Siavonga is the town on Lake Kariba. The Tonga people live along the lake shore and it was their music which started as you opened the page.
The original small town was centred on the Post Office but since then (1960s) it has grown into a thriving town based on the kapenta and tourist industries. There is also a fish farm which means that fish and chips at your hotel restaurant has to be on the menu.
The lake levels went down badly in 2015 with many islands re-appearing but over the past years we have had good rains and the lake is back to normal.
Siavonga always has higher temperatures than most of Zambia, so, during the cold season it is popular for visitors for a weekend to warm up those bones.
The roads in Siavonga wiggle round the lake shore and into town. It is easy to miss the right road, but you are always likely to end up at the Fish Roundabout.
The small town centre has a bank (ZANACO) and some small shops. Nearby Lake Safari Lodge is a delicatessen with lots of interesting food items.
There are no scheduled flights to Siavonga. Buses go to Chirundu and taxis and minibuses travel between Chirundu and Siavonga.
For drivers, the journey from Lusaka is likely to take about 3 hours depending upon traffic. After crossing the Kafue River the road goes into the Zambezi Escarpment. It is very pretty but this is a busy truck route, so drivers must take care.
At the turning to Siavonga there is a fossil forest, a National Heritage Monument. The fossilized trees were living at the time of the dinosaurs, 150 million years ago.
From Livingstone the normal route is to travel north through Mazabuka and then to the T-Junction – west for Lusaka; east for Chirundu. However, the road north of Mazabuka is rather bad at the moment. There is a shorter route, taking a road east in Chisekesi to Gwembe. A short stretch of dirt runs from Gwembe but after that the road is tar and comes out on the Siavonga Road. This road is quiet and pretty.
Feb 2018: I have been informed that some of the bridges on this road have been washed out with the incessant rains. I will update as soon as I know more.
The accommodation is ranged along the lake edge and all have stunning views of the lake and the Zambezi Escarpment on the Zimbabwe side. All the lodges are child-friendly so it is a great place for a family weekend.
Accommodation is mostly mid-budget and they often have ‘specials’ at low season times. It is a popular venue for conferences so every hotel has at least one conference room with meeting facilities.
Eagles Rest has a campsite.
45 km down the road from the Lusaka-Chirundu road is a turning east to Tamarind Camp. It is 17 km along a good dirt road. The camp offers self-catering and camping. It is a popular spot for fishermen who either use the Tamarind boat or bring their own.
Activities include lake cruises, houseboating, canoeing, fishing and visiting the dam wall. Some of the hotels have gyms. Watch out, too, for special events which are organised by the townspeople.
But one of the best activities in Siavonga is just to relax. It is a proper Chill-Out Zone. Relax in a hammock while listening to the waves crashing onto the beach; every lodge has a swimming pool for the children; bonfires can be lit along the lake shore; every evening a barbeque.