cat, chacma baboon and many others. Crocodiles and hippo are also present in abundance.

Getting There:

Matusadona National Park is one of the toughest places to get to. If you plan on self-drive, make sure you have a good 4×4 and it is worthwhile to plan for a few nights stay because of the arduous drive. The easiest way is by boat, so you can drive to Kariba, which is all tar from Harare and leave your car there for about $5 per day, and charter a boat to your accommodation.

Access to the private camps and lodges can be by private air charter to Fothergill Airstrip (to get to Spurwing and Changa) or Bumi airstrip (for Bumi Hills, Musango and Rhino camps), and then transferring by boat to the lodging.

Where To Stay: As we mentioned earlier, there is only a handful of private safari camps dotted along the shoreline of Matusadona, along with a few campsites and self-catering lodges managed by Zimbabwe National Parks.

Most of the national park’s camps have very basic facilities but some are quite run down, so best to do some research on what is there before you go.

Houseboats are probably the most popular form of accommodation in Matusadona. The houseboats themselves are moored at harbours in Kariba town and then cruise across the lake and park for a night or two in one of the many beautiful lagoons and bays of this iconic shoreline.

There are three private lodges in the Matusadona National Park. The more budget accommodation is at Spurwing Island Lodge where they offer full