Zambezi River Sunset and Dinner Cruise-Zimbabwe

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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11 Comments

  1. Agness of a Tuk Tuk

    November 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Magnificent scenery and landscape, Sarah. Spending a day there sounds like so much fun as I can see from your pictures. When’s the best time of the year to explore Zimbabwe?

  2. Ruth

    November 17, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    What an awesome cruise! I would do something like this for sure. I like the idea of the crocodile slider. Kind of ironic, right? The other food looks excellent. I would be a bit nervous about being so close to the fall. But, have to admit is a neat experience.

    1. obligatorytraveler@gmail.com

      November 19, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      It was an amazing experience. Definitely a must do if you are in the Victoria Falls area. I’m also happy that we had perfect weather as the night before there were a lot of clouds and the sun was a bit obscured. The food was really impressive and the drinks as well. They work hard to make sure you have a memorable experience.

  3. Sol Solntze

    November 17, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Oh wow. What an experience! Now that really is a river cruise in style. Fabulous stuff. Food looks great too.

    1. obligatorytraveler@gmail.com

      November 19, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      It was fantastic. We were really impressed by the appetizers. Just when we thought they might be over, they would bring a new tray out.

  4. Lara Dunning

    November 19, 2017 at 5:24 am

    This sounds like an amazing experience, and wow, those food photos. I’d get the fillet too. Love that they have crocodile as the times I’ve had it I’ve enjoyed it. Making a note of this as this is something we’d love to do.

    1. obligatorytraveler@gmail.com

      November 19, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      This definitely seemed like the cruise to when there. We even had a hotel staff who admitted that even though they offer a few different cruises the one we went on is the best one in the area.

  5. Susan

    November 20, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    What an experience. I like what you said about being sure to be in the present moment. That is a great reminder to all of us.
    See a crocodile. Eat a crocodile! lol

    1. obligatorytraveler@gmail.com

      November 21, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      With the exception of lobster, I think it was the first time I saw an animal and was instantly eating it on my plate. It will definitely be one of my favorite dinning experiences ever.

  6. Jen Ambrose

    November 24, 2017 at 3:03 am

    So cool! I did a Zambezi cruise from Zambia, and it was awesome – actually, pretty much everything we did there was great, it’s one of my favorite countries. 🙂

    1. obligatorytraveler@gmail.com

      November 27, 2017 at 4:31 am

      That sounds great. I wish we had more time to do more things on the Zambia side. We talked to people later in the week who had great things to say about the Livingston/Zambia area.

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