Kariba Boat House Charter Advice & Information

When to Go

Where the season never ends

« The cooler months of April to August when the weather is beautiful one day and perfect the next, are very pleasant
« The fishing is better in the hot summer months of September to March
« Over Easter and Xmas houseboats are generally fully booked
« October isTiger Fishing Competitionand to keep cool is to carry a ice cold beer
« Xmas and New Year is when every boat is on the water for PARTY TIME


Fin’s Fishing Safaris with 2 bream size samples

Getting There– to Kariba

  • Kariba is 366 Kms from Harare, 806 Kms from Bulawayo and 3 hrs by road from Lusaka
  • Charter planes and boats operate between Kariba and island lodges as well as Mana Pools and Victoria falls
  • Flights to Lusaka or Harare and road transfers to Kariba are popular
  • From Vic Falls by road to Mlibizi then cruise to Kariba aboard The Ferry

Arriving before departure date
Lake Navigation rulesdo not permit people to stay in the harbour overnight,unless special arrangements have been made prior to your arrival. You will have to seek alternativeaccommodationif you arrive after 5pm

On Board
No smoking is allowed in any of the cabins, only on the open decks.
The sun is harsh so remember your sun tan lotion and a broad-rimmed sun hat.
Houseboats generally sleep 10-12 people, so most people try to fill up the boat to keep the cost per person as low as possible.

Tender boatson a boat are quite important as you need to move up and down the shoreline game viewing or fishing. Should the boat not have tender boats, you can hire speedboats from aKariba harbourto take with you on your houseboat trip

Facilities On Board Houseboats

Refrigerator/Freezer, Stove , Oven , Microwave, Pots/Pans, Dishes & Cutlery, Coffee Pot, Cooking Utensils, Linens/Pillows, TV/VCR, Clothes Hangars , Hot & Cold Water, Cleaning Supplies, Garbage Bags, Biodegradable Soap, BBQ / Braai, Cooler , Outdoor Furniture, AM/FM stereo/CD player, Marine Radio, Fire Extinguisher, Life Jackets (emergency use only), Emergency Flares, First Aid Kit, compass, Tender Boat on tow. Crew: Captain, Chef and or Deckhand in their own quarters

Air-conditioning & Generators

  • Lake law is that all generators be turned off after 10o’clockin the evening. This means they are no use for sleeping in cabins, however are very pleasant when having dinner in the dining room should you wish to eat inside. Most people enjoy the fresh air and sleep on the top deck.
  • The generators on the boats can only run for a maximum of five hours a day. This is sufficient time to keep the deep freezes and refrigerators cold. Please do not ask the Captain to extend the hours of the generator.
  • On air conditioned vessels, the air conditioners will only be turned on while the generators are running

How much will fuel cost?

It depends on the size of the boat, distance traveled and how much air con you use. Diesel boats tend to be much less expensive to operate. Always demand that the Captain takes a
fuel reading with you before and after the cruise


Vessels are rented out on either a bareboat/self-catering basis ( no meals /refreshments teas/coffees) but there are also various catering options available – which are recommended. Most charters leaving from Kariba, dependant on the length of the booking, will spend the duration of the charter at various mooring points along the Matusadona National Park shoreline (south of Kariba town)

Included in Rate
Hire of houseboat, 15% Sales Tax, 2% Tourism Levy, cutlery, crockery and linen. The use of the tender boats and service of crew as specified on the webpage

Excluded in Rate
Fuel for mother boat and for tender boats.
Clients pay for fuel on completion of the hire. This is paid at the end of the charter in cash or travellers cheques or certain Credit Cards. Please take a reading with the Captain before and on completion of the charter.

Harbour Parking Fee
CAR PARK FEES vary from harbour to harbour on a per vehicle per night basis and are payable by the client upon arrival at the harbour.


Drinks Beers and Minerals, ice and bait – this is arranged separately for you on a Sale on Return basis. You can fax an order for drinks which is placed onto the boat prior to your arrival. The full amount due for the drinks order is to be paid upfront and before departure on the charter and then at the end of the trip the client will be reimbursed for drinks not consumed. A small delivery fee is charged and any broken/lost bottles or crates will be placed onto the client’s account. Please bring your own spirits & imported wines

Pre-Order Drinks List – Kariba

Fishing Gear

Only basic gear is supplied on a few boats. Fishermen should bring their own rods, tackle etc. Bait can be purchased along the sides of the road or in the harbour before boarding.
No fisherman can embark on a trip to Kariba or the Zambezi without a box full of fishing worms for those delectable bream! There are side-of-the-road worm sellers all along the main road between Harare and Karoi, the most enterprising being those selling “Anaconda Worms” just before the town of Banket. Prices are negotiable and bargaining is standard. Make sure you keep your precious worms regularly watered, fed with vegetable peelings and kept cool out of the hot sun. Make a worm-box out of a cardboard shoebox. Reinforce the bottom with a layer of corrugated cardboard and punch some small breathing-holes in the lid. HAPPY FISHING!

Clients should speak to the captain regarding the best places to fish

National Parks Fees– Zimbabwe national parks charge a separate fee for Lake usage and fishing Usage, please make sure you carry cash for this

Adverse Weather Conditions

Weather conditions on the lake vary from time to time and can change very quickly.
It is a STRICT CONDITION of your houseboat hire agreement that you and all those in your party clearly understand the following: In theCaptain’sopinion, if the weather develops or show signs of developing into conditions that may danger human life or threaten the safety of the houseboat, his decision NOT to proceed and seek shelter is final

The Captain & Crew

The Captain and crew are there to ensure your stay aboard the houseboat is comfortable, enjoyable and as safe as possible.

Their employment contract has a strict NO ALCOHOL ON BOARD HOUSEBOATS condition and if broken will result in their IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL from employment, forcing unnecessary hardships upon them. It is important that you DO NOT attempt to encourage crew members to drink alcohol

Once you board the boat The Captain’s word is FINAL – and passengers will not be allowed to interfere with the running of the boat – failing which the charter can be cancelled and returned to harbour

Weddings on board houseboats or Islands



Are pets allowed :No

Feeding Animals
The animals you see in the Park are WILD animals and it is strictly prohibited by law

Noise Levels:Please remember others and keep noise levels to a minimum, especially when your boat is harboured on the shoreline of the Matusadona National Park or close to other houseboats.

Do we have to clean the boat before we leave ?: you don’t have to swab the decks but the boat should be returned in the same condition when you boarded.

Can we make a fire on shore: Definitely No

Can we leave the houseboat to go onshore?
Passengers are reminded that you are not allowed to walk more than 20 metres from any boat moored on the Matusadona National Park shoreline, unless you are accompanied by a registered Zimbabwean Professional Guide who has anoperator’slicense for the Matusadona National Park. Anyone breaking this rule is liable to a large spot fine and/or arrest as is the ship’s captain.

Is it OK to take along toddlers?
A young toddler on a boat requires constant observation, in case they fall overboard. As long as you take proper precautions you and they can have a great houseboat vacation. Make sure they have a comfortable life vest and keep it on them at all times. Have things for them to stay busy with during slower times so you don’t end up having to entertain them nonstop. Some boats provide netting around the deck which is also a help.

Is insurance included?
All rental companies insure their boats. Some offer additional insurance for you to purchase. The renter is responsible for any damages or the deductible if it is necessary to file an insurance claim

Can we tow a small boat or jet ski?
Tender Boats as they are called are included on almost all boats for game viewing and fishing.

Ø The tender boats may only be driven by the Captain or another licensed crew member, and are limited to a three kilometer radius of the houseboat. The tender boats are ideal for fishing and game/bird viewing

Ø Your own boat may be towed behind pontoon houseboats. Please note that this is entirely at your own risk.

Available are a variety of speedboats and transfer boats to be used for boating activities, and the larger transfer boats for transportation of up to 36 max people to the Islands.

Each boat is Captained by an experienced Driver, and no person other than the Captain is allowed to drive. Overnight accommodation for the captain can be arranged

Litter Please DO NOT be tempted to throw litter overboard, this includes cigarettes

Health Matters
Kariba is a malaria area and bilharzia is prevalent in the lake. It is advisable to take the necessary prophylactics as prescribed by your doctor. Swimming in the lake is definitely not advisable as the lake is infested with crocodiles and Hippos. Do not drink water straight from the river or lake, fresh water is supplied on the boat.

We recommend that before it gets dark you make adequate preparation for the night in terms of mosquito Repellents and we recommend that during the day you have adequate Sunscreen protection.