Zambezi Queen

MONDAY 6 OCTOBER LIVINGSTONE TO KASANE AND ZAMBEZI QUEEN 30 DEGREES
After a very leisurely breakfast and a slow start to our day, we repacked our bags and at 11.00am headed off in two mini-buses with trailers attached for our luggage, to travel 90 minutes to the first of our checkpoints, the Kazungula Customs Service Point. The long process was just beginning!!
On our way to the river, there were dozens of trucks lined up, waiting to cross the river in the only vehicle ferry – the estimated time for them to clear the checkpoint and get across was one week! Normally there are 4 ferries working and customs are able to clear up to 40 trucks per day but at the moment, they are only clearing 5 trucks per day.
After our passports were stamped for us to clear Zambia, we were loaded onto a tender boat and ferried across the river. We crossed the confluence of two rivers, the Zambezi River and the Chobe River and we were at Africa’s “Four Corners” where four independent countries meet. As we crossed the river, we had Zimbabwe to our left, Botswana straight ahead, Namibia to our right and Zambia behind us.
On reaching the Botswana bank, our boat nosed in, lowered the front and we all climbed out and onto two small buses that were waiting for us. The boat then went back to the other side and collected our luggage and after it was loaded into the two trailers attached to our buses, we drove the short distance to a Checkpoint where the Botswana officials came on board to check our passports to ensure that we had not been in any of the Ebola countries. We then drove the short distance to the official border and had our passports stamped for entry into Botswana.
Back on the buses, we drove through Kasane, which serves as the administrative centre for the Chobe District. Kasane is also known as the location for the remarriage of Elizabeth Taylor to Richard Burton in 1975. We were taken to the Chobe Marina Lodge for some quick refreshments, a comfort stop and to complete some paperwork.
Then we were loaded onto two tender boats and our luggage onto a third tender boat, which went straight to the Zambezi Queen. We were taken to the Botswana side of the Chobe River to have our passports stamped to leave Botswana – what a quick visit to Botswana!! Then we were taken over to the Namibian side of the river and walked up a steep dirt track up a hill to the Border crossing to have our passports stamped for entry into Namibia, back down the hill, back onto the tender boats and then we were taken up the river to where the Zambezi Queen was moored.
After approximately FIVE hours, we finally boarded the Zambezi Queen for our cruise along the Chobe River!!! We were welcomed on board by the staff waiting with cool clothes and cold drinks and ushered upstairs to the dining for a snack that they had ready for us and our River Cruise along the Chobe River could begin!
The Zambezi Queen was built in 2009 and is 45.7m long with a beam of 7.8m and has a maximum total of 30 passengers on board. The top deck houses the dining area, a lounge, bar and outdoor areas. The Second deck has 10 suites, each with a balcony and the First deck has 5 suites each with a balcony, as well as the kitchen cooking area and staff areas. To surprise Richard, Sandy had organised for us to have one of the four Master Suites and ours is at the front of the boat and has a balcony at the side and an additional balcony at the front with table & chairs and ample area to sit and admire the view. After checking out our suite, we then joined the others on the top deck, watching a variety of animals pass by as we headed up the Chobe River four sundown cruise and then on to our nightly mooring.
The Chobe River divides Namibia’s Caprivi Strip from Botswana’s Chobe National Park, which is 11 000 square kilometres of African bush, and is home to the largest population of elephants in the world – currently estimated at roughly 120,000. Along the river we saw some buffalo, elephants, antelopes of various types, cows, hippopotamus and a rich selection of bird life.
We enjoyed dinner with Tony & Carol (from Wynnum) and Graham & Mary – lovely food and great company. We headed off to bed at about 10.00 pm after an exhausting but enjoyable day as we relaxed on board the Zambezi Queen.

TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER ZAMBEZI QUEEN
We enjoyed a relaxed breakfast while we watched for animals along the river banks and then at 9.30am, we were loaded into the tender boats for a visit to a local Namibian Village, Ejambe Village. On our way, we saw some hippos in the River, one of whom obligingly opened its mouth for Richard to get a photo. We also saw some elephants, a water monitor lizard, and some Maribu Storks.
After about an hour, we arrived at the village and were greeted by the children and Joseph, who shook everyone’s hand – first a normal shake for the morning, then a thumb grip for the afternoon and then another normal shake for the night. Joseph took us up to the village and explained that the bottles and tin cans attached to a wire fence around the village was their early warning system to let them know that elephants were coming to try and steal their crops and vegetables.
There are 55 people living in the village and Joseph explained that if the house didn’t have a fence around it the man was single and if there was a fence made from tall reeds, then that meant that a family lived there. Some of their houses are made from clay an have tin roofs while others have thatched roofs.
The children, from the age of six, attend a boarding school about 3 kilometres away but come home for the weekends. There is also a Clinic/hospital near the school where the families can go for treatment and the women have their babies there. The men in the village are fishermen by trade and also have cattle and grow crops.
We were introduced to the former Head of the Village – the villagers have appointed his son to take over from him, as he is quite sick and aged 79 years.
After our tour of the village, we were taken to a communal area where the women, children and babies awaited us with a lovely welcome song and dance that we were invited to join in. One of the Zambezi staff members came with us to the Village as her sister lives there and she invited Sandy to come and dance, which Sandy enjoyed.
On our way back from the village, we saw some elephants, hippopotamus, a crocodile, kudu, open-billed storks and some white egrets.
When we arrived back at the boat just before 1.00pm, we went up to the lounge bar to have a cold drink and chat before enjoying a lovely lunch.
This afternoon at 4.00pm, we went for a water safari in our tender boats. In the two and a half hours that we travelled up and down the river, we saw a variety of bird life, including African Open Billed Stork, Egyptian Geese, Yellow Billed Egret, African Spoonbill and a Fish Eagle. We also saw several crocodiles, more elephants, some hippos, a giraffe, buffalo, baboons and Puku, which is an endangered species of antelope.
While we were on the river, our ranger/driver positioned the boat so that we could watch the sunset over the Chobe River, our last sunset in Africa! He also provided us with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and nibblies. Very pleasant!
We returned to the boat at 6.30pm to freshen up and get ready for our farewell dinner. After dinner, the Namibian staff entertained us with traditional songs and dance. They encouraged us to get up and join in the dance by tying one of their traditional beaded skirts around us and leading us in the steps – what fun and much laughter!!
After some speeches, we finally managed to tear ourselves away at 10.30pm to finish packing, have showers and get to bed after another beautiful day on the Chobe River.


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