Expert Reviews – Matusadona NP
Brian is an award winning travel writer, author of safari books and regular contributor to magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa.
Unique refuge by Lake Kariba
Matusadona is a Big Five park, although you’ll be lucky to see the last remaining black rhinos, and even the lions have declined of late. But never mind: elephant and buffalo are common and its remote situation between Lake Kariba and the Matuzuiadonha Hills is stunning. The closer you get to the 700m summits, the wilder and woollier it gets, with walking the only real option.
By far the easiest way to experience the magic of Matusadona is by water, cruising along the lakeshore into the mouth of the Gache Gache, the river that forms the park’s eastern boundary. To explore its serpentine channels is to be engulfed in a sunlit silence of reed beds and water lilies, broken only by the yelping cries of fish eagles. Wherever you look there is life: crocodiles basking with jaws agape, buffalo browsing on the torpedo grass, shy bushbuck watching from the shadows and herons stalking through the reeds. In places, long-dead trees rise from the water. Drowned when Kariba was created in the 1950s, their skeletal superstructures provide ideal perches for cormorants and kingfishers.
For a longer stay, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, Musango Safari Camp and the small, upmarket Changa Safari Camp are among the best options. On game drives, bumping down red dirt roads in open Land-Cruisers, you drive through mopane woodlands coppiced to orchard height by the park’s 2000 elephants, keeping an eye open for leopards and hyenas, not to mention some 350 bird species. In April, Amur falcons, on migration from faraway Russia, hunt dragonflies along shorelines graced by big herds of impala and sudden flurries of egrets that stand out like snowflakes against the indigo lake.