Dusk on the Zambezi River is a special time of day. Time seems to slow down as the sun descends, painting the sky with a unique display every night. This is the time to be on the river, in a boat, with a cold drink in your hands and the sound of the waterfall at your back.
The sunset cruise is Number 5 of Things to do in Victoria Falls
- Also called river safaris or booze cruises, these can be booked at your hotel or with your tour company.
- Sunset cruises usually start at 4pm in the winter (May-July) and 4.30 in the summer (August-April).
- Transfers are included. You’ll be collected from your lodge/hotel and taken to the jetty where a traditional African music group will welcome you.
- The tour companies operate a number of boats for their standard tours, which differ in size. When booking, it’s worth asking to go on one of the smaller boats, so that you have a more personal experience. However, if you’d prefer more of a party cruise, ask to go on one of the big boats, where there will be a festive atmosphere.
- Once onboard, you’ll travel down the Zambezi River, passing islands inhabited with hippos, crocodiles, antelope and abundant birdlife.
- Canapes, snacks and drinks are provided.
- A full safety briefing is given before departing, and throughout the trip your captain will point out interesting flora and fauna for your attention.
- The cruise lasts approximately 2 hours, after which you’ll be returned to your lodge.
- Take a light jersey with you – it gets chilly after the sun goes down, especially between April and August. Don’t forget your camera, and perhaps a pair of binoculars.
- Sunset cruises costs start from US $35. National Park fees are usually not included; approx. $15 per person.
- Is it family-friendly?: Yes, older children (I suggest 8 years and over) will enjoy being on the river, seeing the animals and scenery. If you ask for The Zambezi Royal boat, there is no minimum age and children pay half price.
- Read about my sunset cruise here to whet your appetite.
- Book via your accommodation, or your tour operator such as Wild Horizons or Shearwater.
- There are additional cruise times: You can have a full meal on the boat rather than snacks, and you can also have a cruise at the time of day that best suits your itinerary, as there are lunch, breakfast and dinner cruises available.
- Top tip: Some of the lodges include river cruises as part of their full-board accommodation. These cruises are usually in smaller groups of people and can be personalized to find a specific animal along the river that you may have a particular hankering to see. The lodges include Imbabala Lodge and Victoria Falls River Lodge.
Luxury cruise options:
In addition to the standard boat cruises, there are also upmarket options available. They can also be booked through your accommodation or tour operator, or from the company directly.
- The Ra-Ikane is a small luxury boat that is styled in thee theme of colonial grandeur. Named after the guide who showed David Livingstone the Victoria Falls, the boat is equipped for 14 people, serves fine food and drink, and is a more exclusive experience than the the standard sunset cruises. They offer breakfast, lunch and sunset cruises, which cost from $85 per person. Minimum booking of 4 and 2 people for the lunch and sunset cruises, respectively.
- The Zambezi Explorer is a large cruiser with three decks. It offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and sunset cruises, and the staff go the extra mile to provide impeccable service and excellent food. When booking, there are different decks to choose from, ranging in exclusivity and luxury. The company also runs a small boat, called Kalunda, which offers a more personal experience. Prices on Zambezi Explorer and Kalunda range from $35 per person to $220 per person.
- The Zambezi Royal is a medium-sized cruiser which has been customized with luxury furnishings. It offers a five-star sunset cruise which includes gourmet drinks and canapes. Prices start from approximately $73.50 and range to $102.00 per person.