Islands on the lake
Of the numerous islands on Lake Kariba, only two are inhabited, Chete and Chikanka, although trips to another two, Zebra and Sekula, can be seen on game-viewing trips. Maaze Island and Mashapi Island can be visited from the Clubhouse or the Guesthouse.
'Siamwiinga' on Lake Kariba Tricia Hayne
It's not every day that a safari trip throws up an opportunity for sailing, but if you're bound for Chete Island, this is very much part of the experience. The three-sailed 30ft (10m) Siamwiinga (the name means 'trimaran' in the Chi-Tonga language) is the favoured means of transport of those at Chete, which means that most guests bound for the island will find themselves and their luggage bundled on board at the mooring on the mainland at Sinazongwe for the short crossing to the island.
With the prevailing wind blowing across the lake, it's a reach in both directions for the transfer, so the crossing involves no laborious tacking; should the wind be blowing in another direction, or if it's slightly rough, then the passage is made under motor. Then, the rhythmic throb of the engine can be heard for several hundred metres across the water.
For those keen on sailing, longer trips on the lake offer a really unusual experience. Navigating in these waters throws up some unusual challenges, even when it's calm; when it's windy, expect to get wet, though in these temperatures that's no great hardship. It's a somewhat eerie passage at any time, as the boat is steered through the skeletal trees of drowned forests that break the usually calm surface, topped by the occasional lone fish eagle. Here and there, kapenta rigs loom large; those twinkling night-time lights belie the ugly reality of the exposed life on board these rusting, twin-hulled pontoons. Life is tough for the fishermen, who spend up to three weeks on board, with precious little shelter from either the sun or the occasional storms that lash the lake. Towards the shore, attractions take on a very different form. Here, where the occasional crocodile basks in the sun and hippos can be heard grunting in the distance, the sight of an elephant near the jetty as the old trimaran draws near to Chete Island seems nothing short of surreal. Don't miss it.