There’s even more reason now to visit Southern Africa. The 135-foot-long Zambezi Queen, with capacity for an intimate 30 guests, has begun operating cruises along the Chobe River, which dissects Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The ship’s two- and three-night itineraries depart from Kasane in Botswana and travel along the banks of the Chobe National Park.
Room Aboard: The ship has 14 suites total—eight standard and six master suites. Each has a private balcony (perfect for eyeing the scenic feral landscape). Rooms have a modern design, similar to what you might expect to find in one’s home or at a boutique hotel (think glass-enclosed showers, large sinks, floor-to-ceiling windows and animal-prints in the bedrooms). Note: The ship doesn’t run on conventional propellers, rather water-jet drives.
Cuisine is also a serious pursuit. Pete Goff-Wood, a food guru and one of South Africa’s top chefs, oversees the restaurant on the third deck, which, as Tony Stern ([email protected]), the ship’s owner, tells us has a modern African-centric menu. Also on the third deck is a lounge area with wood-burning fireplace, bar and outdoor pool area.
Of course, the main attraction is outside the ship: prides of leopard and lion, buffalo, waterbuck, roan, eland and giraffes, just to name some of the animals. Zambezi Queen has two game-viewing boats that afford access so close up, you can hear the animals chewing, says Stern. At night, the ship turns over to a low-emission power system, so quiet that guests can sleep to the sounds of the bush.
We say this experience could be perfect as a post-excursion, perhaps after another game drive. Getting There: Kasane Airport, minutes away, services Air Botswana. Livingstone Airport in Zambia is another option, a little more than an hour’s drive away.