The town of Kariba was originally established during the building of the dam that has led to the formation of Lake Kariba. Stretching haphazardly across the hills surrounding the gorge, the town takes its name for the word Kariwa; a Tsonga word that describes the overhanging rock at the entrance to the narrow gorge, across which the dam was built.
A Beautiful Setting
The shoreline of Lake Kariba is post-card perfect with water lapping on the shore, herds of game drinking on the banks, and a deep blue sky stretching out from the horizon. The lake has a number of islands in it which provide interesting changes to the view and the sunset over the lake are truly magnificent.
Relaxed Holiday Town
The town of Kariba has a relaxed, laid-back holiday atmosphere and is a popular holiday destination for families and couples who flock hear each year to enjoy the beautiful scenery and bask in the sunshine. There are plenty of activities to enjoy including sailing, fishing and a variety of other water sports as well as game viewing and spending a few days on a houseboat on the lake.
There are a number of bays and shorelines along the dam, near to Kariba, where visitors can enjoy wonderful views of the lake. The dam wall is also worth visiting and the observation point on the hill above it provides an excellent vantage point of the water.
Swimming and paddling in the water of the lake is not advisable as there are Hippos and Crocodiles in the waters. Visitors should also take heed that wildlife such as Elephants have been known to wander through the less inhabited areas of the town.
The Town Itself
The town also has a number of small shops and craft stalls where visitors can browse and purchase mementos of their holiday. The "Kariba Club" is a popular bar and restaurant and has a swimming pool on the property. The town also boast a gorgeous little chapel called the Chapel of Santa Barbara; the chapel was built in memory of the workers that died during the construction of the dam.
Food and basic amenities can be purchased from the supermarkets in the nearby towns of Nhmhunga and Mahombekombe, alternatively there are two small centres in either end of the town where groceries can be purchased. Petrol and Diesel can be purchased at stations along the main road or from one of the various boat harbours.
Getting to Kariba
Visitors can fly into the small town, landing at the small airport there. From the airport transfers and shuttles can be arranged to other locations. Kariba is an easy 5 kilometre scenic drive from Harare. An alternative route is to journey from Lusaka past Chirundu and Siavongo and through the border control and across the Zambezi River on the Chirundu Bridge.
Once in the town it is recommended that visitors have their own means of transport and hire a car for the duration or part of their stay as getting around can become difficult due to the town being so spread out. Minibus transfers can be arranged for Kariba's main hotels.Visitors staying in the area will need to purchase National Park entry permits as well as fishing permits upon entering the town.