Stories and photos by guest blogger – Chloe Barnett
Guests staying three nights at Masuwe Lodge will be offered a complimentary dinner cruise on the mighty Zambezi River and we were lucky enough to be invited to put Zambezi Reflections to the test! Being Aussie’s we were super excited about this opportunity to spend an evening afloat on Africa’s fourth longest River and then give our feedback to the team at Masuwe Lodge.
Our boarding time was 5pm and arriving at the River we were offered a cool hand towel and a flavoursome ice-tea for refreshment. On board, we discovered that there were just 12 of us for dinner tonight, though even with the maximum number of 20 dinner guests, Reflections would never feel crowded. The operator uses another boat too – Ma Robert, which is a little bigger and has two decks.
We pulled away from the dock to float gently downstream while Captain Daniel descended from his wheel-house to introduce himself and the crew and tell us the safety features of the vessel and a bit about the River. Only a couple of minutes after that we spotted some elephants playing in the River and we were lucky enough to spend the next 20 minutes watching them splash about and consider a crossing to the Zambian side. All cameras were clicking and whirring as the friendly wait-staff busied themselves getting our drinks – we were offered a full open bar with wines, spirits & mixers and a selection of soft drinks and beers. Snacks were delivered and gradually we all settled comfortably at our tables to enjoy the beauty of our surrounds.
Sunset was at 6pm and as the river runs almost west to east here the Captain positioned us perfectly to photograph the great orange orb drop behind the silhouetted islands and cast a spectacular show of colour along the silvery river.
Just after sunset, we were served a very good dinner. I am sure the menu changes seasonally but tonight we were offered a nice starter of hummus and ostrich carpaccio; a choice of butternut or cauliflower soup; a choice of fish or beef and a surprise desert! As there were two of us we could try one of everything and all dishes were really very good – the surprise dessert was a sweet treat that we only just managed to fit in! The service was very attentive, all through the night our drinks were topped up and alternatives offered, a candle was lit and delivered to the table, the plates were cleared in a timely manner. The onboard chefs and crew did a brilliant job and they well deserved the tip I popped into the gratuities box.
Having said all that, the most spectacular part of the evening was certainly the pure joy, the privilege of floating gently along the Zambezi River. At this time of year, the spray towers high into the sky, the silvery evening light is magical for photography and a huge number of birds dart about, heading ‘home’ for the night. The call of the fish eagle is certainly one of Africa’s most evocative sounds and I am assured elephant sightings are frequent. Ours was an inky black night revealing a clear sky laden with stars, but a full moon cruise would be a real treat too.
We were back on land at 8pm and had to wait while some elephants vacated the car-park before heading back to the lodge, a 15-minute drive away.
Over the years, I have been lucky enough to do three sundowner and one breakfast cruise on the Zambezi River … this dinner option is definitely my favourite as it combines the magical sunset hour with comfortable surrounds, a delicious meal and the thrill of night.
The cost of the cruise is currently US$68 per person and it is very good value. The team at Masuwe will be happy to make bookings for guests, and remember – this is a complimentary experience offered to all guests staying at Masuwe for three nights!!