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Houseboats on Lake Kariba

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Cruise the lake and waters by private houseboat Imagine having exclusivity, peace and quiet, sunshine, a place to spend a relaxing few days or week with friends and family, a professional crew to look after you and just cruising along fishing, bird watching, seeing wildlife and being serenaded to sleep each night by gently lapping water?

Well you can by spending time on one of the houseboats based on Lake Kariba on the north western side of Zimbabwe. These houseboats (pontoons or cruisers) are much sought after for celebrations and family holidays, and by those simply wishing to escape to a water wilderness.


Custom built Houseboats based either from Kariba town or Binga further down the lake on Kariba are all individual with names such as Umbozha, Vunduful, Sundowner, Southern belle, Osprey, Nyati, Big daddy, Africa Queen and Ambuya Dambudzo.

Some are small with one cabin and extra space to convert for another double bed in the main dining area, some accommodate 24 people and up to 25 metres long whilst the largest (Zambezi Trader houseboat) measures 160 feet and can accommodate up to 45 people!


Choosing the right houseboat to suit you is of course most important and this depends on your party and what level of luxury you need. Many of the larger boats allow a lot of fresh light and air to circulate around the boat and apart from your cabins, you may like to take advantage of sleeping out under mosquito nets in the open on the top deck – very romantic, adventurous and enjoyable.


Depending on the boat there will be a crew – from 2 to 10 people depending on the size of the boat and what extra activities are required, perhaps including a professional armed guide for walking excursions into Matusadona National Park.


If fishing is your main interest then the tender boat and deckhand will take you to smaller shallower creeks and bays to go after your catch. These tender boats are also used for game viewing and sunset cruises. Fishing tackle and bait MUST be organised before travel.

Making up the houseboat that can be two to four levels high are cabins with double, twin or bunk beds, galley, cold rooms, generator room, and generally either on the middle or top deck lounge/bar areas and dining saloon. All bedding and linen are supplied as well as sleeping bags for those sleeping on the top deck. Some of the more luxurious boats even have Jacuzzis’!


The food on board is also excellent and there are different menus to choose from and these as well as drinks must be organised before you depart on your cruise. Special dietary requirements can also be attended too if advised beforehand. Your crew hand can organise a barbeque too!

Whilst cruising the lake, look out for the white sentinels – fossilised trees lying on the edges of the lake – standing white against the brilliant blue waters against a purple blue mountain backdrop makes for wonderful photographs.

On the Kariba side you are bound to sail down to Matusadona where you will see elephant coming down to drink and hippo wallowing in the shallows. There are also many crocodiles – hence no swimming allowed in the lake!

The bird life includes cormorants and fish eagles, king fishers and herons. At the end of your sailing trip you can also be dropped off at a safari camp so that you can spend time exploring the park by road to get an alternative view of the abundant wildlife.


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