What to see and do
Most of the activities in Siavonga revolve around the lake: boating, fishing and watersports.Watersports
For windsurfing, paragliding or waterskiing, try Lake Safari Lodge and Manchinchi Bay first, as both have equipment. Lake/sundowner cruises
These cruises are offered by Eagle's Rest, Lake Kariba Inn
and Lake Safari Lodge
. The cost is about Kw130,000/hr.Houseboats/fishing trips
There are several options for hiring boats or pontoons (essentially floating platforms) in Siavonga. Rental prices for houseboats are around Kw1.3 million per day. Individual boats may be hired direct, as follows:Matusadonna
is a proper houseboat, on which a 4-day, 3-night cruise will cost a total of US$1,500 (including food, drink and fishing tackle). This begins to sound good value when it is split between up to six passengers. Accommodation is in two private cabins with bunks and one double cabin. There's a kitchen, bar and shower/toilet on board, and a shaded upper deck you can sleep on to keep cool. A small crew will normally accompany you, including a chef, and a tender boat is brought along to allow forays to the shore. Book this via Lake Kariba Inn, or their agent in Lusaka (tel: 01 252518; fax: 252859).Chipembere
is a much simpler affair, little more than a pontoon about 5m x 7m in size, with an engine at the back. Fortunately there's a cool box, braai stand, and flush toilet on board. A 4-day, 3-night trip, bringing all your own food, costs US$500 split between up to ten people (though six would be more comfortable). There's virtually no privacy aboard – so make sure you charter with very good friends.Hooligan
is a catamaran houseboat that is usually booked from Lusaka. It's a popular option for a small group to use for a weekend on the lake. It is an 18m x 8m three-deck boat, with three crew and facilities broadly similar to the Matusadonna, described above. Contact Michelle in Lusaka, on tel: 01 989281, for more details. Visiting the dam
Whilst you're here, take a walk over the dam wall (despite the border controls on each side) and perhaps even up to the observation point on the Zimbabwean side. If you leave your ID at the Zambian border post you are allowed to drive the 2km down to the dam wall and enjoy an east/west view of lake and gorges, huge spillgates, and Zam and Zim's power stations. There is a parking lot for leaving the car, as the dam wall is for walking only – cars are not allowed to stop on the wall. There's an excellent little craft shop at the observation point here, well known for its Nyaminyami sticks on which the river guardian is represented as a snake with its head at the top of the stick. The local carvers have become adept at carving intricate, interlinked rings and cages containing balls out of just one piece of wood. They're not cheap, but make great souvenirs.
Note that both Zimbabwe and Zambia are acutely aware of the vulnerability of the dam to damage or terrorist attack. So don't appear 'suspicious', and always ask before taking photographs – it may be just a wall to you, but it's of vital importance to them. There used to be morning tours available of the underground hydro-electric power station, so ask at the dam if these are still running. Due to the ongoing political turmoil in Zimbabwe, a drive to Kariba is currently not recommended.Kapenta rig tour
Kapenta are small, sardine-like fish introduced on commercial grounds into Kariba in the 1960s. Since then, fishing for them has become an important new industry around the lake, in both Zimbabwe and Zambia. When dried, kapenta are tasty, high in protein, and very easy to transport: an ideal food in a country where poorer people often suffer from protein deficiency.
Look out over the lake at night and watch the fishing rigs use powerful spotlights to attract the fish into their deep nets. These are then brought back to shore in the early morning, sun-dried on open racks (easily smelled and seen), and packaged for sale. Short tours lasting a couple of hours in the early evening can be arranged to one of these rigs, and you'll bring back fresh kapenta to eat.
Rates: around US$15 for a group, usually arranged by the hotelCrocodile farmsKaliolio
owned by Peter Ihmann and located on the Mutinangala Road does not charge visitors at its crocodile farm. The foreman here, Wilson Kalokwa most ably leads visitors around ('appreciation' appreciated).
There's also Sumbu
, owned by Keith Jordan, situated past Lake Kariba Inn. The farm is not signposted (the old signposts lead to a defunct croc and ostrich farm), and again does not charge. Only the old/breeding crocs can be viewed here; the delicate youngsters (crocs are amazingly susceptible to disease) are out of bounds. There's no guide around this place, though a worker might come running if he sees you.