- Kariba Dam (Lake Kariba)
Zimbabwe is home to Lake Kariba, running nearly three hundred kilometres from one end to the other, is a paradise for the discerning tourist who wants to catch a glimpse of an unspoilt Africa that has all but disappeared from the rest of the continent.
Visitors to the lake can enjoy the unique privilege of viewing copious wildlife not just from a minibus, but from the tranquillity of a sailboat, canoe, or other craft on the water itself. Elephant, lion, buffalo, waterbuck, duiker, leopard, jackal, impala, kudu, zebra and even the occasional rhino can all be seen from extraordinary vantage point.
But the lake is not only for wildlife enthusiasts; those who come to fish, sail, canoe, explore the indigenous culture or simply relax at the waters edge will all be richly rewarded. This is an Africa far removed from the bustle of mass tourism - it is a magical, primeval Africa that will linger in the mind for the rest of your life.
The lake is studded with islands and fringed by mountains. Of the forests that grace the shoreline, the most intriguing is at
Matusadona National Park. Here is a half submerged Mopane forest, still standing forty years after the valley was flooded, thousands of branches reaching naked into the sky from their watery grave.
One way to see the lake is to hire a boat. Its thousands of inlets and islands can occupy the sensitive visitor for several days. A wide variety of luxury cruisers is available for charter, but for those on a more limited budget, humbler craft can be hired for a single day tour. Equally satisfying is to explore the shoreline from a game viewing vehicle.
Lake Kariba is a fisherman’s paradise: more than fifty varieties of fish are now thought to breed in its waters, including Bream, Chessa, Nkupe, Cornish Jack, Bottlenose, Kapenta, Vundu and Tiger fish - the last being famous for its fighting powers!
Lake Kariba is nearly 300kms long, 32km at it’s widest and has a minimum depth of 120metres and currently the 3rd largest man-made reservoir in the world. Its 200,000 kilometres of shoreline offers a spectacular variety of estuaries that spill into the surrounding bush. This unique habitat abounds with bird life and large game species.
It took 10 000 men four years to build the dam. 87 men lost their lives, 18 of which fell into the concrete and 4 still remain in the wall. Kariba contains over a million cubic metres of concrete and 11 000 tones of steel and stands 126 metres high.
The focal point of Kariba is that the massive, curving wall that holds back this massive man-made lake. Deep within the south bank is the raison d'etre for the entire project - a vast, underground power station with a generating capacity of 666,000 kilowatts on the Zimbabwe side and is currently being upgraded and refurbished to 750,000 kilowatts.
TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION & ACTIVITIES:
- Mainland Hotels
- Safari Camps And Lodges
- Self-Catering Lodges
- Camping Sites
- Caravan Sites
- Backpackers Lodges
- Canoeing And Walking Trails
- ½ or 1 day Fishing
- ½ or 1 day boat hire with driver and/or self drive
- ½ or 1 day canoeing
- ½ or 1 day safaris with professional guide
- 4 in 1 day - driving, walking, canoeing and boat cruise
- AM & PM sunset, booze cruises
- AM & PM game drives
- AM & PM game walks
- Crocodile Farm
- Village trips including: Observation Point, Dam Wall, Santa Barbara Church, Memorial to Operation Noah, Lake
View from the highest Hotel
- Scenic air flights over Dam Wall and Lake
- Casino @ ZV Hotel & Caribbea Bay
- Cultural traditional village @ ZV Hotel
- Traditional evenings including dancers
- Day pass to Kariba Country Club or Kariba Yacht Club
- Fee Fishing (children)
- Water Slide @ Caribbea Bay (children)
- Ice Cream Parlour @ Caribbea Bay (children)
- Putt Putt @ Lake View Inn (Children)
- Sauna @ Lake View Inn
- E-Mail & Internet services
- Catering services
HISTORY OF KARIBA DAM:
The first mention of Kariba Gorge that we have was in a dispatch sent by the Portuguese explorer, Manual Baretto. This was dated 11th December 1667. It is thought possible however that this does not refer to Kariba, but some other gorge, there being numerous others towards the sea along the Zambezi River.
Mr. David Livingstone by-passed the area. Frederick Courtenay Selous entered the gorge on 24th November 1877, which is nearly 100 years after the possible visit of Manuel Baretto.
In 1891 William Keppel Steer reconnoitred a possible rail link route across the Zambezi River. An expedition headed by Major A. Gibbons came to the area to select the best route in the years 1898 and 1899. The rail link however never materialised.
In 1912 Mr. H.S. Kergwin, the Native Commissioner of Chinhoyi advocated damming the gorge to provide water for irrigation. In 1914, Kergwin, plus Messrs, Randall and Howell, who were both irrigation engineers, plus a Mr. McGregor (an agriculturist) were joined by Sir Charles Metcalf at the site. Apathy appears to have set in after this visit as nothing was achieved.
The Electricity Supply Commission instigated an investigation for possible hydro electric schemes to be started at Kariba and in 1941 funds were allocated. Mr. J.L.S. Jaffares conducted yet another survey of Kariba Gorge.
As a result of this survey, a river gauging station was set up at Chirundu, as well as a camp sixteen miles downstream from the present dam.
Activity increased and river measuring parties were operating from Chirundu to the Victoria Falls. Water surveys and trial drillings of the river bed and sides were carried out in various parts of the gorge.
Four possible sites were thought suitable and investigated more fully and found to be wanting. Interest was then founded on the present site of the wall.
Both Southern and Northern Rhodesia, as they were then, was in contention as it was thought the Kafue site in Northern Rhodesia was preferable to the one on the Zambezi. The question was solved in 1951 by a board of experts who all agreed that the dam be built on the Zambezi River.
In August 1955 the then Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland called for tenders for the construction of the dam wall. In February 1956 the contract for the construction of Kariba Township was awarded to Richard Costain, and the main construction contracts for the wall and transmission lines to the Italian consortium, Impresit on 16th July 1956.
The Kariba South Bank Power Station of the Kariba Dam hydroelectric scheme was officially opened by her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on 17th May, 1960.
The Batonka people were not the only inhabitants of the Zambezi Valley who had to be evacuated to make way for the huge Lake that man was creating.
As the dam was sealed and the waters began to rise, the wild animals in the area gradually made way moving to higher ground. Many of these animals found themselves stranded on man-made islands with little or no hope of getting off, or even of survival, for the small islands formed by the rising water could not possibly feed all the game trapped on them. At the outset, the rangers were tasked to watch the effect that the flooding had on the larger animals such as elephant and rhino. Their main task however was to collect specimen of smaller game for museums. It was difficult for them to leave animals to suffer and die, and consequently they began to ferry those they could catch to higher ground.
When news of what was happening at Lake Kariba reached the outside world, public outcry reluctantly made the Southern Rhodesia Government increase the staff from three game rangers and their trackers to seven Europeans and fifty Africans. The Game Departments of the then Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) set out to rescue these animals and Operation Noah was set in motion. This proved a mammoth task. In all, just short of 4,700 animals were rescued, but it will never be known how many died.
Men such as Rupert Fothergill, Frank Junor and Mike van Rooyen put in many months of work rescuing these stranded animals. They were trapped, darted and transported by boat to safety and set free again. Many swam to safety after being herded into the water, but others, which could not swim such as rhino were trussed to rafts and taken to safety in this manner.
A memorial to this operation has been erected at Kariba Heights in the car park overlooking the Lake giving details of the exercise and numbers of animals rescued.
|6 Scaly anteater
585 Wart hot
10 Night ape
1 Bush Baby
48 Ant bear
320 Bush buck
120 Water buck
44 Bush pig
5 Civet Cat
5 Wild cat
FACTS ABOUR KARIBA DAM AND POWER STATION:
Cost: 122 million Pounds Sterling
Owner: Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe
Operator: Zambezi River Authority
a) Kariba Dam Wall: Built between 1956-1959
Type: Double curvature concrete arch dam
Height: 128 m
Crest length: 617 m
Width: 13 m at top, 24 m at base
Volume of concrete: 1 032 000 m³
Spillway: 6 floodgates: 9.0 m x 8.8 m
Flow through 1 gate at maximum retention level:
1574 m³ per second = 136 000 000 000 litres per day
Plunge/Spilling pool: Depth: 81 m (current) Volume: 335 000 m³ of water
b) Power Stations:
South Bank: 6 x 111 MW:
(ZESA) total 666 MW currently being upgraded to 6 x 125 MW = 750 MW
North Bank: 4 x 150 MW:
(ZESCO) total 600 MW
c) Kariba Dam Reservoir
Length: 280 km
Width: Widest: 32 km Average: 18 km
Maximum retention level (MRL): 487.8 m (above mean sea level)
Minimum operating level: 474.8 m (above mean sea level)
Surface area at MRL: 5 580 km² (same size as Wales!)
Volume of water at MRL: 185 billion m³ (this would be enough water to supply
Greater London for 300 years!)
Mean annual evaporation: 1.56 m (this drop will expose 236.25 km² of land)
Average depth: 20 m
Deepest: 120 m
Shoreline: 2 000 km
When a spillway gate is fully open, the water jets out about 43 meters from the wall, landing in the plunge/stilling pool which acts as a shock absorber for the foundations of the wall and surrounding river bank. The plunge/stilling pool is currently about 81 metres at its deepest.
When all the spillway gates are fully open, the amount of water discharged is far more than any flow which has gone over the Victoria Falls since water flow records started at Victoria Falls in 1907. This is why radio broadcasts and press announcements are made well in advance of any such spilling.
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