The decision to dam the Zambezi River at Kariba Gorge was taken in 1954 with the aim of creating a lake the size of Wales, the power of which could be harnessed in an hydro-electric scheme.
Running along a large portion of the southern shore of the lake, the land of today's Matusadona National Park was proclaimed a non-hunting area on 7th November 1958, approximately a month before the Italian contractors building the dam wall completed their project. The area was proclaimed a game reserve in 1963, and in the years leading up to this, one man led a team on a phenomenal effort to relocate animals dispersed by the rising flood waters. Rupert Fothergill and a team of only about 10 men associated with the Southern Rhodesian Game Department, used make-shift rafts, nets, catching poles and extremely limited veterinary equipment to rescue over 6,000 animals. An extraordinary situation had occurred with the flooding causing animals to retreat to hilltops in great concentrations. There are descriptions of trees encircled by water with snakes, monkeys and leopards all together clinging to branches. The majority of the animals were released on the shore into the area that became Matusadona.
Today, Matusadona National Park is said to have a density of lion second only to that of Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater. Huge herds of up to 1,000 buffalo can often be seen roaming the shoreline, and the lake itself has one of the highest populations of hippo and crocodile in Africa. For a truly memorable and exhilirating experience, join a highly qualified professional guide tracking big game on foot.
Lake Kariba has been a playground for local Zimbabweans and international visitors since its creation with many traveling there to relax, view game and fish. A popular way to experience the lake is by live aboard houseboat, enabling guests to explore the far corners of the park. There are also a number of camps and lodges on the lake shore and on islands that are fantastic bases from which to explore the area, by foot, boat or in a vehicle.