On the 5th April 2013 I was privileged to attend the glamorous send-off celebration for the new ‘Zambezi Explorer’ at GDI boat sheds in Harare.This new cruise boat is set to be the largest “ship” capable of doing sunset and other cruises on the Zambezi River above Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side.
The Minister of Tourism, the charismatic engineer, Walter Mzembi was on hand to make the send-off speech and promised to be on the side of the road as the massive vessel passes through Masvingo, his home province on its road journey to Victoria Falls later this month.
The send-off was enjoyed in style with sparkling wine and canapé’s.
More of the Zambezi Explorer below.
Victoria Falls’ many existing tourism attractions will receive a major boost later this month, when this spectacular and stunning new luxury cruise vessel arrives in Zimbabwe’s major travel destination after a gruelling low-gear 1000km cross-country trek from Msasa. Zambezi Explorer has taken a year to build at the GDI Boatyard close to Harare’s rolling Mukuvisi Woodlands and has so far cost investors US$1,5 million.But the bang for their bucks is substantial. The 70-tonne, 140 passenger flagship cruise vessel is an engineering and ecological dream designed and built for the modern traveller with an environmental conscience.
Zambezi Explorer has minimum carbon emission. All of the vessel’s state-of-the-art inboard facilities run exclusively on solar energy—and we have an apparently limitless supply of solar power here in Central Africa.
This will make for a sublimely therapeutic cruising experience, sailing the mighty and powerful Zambezi River above the Falls, very quietly, observing, photographing filming and recording our magnificent big and small game and one of the world’s most thriving and prolific birdlife areas.
The entire 30sq m of the Zambezi Explorer’s roof is inlaid with an intricate network of photovoltaic cells designed to greedily soak up and capture the precious solar energy which powers the vessel’s lighting and on-board electrical requirements. Two four-stroke inboard engines quietly propel the triple-decked catamaran hulled boat.
The first two five-star luxury decks will serve delectable snacks and an exciting range of cocktails and beverages during planned two hour duration spectacular river cruises.The Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa and 31st longest in the world.
But the third level: the Signature Deck is described by the proprietors as pure decadence, deliberately conceived and created for the sophisticated world traveller.
Sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and selected premium drinks will be served to passengers watching entranced as wild Africa passes slowly by from custom-made couches and ottomans.
The décor is described as well thought out, borrowing from and reflecting the subtle hues of the Zambezi River in all its moods and seasons, the tranquil tapestry of the African sky and the artistic genius of the peoples of Zimbabwe.
In brief, Zambezi Explorer is said to showcase a futuristic imagination in its interior design.
With a total capacity of 140 seats the 70-gross-tonne Zambezi Explorer is ideal for both leisure and corporate events taking place at Zimbabwe’s premier holiday destination.
Either the entire craft may be chartered or individual decks hired and privatised for exclusive functions or product launches, for example.
From secure board meetings to leisure travel simply enjoying the best that Africa can offer, the Zambezi Traveller can meet or be tailor-made and customised to meet the needs of any customer.
It is planned that on an average day the Zambezi Explorer’s adventures will begin with a pre-dawn sunrise cruise which will focus on the serenity of the river, the lifting ethereal mist burnt off by the rising sun and prolific early morning birdlife.
For lunch, the craft sails away from the hubbub of Victoria Falls town life, its conferences, bonding sessions, team-building and other talkfests to cruise between the lush, verdant tropical islands in mid-stream above the Falls themselves.
Jaded palates will be treated to tasty dishes prepared alfresco by the boat’s team of highly innovative and motivated chefs.
At the end of the day the Zambezi Explorer again sails upstream to celebrate the dramatic setting African sun. And the setting of a magnificent blood-red, vermillion or orange sun witnessed anywhere on the Zambezi is a memorable experience.
Hippos will be in abundance, elephant will drink and scores of bird species will be seen, as crocodiles slither off the banks into the river and the occasional plop of the piranha-like Zambezi tiger fish—a worthy opponent for any big-game angler – can be heard.
On special occasions (the full moon springs to mind most forcefully) the vessel may be specially chartered for dinner cruises.
The owners and designers of the Zambezi Explorer say they were obsessed with responding to increasing demands for green technology in a most natural way and to sail on this revolutionary but beautifully designed boat will be to endorse one’s commitment to a greener tomorrow.
Zambezi Explorer will leave the GDI Boatyard at Msasa within about the next 10 days.
The craft (although dismantled into three separate decks to be re constructed at the launch site) and its horse and trailer will be too big to pass through any of Zimbabwe’s toll gates.
So the route to be taken will be: Harare, Masvingo, Mashava, Zvishavane, Bulawayo, Lupane, Hwange,and Victoria Falls.
That’s a journey of nearly 1 000km and the abnormal load can only travel at about 20km/h. Allowing for pull-ins at lay-byes to allow traffic behind to overtake the leviathan the whole trip will last about 10 days.
Here are a few photos I took while at the send-off of the Zambezi Explorer in Harare.
Date: 13 April 2013