Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lake Kariba

(above, the view from Kariba Damn.  Zambia on the left, Zimbabwe on the right)

We have been fielding many questions lately -- including, how was Christmas?  Christmas was a blur.  The kids had 4 whole weeks off.  We celebrated in style...lots of fun parties, a Christmas tree as proper as any other I've managed (OK, it was a giant origami tree but that is another story altogether), piles of silly presents, and a little vacation escape.  We went with another Seattle family --I collect Seattlites like other people collect Beanie Babies--out to Lake Kariba.  

Lake Kariba is a 3 hour drive from Lusaka through the scenic Chirundu Escarpment.  The main town on the Zambia side of the lake is Siavonga.  The Lake itself is HUGE, covering over 2,000
 square miles, and is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world.  Yes, sir, Lake Kariba is man-made -- it was created when they dammed a section of the Zambezi River in the late 1950's.   The dam, which generates power for Zambia and Zimbabwe, is one of the world's largest at 128 meters high and nearly 600 meters long.  Construction of the damn was no small feat with massive displacement of both wildlife and people.  Some 57,000 Tonga people were displaced and the resettlement project was considered a disaster.

Above, the family posing with a friendly border guard at the dam.  Below, the situation in Zimbabwe is an unforgivable tragedy.  The border is far from porous but these families were able to cross over to get sugar and mealie-meal (the staple food here) which is rationed even at the stores in Lusaka.  The exchange rate for Zimbabwe today is a bit over 37 million zim$ to 1$
Above, the beach at Lake Kariba.   Below, Owen on holiday.  Despite it's history, robust croc and hippo population, widespread bilharzia (a charming parasitic disease), and proximity to Zim and our least-favorite African dictator, Uncle Bob, the Lake is really beautiful and Siavonga is a favorite spot for local tourists.

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