Zambezi Queen News

The Best 4×4 Safari By Far: Off-Road And On The Chobe River

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Rugged roads, roaming wildlife and rustic camping are all part of the adventure when it comes to self-drive safaris in Botswana and Namibia. And while making your own way through the wilderness by 4×4 is certainly the experience of a lifetime, you’re missing out if you only stay inland.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

That’s why so many safari-goers choose to enhance their journey with a river safari on one of our three Chobe Princess houseboats or at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. Located along the banks of the mighty Chobe River, our unique houseboats and secluded tented camp offer an exciting new perspective to the African safari experience.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

To help you on your way, we’ve put together a rough guide to travelling through the region by road, and what you can expect on your Chobe River safari with us.

All roads lead to adventure

While there are many ways to reach Kasane, where the Zambezi Queen Collection is based, many travellers choose to enter via Nata, Savuti or Moremi. Others coming through Namibia do so via the Zambezi Region (previously known as Caprivi).

On the road via Savuti

Located six hours southwest of Chobe National Park, the Savuti region is renowned for its lush marshlands, open plains and abundant wildlife. Sip a steaming flask of coffee and hit the road at dawn as the rising sun lights up the wetlands. Watch as lion, cheetah, and hyena stalk their prey through the swamplands and open savannah. Gaze in awe as a bold pride of lions takes on a mighty buffalo. Then continue your journey northwards towards the great Chobe River.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

On the road via Moremi

Infamous for its bumpy, waterlogged roads, a 4×4 safari through Moremi Game Reserve is well worth the effort. Pass by floodplains and ancient riverine forests. Stop over at one of four well-appointed campsites. Then set out on an afternoon mokoro cruise along the water channels. Spot pods of hippo and a myriad birdlife along the way. And don’t be surprised to find lion, hippos and the odd elephant close to your camp.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

On the road via Nata

Known as the ‘game-drive route’, the trip north from Nata has no shortage of spectacular wildlife viewings. Elephants, buffalo, sable and giraffe frequently make appearances, while the occasional predator can be spotted at dusk or dawn by a keen eye. The tiny village of Nata itself is at the junction of the roads to Maun and Kasane. Stop over to fuel up en route.

On the road via Caprivi

For the very adventurous, a road trip through the challenging Zambezi Region in Namibia is a truly unforgettable experience. Cross the border into Kasane via the Ngoma Bridge over the Chobe River. The road from Ngoma Bridge runs through the Chobe National Park and you’re bound to spot plenty of wildlife en route.

Finally, the Chobe River awaits!

After a long and exhilarating 4×4 adventure, you’re due for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Our three intimate Chobe Princesses and secluded tented Ichingo Chobe River Lodge are the perfect way to add a touch of comfort to your journey.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

Take a break from being behind the wheel and  view game at your leisure from the deck as wildlife come to you at the water’s edge. Watch as fish eagles swoop to catch sparkling fish, and wading birds plumb the watery reeds. Relax in your private Meru safari tent as the sounds of the rushing river sing you a lullaby. For something a little more thrilling, venture out on a tender boat for daily excursions into the surrounding wetlands where you’ll enjoy close-up experiences with majestic elephants and many other wildlife species. Take a fascinating tour to the local village to learn all about the region’s rich history. Go on a nature walk to the 2000-year-old baobab tree, learning local herbal lore as you go. Try your hand at catching the legendary Tigerfish. Or capture the moment on a photography safari. In the evening, settle down for a world-class African-inspired meal under the stars.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

Once you’ve caught your breath and recharged your senses, head back out on the road and continue your journey to the untamed beauty of Victoria Falls.

4x4 Safari | Botswana

Get the best of both worlds on your 4×4 self-drive safari adventure with a river safari experience on the Chobe Princesses or at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge.  Contact us for more information about booking your unforgettable stay with the Zambezi Queen Collection today.

Expert tips to catch a Tigerfish on the Chobe River

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The legendary Tigerfish is well known for being one of the most thrilling challenges for any fly fisher. Renowned for their speed and strength, these ferocious predators never fail to put up a spectacular fight. But what exactly does it take to catch these powerful prey?

We spoke to Jonathan Boulton from Mavungana Flyfishing, who shared some of the expert insights he’s learned over 25 years of fishing the waters of the great Chobe River region.

Expert Tips for Tigerfishing on the Chobe River

When is the best season for a Tigerfishing safari?

While it’s true that Tigerfish can be caught throughout the year, I’ve found that late May through September have the best conditions. The water is clear and starts to warm up just after winter. As water recedes back off the floodplains it causes bait fish to be drawn back into the main channel, providing the perfect hunting ground for Tigerfish.

Is there a preferred time of day to go Tigerfishing?

Absolutely. We call it the Golden Hour, just before and after sunset and sunrise. Tigerfish are opportunists and hunt using the element of surprise in low light. Tigerfish can hunt their prey far more effectively in the low light.

Expert Tips for Tigerfishing | Kasai Channel

What else do you take into consideration before planning a trip?

At Mavungana Flyfishing, we only book trips during a new moon. Tigerfish struggle to hunt in complete darkness, so when there’s no light from the moon they’re less likely to catch any prey. In the morning when the sun starts to rise, they’re ravenous and readily attack anything that looks like prey.

Where are some of the best places to go Tigerfishing in the Chobe River region?

It depends on the season, but there are a few hot spots I’ve discovered over the years. In May and June, when the water levels are high, the main Zambezi is a very active area for Tigerfish. I often head upstream for Golden Pond and Jojo’s Village. Alternatively, in August, the water levels in the Kasai Channel get very low, and the mini Barbel run begins. Barbel hunt in packs and prey on bait fish hiding beneath the papyrus reeds. The Tigerfish take the opportunity to follow the run and feast on all the leftovers in the Barbels’ wake. At the same time, water levels just south of Impalila Island can be very low, and Tigerfish can concentrate around rapids south of Ichingo Chobe River Lodge where the Kasai and Chobe Rivers meet.

Tigerfishing | Equipment

Photographs courtesy of Mavungana Flyfishing

What equipment do you recommend for the best catch? Any particular tips?

I feel that fly fishing is far more effective than conventional heavy fishing gear. A fly is much lighter and moves more naturally in the water. In fact, I’ve found that fishing with a fly is three times more successful than a conventional line.

I recommend you use the following equipment which is available from Mavungana Flyfishing’s online shop or any other reputable fly fishing supplier:

  • 8 or 9 quality fast-action rods with matching reels
  • Tropically rated DI7 or shooting head fly line
  • 20lb to 25lb straight mono leader
  • Thin piano wire trace material
  • An assortment of Mavungana custom-tied Tiger clousers and bait fish flies

What kind of boats do you use?

You want a lot of deck space to move around freely when you hook the Tigerfish. Ichingo Chobe River Lodge‘s boats have space for two anglers on each boat, and plenty of storage room to keep your gear and other belongings out of the way.

Tigerfishing | Boats

Photograph courtesy of Mavungana Flyfishing

Is there anything special that guests should bring?

It can get quite cold on the boat, especially in the morning and after sunset. Wear a warm fleece, long pants and a woollen hat with lighter clothes underneath for when the day gets hotter. Don’t forget sunscreen, a sunhat and comfortable shoes. Most importantly, you’ll need a good pair of polarised sunglasses. They don’t just protect your eyes from the sun, but also from any sharp hooks that might swing your way. We also recommend clear safety glasses for after dark, and a finger minder/lappie to keep the line from the vicious pull of the tigerfish.

Lastly, what’s one of the most amazing things you’ve seen on your Tigerfishing expeditions?

What always impresses me is just how savage these fish are. I once landed a Tigerfish that was cut clean in half by one of its own kind driven into a feeding frenzy. They’re not known as the most voracious freshwater fish for nothing.

Tigerfishing | Mavungana Flyfishing

Photographs courtesy of Mavungana Flyfishing

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is located on secluded Impalila Island, making it the perfect base to launch your unforgettable Tigerfishing adventure. All rods, flies, lures, lines, leaders, reels and other fishing equipment are included with every fishing safari package. Stay in one of eight air-conditioned Meru safari tents, dine on world-class African-inspired cuisine, and spot a myriad wildlife and birds on the river banks from your private deck.

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Book your Chobe River fishing safari today and save 5% on fishing groups of 6 or more for travel between May and September 2018.

As an added bonus, Mavungana Flyfishing are offering readers 5 of their favourite tiger flies for free valued at R280 when purchasing their recommended Tigerfish line  – the Airflo 300grain depth finder. Simply email Mavungana Flyfishing on and mention this article to qualify for the promotion.

7 reasons why you should experience a Chobe River Safari in 2018

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The New Year is underway, and while you may be making resolutions and planning your to-do lists for the year ahead, be sure to make time for a few indulgences too. Our exceptional collection of houseboats and secluded tented lodge are the perfect way to add a touch of luxury and excitement to your year. Read on to see why a Chobe River safari cruise should be at the top of your bucket list in 2018.

Zambezi Queen Luxury African River Safari

1. Uninterrupted relaxation

Our all-inclusive packages ensure that everything from fine dining and stylish accommodation to guided excursions and thrilling activities are provided for you. With no need to plan your itinerary or concern yourself with the details, you’re free to simply sit back, relax and soak up the spectacular view. Choose from a range of convenient offers perfectly suited to your discerning needs and preferences.

Zambezi Queen Luxury African River Safari

2. A unique point of view

The Zambezi Queen Collection of houseboats offers unparalleled views of the mighty Chobe River and surrounds. Sip an ice-cold drink on the upper deck as majestic fish eagles and king fishers take wing across the African sky. And gaze in awe from your private balcony as herds of elephant, buffalo, lion, zebra and more quench their thirst along the lush banks. The true beauty of a water-based safari is the opportunity to view game at your leisure from the deck as they come to you at the water’s edge.

Chobe Princess African River Safari

3. Romance on the water

Celebrate your honeymoon or anniversary as you share unforgettable moments over a candle-lit dinner for two. Savour African-inspired dishes while surrounded by 360-degree views aboard the elegant Zambezi Queen. Dine al fresco beneath a canopy of stars while the lively chatter of birds sets the tone at secluded Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. Or wake up to a hearty breakfast on the deck of a Chobe Princess as the sun dawns on another exquisite day in the bush.

Chobe Princess African River Safari

4. Close elephant encounters

The Chobe National Park is home to an abundance of elephants. In fact, it’s the densest population on the African continent – estimated at approximately 120 000. As the Zambezi Queen and her three Chobe Princesses navigate up to 50km of the Chobe River, you’ll have ample opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in their natural surrounds. From drinking their fill of water on the banks to bathing in the cooling waters, these are incredible wildlife experiences you won’t encounter anywhere else. The Park is also home to a large number of buffalo, leopard and lion, along with a variety of antelope and birdlife, which can be viewed from the houseboats or on motorised tender boats that venture into the narrower waterways.

Game Viewing

5. Award-winning leisure

For the fifth time, the Zambezi Queen has been awarded the prestigious title of the World’s Leading Boutique Cruise at the World Travel Awards. The Awards are voted for by travel and tourism professionals, as well as business and leisure travellers worldwide. A true testamanent to the Zambezi Queen’s ongoing commitment to excellence!

Zambezi Queen | World's Leading Boutique Cruise

6. Thrilling activities

When it comes to adventure, the Zambezi Queen Collection does not disappoint. A range of activities are on offer for those in search of excitement. Venture out on a tender boat for daily excursions into the surrounding wetlands. Spy over 450 bird species perched atop branches or wading the river waters. Cultural excursions to the local village are also available where guests can meet the locals, learn all about their history, and even take part in traditional dances. Try your hand at a fishing safari where you’ll be able to experience some of the best fishing Africa has to offer. A walk to the 2000-year-old baobab tree is a must. Adventurous climbers can scale the tree and see the a breathtaking view of where the mighty Zambezi and Chobe Rivers converge at the meeting point of Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Fishing Safari

7. Photographers’ paradise

Capture the incredible beauty of the bush first-hand on a photography safari. Our custom-designed photographic safari boat features individual swivel chairs for 360-degree views. Camera mounts provide perfect stability for capturing the perfect shot, while an experienced guide will help manoeuvre the boat as close to the action as possible.

Photographic Safari

Make 2018 a year to remember with a Chobe River safari on the Zambezi Queen collection. View our excellent offes here or contact us to book your safari experience now.

Discover the rich history, unique beauty and fascinating culture of Impalila Island

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Here’s to Impalila Island

With its rich heritage, stunning scenery and deep cultural roots, secluded Impalila Island is the perfect setting for the tranquil Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. Read on to discover everything you need to know about the island, its unique geography, inhabitants and fascinating history.

Impalila Island | Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Where four countries meet

Impalila Island is a Namibian promontory perched on the Eastern tip of the Zambezi Region (previously known as the Caprivi Strip). It has the privileged position of being the meeting point between four countries, namely Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The island is created by the Zambezi River to the north, the Chobe River to the south and a waterway known as the Kasai Channel that cuts this piece of land off from the rest of the Caprivi floodplains in the west. The island is about 12km long and 4km across at its widest point in the west.

Chobe River | Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Famous explorations and tribal empires

The island has a history dating back to the 1800s when it was first discovered by David Livingstone during his epic journey from Luanda in Angola to Quelimane in Mozambique. In fact, he camped on the island on his way downstream to discover Victoria Falls.

The island has been home to various tribal empires over the years. It was originally reputed to be the border between the Makalolo/Barotse Empire and the Matabele Empire of Mazilikatzi. Later, it became the border between these two empires and the tribes of Lobengula. There are many stories of skirmishes between these nations.

Impalila gets its name from the local Sibuya word, Kwapila, which means ‘unable to’. This refers to the fact that the island was protected on either side by two rivers forming a natural defence against invasion by other tribes.

During the war of independence between 1966 and 1980, there was a large South African military presence on the island. Fortunately, there was no actual conflict during this period. Much of the infrastructure on the island remains from this time, specifically a well-kept long, gravel airstrip that’s still used to this day.

The locals

Today, the island is home to about 450 adults and 300 children, many of whom come from the villages in the surrounding flood plain to attend school on the island. There are two lodges on the island, as well as a clinic, primary school, junior secondary school, and an administrative centre housing the police, immigration and customs officials.

Impalila Island | Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

The local tribe on Impalila Island is the Basubiya Tribe who were historically part of the Barotse Kingdom located in what’s now known as Western Zambia. The island is governed by an Induna (Senior Headman) who in turn reports to the Chief of the Subiya in Bukalo some 100km away. This form of traditional authority still prevails, and most disputes are resolved in their weekly Khuta meetings where the Induna presides with various village elders.

Visitors to the island often enjoy a fascinating walk through the villages to a 2000-year-old baobab tree, while learning all about the local way of life, which includes mostly subsistence farming, raising cattle and catching fish.

Impalila Island | Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Speak like a local

All villagers speak both Subiya and the common language, Silozi. This is widely spoken in the eastern Caprivi and Zambia. It’s a Sotho-based language brought north by the Makalolo tribes in the early 1800s.

Why not learn a few common phrases so you can chat to the locals during your visit?

Good morning – mavuka hande

Good evening – mazuza hande

Goodbye – mwende hande

Hello my name is… – Njeme…

Thank you – nali tumela

You’re welcome – shangwe

What is your name? – njweni

How are you? – kwina vule

Nice to meet you – hande kukuvona

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge offers a myriad opportunities for relaxation, leisure and adventure in a truly spectacular setting along the banks of the Chobe River. Contact us for more information about booking your unforgettable stay with the Zambezi Queen Collection today.

Zambezi Queen Named World’s Leading Boutique Cruise at World Travel Awards 2017

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The Zambezi Queen has once again been named the World’s Leading Boutique Cruise at the World Travel Awards Grand Final Gala Ceremony 2017 which took place at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa in Vietnam on 10 December 2017. This is the fifth time the Zambezi Queen has been awarded this accolade at the World Travel Awards. The Awards are voted for by travel and tourism professionals and business and leisure travel consumers worldwide, and this accolade recognises the commitment to excellence which the Zambezi Queen has demonstrated in the last 12 months.

World's Leading Boutique Cruise 2017

The Zambezi Queen (part of the Mantis Collection of properties) is a 5-star, 42-metre long luxury houseboat offering supreme sophistication along the Chobe River – one of the most remote locations on the planet.

Wayne Suttie, General Manager for the Zambezi Queen Collection, is thrilled that the Zambezi Queen has once again been awarded this top honour. “Receiving an accolade such as this at a global level is incredible for any brand. The Zambezi Queen has always been a well-loved and respected global brand, and together with the unique African safari surrounding and all of the other one-of-a-kind experiences that are synonymous with the Zambezi Queen, she really is so deserving of this award”.

Zambezi Queen

Unlike a land-based lodge, the Zambezi Queen navigates roughly 25km of the Chobe River, allowing guests to explore different vantage points and enjoy unparalleled game viewing. The banks of the Chobe National Park boast one of the densest populations of elephant on the African continent – estimated at approximately 120 000. The Park is also home to a large number of buffalo, leopard and lion, along with a variety of antelope and abundant birdlife.

Each of the 14 suites on the Zambezi Queen features air-conditioning and private balcony, where guests can enjoy unobstructed views of the Chobe River and African landscape beyond. Guests enjoy a truly unique and adventurous river safari holiday while still being surrounded by complete comfort and elegance. What could be better than waking up to the sight of an elephant drinking from the river, or watching a fish eagle take flight – all from the comfort of your own luxurious bed? These are just a few of the magnificent treats that await guests aboard the Zambezi Queen.

Zambezi Queen

Celebrated South African fashion designer Jenni Button created the luxury houseboat’s classic yet contemporary interior, using understated tones that make the wildlife on the banks of the river the star of the show.

And, just like at any contemporary hotel, guests can expect first class service at every turn. Whether they’re enjoying a gin and tonic on the upper deck at dusk or attempting to land their very first tiger fish, the Zambezi Queen’s highly experienced team is always on hand to meet guests’ every need.

Contact us for more information about the Zambezi Queen or to make an enquiry.