This is probably the most asked question we get, as
I think finding the answer out there isn't that easy. I have detailed below
quite a bit, of what I hope is useful information on road conditions, buses, air
charter companies etc. Read on to find out more on getting to Kariba...
Victoria Falls to Mlibizi or Binga
Self-drivers can get from Victoria Falls to the western end of the lake; Mlibizi
(250km) or Binga (300km) in about 3 hrs and 4 hrs respectively, via a reasonable
tar road most of the way. The last section is quite potholed but not
impossible. If you don't have a car then unfortunately there are no scheduled
coaches or transfers but private transfers can be arranged quite easily (contact
). For up to 4 people it is quite costly per person but thereafter the
more of you in the party the cheaper it gets.
Binga to Kariba
There is a gravel road which runs along the south bank of Kariba from Binga to Kariba town. The condition of this road varies from
year to year dependant on the rains and whether the ministry of roads has sent
in a grader that year to level things out. Generally it is considered suitable
for the more seasoned adventure traveller. It's not necessarily 4x4 but
certainly a high clearance tough vehicle is required to cope the the very bumpy
and at times severely corrugated gravel roads. The
SA 4x4 forum usually has updated reports on this route and is definitely
worth looking at.
Binga Road to Lake Kariba
It's a long journey though, approx 400kms going through the Charara basin,
directly to Kariba, this will take about 8 hrs. An alternative route via Karoi,
takes you onto the main tar road and is 485kms, but it does cut out the slow and
rough section through Charara. This alternative route is also useful for those
wanting to go to Mana Pools.
Harare to Kariba
Harare to Kariba Town is 365kms,
again on reasonable tar road. The traffic can be a bit hectic so you need to
allow 5 to even 6 hrs. There are no scheduled luxury coaches or transfers but
again these can be arranged privately at quite a cost (contact
). There are several local buses that do this route, but times are not
always that reliable and they cater more for the local
population, rather than an overseas tourist. However if you are aware of what the journey will be like then it's
a dirt cheap way of getting there, like $10 per person. Bus companies at the time of
writing, that I know about are Pioneer coaches, Zupco and Eagle liner.
Lusaka and Livingstone to Siavonga (Zambia), Lake Kariba
Lusaka to Siavonga is 195kms and takes approximately 3.5 hours
to drive. From Livingstone it is 560kms and takes roughly 6 to 8 hours. These are tar
roads but traffic on both sections is quite bad in places which slows things
down. Watch out for speed traps and avoid driving at night. Also, there is a ban
on night driving between 9pm and 5am - all traffic (except haulage trucks
carrying copper) on the highway must cease. Once in Siavonga it
is a short distance across the Kariba dam wall to Kariba town. You will need
vehicle paperwork and definitely police clearance as this border post is
Victoria Falls to Kariba Town
This becomes a combination of the above and below road, air and boat options
and depends if you have your own vehicle or not. There are NO commercial airline
options and NO railway options.
- The easiest way of getting to Kariba is to take a charter flight, there are several
arrange. But that is not always possible or affordable for some. So the next
easiest is to travel by road to Mlibizi, either via transfer or your own
vehicle then jump on the Kariba Ferry. Trouble with this option is that the
ferry dates might not suit you and a transfer can be costly, if only a
couple of you travelling. Without your own vehicle, those two are really the
only options apart from a very long bus journey.
- With your own vehicle you could consider driving; The Victoria Falls to
Binga then Binga to Kariba route detailed above, which is the shortest but
by no means the easiest and not far off time-wise from the option 4 detailed
- The Livingstone to Kariba route detailed above is a good option but
requires you to enter Zambia, which incurs more vehicle entry fees and
paperwork and a double border crossing, but is the quickest option by road
between these two locations.
- Victoria Falls to Kariba town via Chegutu - there are a couple of
options here; stay on the main tar road and go through Bulawayo (1100kms) or
take a short cut at Lupane and cut through to Kwekwe (938kms). It cuts off
about 160kms of the journey, but not that much in time as the road is in
quite bad repair. Your vehicle will take a pounding on the corrugated roads
but some feel it is worthwhile. I've done both and the tar is less stressful
but also less fun, so your choice. Once you get to Chegutu turn left and
travel to Chinhoyi, this is a great tar road and cuts out a huge section
through Harare, which would be very slow with congested traffic. Then once
at Chinhoyi you're on the great north road and head straight up to Kariba
turning left at Makuti only.
Flights to Kariba
Access to Lake Kariba is by private charter
as currently there are NO scheduled commercial flights. Numerous charter
companies service this area linking up the various safari camps, between
Victoria Falls, Hwange, Kariba, Mana Pools and Harare. Kariba Airport is the only airport in Kariba, then there are several airstrips
dotted around the lake, which are located a short boat-ride away from the different
safari camps. These include Fothergill, Bumi Hills and
Rokari/Kiplings airstrips. On the Zambian side of the lake, Siavonga has a
single unmanned airstrip.
Flight into Bumi Hills Airstrip (Photo - Safari Logistics)
Getting to Kariba By Boat
The Kariba Ferry
traverses the entire lake from Mlibizi to Kariba Town and visa versa on
scheduled departure dates. This overnight service (22hrs) is very useful for
those who need to take their vehicles or indeed themselves across to the
opposite side of the lake. It's a wonderfully relaxing way to do this journey.
There is also an upmarket houseboat that can be hired to take groups from one
side to the other (no vehicles), please
contact us for details.
Kariba Ferries taking passengers across Lake Kariba