Matusadona National Park sits across the lake from Kariba town and is quite remote with limited access by road (unless you are a 4x4 adventure enthusiast). It is home to an abundance of wildlife and extraordinary terrain with the mountain range and rugged, untouched wilderness. The name Matusadona is derived from the word ‘Matuzviadonha’ meaning ‘falling dung’ which came from the frequent sightings of elephant dung rolling down the steep slopes of the mountains.
On 7th November 1958 Matusadona was proclaimed non-hunting area, which then became a Game Reserve in 1963. It was only in 1975 when Matusadona officially become a National Park. With the Kariba Dam being built in the late 1950s and flooding the valley many Tonga people and animals required relocation (read more here History). The wildlife rescue operation lead by Rupert Fothergill, called ‘Operation Noah’ saved over 6,000 animals, of which most were relocated to Matusadona.
Covering over 338,000 acres the park as three ecological areas, the lakeshore with its’ grassland, the Zambezi Valley floor and lastly the escarpment with a variety of vegetation from acacia scrub to mopane forests and shoreline grasslands. The Lake Kariba itself offers its own distinct ecological zone with its famous ‘drowned’ forests it is known for.
The wildlife rich park is home to numerous species of predators which include, lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Large herds of buffalo and great old elephants roam the park with various antelope concentrated around the lakeshore. The lake once again offers its’ own abundance game with crocodiles and hippos basking in the cool waters or on is sunny banks.
National Park is prolific in birdlife offering avid birders the opportunity to check off a number of species. Matusadona boasts identifying over 350 species of birds! Expect to check off your list herons, storks, ducks, darters, cormorants and of course the iconic African Fish Eagle … which of course is at the top of the list!
To experience Matusadona National Park you can book with anyone of these lodges based within the park, who offer the full range of safari activities.