Kariba – Matusadona

We arrived at Kariba where despite my desperation for some hair conditioner ( at this stage I’d use paraffin if I thought it would help) and a nailbrush none were to be had.

We stopped for diesel in Kariba (there was none) and discovered that the car was dead as a door nail. Battery been fried. That would account for the odd smell that we have been smelling. Lucky us to be a town!

Luckily our $US managed to get us a new one in short order.

Zimbabwe now runs a two-currency system. Hyperinflation was stabilised by the introduction of the US $. Some years later when there were not enough $ in the country Mugabe introduced a bond note which the reserve bank would honour on a US$ 1 to 1 bond note basis

With economy in the appalling shape it is there is simply no money in the country and the black-market exchange rate is 1US$ buys you two bond notes. So, when you as a tourist give anyone a US$ note a they can manage all sorts of things previously impossible as they keep it and exchange a bond note for it. Who can blame them?

Hotel owners will give significant discounts for US$ cash

Boat transfer across Kariba showed up many of these fellows. Latest survey shows one every 200 m. This is the best way to view a crocodile I think.


Rhino Camp

Well this is truly heaven on earth. Matusadona is a small park on the Southern end of Lake Kariba. Lake Kariba was formed in 1956- 1958. The massive wall built by Italians was to eventually flood the Zambezi at Kariba gorge and create a dam. This presently the worlds third largest man made dam. (It took us 26 hours to cross by car ferry). The land was inhabited by the Ba-Tonga tribe who were resettled on the lake shore. It provided and continues to provide the electricity to run the mining operations on Zambia and proved power to much of Zimbabwe though the latter not quite as effectively as once promised.

So – this massive area that was flooded was inhabited by a plethora of wildlife.It was hoped that as the dam began to fill, a process that took four years, animals would slowly move ahead of the water. Some did but many retreated to kopjes and hills that had traditionally provided them with a safe haven during floods.  As the water was going to drown these high spots by a considerable amount Operation Noah began. Lead by a naturalist animals were literally picked up by boat and transferred to the Matusadona area. Every animal was included. There are pictures of people holding black mambas in sticks in boats and moving them.

Matusadona is ringed by some high mountains on the land side of the lake, effectively creating a naturally protected wildlife area. There used to be road in but no more for any practical purpose.

The wildlife is prolific here and it is WILD. Our chalet is a raised wooden platform with a thatched roof and no walls.

We had a visit from this pride of Lion last night, elephant wander in and out the camp constantly, hippos forage under the chalet and hyenas are ever present. All of which I love.

Lion footprints below our chalet

However, today this guy

And I had an unwelcome interaction. In the open bar area there is a solar charged charging station (obviously no general power here despite being on Kariba) I put my hand out to plug my phone in and intercepted this snake that was jumping for a ghecko. He landed on my arm, I screamed and tried to run but got my feet caught in the thick sand and he and I landed on the ground eye to eye for a time. Honestly my heart rate must have been through the roof. Non poisonous, quite harmless but still not fun. Having taken years to get over my terror of snakes , I feel I may be back to square 1.

On a better note – Willy had a great day fishing yesterday. Bream for everyone and a tiger fish for the staff which they apparently love.

There is a huge leopard in the area too also a regular around the camp.  We are on our own in this camp with the guy who built the camp. He is a real character with wonderful stories keeping us hugely entertained. He is an amazing naturalist with encyclopaedic knowledge

One involved his guiding the Prince of Wales many years ago. It was a CHOGM meeting and he and Elizabeth came up her afterwards. Apparently the minister of this that and the next thing came with him. “with so many medals they must have fought in every campaign since Napolean” They picked them all up, having chucked out the white gloves that had been issued “but were designed for 4 foot 4 inches Poms not Africans” along with all the hangers on, were significant security. Peter put the Prince Wales into his open vehicle and set off. Philip complained about the dust. Peter therefore veered off onto a little used track. The dust was such that none of security noticed and continued along their way. They came upon an elephant.  Philip declared that if you had seen one elephant you’d seen them all. Peter was so enraged at the current patron of WWF could be such an ignoramus that he approached the next elephant quite closely. As beast was looming over the dashboard he noted that Prince Philp had amazing control of his bum muscles and without moving anything had shifted onto the middle seat. He also then became aware of the van rocking. He assumed it was the elephant’s son rubbing his bum against the vehicle – something he routinely did. When he looked around he saw that all said large in size, war heroes with all their medals were fighting and scrapping to climb under the seats. He said he nearly collapsed with laughter. They then proceeded to refuse to sleep in the open rooms and demanded that they each have a security guard outside.

These trees are mopane trees that have survived 5 decades after the flooding of the dam. They are rock hard wood.

Lovely sighting of lion last night, the same pride as the previous night but this time with two six week old cubs in tow.

They made a kill outside chalet 6. We are chalet 2 so a little way away. Hyena visited last night as did various other creatures.

Matusadona should be on everyone’s bucket list. Simply stunning wilderness.

Next stop Harare where I am sort of hoping for some concrete flooring, a bath, a roof AND walls.

One thought on “Kariba – Matusadona

  1. Africa memories, and so many stories sound quite familiar!. Keep sending Freddie photos of nanny and poppy and their footsteps!.😀🌎


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