Game viewing and fishing from houseboats have became a tradition on Lake Kariba, one of the world’s largest man made lakes, and the first were launched in the early 1960s. The dam wall was first closed in 1958 and the Lake, which is shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia, took several years to fill but before long houseboats were being used to view game, host fishing expeditions and to generally relax and enjoy the setting. The Matusadona National Park and a number of other protected areas border on Kariba which provides for excellent game viewing from the water.
Big game animals tend to ignore boats and visitors often get very close to elephants, buffalo and other wildlife feeding at the edges of the lake. Most people spend their days game viewing, fishing or simply relaxing, reading or enjoying a barbecue on board.
Houseboats on Kariba, which has dammed the Zambezi River, vary considerably in size. The smaller boats have accommodation for six people while the larger vessels can accommodate more than 20. The houseboat costs usually include the fees of a captain who commands the vessel and is responsible for navigation, it is easy to get lost on the 220km long lake, and a cook. Many guests buy their own food and drink although some owners prefer not to allow self catering and supply, at a cost, all food and drinks.
Once on the water there is no particular schedule. Meals are taken whenever everyone agrees and other activities are all agreed upon by the guests. Most houseboats follow the shoreline so game is often spotted.
Most trips last several nights and some up to a week.