THE BOATING OPTION
We're promoting this as much as possible. It's - obviously - more costly than driving into Matusadona, but immensely rewarding, and saves a lot of vehicle wear and tear as well. The interior of the Matusadona is much like any other part of the Zambezi Valley - harsh, arid, and sometimes virtually devoid of wildlife, because it's all in secluded bays and inlets that are difficult or impossible to reach by road. We can offer either 'hosted houseboat' or sailing tours of this shoreline - see Best of Both Worlds for more details.
The Matusadona National Park, on the southern shore of Lake Kariba, is an exceptionally lovely and wild area, with good numbers of most local animals. It is also a Black Rhinoceros Intensive Protection Zone, and visitors have a good chance of seeing this rare and sadly endangered species. There is also an important population of cheetah, reintroduced into the Park in the early 1990s by the Zambezi Society, under tour leader Dick Pitman's supervision, in collaboration with the Parks Authority. The Matusadona is a 'core area' of the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve.
Roughly one-third of the Park lies north of the Matusadona hills, which form part of the Zambezi Escarpment.The lakeshore areas are particularly attractive, and a network of tracks and gravel roads with numerous sandriver crossings traverses the entire Park to Sanyati West campsite on the eastern boundary close to the Matusadona hills and the Sanyati River. Fishing for both tigerfish and several bream species can be good, from bank or boat.
The mountainous area to the south is very remote, but can be accessed to some extent by tracks from the Binga-Karoi road and the main Park access road. However, there are no campsites in this area and a permit is required before entry.
Black rhino are the hot topic here, followed closely by the environmental impacts of Lake Kariba and the implications of proposed tsetse fly clearance for wildlife and wilderness. Also, this is where a new cheetah population was introduced in 1994, and has survived and grown since. Learn about the perils, pitfalls - and joys - of cheetah relocations; and there's also a good chance of sighting one or more of these beautiful animals. Paradoxically, good rains and high lake levels reduce the area of lakeside grazing available to species such as buffalo and zebra, and these populations tend to decline if these conditions persist for more than a year or two.
When to visit
Strictly dry season only, for ZIM4x4 accompanied tours. During the rainy season flooding rivers may either prevent access, or maroon vehicles within the Park for a lengthy period.
November-March: possibly inaccessible. Wildlife spread throughout the Park. Lake Kariba falling, then stabilising.
April-August: becoming cool at night by July. Wildlife beginning to concentrate on main lakeshore viewing areas. Lake Kariba rising.
September-October: Hot to very hot, with slight chance of showers. Most species concentrated in lakeshore viewing areas. Lake Kariba stable or falling.
ZIM4X4 RECOMMENDATION: The Matusadona's loveliest feature - and least accessible by road - is its deeply indented shoreline, where wildlife comes to drink and the birdlife is spectacular.
We can go by road if you prefer, and we'd stay either in Parks campsites, or at Rhino Island Safaris, a lovely bushcamp on the Park shoreline. But it can be a long haul. One of the best ways to visit Matusadona is to take you there from Kariba either by sailboat or on a suitable houseboat.
Sally and I have boated and sailed this shoreline for 30 years, and never tired of it. We are qualified houseboat and sailboat skippers, know every nook and cranny, and provide a truly magnificent experience.