Kariba Lake, ZW 2001

In June of 2001, I led a small group of educators, (including my father), to Southern Africa to view the Solar Eclipse during Solstice, (June 21st). The plan was to fly to Harare, Zimbabwe, catch a connecting flight to Kariba Reservoir, Zimbabwe, and then float down the Zambesi River to the center of the eclipse path.

Public domain map of Zimbabwe with the National Parks.

Unfortunately, when landing in Harare, we discovered that the economy for Zimbabwe had collapsed and the country was in chaos, (2001). Apparently, President Robert Mugabe promised to move ahead with government-sponsored land seizures of white-owned farms and warned the farmers not to resist his land redistribution program. The government had targeted about 4,600 white-owned farms for confiscation without compensation. The farms accounted for about 95 percent of the white-owned land. These squatters were blamed for much of the violence, in which at least 36 people were killed, many of them white farmers. Of course, my group was caucasian.

Acting quickly, I moved my group to an abandoned airport hanger, and went to search for another small-airplane and pilot. I found an intoxicated German-speaking pilot at a local bar. He agreed to fly us out of Harare to the Kariba Airport for a price. I agreed! We took off from the Harare International Airport with the sounds of gunshots in the distance.

My father, Patrick Lindsay (1924-2012), just getting off of the small airplane I hired at the Kariba, Airport on the western side of Zimbabwe in 2001.

When we landed at the Kariba, Airport; the place was closed and abandoned due to the unrest in the country. I immediately, started walking to the nearest ranch. There, I was hoping for a telephone, (land-line), to call for the “Zambezi Wildlife Safaris” on the Zambia side of the border to pick my group up.

The Kariba Airport in 2001

After contacting the Zambezi Wildlife Safaris company, we waited for several hours for them to pick us up. They were surprised to here from us. They didn’t think we would make it out of Harare.

My father and I, waiting to be rescued at the entrance of the Kariba, Airport in 2001.

Once they picked us up in a motor vehicle, we drove to the western side of Kariba Lake in Zambia to stay at a the “Lake Safari Lodge”, (pictured below).

Google map of the route from the Kariba Airport to the “Lake Safari Lodge”.

Along the way, we passed the shores of Kariba Lake. Kariba Lake is considered the world’s largest artificial lake and reservoir by volume. It is over 223 km long and up to 40 km in width. Kariba Lake covers an area of 5,580 square kilometers (2,150 square miles) and its storage capacity is 185 cubic kilometers. The mean depth of the lake is 29 meters; the maximum depth is 97 meters. I recorded a video as first passed the lake:

Drive-by video of Kariba Lake in Zimbabwe 2001.

The enormous mass of water (approximately 180,000,000,000,000 kilograms) is believed to have caused induced seismicity in the seismically active region, including over 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitude on the Richter scale.

Outside the “Lake Safari Lodge” in Zambia 2001.

Pictured above, our group made it to the Lake Safari Lodge before the sun went down. We crossed the Kariba Lake Dam to enter into the more stable Zambia, (at the time). We really needed the rest, because we had traveled 62 hours straight from Salt Lake City, Utah USA.

Looking east across Kariba Lake from the, “Lake Safari Lodge” in 2001.

Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam at its northeastern end, flooding the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River.

My father and I on the western Zambia-side of Kariba Lake in 2001.

Pictured above, the Zambian side of Lake Kariba was not nearly as developed or as popular as the eastern shores in Zimbabwe. The Zambia side was more relaxed and authentic; but a bit rough around the edges.

My educational group posing on the shores of Lake Kariba at the “Lake Safari Lodge” in Zambia in 2001.

Game-fish, particularly Tiger-fish, (which was among the indigenous species of the Zambezi river system), now thrive in Lake Kariba, which in turn encourages tourism. Other inhabitants of Lake Kariba include the Nile crocodiles and hippopotami.

The Giant Tiger-Fish found in Lake Kariba, Africa. (Image is public domain).
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