Safari Cruising


Top-deck lounge of Zambezi Queen
The air-conditioned top-deck lounge provides access to the pool and the bar.


Have a client who wants to sail on a river while visiting game drives and exploring villages? Here’s a great option for them.


Advisor Insight:

Anita Forsyth of African Eyes Travel calls the Zambezi Queen the best river cruise in Africa. “It’s not just a river cruise. You get on and off. They have a safari vehicle and a little boat that they use to transfer passengers to land for game drives. Really, it’s like a floating hotel that moves along the river. If there’s something interesting, you stop and look...The river has animals all along the side, and if you see something, you get up close in the little boat. There are no safety problems.

“You can pay for your [cross-border] visa when you arrive in U.S. dollars. You find out about a month in advance—it’s usually about $70—and you have to pay that exact amount. They don’t give change.”



The Zambezi, which flows from the amazing Victoria Falls, is a surprisingly shallow river, making it difficult for large boats and ships to peruse. Instead, the nearby Chobe River, which flows into the Zambezi, is a better option, and the Zambezi Queen is the top pick for exploring its shores.

The Zambezi Queen was designed specifically for safari river cruising on the Chobe River. It only holds a maximum of 28 passengers, guaranteeing a personal experience, and every cabin has floor-to-ceiling windows so that guests can watch game in or along the water while lounging in bed.

All 14 staterooms on the Zambezi Queen have a private balcony with river views. The top picks are the four Master Suites, which are 300 square feet with a private balcony. All four of the Master Suites interconnect, making them ideal for families or groups of friends. Cabins 10 and 11 are at the front of the boat, and, combined, have 180-degree views of the river and its banks (and, of course, the wildlife).

Good to know: Because of the limitations regarding power, none of the suites have air-conditioning units. However, each room has shutters and fans to keep the space cool. Cool Touch: The entire boat, including the top deck, living and dining area, has mosquito screening.

The top deck, on the other hand, is air-conditioned and consists of a formal dining room, the less-formal lounge, a bar, an outdoor sunbathing patio and a plunge pool. There’s also a library with books and board games and a telescope for stargazing (or looking for nocturnal animals on the prowl). In the dining room, guests get a full English breakfast in the morning, a buffet lunch, and a formal dinner in the evening.

The Chobe River divides Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and Botswana’s Chobe National Park. During a typical cruise on the Zambezi Queen, guests can go on game drives in the National Park, have dinner on the shore in a traditional African boma, study the stars with a guide (remember, they’re upside down from North American constellations), visit villages to meet local communities and buy handmade artifacts. On the water, they can go out on a traditional dugout canoe called mokoro (and then have lunch cooked on the beach); go tiger fishing; or take a small boat ride to get up close to animals like crocodiles, hippos and elephants (while maintaining a respectful distance, of course).

Important: Because the Zambezi Queen sails between Botswana and Namibia, passengers may need to keep their passports handy as they travel back and forth between the two sides of the river.

For reservations, luxury travel advisors can contact Tony Stern ([email protected]; 011-27-21-438-0032), or can go through tour operators like AMA Waterways or Micato Safaris, both of which offer packages that include the cruise.

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