Return to Eden

Houseboat on Lake Kariba

Article featured in Africa Geographic

One of our regular visitors is a journalist who writes for the Africa Geographic, Tony Park. In August 2012, he wrote an article highlighting travel to Zimbabwe, and his stay on this houseboat.

Here are a few excerpts from that article. For the full article, please click on this link.

“Return to Eden is a good name for a houseboat. Every time I come back to Lake Kariba I find I’ve forgotten just what a paradise it is. The winter days are sunny and warm and the nights are mild. Hippos honk from the shallows and somewhere in the thick mopane growth of Matusadona National Park a lion roars, lulling us to sleep.”
“….I’ve found myself back on Return to Eden. It’s more house-ship than houseboat, with its six double cabins, all with en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning. It even has a swimming pool, which on my first voyage was home to a monstrous, metre-plus barbel (catfish) that the crew had caught on our first day out. It became a slimy, muddy mascot for my fellow passengers and me, and a feast for the crews’ families when they returned to port.
But on this trip the days are so warm the pool is reserved for humans only. There’s little to do on board other than read, sleep, drink, eat and watch a passing parade of game. In the mornings and evenings we take to the tender boats – flat steel platforms on pontoons, with half of us going in search of fish and the rest seeking out wildlife on the shores and waterways of the national park.
Captain Satiel and deck hand and boatman Panache expertly navigate us in and out of the myriad channels that line the shore and point out an incredible array of birdlife – giant, malachite and pied kingfishers; and darters, herons and African fish-eagles galore. As we watch, drinks in hand, a herd of elephants emerges from the bush and, after checking us out and deciding all is safe, the matriarch leads her family in single file past us. It’s an incredible moment and somehow I feel a closer connection to the elephants than if I were watching them from a vehicle. We drift slowly down a narrow channel, Panache paddling now and then to keep pace with the animals, our movement as silent as the grey ghosts we’re shadowing.
Back on board chef Christopher turns the provisions we’ve brought with us into excellent meals. He supplements our rough menu guidelines with home-baked desserts of his own device and serves kapenta, freshwater sardines, in the style of deep-fried whitebait for bar snacks in the evenings.”

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