Lake Kariba, a watery wilderness sandwiched between Zambia and Zimbabwe, stretches nearly 140 miles long, and expands 25 miles at its widest point. Dubbed Africa’s Inland Sea, it’s the largest manmade lake in the world. Its calm blue-green waters, flanked by the Zambezi Escarpment mountain range, are sliced with gnarly branches of drowned trees, evidence of a semi-submerged dead forest.
Groups of massive Nile crocodiles sprawl in mud and slink through the shallows, their eyes watching for prey. Hippos wallow nearby and birdlife abounds, with more than 250 species recorded, including rare songbirds, herons, egrets, kingfishers, and storks. The owl-like screech of the African fish eagle provides a repeating, natural soundtrack, its call so well-known and distinct that it’s often referred to as “the voice of Africa.” Along the shoreline, elephants, antelope, buffalo, lions, and more emerge from thick forests to hunt, or drink from the nutrient-rich reservoir.
Cruising this fertile freshwater sea is one of the highlights of CroisiEurope’s nine-day, southern Africa cruise, including visits to four countries — South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe — with land and water safaris and a stay at a private, island lodge.
The adventure starts in Johannesburg with a visit to the award-winning Apartheid Museum, before boarding a plane to Kasane, Botswana, and then a small boat to CroisiEurope’s Cascades Lodge on Impalila Island in Namibia. The tranquil, in-the-middle-of-nowhere luxury lodge is set on a secluded islet and surrounded by lush tropical foliage and the Zambezi River.
There are eight riverside bungalows with indoor and outdoor showers, and private decks with plunge pools. The communal open-air living, lounge, and dining areas are decorated with African artifacts and photography, local hardwoods, and rich textures. There are several indoor and outdoor sitting areas overlooking the river, prime for wildlife viewing (and relaxing.) A meandering network of floating wooden boardwalks, edged with palm trees, lead from the main lodge to the bungalows, and to other secluded island coves.