Kariba Municipality

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Welcome to
Municipality of Kariba

History and Quick Facts About Lake Kariba


  • More than 50 years old designed by the French Engineer and Inventor Andrew Coyne.
  • Double curvature concrete arch dam, designed to overflow and withstand a major earthquake, built at confluence of Zambezi and Sanyati Rivers.
  • Built by Italian Company Impresit from 1955 to 1959, with help from local people from Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • Height 128m, Crest length 617m, width 13 m at top and 24 m at base.
  • Volume of concrete used 1 032 000 m³, cost £122m.
  • Spillway 6 flood gates 9m x 8.8m, one gate churns out 1 574 m³ of water per second. Equivalent to half the amount of water a person bathes in a month.
  • When all floodgates are open they bring out more water than Victoria Falls.
  • Power Stations – South Bank 6 x 111 Mw, North Bank 4 x 150 Mw (1959).
  • Present day South Bank 6 x 125 Mw, North Bank 4 x 180 Mw.
  • Site deaths 86 people, 21 from accidents, the rest to disease, heat, fatigue.
  • 4 271 pylons, standing height 35-37m, covering 1,864 km.
  • Speed of generators 166.67 rpm, has 214 stress meters in wall that measure stress in 3D.
  • Power transmitted 330 000 volts.


  • Length 282 km, width at widest 32 km, average width 18 km.
  • Produced the cheapest hydro-electricity in the world during its time.
  • Maximum Level of Retention (MLR) 487.8 m (above sea level).
  • Surface area of MRL 5 580 km2 (same size as Wales).
  • Average Depth 20m , deepest 120 m , shoreline 2 000km.
  • Volume of water at MRL 185 billion m³ (enough to supply Greater London for 300 years).
  • The 4th largest man-made lake in the world.
  • The 2nd largest lake in Africa after Lake Victoria.
  • The largest lake in the world at time of construction.
  • The largest monument in Africa after the Egyptian pyramids.
  • Has 102 islands on either sides.
  • Home to numerous animals species both land and water.
  • Home of the legendary Nyami Nyami River God.


  • Kasambabezi (Tonga) – those who know wash there.
  • Zambizi (Shona) – land of zebras.
  • Original source is a spring in Mwinilunga Zambia
  • Catchment area covers 1 352 000 km²
  • Passes through eight countries Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • Flows for 2 650 km from the source to the Indian Ocean.
  • Fourth largest river in Africa after the Congo, the Nile, and the Niger.
  • Largest river in Africa flowing into the Indian Ocean.
  • Lake Kariba is located approximately halfway down the Zambezi River.


  • Built by the Italians during their spare time.
  • Designed by Italian Igor Leto.
  • Each window has a portion of the Lord’s Prayer in Latin.
  • It has five marble statues donated by the Italian Churches from left to right they are St. Carolina of Italy, St. Joseph of Carpenters, Virgin Mary, St. Barbara of Underground Works and St. George of England.
  • Most of the materials used for construction came from Italy.
  • It is symbolic of the dam wall, six concrete pillars represent the 6 flood gates.
  • 7 gates for the 7 days of the week.
  • Colours red, green and white in the walls represent the Italian Flag.
  • The curved dam wall behind the altar is the dam wall itself.
  • Below the statue of Virgin Mary are the names of the 86 men who died during construction, only 21 died of accidents other died of heat, fatigue and malaria



  • Held in August every year.
  • A half marathon and a 10 km fun run.
  • Highly recommended family fun, sleep in a houseboat.
  • Run across the dam wall, enjoy scenery, endurance test.
  • Lots of festivities afterwards.
  • Race from AMC Windsor Garage to dam wall and back to Lomagundi Lake Side Association.
  • Organised by Go Kariba and Kariba Running Club and Lake Harvest


  • Held in October every year.
  • Started by a group of farmers in 1962.
  • Recognised by the IGFA and FIPS Game Fish Associations.
  • The biggest and best freshwater fishing contest in the world.
  • Tiger fish is known for sheer aggression, pound for pound, one of the world’s most powerful species.
  • Largest number of teams was 333 in 1991.
  • First prize for heaviest fish is a brand new Nissan, heaviest fish caught is 15,50 kg caught by a woman in 1962.
  • Organised by National Anglers Union and the KITF Committee.



  • Operation Noah was headed by Rupert Fothergill a Ranger from the newly formed Game Department
  • The largest animal rescue ever done in the world
  • Attracted media attention, started in 1959 and ended in 1962
  • As the water rose a spectacular wild life rescue operation that captured headlines began.
  • Animals were driven into nets and transported by boats and canoes of all sorts and sizes.
  • Animals rescued were released into Matusadonha and Chete Safari Area.
  • Animals rescued Impalas 1866, Warthogs 585, Grysboks 345 Bush Bucks 320.
  • Total animals rescued 4 914.
  • ZRA, ZESCO and ZESA the public and donors assisted in the rescue operation.


  • Tonga River God, He has a body of a snake and a head like a fish.
  • Called Nyama nyama (meat) mispronounced Nyami nyami by the first white men to settle in Kariba, locals called him Jeka wacheka (cut). The meat tasted like fish according to locals who ate it.
  • The Tonga were protected by Nyami nyami their ancestral spirit who fed them from his own meat in times of hunger. After cutting the meat when Nyami nyami returned to the water his wounds would heal instantly. They pledged their allegiance by performing ceremonial dances.
  • For years Nyami nyami and his wife stayed safely in Kariba. One season when the Nyami nyami‘s wife had gone down the valley to bless and answer peoples prayers, the white man came to build a wall. It took 5 years to see it through because of Nyami nyami. He caused some floods and loss of life.  It is also believed that the occasional Earth tremor felt in the lake surroundings is caused by the Nyami nyami .


  • Game drives- morning, noon, evening or all day drives.
  • House Boat or Sailing Cruises- sunrise, lunch, siesta, full day and sunset.
  • House Boat or Sailing Boat Charters.
  • Tours –Highlights, Cultural Village, Kapenta Fishing, Lake Navigation , Islands and Farms.
  • Nyami Nyami Flights over Dam Wall.
  • Safaris – Canoeing, Walking, Hunting, Shopping Photographic, Star gazing and
  • Mountain Climbing.
  • Bird Watching.


  • Belong to the Bantu Ethnic group.
  • Migrated from Central Africa in the 12th
  • Lived in an egalitarian and matrilineal society, in small independent communities each headed by the Sikatonga the lineage head and ritual leader.
  • The Batonka practised subsistence agriculture with cultivated fields on the flood plain and in nearby hills to ensure against droughts.
  • Placed great importance on cattle as symbols of wealth.
  • Were fearless and remarkable hunters who speared hippos from canoes and followed buffalo on foot. Fish were considered less important but were trapped in reed baskets during floods.
  • Their mother language is called Chitonga.


  • Camp Sites – intimate, pristine sites where you mingle with animals. From Mlibizi to Kanyemba we have campsites to your satisfaction.
  • Hotels and Motels – unforgettable memories of Kariba and its surrounds will haunt you forever if you stay there. We have it all tailor made for your comfort.
  • Houseboats – hotels on water, explore the lake with family and friends. The gigantic Zambezi Trader to our dolphin cruisers ready to mesmerise you.
  • Island and Resorts – Tiger Bay, Spurwing Island paradises on earth.
  • Lodges – excellent views of the lake, beautiful sunsets, serene environments.
  • Restaurants – sumptuous meals, signature fish dishes to entice your taste buds, addictive menus.