Click for the homepage of The Safari Guide, your resource to a safari holiday in Africa

Kariba Houseboats

Houseboat Safari on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

Wildlife on a Houseboat Safari

Elephants are a common sight in Kariba

Elephant in Kariba, Zimbabwe

Young Elephant on the shores of Lake Kariba

African Fish-Eagle

Birding is excellent in Kariba

Fishing on Lake Kariba

Sunset fishing on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe

The Safari Holiday Booker - Book your Safari Online

Safari Holiday Shop

Book your perfect Zimbabwe Safari Online >> Safari Holiday Shop

A guide to safaris in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Safari Guide

Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe has it all and why you should safari in Zimbabwe! >> more

Houseboat Safaris in Kariba

Lake Kariba Houseboats

Game Viewing, Birding and Fishing - A truly unique safari experience.

Cheap Flights to Zimbabwe

Flights to Zimbabwe

Try our flight centre for cheap flights to Zimbabwe and grab yourself a bargain >> more

Kariba Houseboats & Zimbabwe Safari Holiday Guide

Home > Zimbabwe > Kariba Houseboat Safaris

Why a Kariba Houseboat Safari on Kariba?

I recently went on holiday to The Gambia where we traveled inland up the river Gambia to a remote location and whilst the trip was excellent it did make me realise just how special combining a houseboat and safari holiday in Zimbabwe could and is. Whilst the Gambia makes for an excellent holiday, I was a little disappointed by the lack of wildlife. The Gambia river is truly massive and we traveled over 200 miles inland, mostly on the river where we spotted 1 bloat of hippos (yes that is a correct term for a group of hippos!), 1 dead crocodile, dolphins in the estuary of the river, chimpanzees, baboons and a couple of species of monkeys. The birdlife in the Gambia was great and we saw many new species and plenty of old favorites. The accommodation in The Gambia was adequate, but for what you pay for, I would suggest that in Zimbabwe for the same price, the standard is much higher. I am not going to make out that Zimbabwe is perfect, far from it and if you visit in the current climate, things like electricity and water in some locations may be a problem but Zimbabwe still has some truly wild locations, with an abundance of wildlife and spectacular scenery that will take your breath away.

Kariba Houseboat and Safari Holiday
During most of my life my parents have owned a boat in Kariba and I have spent many holidays fishing and game viewing on Lake Kariba. A houseboat holiday on Kariba offers a unique type of Safari, it combines the relaxation that only water can give, whilst still the possibility of game viewing, excellent birdwatching and fishing. Game viewing on the lake is limited mostly to water dependant animals and thus you won't see as huge a variety that you would on a traditional vehicle safari on land (see below for common animal sightings), that is why in this guide I suggest combining a houseboat holiday on Kariba and a Safari holiday at one of Zimbabwe's many National parks or reserves. That way you get the best of both worlds and if you are a keen birder, you will get to see both water and land birds. There are also Kariba Houseboats that you can book with a Safari Guide who will come with you, they can then take you on foot into the bush in the Matusadona National Park, this is an excellent option for those who are looking to combine a walking safari with a houseboat safari.

African Fish Eagle, Kariba, Zimbabwe

Kariba: Safari, Bird & Wildlife Photographs

Kariba is a wonderful location for taking scenery as well as wildlife photographs. To give you a flavour of what the views are like in Kariba, take a look at the Kariba Photo Gallery, where all the photos were taken whilst on a Kariba Houseboat Holiday.

Wildlife Sightings on Kariba Houseboat Safaris

If you like your Elephants (and who doesn't), then a houseboat Safari on Lake Kariba is a must, there are parts of the lake where you are almost guaranteed to see elephants coming down to the waters edge to drink. What I have also found interesting is, because you are on the water, many animals including elephants don't see you as a threat and close encounters happen often.

Some of my best Elephant Photographs were taken from a Houseboat on Kariba.

Other large mammal sightings are mostly of those that spend much of their time in and around water, so sightings of animals like Buffalo, Impala and Waterbuck are common.

Then there are the large animals that live within the water of Kariba, like the Hippos and Crocodiles, sightings of both are common as well as Terrapins.

Kariba has many National Parks and reserves on its shores (Charara Safari Area, Matusadona National Park & Chete Safari Area) and as such you never know when you may spot Lion, Giraffe, Kudu or any of the other many species that they contain. Below I have listed the most common animal sightings from a houseboat on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.

Common Lake Kariba Mammal Sightings:

  • Elephant
  • Waterbuck
  • Impala
  • Baboon
  • Vervet Monkey
  • Hippopotamus
  • Plains Zebra (Burchell's Zebra)
  • Buffalo

Common Lake Kariba Reptile Sightings:

  • Nile Crocodile
  • Terrapin
  • Water Monitor (Nile Monitor - Varanus niloticus )

Common Lake Kariba Bird Sightings:

Lake Kariba is a fantastic birding holiday location, especially if you are after water birds. Just as an example, below are all the birds that I identified on a 5 night trip on Kariba in March 2009.

Raptors & Owls:

  • African Fish-Eagle
  • Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk)
  • (Western) Redfooted Falcon
  • Martial Eagle
  • Bateleur Eagle
  • White-Headed Vulture
  • Pearl-spotted Owlet (heard not seen)

Water Birds:

  • Cattle Egret
  • Great White Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Black Heron
  • Green-backed Heron
  • Dwarf Bittern
  • African Openbilled Stork
  • Saddle-Billed Stork
  • Woolly-necked Stork
  • African Sacred Ibis
  • Pied Kingfisher
  • Malachite Kingfisher
  • Crowned Lapwing (Plovers)
  • Blacksmith Lapwing (Plovers)
  • African Wattled Lapwing (Plover)
  • African Jacana
  • Grey-headed Gull
  • Reed Cormorant
  • African Darter
  • Egyptian Goose
  • White-faced Duck
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Spotted Thick-Knee (Dikkop)

Other Birds:

  • Golden Weaver Bird
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Wire-tailed Swallow
  • African Pied Wagtail
  • Cape Glossy Starling
  • Greyheaded Sparrows
  • Redbilled Wood-Hoopoe
  • Burchell's Coucal
  • Little Bee-eater
  • Red-billed Hornbill
  • White-Browed Sparrow-Weaver


Fishing on Lake Kariba

Kariba has to be one of the best fresh water fishing destinations in Africa, with a wide variety of species that include Tiger fish, Bream, Chessa, Nkupe, Tilapia, Catfish, Barbel and Cornish Jack.

Many say that the Tiger fish is pound for pound, the finest game fish. They are plentiful in lake Kariba and wilst probably a little more sluggish than those in the Zambezi river, they are often bigger and will give you an excellent fight. Bream fishing is also popular and at night, you can put out a line for Vundu, which can reach sizes of over 100 lbs, Barbel and other species of catfish.

Types of Houseboats on Kariba

There are two basic types of "houseboats" on Lake Kariba, the Cruiser Houseboat and a the Pontoon Houseboat.

Cruiser Houseboat on Lake Kariba Pontoon Houseboat on Lake Kariba

Cruiser Houseboats have a single hull and are generally faster, but carry fewer people than the big Pontoon boats. Cruiser's are probably best for families or small groups and corporate conferences.

Pontoon Houseboats basically look like a floating house sitting on top of two or three pontoons (catamarans) Perfect for larger groups as they tend to be larger and have more room than Cruiser houseboats.

There are both Cruiser and Pontoon housboats available for hire on Lake kariba to suit most tastes and budgets. From luxury houseboats with air conditioning, a splash pool, toilet and shower in each cabin to more basic options, where sleeping under the African sky is the order of the day.

Tender boats: Make sure that your Houseboat comes with atleast 1 tender boat, these are towed behind the houseboat and are used for fishing and getting closer to the shore for game viewing.

How much does a Houseboat Safari Cost?

The price of hiring a houseboat is usually quoted for the whole boat and not per person, per night and can range from around US$400 per night right up to US$2000 per night.

When comparing the price of chartering a houseboat on Lake Kariba, it is important to take note of what is included in the price as some houseboats only include the boat rental where as others include the fuel and still others are fully Inclusive, which means the price includes the boat, fuel, drinks and all your food.

Food: A chef or deckhand is usuallly part of the houseboat crew and will prepare your meals even if you take the self catering option.

How to Book a Houseboat on Kariba

You can book a houseboat through:

Kariba Houseboats
54 lawson ave, Milton Park
Harare, Zimbabwe

Phone: +263 4703533

Kariba Houseboat Trip Report: March 2009

To get more of an idea as to what a Kariba Houseboat Safari can offer you why not take a look at the links below to a report I made on Houseboat trip to Kariba in March 2009.

Search the Safari Holiday Guide

Victoria Falls

Victorial FallsThe Kololo tribe, who lived in the area in the 1800's called it ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or ‘the Smoke that Thunders’, the Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world is a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, bordering Zimbabwe and Zambia. >> more

Hwange National Park

Zebra at Hwange National ParkHome to vast herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and giraffe, many predators and endangered species plus a very large and varied birdlife. Hwange National Park is one of Africa's finest National Parks and traveling through Hwange National Park today is what much of the interior of Africa might have been like more then 150 years ago.

Mana Pools National Park

Zambezi river sunset at Mana Pools NPMana Pools National Park is a paradise for game viewing. The word 'Mana' means four, in reference to the four pools around the park headquarters: Main, Chine, Long and Chisambik. The magic of this national park stems from the pervading sense of the wild and also in the park's relative remoteness along a portion of the southern bank of the Zambezi River. Game drives bush walks offer the opportunity to stand near buffalo or elephant or watch crocodile and hippo from close quarters with nothing but your fear to protect you.

Matobo National Park

White Rhinoceros in Matobo National Park Set amongst the fascinating rock formations, the park contains many historical sites including the burial site of Cecil John Rhodes, as well as Leander Starr Jameson, Sir Charles Coghlan and the memorial of the Shangani Patrol. Matobo contains the largest concentration of raptors and leopard in an area of its size in the world. Some of the more beautiful larger antelope: kudu, sable and eland and the endangered black and white rhinoceros are also abundant.

Great Zimbabwe

The Conical Tower at Great ZimbabweGreat Zimbabwe is the name given to ruins of an ancient city once the centre of a vast empire known as the Munhumutapa Empire and is sometimes referred to as the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The quality of the building in places is outstanding and nothing compares to this timeless place in Southern Africa

Zimbabwe FlagZimbabwe

Steiner Safari BinocularsAfter your camera, a good pair of binoculars is crucial in getting the most out of your Safari Holiday. So what is a good pair of binoculars? Here is my binocular guide and recommendations >> Binocular Reviews



Back to Top

Home | Contact Us | Sitemap

The African Holiday and Travel Resource