For a safari experience with a difference, you simply couldn’t find any more unique than the Zambezi Queen Collection of properties.
Sure, we can wax lyrical about the magic of the Chobe River region and our unique properties. But what do our guests have to say?
We invited a leisure editor and writer, Jenna Berndt, from South Africa to come and experience a Chobe River Safari in our corner of the world. Here’s her first-hand guest account:
If sailing into safari mode sounds like a slip of the tongue, you’re mistaken. For a safari experience with a difference, you simply couldn’t find any more unique than the Zambezi Queen Collection of properties.
Whether floating on the tranquil Chobe River or hidden on a secluded beach on Namibia’s Impalila Island, you’ll forget all about the “traditional” safari experience of dusty boots and khakis. No more 5am wake up calls only to bump around on a game vehicle in the freezing pre-dawn air. Here, on one of the houseboats, morning game viewing comes to you.
Enjoy a cup of coffee on your private balcony or head up to the top deck lounge and marvel at the stillness as the bush comes to life around you. Watch as hundreds and hundreds of elephants wade and swim in the river right in front of the vessel and if you’re lucky (as we were) we even fell asleep, lulled by the gentle rhythms of the water with the roar of a lion nearby.
This is what sailing into safari mode looks and feels like. And it’s pinch-me perfect.
Each Zambezi Queen Collection ‘property’ has a unique experience to offer. Here’s what I loved from each, what you need to know and can expect from journeying with the Zambezi Queen Collection on your Chobe River Safari:
Ichingo Chobe River Lodge
Fishing, food and fun
Calling all fisherfolk! Sadly, that’s not me, but even not knowing anything about tiger fishing didn’t dim the magic of staying at this popular lodge. It’s truly one of a kind and understandably popular with families and groups looking to tick off the bucket list experience of ‘hooking a tiger fish’.
Read related content: Expert tips to catch a Tigerfish on the Chobe River
Reasons to love the lodge:
Your own guide and Tender boat
Each tent comes with its own tender boat and personal guide so no matter what the rest of the group is doing, you can choose how to spend your day. While I only got a “nibble” (thanks to my guide Anton for the positive affirmation!) there is something incredibly soothing about being out on the still Chobe waters, trolling for tigers while your guide shares interesting stories about the area, his life and points out wildlife and birds. Anton seemed to have a remarkable skill – when to chat, when to sit in companionable silence and marvel at the peaceful surroundings.
Friendly fishing competition
During my stay there were two groups of ‘boys’ staying. One an Afrikaans group and one an English group. Needless to say, the competition of who was going to do best on the water might just have turned as fierce as the tigers they were trying to catch!
The Home cooked food
This one counts for every one of the Zambezi Queen Collection properties, but since I arrived at the lodge first, I’ll include it here. The food was hearty, home cooked and welcoming. It was served with a smile and was a wonderful mix of Southern African specialities and ‘international’ flavours to suit guests from around the world.
Arriving by speedboat
There is something truly magical about arriving by speedboat. Finally spotting the lodge hidden in the trees from the water and then slowing down to pull up at its pier, with the small beach around the corner, signalled the start of a wonderful adventure.
The tent’s location
The tents are supremely comfortable and much more ‘luxe’ than I expected. Soft and fine thread count sheets, air conditioned with a deck for two (all overlooking the Chobe river) meant a very comfortable stay. In fact, if it wasn’t for the appeal of heading out on the water, I would have been content to enjoy the quiet of the tent! Falling asleep at night was also wonderful – the sound of the nearby rapids lulling me to sleep in the quiet night hours.
The Chobe Princesses
Feel like one of the family
Ah the Princesses! I loved my night on one of the three Chobe Princesses. Perhaps this is where I felt most at home. Here’s what I loved:
Family & friends
I don’t know if it’s because I spent most of the time on this boat or if it was the company (but let’s say it was the company!) but sailing on the Chobe Princess felt like home. I was on board with two couples and a solo Australian (let loose by his wife to go on safari in Africa) and soon, we felt like old friends travelling together. If you’re looking to make new friends or a more intimate boat experience or want to enjoy quality time with your own family and friends, book one of the Chobe Princesses for your own exclusive use.
Tailormake your daily itinerary
Each day our Captain came to us and asked what we’d like to do – along with a list of suggested activities. To truly tailormake your own itineraries, these are the houseboats I’d recommend.
The Zambezi Queen
For those looking for the most upmarket experience, step on board the flagship Zambezi Queen. Accommodating up to 28 passengers, the vessel feels spacious yet still ‘small enough’ for you never to feel crowded, a truly luxurious Chobe River Safari experience.
Alone on the river
After dusk, the other small guide boats from the land lodges return home and the only other people you’ll see on the river might be a few local fishing boats. It truly feels like you are alone in Africa – and what an incredible feeling that is!
It’s tranquil and quiet with the only sounds the gentle ripple of the water, a snort of a hippo and the other wildlife settling in or heading out for the night’s hunt. Staying in a land lodge or anywhere else, you simply couldn’t enjoy this Out of Africa ‘Alone on the River’ experience.
Leisurely game viewing
While I loved the sunset gamewatching on the Queen’s tender boat, the most magical sightings for me were the ones from the Queen itself. Watching a herd of elephants cross the river right in front of the boat from my private balcony is an experience I’ll never forget. Enjoy breakfast and spotting game on land – another tick! Watching the sun set on the horizon from the boat’s top deck – priceless.
Days are spent as you please
Expect a relaxing mix of leisure and adventure. Apart from the morning and sundowner game watching by boat, there are cultural visits to local villages and for the niche enthusiasts, you’re spoilt for choice. Keen birders can spot a ‘lifer’ from the 450+ diverse and rare bird species that frequent these waters while photography lovers will have ample time to snap the perfect shot on the custom designed photographic safari boat.
Closing thoughts: A river safari ticks every box – whether you’re there for the game viewing or the wellness. Most likely, I’m spoilt for life now and no other stock-standard safari will ever live up to this. Thanks Zambezi Queen Collection!
What you need to know
All-inclusive: All Zambezi Queen Collection packages for a Chobe River Safari, are all all-inclusive with road transfers, meals, drinks and recreational activities included (such as water-based game viewing, birding, fishing, cultural tours and access to the custom designed photographic safari boat) and a high staff-to-guest ratio.
- If you’re travelling with teens or older, the Zambezi Queen welcomes children aged 13 years and up.
- For younger kids and a more affordable option, the Chobe Princess houseboats cater to children between 7 and 12 years old.
- For kids of all ages, fishing and groups, opt for Ichingo Chobe River Lodge.
Fly: Guests can fly to Kasane International Airport in Botswana on Airlink where our friendly team will collect you on arrival and transfer you to our properties. The other option is to fly to Victoria Falls International Airport on FastJet or SAA. Our team can arrange land transfers from Victoria Falls Airport to Kasane Immigration Office (our boarding point) at an additional cost.
Make it a combo: Combo packages, visiting the Chobe River and Victoria Falls Airport, are very popular. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is an ideal location for your Vic Falls ‘safari’ – close enough to the Falls (enjoy complimentary transfers to town throughout the day) and situated on a plateau overlooking the Zambezi National Park. A watering hole is right in front of the lodge, wildly popular with the park’s elephant, buffalo and kudu come sunset.
Want to experience the magic of the Chobe River for yourself? View our special offers and contact us today.