My Journey to Zimbabwe’s Watery Splendours: Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls

After the adventure and excitement of camping and walking in the wilderness at Beagle Expeditions and Camp Hwange, my next stop was Fothergill Island on the banks of Lake Kariba, where I could enjoy a bit of luxury and fluffy white towels!

Lake Kariba has a special place in my heart. I spent the first two years of my life living in Kariba town where my parents worked as scientists on the lake. Helen (who is part of the Leopard team) also spent much of her childhood here and her father Frank Junor, was involved in Operation Noah alongside Rupert Fothergill, for whom Fothergill Island was named. 

Operation Noah was a daring rescue mission which took place in the late 1950s, when the Kariba Dam wall was constructed and the rising waters threatened to submerge countless animals stranded on the islands that emerged in the lake. Led by Rupert Fothergill, an intrepid game ranger, Operation Noah involved the extraordinary rescue and relocation of numerous animals, including elephants, rhinos, and various other wildlife species. These heroic efforts captured the world’s attention and showcased the indomitable spirit of humanity in safeguarding the natural world. 

Helen’s mother, Jean Junor, wrote the following about Kariba, which I think beautifully sums up the place: “Imagine a place of eternal summer. A place where the sunshine is only broken by passing magnificent, electrical storms. A wilderness with electricity. A little village woven into the bush, on the shores of a very beautiful lake.” Helen says that, “Kariba will always be my home, a place where freedom, wildness, balance and harmony converge in a perfectly orchestrated symphony.” 

The Zimbabwean owners of Fothergill Island have invested enormous sums of money to create this world class resort on the banks of the Kariba Dam. Beside the creature comforts, the resort’s custom-designed boats have all the latest technology for navigation and locating fish. My fellow traveller and new friend, Olivia, managed to catch the biggest fish I’ve ever seen! It was a 34 kg (75 pound) vundu (catfish), which was weighed and released back into the lake. The African sunsets here live up to the best you can imagine and for anyone looking for the ultimate relaxing family holiday or couples/friends getaway, Fothergill delivers abundantly. We also did a fascinating tour of Kariba town, which I highly recommend.

Our final stop on this incredible journey was Matetsi, a gorgeous lodge situated on the banks of the Zambezi River close to Victoria Falls. The rooms were modern and beautifully designed, with plush armchairs, a comfortable bed and air conditioning, which was a welcome relief from the intense October heat. 

Unchecked hunting and poaching destroyed much of the wildlife in Matetsi in the last century, but its transformation over time to a wildlife conservation area means that it now boasts diverse and flourishing populations of wildlife, including elephants, wild dogs, lions, buffalo, and various antelope species. The safari experience we had here was truly impressive and could compete with the best in Africa. 

Matetsi’s luxury suites, with their view over the Zambezi are so comfortable that you may never want to leave. If you do, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. Since childhood, I’ve visited the Falls often and no matter how many times I find myself standing in front of this impressive wall of water, I always find it an awe-inspiring and humbling experience. The sheer scale of the falls, with its immense curtain of water plummeting into the chasm below, is what makes this one of Africa’s most iconic attractions. 

As my time in Zimbabwe drew to a close, I spent the last day of my 41st year on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi river. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky became a canvas of fiery oranges and red, casting a golden glow over the tranquil waters and we toasted the past year and to another journey around the sun.

Happy travelling,

P.S. Helen’s sister has written a children’s book about Operation Noah called The Great Animal Rescue. It will be available for sale worldwide in December. Find out more on her website.

P.P.S. Read more about rhino conservation and Operation Noah on our blog and reply to this email with the word “Zimbabwe” if you’d like to find out more about visiting one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls and/or enjoy a Zimbabwean safari.

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