Lake Kariba

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Sunset, Lake Kariba, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe.
© WWF-Canon / Michel TERRETTAZ

The real heart of darkness?

What and where?
Kariba is located in the Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe, on the north eastern border with Zambia. It is 365 km from the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

Lake Kariba is an artificial inland sea that covers 282 sq km of the Zambezi Valley. It is the continent's 3rd largest dam after Aswan in Egypt and Cahora Bassa on the same river in neighbouring Mozambique. Although the building of the Kariba Dam was surrounded by controversy, both environmentally and socially, it is an impressive monument to man's engineering expertise. The massive valley, which now forms Lake Kariba has survived, with most plant and animal species having adapted to the changed conditions. Huge Nile Crocodiles inhabit the lake as do many hippos.

Lake Kariba is among the largest expanses of fresh water in the world and is home to a diverse fish population.

Why?
Kariba is a unique place of outstanding beauty, a great inland sea, nested in mountains, guarded by enormous reserves of game and made beautiful and savage by sun and storm, earth and water.

Tigerfish, which previously existed in the river thrived in the new lake, growing to record sizes. The Zimbabwe side of the lake has about 1,000 km of shoreline, baked African fjords with placid backwaters and numerous islands. Often elephants can be seen swimming between the shore and islands, a sight perhaps unique to Lake Kariba.

Along the southern shore, the Matusadona Game Reserve must be one of the most impressive in the world. It combines the beauty of a lake-setting and its rich and fertile flood plains, with a rising wall of mountains serving as a majestic backdrop.

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