Machenje Fishing Lodge

Machenje Fishing Lodge - The Zambezi River

The Zambezi River is the forth longest river in Africa (after the Nile, Congo, and Niger) and the largest to discharge into the Indian Ocean from the African continent, flowing for about 2,574 kilometres from its source on the Central African Plateau to sea.

The river is generally separated into three sub-sections, representing its different physical and biological characteristics. The coastal section, or Lower Zambezi, stretches 360 miles up as far as the Cahora Bassa gorge, now flooded by the Cahora Bassa Dam. The Middle Zambezi section, including the Kariba Dam, is divided from the Upper Zambezi regions of the river by the Victoria Falls.

Machenje Fishing Lodge is located on the Upper Zambezi above the Victoria Falls.

Machenje Fishing Lodge

The Zambezi above the Falls

The Upper Zambezi River

Probably the most interesting feature concerning the fishes of the Zambezi river in the Victoria Falls region is the appreciate difference in fish fauna above and below the Falls. Over eighty different species are known to occur in the Upper Zambezi system, and over sixty species in the Middle Zambezi of Kariba system, yet only some thirty species are common to both systems.

These differences are explained by the physical barrier of the Victoria Falls, which appears to block fish movements up and down stream, and give hints to the historical formation and evolution of the modern Zambezi river system.

Over three hundred and sixty species have been recorded over the whole Zambezi system, which compares with that of the Nile. The Congo boasts Africa’s most diverse fish fauna, with over six hundred species recorded from within its basin.

Rising in the Mwinilunga district of Zambia at approximately 1430 metres, the Zambezi flows some 1440 kilometres and drops nearly 520 metres before reaching the Victoria Falls. Throughout its course the river flows over the deep Kalahari sands covering solid basalt bedrock. One outcrop of this bedrock, at Sioma, several hundred kilometres upstream of the Victoria Falls, forms a spectacularly beautiful waterfall of over 20 metres height, but somewhat overshadowed by its bigger sister.

Above the Sioma, or Ngonye Falls are the wide, flat expanses of the Barotse floodplains, extending for some 200km and which seasonally floods on a massive scale, with the width of the river reaching up to 25km.

Below these Falls the river is temporarily hemmed in by gorges cut into basalt bedrock, before the river eventually opens up into the Caprivi Swamps.

Downstream from the Caprivi the river flows eastwards, with notable rapids at Mambova and Katambora (between which the lodge is located) before the river reaches it most famous singular feature, the Victoria Falls.

Machenje Fishing Lodge

Machenje Fishing Lodge

The waters of the Upper Zambezi are remarkably clear throughout the year, partly due to filtration through the Kalahari sands, but resulting in little nutrient enrichment.

Although over eighty species occur in the Zambezi above the Falls, barely three-quarters of them will be found in the immediate sections of the river above the Victoria Falls, with the remainder species being specialists of various habitats or habits found further upstream.

Read more of the fishes of the Upper Zambezi River here.


We can offer you a selection of boating activities, from fishing and birdwatching boat trips to leisurely river drifts and late afternoon sun-downer cruises...