Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam. The dam wall was built across the Kariba Gorge to harness the river’s flow to generate hydroelectric power. This endeavour displaced about 57,000 local tribes-people, and over 5000 wild animals. Over the years, several ecological difficulties at Lake Kariba have been researched and documented. And the enormous mass of water (approximately 180,000,000,000,000 kilograms, or 200 billion tons) is believed to have caused induced seismicity in the seismically active region, including over 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitudes on the Richter scale.
Despite this history, Lake Kariba remains a special place of incredible beauty: nestled in mountains with the white limbs of dead trees reaching up from the water, Lake Kariba is a photographer’s dream. The Zimbabwe side of the lake has about 1000 kilometres of shoreline, with sun-baked African hills, placid backwaters and numerous islands. Covering nearly 6 000 square kilometres, Lake Kariba is abundant with life. Game fish, including Tiger Fish thrive in its waters, and Fish Eagle, cormorant and other water birds patrol the shorelines. Elephant, crocodile and hippo are commonly seen as well. Game viewing and fishing can be done by boat.
Along the southern shore of Lake Kariba is the Matusadona Game Reserve, one of the lesser known game reserves in Zimbabwe. One of the most impressive game parks in the world, Matusadona combines the beauty of a lake-setting and its rich and fertile flood plains, with a rising wall of mountains serving as a majestic backdrop. It is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered black rhino, and is commonly recognized as having the second largest concentration of wild lions in Africa next only to the Ngorongoro Crater. Other wildlife includes white rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, leopard, hyaena, cheetah, and over 240 species of birdlife.