Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake in the world, and it forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is a perfect daytrip from Lusaka, the Zambian capital! The biggest attraction is undoubtedly the Kariba Dam, a hydroelectric dam which is the source of most of Zambia’s power. Lake Kariba and Siavonga, the town on the Zambian side of the border, are about a 3-hour drive from Lusaka.
Kariba Dam Wall
If there’s one thing you do at Lake Kariba, it has to be walking along the Kariba Dam Wall. The dam wall divides Zambia and Zimbabwe, so technically you exit Zambia and walk through No Man’s Land to the Zimbabwean border—but no passport required!
All you need to do is bring an ID (my Minnesota driver’s license worked fine), and at the dam entrance building, say you just want to walk along the dam wall. They’ll take your ID (you get it back on your way out), and will give you a slip of paper to show to the border police for your car.
Construction began on the Kariba Dam in the 1950s, and the dam opened in 1960. It measures 128 meters in height, and 579 meters long. It is incredible, seeing the huge lake on one side, and the Zambezi River flowing on the other side.
Lake Kariba Inns
I spent most of the afternoon at Lake Kariba Inns in Siavonga, a lodge located on (surprise) Lake Kariba. After purchasing the all-you-can-eat buffet lunch, I was treated as a guest—so full pool privileges! The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful. Although I only stayed for an afternoon, if I were ever looking for inclusive lodge packages on Lake Kariba, I would definitely look into this one.
The lodge also has an area for wildlife, which means… I saw my first ever zebra! While zebras aren’t threatening at all, I’d advise walking with a lodge employee. And if the zebra turns its back to you, it’s getting ready to kick with its back legs—so RUN!
The lodge also has antelopes in addition to zebras that roam around the game area.
Speedboat Ride to the Dam Wall
One of the highlights of my visit to Lake Kariba was going on a speedboat ride to the dam wall. The journey took us in different bays of Lake Kariba, including seeing lots of local fishing boats, and our driver pointed out several of the different buildings and lodges. Of course you can’t get too close to the dam (otherwise you’ll get sucked in!) but you can see the wall from afar.
Arranged through Lake Kariba Inns lodge, the ride cost 460 kwacha (about USD $45) for the speedboat—which meant the cost was halved since I was splitting the boat ride cost with my friend. I would highly recommend going on a boat ride on Lake Kariba and seeing the dam wall!
Lake Kariba and the Kariba Dam are definitely a “must-see” for any trip to Zambia. While you can go all out and book a luxury lodge, it is also possible to visit Lake Kariba and Siavonga just as a daytrip from Lusaka!
Have you ever visited a dam or a site situated on a border? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!