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Mulenga. Now 47, Mulenga has fi shed on Lake Kariba for over 25 years and is general manager of eight fi shing rigs at Sinazongwe. " Kariba's fi shing industry has changed the lives of hundreds of Zambians no longer forced into Lusaka or the Copperbelt for work," he adds. Kariba's kapenta hail from stock that was introduced from Lake Tanganyika over 40 years ago. The fl eets use lights to attract the fi sh after dark, and on a moonless night you can watch them twinkling as the rigs chug slowly across the darkened waters, scooping out huge shoals of their wriggling, silvery catch in the dripping dip- nets. " Most of the haul is salted and sun- dried," says Mulenga. He explains how this process allows the fi sh a long shelf life, and means they can be transported anywhere in Zambia without refrigeration. Of course it's not just hard work that lures people to Kariba. The resorts, lodges and houseboats that dot the bays and islands reveal how this enticing shoreline also offers an inland riviera for local holidaymakers - something I was looking forward to experiencing for myself. Boarding a converted fi shing rig at Lake View resort, we puttered across with hosts Keith and Lee- Ann Coyne to the unspoilt island of Chikanka. Cutting quietly around Chete, Kariba's largest island, we watched elephants foraging over the grasslands, while hippos broke surface with a hydraulic hiss and crocodiles slipped grudgingly off their sun- warmed sandbanks. Chikanka's hilly backdrop was soon drifting towards us and Eddie, our skipper, beached on a sandbank so we could wade ashore. Chikanka now comprises an archipelago of three wooded islands covering 600 acres and, apart from the lodge itself, is a pristine wilderness. The fi ve chalets perched high above its green- swathed cliffs face the lake to catch any breeze and offer a magnifi cent vista of the drowned landscape below. Late in the afternoon we meandered along Chikanka's narrow channels, revealing a hidden world of criss- crossing hippo trails and grazing game. And as the day drew to a close Kariba's 26 Travel Zambia November 2009 Kariba's dam wall boasts some impressive statistics Height: 128m Span: 617m Thickness: 24m Amount of concrete: more than one million cubic metres SIZE MATTERS Top: Kariba's shores offer a haven for to sun- seekers Above: Petrifi ed tree at Chirundu Fossil Forest Left: Philip Dickson beside one of the great steel crushing balls that was used to clear the lakebed Below: The building of the dam wall took four years and claimed 86 lives

November 2009 Travel Zambia 27 Zambia undiscovered reputation for iconic African sunsets didn't disappoint: the sun waned and cooled, drawn magnetically towards the horizon before reluctantly dipping beneath a vast limpid sky. The next day we explored Siavonga on Kariba's sprawling northern shoreline. The town, which is more developed than nearby Sinazongwe, lies just 2.5 hours' drive from Lusaka and is the closest to the dam wall. A variety of hotels cater to the business conference market, with good deals available at weekends. Even here, you don't have to search too hard for that Kariba magic. The scenic road to Siavonga winds along a dramatic escarpment leading down to the lake. The views are as spectacular as anywhere, but we also found one of Zambia's national monuments: Chirundu Fossil Forest. This ancient site is scattered with remnants of primordial trees naturally preserved for over 150 million years, and is set off by a backdrop of still- living, but equally spectacular giant baobabs. I left Kariba feeling that the lake's turbulent past perhaps explains its special legacy today. Its watery landscape is bigger, wilder and more visceral than any other in southern Africa. And its laid- back, unpretentious pleasures offer an enduring paradise to the visitor. Philip Dickson would like to thank Keith and Lee- Ann Coyne of Lake View Lodge, Sinazongwe ( www. lakeview- zambia. com) and Steve Thompson at Eagles Rest Resort, Siavonga ( www. eaglesrestresort. com) Kariba owes its name to an ancient rock, now submerged, that once thrust out of the Zambezi at the mouth of the original gorge. Legend states that this rock was home to the great serpent- like river god Nyaminyami, and that anyone who ventured too close would be sucked down forever into the raging river. The Tonga people feared that blocking the Zambezi would anger Nyaminyami and have terrible consequences. In 1957, a year into construction, myth became reality when the river exploded through the gorge, destroying equipment and demolishing access roads. Although the odds against another such deluge were calculated at one thousand to one, the following year it happened again, this time fl ooding even higher. Today Nyaminyami is still venerated with regular festivals and many hold the vengeful god responsible for any accident on the lake. BEWARE NYAMINYAMI! Flooding the Zambezi valley was disastrous for wildlife. While most larger animals could retreat to higher ground, many others were trapped by the rising waters and left to starve or drown. But help was at hand in the form of Operation Noah. Puttering from island to island through the tangle of half- submerged trees came a small team of volunteers led by game ranger Tad Edelman. Together they captured, netted, trussed and loaded their three 20- foot steel boats with terrifi ed cargoes of buck, baboons, snakes, warthogs and even zebra. Stranded animals were driven into the water, making them easier to rescue. Kudu and waterbuck could swim but had to be guided to the distant shoreline because of their poor sense of direction. Heavy- horned male antelopes could barely keep their noses above water. Rhino had to be darted and rolled onto makeshift rafts and quickly paddled to safety. An international appeal for old nylon stockings to plait into ropes for binding the fragile legs of buck secured over 1000 pairs in 24 hours. In total more than 7000 animals were saved. NOAH TO THE RESCUE Above: Kapenta drying racks Right: Kapenta fi sherman Bernard Mulenga Below left: Dried kapenta is a vital local source of protein Below right: The fi shing fl eets set out in the evening I remember tall trees trembling violently, lurching forward and crashing in a cloud of dust, while hundreds of birds exploded into the skies Livingstone Victoria Falls LUSAKA Zambezi River Lake Kariba N TZ SiavongaKariba Dam ZAMBIA ZIMBABWE