Zimbabwe, Zambia

Kariba & Middle Zambezi

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A verdant island paradise

A verdant island paradise

A verdant island paradise

As I rounded the last few bends of the scenic undulating Makuti Hill range, the Zambezi valley floor opened to a blue horizon - the magical expanse of water that is Kariba. This lake forms a natural moat surrounding my destination – Spurwing Island - a slice of paradise secreted away from the busy outside world.

After a short boat crossing, a mirage-like cluster of green backed by blue hills was my first sighting of the island. Our boat entered the secluded harbour and the blurry green shapes emerged as magnificent giant indigenous trees that have been undisturbed by elephant and have had a chance to cover and shade the entire camp.

All of the lodges are nestled under these trees and look out across the shimmering fish-filled water which ends at the Matusadona hills. The entire lodge is under thatch and is aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive. Three types of accommodation are available: the most commonly booked are the tents as they are the coolest rooms; the cabins are situated furthest from the bar and dining areas and are therefore the most secluded; while the chalets are larger and much more spacious. The three chalets are often booked by honeymooners or husbands seeking forgiveness.

Spurwing is a retreat that for years has been dear to many local Zimbabwean hearts like mine. It is unequivocally the most child-friendly, family-safe environment there is on the lake. The staff are well practised in looking out for kids who often disappear exploring within the fenced area of the camp. The guides are great with youngsters, taking them out fishing or game driving, which often end in mud fights, but most importantly give parents a chance to catch their breath and unwind.

Spurwing can accommodate up to 50 people, including use of the refurbished family house that caters for 10. The island has hosted numerous weddings, parties and other functions and can call upon a number of houseboats for larger functions - it has catered in previous years for upward of 150 people. It is a safe environment to host these events as there is no driving necessary and all the rooms are ‘carrying distance’ from the bar! The bar is the iconic centrepiece of the camp, looking out southeast towards the Sanyati Gorge to catch both the sunrise and sunset.


Day guests off houseboats are welcome and with enough prior warning the lodge can do meals for them. Cold drinks, a clean pool and ablutions and plenty of shade are certain at Spurwing Island. When it was time for me to leave, I was already planning the next occasion when I could return.