ZimbabweHuchi Entertainment Matusadona National Park: A Wilderness Oasis on Lake Kariba

Matusadona National Park: A Wilderness Oasis on Lake Kariba

Matusadona National Park: A Wilderness Oasis on Lake Kariba post thumbnail image
The nomenclature “Matusadona” finds its roots in the local Tonga language, signifying “falling dung.” This unique name reflects the abundant presence of elephants in the area, underscoring its ecological importance. The term “matuzviadonha” originates from the Shona word “matuzviadonha,” meaning “falling dung” or “the dung has fallen.”

Originating from the observation of elephants leaving dung on the Matuzviadonha Hills, the name captures the influence of these majestic creatures on the landscape.

Over time, colonial settlers adapted the name to “matusadona,” possibly due to mispronunciation or simplification.

Despite its unusual sound, the name vividly portrays the park’s environment and its historical connection with elephants.

Vibrant waterhole infant of our camp In Hwange with Giraffe, Zebras and Elephants

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Unveiling the History of Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park, situated along the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with wildlife conservation and human impact.

Early Days (Pre-1958):

  • The land was originally inhabited by the BaTonga people who coexisted harmoniously with diverse wildlife for centuries.
  • Hunting activities were present but focused on subsistence rather than large-scale exploitation.

Transformation and Challenges (1958-1975):

  • In 1958, it was declared a non-hunting area, recognizing its ecological value.
  • By 1963, it became a Game Reserve to manage wildlife populations.
  • Construction of the Kariba Dam in 1963-1964 led to habitat alterations and wildlife displacement.
  • Operation Noah (1958-1963) rescued stranded animals, establishing Matusadona as a wildlife haven.
  • In 1975, it officially became a National Park under the Parks & Wildlife Act of Rhodesia.

Conservation Struggles and Decline (1975-2004):

  • Early years saw thriving wildlife, but political instability and mismanagement led to poaching and habitat degradation.
  • Lion populations dwindled due to prey habitat loss.

Renewed Hope and Restoration (2004-present):

  • In 2004, African Parks took over management, initiating conservation efforts.
  • Anti-poaching measures, community engagement, and habitat restoration programs showed positive results.
  • Wildlife populations started recovering, leading to a gradual return of tourism.

Key Features of Matusadona’s History:

  • Operation Noah: A conservation success story showcasing human intervention in ecological balance.
  • Impact of human actions: Highlights the fragility of ecosystems and the need for sustainable management.
  • Current efforts: Showcase the power of collaboration and dedication in restoring biodiversity and securing a future for the park.

Looking Ahead:

Matusadona’s history underscores the challenges and triumphs of conservation. Ongoing efforts in wildlife protection, habitat restoration, and community involvement are imperative for its sustained success.

Matusadona National Park

Matusadona National Park-Image Source@zimprofiles

Discovering Matusadona’s Geographical Location

Situated along the southern shores of Lake Kariba in northern Zimbabwe, Matusadona National Park unfolds against the backdrop of this massive artificial reservoir.

Its strategic location not only provides breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding landscapes but also contributes to the park’s overall allure.

Stretching across approximately 1,400 square kilometers within the Kariba District of the Mashonaland West Province, Matusadona encompasses vast plains and rugged mountains, creating a diverse landscape and a haven for various wildlife species.

A Closer Look at Matusadona’s Geographical Coordinates:

  • Latitude and Longitude: -16.8333° S, 28.6667° E
  • Country: Zimbabwe
  • Province: Mashonaland West
  • District: Kariba

Bordering Features:

  • North: Lake Kariba
  • East: Sanyati Gorge
  • West: Ume River
  • South: Matusadona Hills and Zambezi Escarpment

Key Geographical Features:

  • Lake Kariba: The world’s largest man-made lake by volume, influencing the park’s ecosystem and offering incredible biodiversity.
  • Matusadona Hills: Dramatic rolling hills, inspiring the park’s name and providing habitat for various animals.
  • Sanyati Gorge: A deep gorge carved by the Sanyati River, creating a stunning natural barrier and diverse terrain.
  • Ume River: A perennial river meandering through the western part, providing a vital water source for wildlife and lush vegetation.
  • Zambezi Escarpment: The southern boundary offering breathtaking views and contributing to ecological diversity.

Matusadona’s unique geographical location, embracing diverse landscapes and bordering significant features, shapes its rich biodiversity and offers a captivating wilderness experience for visitors.

Engaging Activities at Matusadona National Park

Embark on a journey of exploration with a variety of activities that Matusadona National Park has to offer:

Wildlife Viewing:

Experience the wonders of Matusadona’s wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and over 400 bird species. Engage in game drives, guided walks, or boat safaris to witness these animals in their natural habitat.


Try your hand at fishing in Lake Kariba, a renowned destination for catching tigerfish, bream, and catfish.


For birdwatchers, Matusadona National Park is a paradise with over 400 bird species, including the African fish eagle, martial eagle, kori bustard, and saddle-billed stork.

Boat Cruises:

Take a boat cruise on Lake Kariba for a unique perspective of wildlife. Enjoy sunset cruises to savor the stunning scenery.


Explore the park’s various hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging, providing stunning views of the landscape and wildlife.


Discover the Sanyati Gorge by canoe, offering a different perspective to observe wildlife.

Cultural Experiences:

Immerse yourself in the culture of the BaTonga people, who have resided in the area for centuries. Visit their villages and learn about their traditional way of life.


Unwind and enjoy the tranquility of the park. Take a swim in the lake, read a book in a hammock, or simply absorb the breathtaking views.

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