People thinking about a romantic trip abroad this spring will probably not think of Sub-Saharan Africa, and if they do, it’s a good chance they won’t think of Zimbabwe. After several years of political turmoil, hyperinflation, and violence associated with the seizure of land from former colonial settlers, the country’s image in the international press is still tarnished. That’s truly unfortunate because, even though the political situation, like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is still not settled, the economy has stabilized with the adoption of the U.S. Dollar as the official currency, and it is one of the safest destinations in the southern region for tourists. In addition, it has some of the most scenic and restful places to spend a few days or weeks.
Lake Kariba, a man-made lake in the north of the country, is by far one of the most beautiful and exotic locales, and is perfect for a honeymoon, whether it’s the first or the tenth. The western end of the lake is relatively isolated from the rest of the country, and even during the violent times of 2008 remained peaceful. Much of the country’s current political turmoil seems not to have penetrated there yet, except in the more populated eastern area on the Zambian border.
The world’s largest artificial lake and reservoir, Kariba is 1,300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean on the Zambezi River which forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It offers stunning lake views, boat excursions, fishing, stunning sunsets, and is home to people who are warming and welcoming to strangers. The more isolated areas, paradoxically, are the best to visit; such as Zimbabwe’s Binga District, home to the Tonga tribe, one of the country’s minority people. The Tonga have traditionally made their living from fishing in the Zambezi, and have maintained many of their old customs. A proud people, they have also kept themselves out of the political wrangling.
After a day-long game drive through the wilds of the Zambezi Valley, where elephants lions, rhinos, impala, kudu, eland, and the occasional leopard or cheetah can be seen, visitors can relax around a fire, enjoying cocktails and a great meal before turning in for a night’s sleep that is only likely to be disrupted by elephants who on occasion enter camp sites to feed on the fruit trees that grow in the area, or the growling of hippos grazing in the river.
A visit to a Tonga village is also a must to see the crafts they make; and, of course, to buy a memento of the visit.
One might wonder how going to an ‘isolated’ area could be considered romantic. In the first place, getting there’s not all that difficult. With direct flights from Johannesburg, South Africa to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and then a three to four-hour drive by rental car (with driver, of course), it’s not much more difficult to reach than the Black Hills of North Dakota. Until you get into Binga District itself, the roads are paved and in fairly good condition. Roads near the lake itself, and the Zambezi, tend to be dirt, but in the vicinity of the safari camps they’re graded making them passable without too much difficult except during the height of the rainy season. Chances are, except for the obligatory game drive, visitors won’t be doing that much driving anyway.
Where to Stay
Visitors won’t find any five-star hotels in Binga, but the safari and fishing camps offer accommodations that are first rate. For those who like roughing it, tents are available, but for travelers who like comfort, tents with electricity and running water are also available.
There are also houseboats that can be rented for leisurely cruises along the lake and the river.
Masumu River Lodge
Binga, Lake Kariba
+263-61-3127 Skype trishkok
For email bookings, contact [email protected]
Masumu River Lodge, located on the shores of the lake offers both self-catering lodging and full dinner, bed and breakfast accommodations for rates ranging from $35 per person for self-catering to $90 for the full deal.