The Matusadona National Park offers a unique experience along the southern shores of lake kariba.
The park was established as a non-hunting reserve in 1963 and proclaimed a National Park in 1975. Much of the park is largely inaccessible and extends from the lakeshore up and over the Matusadona mountains. The lakeshore is accessible by boat from Kariba or by light aircraft, and most game viewing takes place along the lakeshore itself where the vegetation varies from evolving floodplain to mopane and savanna woodland (often destroyed by elephant).
This provides for a wide variety of wildlife including elephant, lion, leopard, zebra, waterbuck, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, kudu and impala. Black rhino numbers have sadly depleted in the last 15 years and are seldom seen, whilst eland, sable antelope, and roan antelope occur in the escarpment hills.
However, the lakeshore is best explored by boat, and several safari lodges and houseboats offer boat cruises, birding and fishing. The scenery is stunning with many bays and inlets, often populated with ‘drowned’ leadwood trees, left protruding from the shallow waters after the creation of Lake Kariba.
To the south of Matusadona and Lake Kariba, Chizarira National Park is a rugged wilderness covering an area of some 1000 sq. kms. Much of the park is dominated by the Zambezi Escarpment, with plateaux, deep rocky gorges, woodlands and flood plains. Game viewing is difficult due to the terrain and habitat, but the park does have good concentrations of elephant, buffalo, eland, bushbuck, kudu, klipspringer, and other small antelope species.
Birdlife is rich with the possible highlight occurring during late November and early December, when it is possible to view the Angola pitta which breeds in the region.