If wildlife, the bush and indulgence is your thing, chances are you have already experienced the best that Southern Africa has to offer in the way of luxury lodging. With swathes of expensive materials, fine wood and air thick with the scent of reed, there sure is little that can beat that pampered feeling of a bush hideaway. We’ve never been more spoilt for choice than right now! But with flight connections bringing our neighbouring countries ever closer and fares becoming more affordable in the light of the horrendous exchange rates, a hop across the border has become de rigueur.
I’m a firm believer in rather having a good problem to deal with than a bad one. This also rings true when choosing a break-away destination in Southern Africa that stands out in a host of so many fantastic options with luxurious rooms and decadent cuisine.
By comparison to the land-based options, the Zambezi Queen appears light and airy, almost ethereal yet capturing the essence of what raw Africa is about. This magnificent piece of engineering found along the banks of the Chobe River, cossets guests in a bubble of comfort and elegance. Fourteen tastefully decorated suites are spread out over the middle and lower decks, all en-suite and air-conditioned – a welcome relief from the African heat. Soft and inviting bathrobes await you after dinner at turn-down along with Sally Williams nougat.
A lounge, dining room and bar are located on the upper deck and this is also where guests tend to spend most of their time. The lay-out is spacious and comfortable, yet effortlessly chic with the palette used picking up on the tones of the sky and water. Affording uninterrupted views of the area, the outside deck also has a plunge pool to cool off in and loungers for those wanting to sun themselves. Service is friendly and unobtrusive leaving you feeling like part of the Zambezi Queen family.
Whilst enjoying the pleasure of being spoilt for a few days, wildlife is the reason why people come here and it does not disappoint. Bordering the Chobe River and positively teeming with wildlife, Botswana’s Chobe National Park has long been regarded as a wildlife paradise. Daily Airlink flights from Johannesburg to Kasane made the destination even more accessible. With around 120 000 elephants, countless hippos jostling for space on the river banks, buffalos dotted on the horizon and lazy-eyed crocodiles sunning themselves, it is easy to overlook the variety of antelope and other wildlife. Land-based game includes leopard, lion and a magnitude of smaller game. This magnificent sight is best observed from the upper-deck which allows for expansive views.
The Zambezi Queen lends itself to either individual travellers or groups and caters equally well to both. With tiger and bream fishing on offer, morning and afternoon water-based game viewing by tender boat or a visit to an authentic local working village on the Namibian side of the river, excursions are many and varied. Less energetic guests can take life in the slow lane and instead enjoy game viewing from the comfort of their suite or the upper deck, getting to know fellow guests or enjoying a drink out on the outside deck.
Naturally food plays an important part when travelling and the Zambezi Queen does not disappoint. The chefs are proud to display their creations – local flavours combined with international tastes to add a few mouth-watering memories to your experience on-board. An excellent selection of wines are paired with each meal which is included in the rate.
All this comfort and luxury is also no good if it harms the environment and here the Zambezi Queen excels. It uses a water jet propulsion system that replaces a conventional propeller system, causing no damage to river beds. Sourced from the river, the water used in the showers and taps goes through a five-stage purification process and is heated by a solar system. Energy-saving lights are used throughout while all soaps and detergents used on-board are bio-degradable.
A stay on board the Zambezi Queen is so much more than the sum of its parts. There is a sense of expectation and adventure that starts from the moment you page through the elegant brochure or browse the website. The actual experience not only lives up to the expectations but will have you coming back again and again.