Zambezi River Safari and Houseboat Cruise

11-Day Journey Through Zimbabwe

Zambezi River Safari and Houseboat CruiseDiscover one of Africa’s hidden treasures on an unforgettable journey amid
Zimbabwe’s natural beauty. Explore magnificent waterfalls, pristine national
parks, and enjoy thrilling wildlife safaris.

from5,070 $per person

What Makes Your Journey Unique

  • Observe some of the world’s most undisturbed natural landscapes including waterfalls, caves and wildlife habitats
  • Learn about local culture and history from your experienced guides and enjoy personal encounters with local people like the Tonga
  • Marvel at the massive Kariba Dam, one of Zimbabwe’s most impressive infrastructural achievements, the building of which created Lake Kariba
  • Delight in regional cuisine such as Boma, a traditional outdoor dinner; Biltong, a dried-meat delicacy; and Braai, a local form of barbecue


  • 17 Aug 20 - 27 Aug 20 (11 days)

Info & Booking

Jakob Rastetter
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Day 1. Zimbabwe Welcomes You

Your first day in Zimbabwe immediately gets off to the right start—with a smile from your driver. Once you arrive at your lodge, you begin to explore its amenities and surrounding areas. After lunch, you take advantage of your private balcony and gaze at the unfettered panorama of the gorgeous Zambezi National Park. A nearby watering hole attracts local wildlife, making for some beautiful and spontaneous photography sessions. That evening, you enjoy a sunset dinner on board and get your first impressions of the Zambezi River, impressions that will last forever. As the sun sets, turning the landscape into a multi-colored paradise, you continue to spot wild animals along the banks of the river.

Overnight: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (or similar) (LD)

Day 2. Behold Victoria Falls: The Smoke that Thunders

After breakfast, you’re off to the roaring Victoria Falls—known as the Smoke that Thunders—dubbed one of the world’s seven natural wonders. You enjoy your lunch, still reveling at the beauty of the falls. Magnificent views take your breath away and you wonder what it would be like to live next to such beauty every day. In the afternoon, you may choose to enjoy add-on activities such as a panoramic helicopter ride or an exciting tour across the Victoria Falls Bridge, where you can feel the dramatic spray of the falls against your face. Your evening ends with a special dinner called Boma—a traditional outdoor buffet of barbecued meats and other local specialties—around a flickering camp fire and good company.

Overnight: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (or similar) (BLD)

Day 3. All Aboard the Umbozha, Your Exclusive Houseboat

You wake up at the lodge and have breakfast, your Victoria Falls experience still fresh in your mind. The memory of it all—the sight, the sound, the thunderous feeling—makes you smile. After you fill your belly, you’re ready for more adventure. Outside, a bus is waiting to take you to Binga, a sprawling riverside district on the eastern shore of Lake Kariba. Binga was settled by the Tonga people during the construction of the Kariba Dam in the 1950s. Here, you board the Umbozha, your exclusive houseboat and home for the next four days. As your boat sets off, you get acquainted with your spacious cabin then enjoy lunch on board. That afternoon, you discover the remote Sengwe River, home to buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions, antelopes, crocodiles, hippos, birds and more. For dinner, your houseboat moors on a sandy river bank where you enjoy a delicious Braii, a local form of barbecue.

Overnight: Houseboat (BLD)

Day 4. Enter the Heart of Lake Kariba

The first night aboard your houseboat was restful, and you wake up fully charged. You enjoy breakfast, as your cruise continues east on the lake. On the way, your guide gives casual but informative talks, and you learn more about Zimbabwe and the Kariba Dam. After lunch on board, you enjoy the spacious sundeck, watch wildlife or simply relax with a tasting of African specialties Biltong—cured, dried meats—and Amarula—a fruit and crème liqueur. In the late afternoon, you reach Bumi Hills, your final destination for the day. However, your discoveries don’t end here. You continue to explore the coast of the Zambezi with a first visit to the Matusadona National Park, where you go on a safari via tender boat.

Overnight: Houseboat (BLD)

Day 5. Deeper into the Wild: The Big Five Safari

Today, many amazing discoveries await you. After breakfast, you go ashore and board your off-road vehicles for a safari on land. As you explore this very remote and pristine part of the Matusadona National Park, you genuinely feel that you are in the middle of the wild. The hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Your guide tells you to look out for the so-called big five game animals—the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo and elephant—which just adds to your excitement. After the off-road safari, your guide takes you on a hike in search of fossils, Stone Age tools and other archaeological secrets usually found in the area. As you gain more knowledge about Zimbabwe, you begin to get a clear mental picture of the country. This makes your feeling of excitement grow, but doesn’t quench your thirst for more. After a long morning of exploration, you deserve a good lunch, which you find at a nearby lodge. You return to your houseboat after a hearty meal and continue toward Gordon’s Bay, where you revel in another gorgeous sunset.

Overnight: Houseboat (BLD)

Day 6. Daily Life on the Banks of Lake Kariba

Another day filled with experiences that will become life-long memories has come and gone, and you can’t wait to see what’s next. From Gordon’s Bay, you head now toward Antelope Island, which puts you a day away from the Kariba Dam. After breakfast, you go ashore again, this time to meet the local Tonga people and get a glimpse of their everyday life. Their villages are scattered around the riverbanks, and the locals have little contact with foreigners, however, many have become accustomed to visits from travelers. Their relatively simple life and traditional ways make you reflect on the differences and similarities between cultures around the world. After lunch, you return to your houseboat and cruise onward to Antelope Island, where you head back into the wilderness for more exploration. Later, you have the choice between going on a safari by tender boat and trying your luck at fishing.

Overnight: Houseboat (BLD)

Day 7. From Kariba Town to Mana Pools

The next morning, you wake up as your houseboat arrives at the town of Kariba. The town is relatively small and is only 20 minutes or so from the Kariba Dam. After you say goodbye to your houseboat and its friendly crew, you visit the dam and are immediately impressed by its size, embedded within a rich landscape of natural beauty. Somehow, the dam reminds you of the Victoria Falls, although you realize the two couldn’t be more different. Afterward, you continue your journey with a three-hour bus ride to the greater Mana Pools area, home of the Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After you leave the bus, you ride in off-road vehicles until you reach your camp on the riverside. Now that you have traveled the entire length of Lake Kariba, your sense of familiarity with your surroundings is heightened. You spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring the park, including a unique safari in the dark of night.

Overnight: Vundu Camp (or similar) (BLD)

Day 8. Full-Day Safari at Mana Pools National Park

The last few days have been filled with adventure and amazing experiences. It’s becoming hard for you to believe that there is more in store, but from the looks of it, today will be just as exciting. First, you take a speedboat ride down the Zambezi to the heart of the Mana Pools National Park, the beginning of a full-day safari. When your speed boat reaches the perfect spot to stop on the river bank, you catch a ride in off-road vehicles to explore this virtually unspoiled landscape. Lunch takes place outdoors in the natural beauty of the park. As you look around, you realize that you can stay here forever, discovering the unending wilderness for years. In the afternoon, you return to your camp via pontoon boat while relaxing and wondering if it would be difficult to learn the local language.

Overnight: Vundu Camp (or similar) (BLD)

Day 9. The Chinhoyi Caves Experience

So far, the most stunning experiences of your trip have been under the open sky. Today will be a little different. After breakfast, you leave the greater Mana Pools area on a five-hour bus ride to the unassuming town of Chinhoyi. On the way, you stop for a break at the town of Karoi, where you again have the opportunity to mingle with the locals and discover their everyday life. The people of Karoi are much different from the Tonga people you met earlier. Zimbabwe surprises you every day, and today is no exception. After lunch, you continue on to Chinhoyi, home to the luminous Chinhoyi Caves. You explore the caves, where some brave explorers go scuba diving in their breathtaking pools of brilliant blue water. It looks like fun, but you prefer to enjoy their beauty from above. You emerge from the caves and open your eyes again to the sky, taking with you yet another impression of Zimbabwe that changes your perspective. Back on the bus, you head back to your lodge, where you end the night with another delicious dinner.

Overnight: Pamuzinda Safari Lodge (or similar) (BLD)

Day 10. Just Another Day on Safari

Yesterday was amazing, and you find it difficult to imagine what can top the beauty of the Chinhoyi Caves. After breakfast, you visit the nearby Chengeta Primary and Secondary School, which was built by the operators of the Pamuzinda Safari Lodge for more than 750 local children. As you learn about the story behind the school, your heart warms at the sense of community here. You say goodbye to the school and take the day to explore the area around the lodge on horseback or on foot to see local wildlife. Lunch is served outdoors under a big fig tree, and that evening, you enjoy a farewell dinner and a performance by traditional dancers that seems to bring all of your experiences together into a single moment.

Overnight: Pamuzinda Safari Lodge (or similar) (BLD)

Day 11. Goodbye, Zimbabwe!

At breakfast, you fill your belly for the short bus ride to Harare International Airport. You listen to the conversations about this life-changing trip and look forward to returning home, where you can share your experiences with friends and family. Before leaving, you take a final safari walk around the lodge. As you watch the wildlife that has become so familiar to you over the past 10 days, you can’t help but feel that you are leaving something behind. (B)

(B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

The Victoria Falls are one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders. Lake Kariba is the largest human-made lake in the world by volume. These are just two of the highlights of your exclusive houseboat adventure in Zimbabwe.

Visit remote locales like the Sengwe River. Observe wildlife such as elephants, hippos and rhinos in their natural habitats. Meet people from isolated local tribes who have been living on the banks of the Zambezi River ever since the construction of the Kariba Dam.

As if awe-inspiring natural beauty and chance encounters with locals weren’t enough, a visit to the Chinhoyi Caves, with their beautiful underground secrets, adds another level to your expedition. With add-on activities like a panoramic helicopter ride, you can experience this extraordinary African landscape by land, sea and air!

Highlights of Your Journey

  • Experience the mighty Zambezi River
  • Enjoy a unique and exclusive cruise on Lake Kariba
  • Discover Zimbabwe on a houseboat featuring only 9 cabins, all with panoramic views
  • Visit the immense Victoria Falls, also known as the Smoke that Thunders
  • Explore the Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Go on a safari in the Matusadona National Park, home to all big five game animals

Rates Include

  • 4 nights on board the houseboat according to the category booked
  • 2 nights in a safari lodge near Victoria Falls
  • 2 nights in a safari camp close to Mana Pools National Park
  • 2 nights in a lodge near Harare
  • English-speaking guide throughout journey from Victoria Falls to Harare
  • All meals as specified in the itinerary
  • All excursions and sightseeing, including admission fees
  • Transportation to and from airport on the first and last day of the itinerary
  • Transportation in air-conditioned buses to destinations specified in the itinerary

Not Included

  • Add-on activities like the Victoria Falls helicopter flight (180 USD p.p.) or the Victoria Falls Bridge walking tour (65 USD p.p.)
  • Visa fees
  • Gratuities
  • International flights

Entry Requirements

  • Passport and visa required. Please check with your local embassy
  • Depending on your country of origin, you may require vaccinations. Malaria tablets are recommended. Please consult your doctor

Standard Cabins

There are nine Standard cabins on board the Umbozha with various configurations.

3 cabins with 1 double bed and 2 bunk beds
2 cabins with 1 twin bed and 2 bunk beds
2 cabins with 1 double bed

Private bathroom
Private shower
Air conditioning

Master Cabins

The Umbozha has two Master cabins, each with one queen-sized bed.

Private bathroom
Private shower
Air conditioning
Includes deluxe accommodation in safari lodges


  • Guaranteed
  • Available
  • Limited
  • Waiting List
  • Excursions and lectures conducted in: EN=English


Dates StandardMaster
Price $
17 Aug 20 - 27 Aug 20UmbozhaYour Exclusive Houseboat: The Umbozha | ENExcursions and lectures conducted in: English
Single use supplement in compartment + hotel
Total price $
Supplement for occupancy with 3 or 4 persons for Standard category available upon request