Binga is a boating and fishing destination on Lake Kariba that is both scenic and has leisure activities for all ages.
Where is Binga?
Binga is a region situated on the southeastern coast of Lake Kariba in the Matabeleland North province of Zimbabwe.
It is accessible through a tar road that turns off the main Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road near Dete and Hwange.
Binga also has an airport. Though small it has a working tarred airstrip for small charter aircraft.
The natural gems found in the Binga area include:
- Chibwatatata hot springs
- the only sand beach in Zimbabwe
- game reserves
- game viewing
- Crocodile farm
- spectacular gorges
The Binga area has a population of fewer than 200 000 people.
History Of Binga
In 1955 the Tonga were forcibly removed from the land they had occupied for many generations along the Zambezi River.
When the Kariba Dam was constructed they had to be resettled on inferior land away from the soon-to-be flooded banks of the Zambezi River.
With this move, the Batonga people were separated from their ancestral lands. This also meant their cultural sites and long heritage were to be destroyed.
Bing Town is at the south-western edge of Lake Kariba. It is a center for fishing, boating, and cultural activities.
It is accessible through tar and gravel roads from a turnoff at Dete/Hwange on the major Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
Binga is a convenient location for visitors from Bulawayo, Hwange, and Victoria Falls to enjoy a lake cruise, a houseboat charter, or a fishing holiday on Lake Kariba without having to travel to Kariba town.
Self-drive guests planning to drive the long, slow 4×4 gravel route around Lake Kariba’s southern shore might consider stopping in town.
Binga has a good supply of fuel. This means that refuelling your vehicles for the trip home and keeping the boats topped up will not be an issue.
A “deli” store sells meats, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, as well as ice and beverages.
People living in self-catering accommodations or on houseboats can order fresh supplies in advance. These can be set up for them when they arrive.
Much of Binga’s lodging is privately owned. However, there are various lakefront villas and tiny cottages to choose from.
The guest amenities are limited and are primarily self-catering, with one or two lodges offering daily fishing boat rentals.
Kariba Houseboats Binga
A few houseboats are available for rent with their launching point from Binga harbour. The Abangane houseboat is one.
Several fishing destinations can be overnighted at.
What Is Binga Known For?
The Binga District is famous for the cultivation of cannabis. This is known locally as mbanje or dagga.
The use of cannabis in the area is a tradition since pre-colonial times. It is an integral part of the culture of the Tonga people.
The BaTonga are a Binga tribe found in the Northwestern region of Zimbabwe. The region has very high temperatures, it is also arid.
The BaTonga is an ethnic group that, up to this day still adheres to their cultural beliefs, customs, and ways of life.
However, some of their cultural heritage was disrupted during the construction of Lake Kariba. They were forced off their land due to rising water.
BaTonga Community Museum
The Batonga culture museum exhibits, the history, customs, and ways of life of the Batonga people.
It showcases how the Tonga people lived before they were forcibly resettled and how they adapted to the present-day Binga.
Displayed are their pottery, craftsmanship, and musical instruments.
The Nyami Nyami
The Tonga people strongly believe in their ancestors. Nyami Nyami is one of the utmost significant gods of the Tonga.
Nyami Nyami is known as the Zambezi river god or snake spirit. This god is usually depicted as male and is shown as having the physique of a snake and the head of a fish, a whirlpool, or a river dragon.
One of the modern-day beliefs and myths about NyamiNyami is associated with the construction of Lake Kariba. The BaTonga people believe the construction of the Kariba Dam greatly insulted Nyami Nyami, splitting him from his wife.
The flooding and many deaths during the dam’s construction were credited to his rage. After the Dam construction was complete the Tonga believe that Nyami Nyami left the world of men.
Hence the minor earthquakes experienced by the areas.
The BaTonga people believe it is Nyami Nyami trying to see his wife. The dam separated him from her and they believe when he can’t reach his wife, he turns around in anger and the whole earth shakes.
The Binga area has many traditional healers. They have an array of powers ranging from love potions, good luck potions, fortune portions, traditional medicine, and power against dark magic.
Many people go to Binga to seek traditional medicines and help from these healers.
The Chibwatatata Hot Spring has become a popular healing sight used by traditional doctors for their patients.
The Batonga are famous for their basketwork. The baskets are beautifully decorated and depict their cultural heritage.
The basketry craft is a generational heritage that is learned by family apprenticeship. The techniques are passed down from one generation to the next.
Basketry is an important source of income for rural women. They can take care of their families and educate their children.
The baskets are from natural raw materials found locally. All their baskets are made from wild grasses, small vines, and palm leaves dyed with tree bark.
All ecologically friendly.
Situated in the valley, the weather at Binga on Lake Kariba is warmer than other parts of the country. The rainy season in Binga is steamy and mostly gloomy, while the dry season is clear and hot all year.
The temperature normally ranges from 57°F to 94°F throughout the year.
Binga’s Average Temperature
From September to November is the hot season. The average daily high temperature of over 91°F.
October is the hottest month in Binga.
The cool season is 2 months long from May to August. The average daily high temperatures are 82°F.
From November to March, the wetter season lasts 4 months, with a greater than 33% chance of rain on any given day.
January has the rainiest days in Binga.
August has the fewest rainy days.
From November to April, the hottest part of the year during which time the comfort level is muggy, and oppressive at least 22% of the time.
January has the muggiest days in Binga.
Best Times To Visit Binga
Early May to late August is the ideal time to visit Binga for general outdoor tourist activities.
What To Do At Binga
There are many activities and excursions you can take advantage of in this beautiful part of the Kariba basin.
National Parks Near Binga
Northern Zimbabwe is home to Chizarira National Park.
It is Zimbabwe’s third-largest national park, covering 2,000 square kilometers (490,000 acres). It is also one of the least well-known due to its remote location on the Zambezi Escarpment.
The park’s name comes from the Batonga term chijalila, which means “big barrier” in English. It refers to the Zambezi Escarpment, which includes Chizarira’s rugged terrain.
It offers a diverse wildlife population and beautiful scenery. Elephants, lions, leopards, and Cape buffalo can be found in the park.
The park also has a diverse bird population. The African broadbill, Livingstone’s flycatcher, yellow-spotted nicator, African emerald cuckoo.
The rare and elusive African pitta sought-after bird. The Taita falcon, which breeds within the Park call Chizarira home.
Chizarira was designated as a non-hunting reserve in 1938 and a game reserve in 1963. After which, it was designated a National Park under the Parks and Wildlife Act (1975).
The Chibwatatata Hot Springs
The Chibwatatata Hot Springs is not only a site for admiring the natural phenomena, but it is also a spiritual spot.
The hot springs are not large but are a place of geographical interest. This sulphurous spout is a little stream of steaming hot mineral-rich water shooting out of a large flat rock.
Traditional healers and self-proclaimed prophets send their followers to the site for them to drink the water for healing purposes.
Rainmaking ceremonies also take place at the site.
The sand beach is on the Zimbabwean flank of the Zambezi River. It is the only sand beach in Zimbabwe.
It spreads for about 200 metres from the existing edge of the water to the river bank at the bottom of a hill. It is surrounded by rocky outcrops on either side. Its expanse is approximately 300 metres.
The closeness of the sand beach to the aerodrome puts it within easy reach of tourists.
The Binga Crocodile Farm
In Zimbabwes northern Zambezi Valley, Africas largest freshwater predator, the Nile crocodile, enjoys the hot and humid habitat.
The Binga farm houses many crocodiles that are very large for their species.
As the crocodiles are bred in captivity the gene pool is pure, hence the large size.
As the name implies, crocodiles are farmed here for a purpose. They are suppliers of meat to local hotels and export crocodile products such as skins and meat overseas.
You can visit the farm and view these incredible animals.
Binga Craft Market
The Binga marketplace comprises local crafts made by both local men and women.
The crafts include basketry, jewellery, fabrics, carvings, drums, carved stools, and doors. All of these depict the customs and beliefs of the Batonga people.
Fishing is a major economic activity in Binga.
Daily you will see the kapenta rigs on the lake bringing in their catch. Kapenta is a popular staple food for Zimbabweans eaten fresh or dried.
Tilapia or Kariba bream is another major catch distributed throughout the country.
Lake Kariba is the ultimate destination for fishing enthusiasts both locally and regionally. The lake abounds with different fish species.
Whether you fish from land, houseboat or small boat, you will not come back empty-handed.
In conclusion, Binga is a beautiful, undervalued gem in Zimbabwe.
You don’t have to be a fisherman to enjoy what is on offer. The activities and game park will keep nature lovers busy with the wide variety of birdlife, wildlife and extraordinary natural beauty of the lake and the natural bush.
Binga is definitely worth a visit.