For those who have done land-based game drives a river safari is an entirely different experience. We spent two nights on the lovely Zambezi Queen riverboat (really more like a barge hotel). While the boat did a few hours of cruising, it was mostly our upscale hotel. The rooms were very nice, the food excellent, the drinks included, and the "fellow travelers" provided interesting conversation. The crew was great. Most spend the evenings (while the ship is tethered) in company owned housing on land. The "cruise" was part of a package which included a day at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe (with Falls exploration), a day on land in Botswana at Chobe Marina Lodge,a riverside hotel (with a land-based game drive), 2 days with the Zambezi Queen (based in Namibia just across the Chobe River), and a final night back at the Victoria Falls Hotel. We booked the package through Albatros Travel in South Africa.
While viewing game from the riverboat with a cool drink in hand is wonderful, the best is when you board small barge-like boats that can get up very close to the animals along the banks and on the islands. During the dry season in Botswana and Namibia these locales stay green and are a real magnet for all sorts of animals. The animals (hippos, elephants, cape buffalo, myriad birds, etc.) all seem unfazed by the closeness of the small boats. Making this trip on the heels of 7 days of Kenyan safaris, I can attest that on the river one can often get closer to the game – and no dust!
Since the Z.Q. is a "one-of-a-kind" boat, it is used by many of the major tour companies as part of their packages.