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Matusadona National Park
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Matusadona National Park is one of the lesser known wilderness areas in Africa.click for full display map of Zimbabwe showing Matusadona

  • It boasts a unique combination of pristine and rugged wilderness with the "waterfrontage" of Lake Kariba.

  • It is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered Black Rhino.

  • It is commonly recognised as having the one of the highest concentrations of wild Lions in Africa.

  • Its relatively poor accessibility by road and extremely harsh internal network of roads keeps the crowds and traffic out!

One of southern Africa's prime walking safaris spots

Matusadona ranks as one of the top walking safari destinations in the region - see the walking safari map of Southern Africa. Musango Lodge and it's small satellite bushcamp at Maronga in particular is regarded as one of the best options in the park.  Other options range from the deluxe setting at Sanyati Lodge on eastern boundary, Spurwing Island, Kaingwe Safari Camp and Sengwa Safaris in the eastern section to Graeme Lemon's wilderness trails in search of lion and rhino throughout the area.  Wilderness Safaris have earned a solid reputation for their floating water lodge near Tashinga.

An ideal combination with Mana Pools

The lower Zambezi is regarded as one of the best areas for combining both land and water based safaris.  Matusadona shoreline on Lake Kariba invites water based activities, usually from game viewing boats or pontoons.  Mana Pools, whilst being well recognised as a walking safari area is renowned for canoe safaris on the Zambezi River.  Kariba serves as an ideal hub into both Matusadona and Mana Pools - consider the combination safaris over a week long stay.

An easy safari extension with Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is of course one of the primary safari hubs into Southern Africa and an adventurer's playground to boot.  Matusadona and Mana Pools usually make up the core of our safaris in Zimbabwe - Victoria Falls offers simple access into the lower Zambezi region.

Contact Details
Zambezi Safari & Travel Co.
Suite 3, The Heights Centre
PO Box 158, Kariba, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 61 2532
Fax: +263 61 2291
e-mail: info@zambezi.com


Saddle billed stork (courtesy Hans Martens)

Lion pride

Matusadona elephant (Jeremy Woodhouse)

Matusadona sunset

Matusadona National Park is one of several protected wildlife areas with shorelines on Lake Kariba.

Some 338 000 acres in area, it is bounded on the west by the Ume River and on the east by the Sanyati River. Two-thirds of it lies south of the Zambezi Escarpment, formed by the 1968 foot-high "Matuzviadonha" Hills from which it takes its name. The best way to experience Matusadona is on a walking safari. Other options include overnighting on the shoreline with a cruiser or houseboat, taking a Sail Safari into the area, or staying at one of the lodges/camps in or on western edge of the park. Spurwing Island and Matusadona Water Lodge are very attractive lodge sites in the centre of the Matusadona shoreline.

Baboon dash (courtesy Jeremy Woodhouse)

Open woodlands on the plateau behind the escarpment are dominated by Julbernardia globiflora. The mountain acacia, Brachystegia glaucescens, is also common on the slopes and ridges of the escarpment.

From the plateau the park falls abruptly to a flat, low-lying area covered mainly with Mopane scrub and woodland and with dense patches of Jesse bush. The entire northern boundary of the park is created by the lakeshore itself. This shoreline, which is subjected to irregular variations in water level caused by fluctuations in annual rainfall, is still in a state of rapid ecological change and development.

Along much of it are "drowned forests", up to several kilometres wide, containing dead trees standing more than 29 years after the filling of the lake. Many of the animals rescued during "'Operation Noah" when the lake was filling were released into Matusadona, which now holds strong populations of most mammals occurring in the Zambezi Valley.

Buffalo are especially prominent and herds of up to 1000 strong often congregate along the shoreline in the dry season. Their population is thought to be growing at about 9% per annum, and this rapid expansion is caused largely by the development of the wide swards of torpedo grass, Panicum repens along the shoreline.

This swamp grass is indigenous to the Zambezi valley. It was generally absent from the lakeshore until 1970, when a combination of circumstances including the decline of the Kariba weed, Salvinia molesta, enabled it to gain a foothold on what were, until then rather barren shores. The dying Salvinia created an ideal mulch for the torpedo grass. It can survive for long periods under water and becomes available to buffalo and other herbivores towards the end of the dry season when other sources of fodder are largely depleted.

Lion, leopard, hyaena and other predators occur in good numbers throughout the park.  There have also been isolated reports of cheetah over the years - a small population was reintroduced in 1995.

There is a small but important population of the endangered black rhinoceros, found mainly along the foot of the escarpment. They are mostly concentrated in the west of Matusadona. Eight white rhinoceros were introduced into the park in 1984 but did not survive, probably because they had lost their natural immunity to sleeping sickness over many years of captive breeding in tsetse-free areas.

Hippopotamus and crocodile declined after the lake filled but are now recovering well. Hippopotamus have benefited from the development of the torpedo grass swards and the deeply incised shoreline provides hundreds of suitably sheltered habitats. A recent survey of the crocodile population estimated their density at one adult animal for every 656 feet of shoreline.

African buffalo (courtesy Jeremy Woodhouse) Chacma baboons (courtesy Hans Martens)

One of the Matusadona's most compelling features is its luxuriant birdlife; over 240 species have been recorded in the park. The fish eagle is common along the lakeshore where it makes use of the dead trees as nesting sites. Most parts of the lakeshore have conspicuous populations of grey herons, goliath herons, great white herons and saddlebill storks. Plovers, waders and geese are generally abundant and there are notable populations of osprey, woolly-necked storks, open-billed storks, white-winged plovers and red-winged pratincoles. There are several large colonies of darters and reed cormorants within the treelines, and at least one colony of white-breasted cormorants has appeared recently.

Bee-eater colonies are often found in the sandstone banks and cliffs of the minor rivers that traverse the valley floor. Most local raptors are present in good numbers.

Carmine bea-eaters (Jeremy Woodhouse) Ground hornbill (courtesy Hans Martens)

The Matusadona National Park is most easily accessible by boat from Kariba. It is also possible to enter the Matusadona from the gravel Karoi-Kamativi road south of the escarpment.

Matusadona National Park | Lake Kariba | Zambezi Classics | Ivan Carter Safaris | Musango Lodge | Sanyati Lodge | Kaingwe Safari Camp - Spurwing Island | Graeme Lemon Safaris | Elephant Point Tented Camp

UK Head Office
Ermington Mill, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 9NT
Tel: +44 1548 830059 Fax: +44 870 094 1881
Mobile: +44 7900 582746 
e-mail:info@zambezi.co.uk

African Head Office
The Heights, Kariba, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 61 3351  Fax: +263 61 2291
Cell: +263 91 343616 
e-mail: info@zambezi.com

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