Day 36: Terra Firma, again: Kariba Town, Lost in Time.

"Into Africa" More than a Motorcycle Adventure
Howard Fairbank
Wed 22 May 2013 04:24

16:31.96S 28:46.07E


The night on board was very pleasant, other than the wind popped up a bit in the night and made for a bit of a cool sleep!  Being on the water moving through the night, even if it wasn’t the wide open ocean felt good. Great buffet type breakfast and then the start of the goodbyes with all the strangers who had been interesting company on the voyage. 


To see the whole Sea Lion route from Mlibizi to Kariba Town, check out this link:


The ferry, the MV Sealion, arrived at the Kariba Town jetty about 8 30am, and I was in rush to rush off, watching with interest the MG club guys leave one by with lots of revving , and the one guys car wouldn’t start so had to be towed off…. They certainly were having fun these guys, and it was clear that had been mates of many years and enjoyed the sometimes very personal banter.


I finally rode off heading around the bay to the ‘recommended’ MOTH club campsite.  Nobody else there, very nice setting on the lake shore, monkeys around, and I was told there was a huge crocodile that lived in the waters just down from the campsite. Once settled I decided to set off and explore to see if I could find the dam wall, and then to see what Kariba Town had to offer. It’s very hilly around the town, making for windy roads and wonderful, surprise around the corner, vistas. The Autumn colours were at their peak, and the contrast with the mountainside and the azure blue water of the horizon less was dramatic.




I found the road to the dam wall, and eventually had to stop at the border control point, where they allow you to park your vehicle, hand your passport in and walk across the dam wall as far as the Zambian border control point on the north side. I walked down the long curving road to the wall level, and was truly impressed at the size of the wall, and the construction achievement.  (Italian company designed and built it)  Built between 1955 and 1959, it is one of the highest dam walls in the world, and has created the second largest manmade lake in the world. (300km in length and 60km at its widest). Many lives lost and it was thought to be the Tongan tribes revenge from God. 57 000 Tongan’s were relocated to build the dam.  The sluice gates were not open and all I saw was the huge stark concrete wall, stained where the water comes out f the sluice gates, but this day, the Zambesi was only continueing its path eastwards via the inconspicuous, outlet down at river level on the north side. Construction work was also underway for a 5th (I think) new turbine. The current power generation capacity is 1320 MW


The view down the Zambesi was impressive. Africa’s Fourth longest river, and the longest flowing into the Indian Ocean.




From the dam wall, I headed off towards Nyamhunga, the newest part the three distinct areas that make up Kariba Town. I passed the MG group heading a different direction and they all waved, no doubt wondering what it must be like being me exploring on my own!  Signs directed me to the Kariba Country Club, sounding so old school colonial, I couldn’t resist exploring, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was just on midday, and after waiting for the place to open for service, I sat in the once magnificent bar area, but now in need of serious tender loving care, it had wonderful elevated  views across the lake and also down to the fish farms.  With no staff around I took the liberty of walking around the bar reading the notice boards, and looking at the photos mounted all over the walls. From hunters, to rugby players to ‘The Old Churra Bull’, a bull elephant with record long ivory tusks, that died in a courtship battle with another male.




Eventually an elderly ‘Rhodesian colonialist’ guy arrived and took up duties  behind the bar. It was just me and him, and so the questions started, leading to deeper discussion and lots of stories. It turns out Kevin Maas, the most unlikely, multi-millionaire, and aged 60, this guy had lived a full on, entrepreneur / adventure life. He told me he didn’t need to work but loved challenges, and had taken on the job as Club Manager, not only taking no salary but actually picking up the tab for cash flow shortfalls.  The guy told me stories of how he made his millions as a gold prospector, and how generous he had been helping those who lost everything in the 2009 Zimbabwe crisis. His stories entertained me, but behind it all I saw a man who was proudly driven to succeed, always leading by example and never afraid of risk or obstacles no matter how daunting they may seem.  The whole club environment, complete with Kevin and the way he presented himself too me back to those Rhodesian days, and how it must have been when the colonialists were king, and the country was an economic success, and this club the place where the deals were done, and the mate ship shared. Gone is that all today, and Kevin’s goal is to try and get the members back and the club back to something near its former glory. I had this conflict within: This is a noble goal, but the odds seem very small, but the man is 100% committed, and he hasn’t failed often if ever!… So we shall see! After a very lively two sided discussion, we had been chatting almost 90 minutes when the MG group arrived, clearly I was on the normal tourist route, and I decided it was time for me to move on…. Kevin and I shook hands warmly, wishing each other well, and there a strong feeling of mutual respect for the quite different yet very challenging journey’s we both had ahead.


From there I went to the centre of Nyamhunga, a place for shopping with a surprisingly well stocked supermarket.  I stocked up with stuff and then headed back to MOTH campsite, taking lots of detours to explore lake side resorts, boat yards etc….


Kariba town has wild Zebra grazing off the streets, even crossing the road and forcing me to stop once… Now that’s pretty cool!