Where to stay
LakesideLake Safari Lodge
(26 rooms) PO Box 30, Siavonga; tel: 01 511148/511200; fax: 511103 (also contact at PO Box 31701, Lusaka)
Formerly the Zambezi Lodge, this pleasant hotel perches slightly above the lake, with its rooms spread out between its main building and the slipway into the water. For the energetic, the lodge has an excellent swimming pool and good facilities for watersports: two cabin cruisers, two speedboats, and the kit for water-skiing, windsurfing and paragliding. Inside, the bar is open most of the time, and popular with locals. Try playing on the 'winner stays on' pool table: an evening's fun for Kw1,000, if you are good with a cue. The kitchen serves good, inexpensive food – including bream which the hotel farms itself – until late.
Twin rooms are large, though not modern, with en-suite bath/shower and toilet, TV and a ceiling fan. The old 'ordinary' rooms are a bit dingy; the 'executive' are OK, however, and the 'deluxe' are both very comfortable. All have beach access and views over the lake. This is a good-value choice for a few days by the lake.Lake Kariba Inn
(35 rooms) PO Box 177, Siavonga; tel: 01 511358/500, cell: 097 796958; fax: 511249; or via Lusaka office tel: 01 252518/253768
Built about nine years ago, Lake Kariba Inn has recently been repainted and, with its pleasant gardens that afford good views, is now looking good. It is rated by some as the best of all available options and good value for money. It's often full of convention participants, however, so it pays to book ahead. The rooms have a small entrance hall, en-suite shower, space for two children's beds if needed, a veranda, AC, and cable TV. The food is good (particularly the cakes!) and the staff are attentive.
The main building has a large bar, buffet restaurant, and the requisite pool. A steep set of stairs leads down to the water, many metres below, where the inn's boats – Chipembere and Matusadonna – are usually moored. Manchinchi Bay Lodge
(30 rooms) PO Box 115, Siavonga; tel: 01 511299/399; fax: 511218; tlx: ZA 70903
In its heyday, this was Siavonga's plushest place, with the best gardens in town thanks to its extensive manicured lawns, shrubby borders, and a main swimming pool with an adjacent shallow one for children. Now, the hotel has gone to seed, the gardens are overgrown, and the pool is covered with algae. Nevertheless, this is still a reasonable place to stay at a pinch, particularly if you're self catering. The rooms all have en-suite facilities (shower only), air-conditioning, colour TV with cable channels, and private verandas. Leisure Bay Motel
(20 rooms) PO Box 92, Siavonga; tel: 01 511135/6 or via Lusaka office tel: 01 252779; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Set in a small cove with sandy beach and thatched umbrellas, the lodge has a large patio area and adjacent bar (with TV) which is often busy with locals – and is a good place to meet people. Most of the small twin rooms overlook the lake, and all have air conditioning and en-suite toilet and shower. Though very clean, they still manage to appear rather dingy. Eagle's Rest Chalets
(18 chalets, camping) PO Box 1, Siavonga; tel/fax: 01 511168, 01 231936; email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; www.eagles-rest.com
Eagle's Rest is 10km from the Kariba Dam wall. To find it, turn left at the gate to Manchinchi Lodge, and follow the winding road for about 1km. The first place in Siavonga to appeal more to tourists than to conferences, its self-catering chalets are each big enough to take four beds in one room with a ceiling fan, and an en-suite shower and toilet. Outside each is a sheltered area for preparing food, with a fridge, sink, simple gas cooker, and basic cutlery and crockery. There's also a small restaurant/bar for breakfast, snacks and evening meals. If the chalets are rather poor value considering the modest facilities, the adjacent campsite is beautifully located and nicely maintained, with ablutions block and points for electricity and water. Campers are free to use the restaurant/bar area. Several activities can be arranged here, including canoeing trips, camping on islands, and houseboat cruises, and there's a small pool.
Rates: Kw31,000 per person campingZefa Guesthouse
(18 rooms) Tel: 511228
This unsignposted lodge is still under construction but takes guests. To get there, take the turnoff to Manchinchi Bay/Eagle's Rest, go past the Manchinchi turn off and turn right just before reaching Eagle's Rest. Located on an inlet (no view of the lake) and originally a former local MP's private home, this lodge is being expanded to accommodate tourists and conference 'overspills'. The restaurant is still under construction, the only place in this lodge that will have a view of sorts. Rooms come with air-conditioning and cable TV.
In townKariba North Bank Guesthouse
(9 rooms) Tel. 511197; fax 511207; email: email@example.com
A pleasant guesthouse located high on a hill overlooking the town and lake, it used to cater to ZESCO and GRZ staff only but last year was opened to the general public. It now serves mainly civil servants and businesspeople, and handles conference overspill. Ms Mziba, the manager, tries to please but is often not there. The two 'presidential suites' are stuffy, plush affairs with heavy drapes and heart-shaped beds – truly amazing! The kitchen's output is modest by comparison, offering typical government-guesthouse fare (chicken/beef/fish with rice/nshima/chips).
Out of townSandy Beach Safari Lodge
(12 rooms) Tel: 097 769100; mobile: 097 754505; in Lusaka: 232936; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a restful place with a long sandy beach and restaurant. Chalets are plain but adequate with fan and en-suite shower. Activities include boat cruises and fishing trips (there's a day-visitor charge of Kw10,000). There are also banana-boat outings (Kw50,000/hr for 5), lunch- or sundowner cruise (Kw450,000 for 2–3 hours), and sailing (Kw20,000/hr, for which experience is necessary). Tamarind Camp
(owned by Sobek Canoeing Co, Kariba, Zimbabwe; tel: +263 612532; cell: +263 91 343616; fax: +263 612291; email: email@example.com; www.zambezi.co.uk/safari/zimbabwe/sobek2.html). This upmarket tented camp is used as a base for Sobek's canoeing safaris and trips to Lower Zambezi National Park. It lies 14km along a rough road. It's closed in the rainy season and pre-booking is compulsory.