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“Zambezi Queen”

Chobe River Boat Cruises
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 31, 2015

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.

Highly recommended.

Date of experience: August 2014
14  Thank Doc4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 26, 2015

Thank you Debbie, Gavin, Brenda, Moses, Moses, Bernard, Gloria, Patrick and all the rest of the crew. We enjoyed a very nice stay on the Zambezi Queen. The boat sits and sometimes cruises along a portion of the Chobe River. Every day guests have a great breakfast then go on a river or land safari. Or go fishing. Or go visit a local village. Always returning to great hospitality and a luxurious and quiet environment to watch the sun set. Food is well prepared and beer and wine is included in the fare. Mixed drinks are extra but are very reasonably priced. Brenda and her team do a magnificent job in providing a wide range of meals each excellent prepared. Air conditioning is great in the cabins and every member of the staff bend over backwards to make sure each guests feels special. The last night (which came much too fast) included a song and dance presentation by the staff with a very touching song of thanks to the guests. Be prepared for a border crossing or two (hundred) but it was not overly cumbersome for our group.

Well done Zambezi Queen and all the staff!!

Date of experience: March 2015
2  Thank SBF2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2015

The Zambesi Queen cruises on the navigable 30 km of the Chobe River, i.e. it is more like a floating hotel than a regular cruise ship. This said, it is a magical experience to be so close to totally relaxed wildlife, very different from game drives on land. It is so extraordinary to wake up in your bed, draw the curtains and you will see elephants, hippos, buffalos, impalas and so on without even leaving your bed.
This was actually our 5th trip on the Zambesi Queen. We have stayed on the boat with our grown-up children and some friends, but this time in February 2015 it was only my wife and myself. We have truly enjoyed the experience every time and it is actually a little bit different from time to time.
The boat is great and well maintained. Spacious and beautifully decorated cabins, surprisingly good bathrooms, comfortable beds. The best rooms are master suites 10 and 11 on the lower deck as they have got spacious balconies. The upper deck with lounge area, bar, meal area and a small pool is really beautiful and nice.
The staff is top notch. Superb food. Good selection of drinks and wines are included in the rates. Managers Vicki and Wayne are doing a great job and they have also introduced reasonable work schedules for the staff - somthing like work one week and then one week off, which is far better than the conditions in many of the safari camps in e.g. Botswana and Namibia.
You leave the main ship on nice tenders for water-based safaris. The tenders are really comfortable with a sun-roof and even a toilet. You can also go on fishingtrips with smaller boats. And if you want you can go on land-based safari in Chobe.
The water-based safaris are really special. You see a lot of relaxed animals from the river especially elephants, hippos, buffalos, plenty of giraffes, zebras, warthogs and also different kind of antelopes. We have several times seen elephants crossing the Chobe river from Botswana to Namibia. A truly fascinating sight. The bird-viewing from the tenders is extraordinary. There are plenty of different kinds of birds by the river especially several species of kingfishers. Bernard is an excellent and extremely knowledgable guide and he has truly amazing eyesight. He can spot the smallest bird on the river bank from the tender and you yourself can hardly see it with binoculars.
The 3 or 4 day cruises give you more opportunities for activities than the 2 day cruises as on the latter you have an arrival day and a departure day with very little activity and only one full day for excursions. I think that it would be good if - time and staff permitting - you could have an afternoon/sunset excursion on your arrival day.
When you go on a cruise with MS Zambesi Queen you are picked up at Chobe Marina Lodge and you also return here. The transport of you and your luggage as well as the visits to the Botswana and Namibian passport offices are extremely smoothly organized by the Zambesi Queen team.

Date of experience: February 2015
4  Thank Olle O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 10, 2015

Normally, a safari game drive consists of driving through the bush for a few hours and scanning the scenery in hopes of an animal encounter. With a river boat cruise on the Chobe Riverfront, such intense effort is not needed. Consisting of a series of flat, grassy islands, visitors are presented with sweeping panoramas of herds of elephant, Cape Buffalo, various wildebeests, crocodiles and numerous hippos. This is also a bird-lovers' delight with many species represented. And when the sun goes down, the mighty African sunset will leave an indelible mark on your soul. Yeah. It's that good.

Date of experience: August 2014
2  Thank SirVerity
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 16, 2015

A cruise on the Chobe River is undoubtedly a highlight- it gives you wonderful photographic opportunities, many land animals are comfortable being approached from the water as it leaves their 'exit' open and the bird and marine life (hippos and crocodiles) are superb. I would only urge people to try and ensure that their boat driver keeps a respectful distance from wildlife so as not to disturb them and please report any who don't to National Parks or the relevant operator (usually the boat has contact details on the side)

Date of experience: November 2014
2  Thank Sarah K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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