Lake Kariba in Zambia is the largest manmade lake in the world. Completed in 1959, it was designed to provide hydro-electric power for Zambia and Zimbabwe. 280km of river was turned into an enormous 5,200km2 of lake! Chete Island peeps out of Lake Kariba. Historically the construction of Lake Kariba was surrounded by much debate – thousands of BaTonga villagers were immediately displaced and much wildlife drowned despite the ‘Operation Noah’ initiative to save and relocate animals as the flood waters rose. However, that was fifty years ago and today the lake is home to a rich 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 a striking natural environment and a place to come on safari – a kind of three for one experience!
Chete Island is a private wildlife reserve and bird sanctuary and is the largest island on the lake (27km2). It is a remote southern island, very much isolated except for the glimpse of kapenta (Limnothrissa miodon) fishing rigs in the distance.
Known as a “wild water wilderness”, this is a place where game and birds flourish, completely protected and unadulterated. Despite the small size of the island, its game is not tame. Though populations are not as dense here as they are in other Zambian national parks (Luangwa and some areas of Kafue) animal sightings are still thrilling here.
- a resident herd of elephant of around 80-100,
- a pride of lions
- possibly half a dozen leopard
- a herd of eland
- lots of impala, waterbuck and bushbuck
- some kudu
- a wide variety of birds – 378 species recorded to date
- and of course plenty crocodile and hippo!
The island has a sense of solitude, charm and wilderness that only a wild island can possibly give. Far from the adrenaline junkie power boats of the shores of Lake Kariba, this remote island lies largely unknown and virtually unvisited by the tourist world.
Some would define the solitude as heaven, but for those who want a little action, activities are another optional ingredient.
- Game walks with an island guide are an obvious and must do experience
- Bird watching will happen by accident but an organised session can be arranged
- As you are surrounded by water, game and bird viewing by canoe gives another twist
- Many have said that fishing the lakes water is worth a trip here on its own
- And, sunset and sailing cruises will relax your mind and body weather you intend it or not!
Chete Island offers a luxurious tented camp with just 8 Meru style tents. A place where elephants choose to idly wander past, where the unforgettable sound of the bellow of hippos travels down the bay and where the magnificent African sunset awes the few visitors that are lucky enough to ever step foot here.
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