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African Safari Destination – Chete Island, Lake Kariba, Zambia

Lake Kariba in Zambia is the largest man-made lake in the world. Completed in 1959, it was designed to provide hydroelectric power for Zambia and Zimbabwe. 280 km of river turned into a huge 5,200 km2 lake! Chete Island peeks out from Lake Kariba. Historically, the construction of Lake Kariba has been surrounded by many controversies – thousands of BaTonga villagers were immediately displaced and many wildlife drowned despite the ‘Operation Noah’ initiative to rescue and relocate animals as the flood waters rose. However, that was fifty years ago and today the lake is home to abundant fish and aquatic life, and its shores are rich in wildlife and beauty. This is a place for fishing, a place for quiet relaxation in stunning natural surroundings and a place for safari – a kind of three-in-one experience!

Chete Island is a private wildlife sanctuary and bird sanctuary and is the largest island in the lake (27km2). It is a remote southern island, very isolated except for the glimmer of cape (Limnothrissa midon) in the distance.

Known as the ‘wilderness of wild waters’, this is a place where game and birds thrive, fully protected and unadulterated. Despite the small size of the island, its game is not tame. Although populations are not as dense here as they are in other Zambian national parks (Luangwa and some areas of Kafue), animal sightings are still exciting here.

There is

  • a resident elephant herd of about 80-100,
  • a pride of lions
  • probably half a dozen leopards
  • a herd of elk
  • lots of impala, waterbuck and bushbuck
  • some kudu
  • a wide variety of birds – 378 species have been recorded to date
  • and of course plenty of crocodile and hippopotamus!

The island has a sense of solitude, charm and wilderness that only a wild island can give. Away from the adrenaline-pumping boats on the shores of Lake Kariba, this remote island lies largely unknown and virtually unexplored by the tourist world.

Some would define solitude as paradise, but for those who want some action, activities are another optional ingredient.

  • Guided island game drives are an obvious and essential experience
  • Bird watching will be random, but an organized session can be arranged
  • As you are surrounded by water, watching game and birds by canoe takes another turn
  • Many have said that the lake water fishing is worth a trip here in itself
  • And, sunset and sailing cruises will relax your mind and body whether you intend to or not!

Chete Island offers a luxury tented camp with just 8 Meru style tents. A place where elephants choose to roam idly, where the unforgettable sound of hippopotamus bellows travels across the bay and where the magnificent African sunset awes the few visitors who are lucky enough to ever set foot here.

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