Being the Obligatory Traveler, I knew I had to do the obligatory, sunset cruise, on the Zambezi River, while visiting Victoria Falls. The question was, which cruise to choose?
There are countless options. There are small boats and large boats. There are sophisticated cruises, quiet contemplative cruises, and full on, music thumping, booze cruises.
Anything that even resembled a booze cruise option was out, and figuring we may never be in the Victoria Falls again, we decided to splurge and go with The Zambezi Explorer cruise.
We’re picked up at the A’Zambezi River Lodge by The Zambezi Explorer’s transportation. We’re dropped off at the boat launch where we are welcomed with a hot towel and a glass of iced tea.
The boat has levels of varying cost. Since this was a splurge, we went with the Signature Level/Top Deck. I am delighted by our choice. It is worth the extra few dollars.
The seating consists of comfy sofas and chairs.
The Signature Deck includes an open bar.
We’re not crazy drinkers, but we do enjoy a couple of drinks as we float along the calm river.
We are showered with what feels like an endless parade of appetizers. Seated close to the stairs, we feel waves of giddiness every time our eyes catch a glimpse of a staff walking up the stairs with a tray of new tasty treats.
There is chicken satay, gazpacho, and sushi, just to name a few.
My favorite is a skewer with grilled veggies and cheese.
We see a crocodile along the river.
Then we eat a crocodile in slider form.
The boat takes us as close as it can to the edge of the falls, and we are able to see some of the spray.
The staff keep an eye out for wildlife. They point out birds, hippos, and a shy, hiding, elephant.
Of course the real show is the sunset. All of the boats gather in a particular spot to watch the bright, fiery ball, make it’s slow decent behind the trees.
I took a lot of sunset pictures.
Once the sun takes its final curtain call, all of the boats retreat to their respective docks.
As the boat lights turn on, the river is dotted with what looks like dozens of sparkly fireflies.
Because it seemed like a neat experience, and because it saved us a night of making a decision about what we wanted to do for dinner, we also booked dinner on the cruise.
While the boat heads for the dock, a staff brings us a menu, so we can make our dinner choices. We the prix-fixe meal includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Soft drinks, water, and iced tea are included, but alcohol is not.
The boat docks and we watch as fellow passengers exit the boat. Then we realize they are all exiting the boat. As it turns out, we are the only people who booked dinner.
One of the staff tells us that Friday and Saturday are the most popular dinner nights. The rest of the week tends to be slower.
The deck is kept dark, except for the flickering lanterns, that are set out just for us.
We are escorted to sofas with a table between them on the uncovered end of the deck. Stars twinkle above us.
We are suddenly overwhelmed by it all. We are having a private dinner, on a boat, on a river, in Africa, on a lantern covered deck, under the stars.
I realize I can’t take this for granted. I set my brain to being as present as possible. I want to enjoy every second.
Now the staff could have acted annoyed. After all, if it wasn’t for us, their night would already be over, but instead, they make quite a fuss over their only two dinner guests. We are treated like guests of honor.
For the first course, Shannon has the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque, and since I really enjoyed my crocodile slider earlier, I dine on the crocodile ravioli. They are both yummy.
While doing my research, I read that the Prime Zimbabwean Filet was the thing to get, so we both order the filet.
It’s cooked perfectly. Tender and juicy. I soak up every last bit of the Red Wine and Pomegranate Au Jus. The dish is accompanied by two types of potatoes, and veggies.
We whisper back and forth,
“Can you believe this? We’re having a private dinner, there’s lanterns, we’re on a river… in Africa…”
For dessert, Shannon gets the Signature Amarula (a cream liqueur made from the African marula tree) Mousse, while I savor my Crushed Meringue with Mango and Passion Fruit Gel.
I love a good meringue.
We gaze at the stars, and look out over the inky darkness of the water. Though our meal is at its end, we are still in disbelief. It is one of the most romantic dinners we’ve ever had, and we know for sure it will be one of the most memorable experiences of our travels.
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