The History of Kariba Dam Wall

Tales from the Bush

Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe is a destination that holds a myriad of fascinations – from its wildlife, surrounding national parks and mountain ranges, the culture of the Tongan people, to the mythology and history of the Kariba dam wall. Along the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the world’s largest reservoir by volume was filled following the completion of the Kariba Dam at its northeastern end, flooding the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River.

An engineering feat, the lake was built in the 1950’s out of necessity for hydroelectric energy for both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Designed by French engineer, Andre Coyne, a specialist in ‘arch dams’, the Kariba Dam Wall was built to harness the power of the mighty Zambezi River. Its construction, purpose and aesthetics are all of significant achievement and importance for Zimbabwe – in the economic, electric and tourism sectors – however, its success did not come without sacrifice.

Kariba Dam Wall Zimbabwe
Kariba Dam Wall

 Mythology at Kariba, Zimbabwe

It was not only the Tongan tribe that lost their land to the construction of the wall but the animals within the area as well. Thousands of creatures fled their habitats, searching for higher ground and survival. A gallant team of rangers from the National Parks Service as well as volunteers set out to rescue the wildlife once they realised there were animals marooned on islands and in trees, desperately escaping the rising waters. 

‘Operation Noah’ successfully saved over 6 000 animals – including rhino, lion, antelope, zebra, and elephant – relocating them safely to Matusadona National Park. A brave and notable accolade for those involved, without them many species, as well as the ecosystem, would have been in grave danger of irreversible damage.

Lake Kariba Zimbabwe
Kariba Dam Wall

Exploring Kariba surrounds on safari

When staying at Kariba Safari Lodge, one may spend the day exploring the town and its history, learning about the positive and negative impacts of the Kariba Dam Wall. Like many historic endeavours, there are both advantages and disadvantages,  as well as different perspectives and experiences forming the narrative. 

Led by a private guide, one will visit a museum atop a hill that details the construction of the Kariba Dam Wall. Here you will learn more about Operation Noah, the past and present of the Tongan tribe as well as how the wall was built. A presentation is given by the local museum custodian, proud to share the country’s history in all its successes and failures. The museum boasts a panoramic view of the wall itself – an awe-inspiring perspective of the engineering feat

The History and Mythology of Kariba Dam Wall
Kariba Dam Wall

Houseboat Safari on Lake Kariba

A water safari on Lake Kariba with the Sovereign Houseboat as your mode of transport, is something to experience at least once. Surrounded by an expansive wilderness, sightings of elephant, hippo and buffalo are guaranteed. Get up close and personal with these fine animals and view them from a different angle.

The Sovereign Houseboat was designed with space and style in mind, ensuring various options for relaxation throughout your stay. The 6 double en-suite and 4 twin en-suite cabins are air-conditioned, allowing for a moment of cool and quiet from the African heat. An upstairs daybed boasts a bird’s eye view of Lake Kariba and its surroundings.

Does this sound like your dream holiday? View our Sengwe River Cruise Packages and 2022 departure dates to book!

Kariba Sunset
Lake Kariba Operation Noah

Read about the incredible conservation story of Lake Kariba and Operation Noah. Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe embodies a tale which sounds

Fish Eagles of Lake Kariba
Fish Eagles of Lake Kariba

Discover the fish eagles of Kariba and one of the most iconic species of birds on the lake with African

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