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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2019 (85) > In reflective mood

In reflective mood

It seems unbelievable that Lake Kariba has remained under the tourist radar for so long; perhaps dominated by other better-known attractions that make up Zimbabwe’s embarrassment of riches. But, easily reached from Victoria Falls, Kariba offers a safari experience unlike any in Africa and makes a contrasting complement to conventional wildlife destinations like Mana Pools or Hwange. Here’s why. By Sue Watt

View finder: Perched on top of the escarpment, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge overlooks the floodplains and Starvation Island, where wildlife stranded when the lake’s waters rose still survive

You don’t mess with Nyaminyami, the river god of the mighty Zambezi. Half serpent, half fish, when something upsets him, he’ll stop at nothing — not even death — to vent his anger: locals believe he killed over eighty people in one day seeking to protect his valley. And now I’m here, I can understand why.

It was my first morning in Kariba, and just after dawn I sat in stunned silence as the waters around my houseboat turned blood red. It wasn’t from the wrath of the river god, though — it was the reflections of the most spectacular sunrise I’ve seen.

Truth be told, in fifteen years of travelling to Zimbabwe, Kariba had never really been on my radar. I knew of it but not really that much about it. I’d even flown over its vast sparkling waters. But with so much competition from big hitters like Hwange, Mana Pools and Victoria Falls, Kariba had remained resolutely in the shadows. Until, that is, I was asked to cover a story for The Times: a new cruise was starting up — would I be interested in going?

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