Matusadona’s cabins are some of the most comfortable and luxurious on Lake Kariba.

The spacious air-conditioned suites are situated right on the waterline, where you’ll feel connected with the lake. The gentle lapping of waves; the frequent grunt of the hippos; the distant lion’s roar; the cough of a leopard; the eerie cry of the Fish Eagle and all the attendant sounds of Africa as you go to bed whilst cocooned in happy comfort.

Here’s what you can expect on the lower deck of Matusadona:

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 Warm, spacious, woodpanneled cabins with cosy lighting and large cupboards. 

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The comfortable beds and soft, beautiful linen

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Fully-kitted bathrooms and shower 


The cabins on the lower deck provide an eye-level view of the lake

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The middle deck of Matusadona is the practical deck where the crew spends much of their time; but it’s also a place to relax during the heat of the day, read or watch television, and feast and drink the night away at the open air dining table.

The captain’s helm and the kitchen are towards the front, and the main dining table at the aft of this elegant cruiser. Here, you will have stunning outside dinners, relax in the main lounge or spend some time viewing wildlife along the side of the boat at eye level.


The main lounge, where you can relax and read a book, have an afternoon nap or perhaps even watch a dvd on the flat screen television provided.


The main outside dining table on the aft of the outside deck. This is where the beautiful dinners are served in the evening.

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A fresh lunchtime salad on the middle deck dining table

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Meet the crew at the helm of the Matusadon. Captain, Newturn Jack (Left), Cook, Tendai Mapurazi (Middle) and Steward, Conwell Mapurazi (Right) 

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Kitchen with a view of the helm and beyond.

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In the main lounge is a work desk with lots of space for laptops and photography equipment, including plug points to charge everything.

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If it’s not the best weather outside, eat at the main dining room table with convenient window access to the kitchen.

For enquiries on chartering Matusadona see here. 

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The top deck of Matusadona is where you will spend most of your time while on a Kariba safari; whether it be watching the sunrise from the bow of the deck, having a cocktail by the bar, or eating and laughing with friends at the dining table well into the night. 

When Matusadona is steaming right up the middle of Lake Kariba, there’s little sound from the engine up on the top, so it feels as if you are sailing with the terns as they flit and weave their way beside the boat, landing on patches of floating vegetation as you drift past.

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On the bow of Matusadona is a wide wooden deck with a Jacuzzi right in the centre of it, ideal for a relaxed dip after a day of fishing or game viewing.

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Sit back on the wooden easy chairs and enjoy the company of friends and family. The beauty of Matusadona is in her space… there’s so much room on the boat to enjoy the setting, from anywhere.

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The bar is the central point of Matusadona’s top deck. This is where you stop for a gin and tonic refill or a cold beer when making your way to any part of the boat. The bar table opens out onto comfy Kane lounge couches, the ideal spot for an afternoon snooze or just a relaxing read in the cool breeze.

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Towards the back of the deck is a round dining table, where any meal, any time of the day, can be served along with the best view on the boat. When you have eaten your fill, you can move the the aft of the deck, where there are comfortable connecting benches with pillows and soft cushions for you to relax with your glass of champaign and orange juice.

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The cabins on Matusadona are wonderful, the middle deck is cozy and comfortable, but the top deck is the place on Matusadona where you can appreciate the full majesty of this cruiser as she makes her way up Kariba, Africa’s greatest Lake.

For enquiries on chartering Matusadona see here. 

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Matusadona is a safari cruiser unlike any other houseboat on lake Kariba. 

This is obvious as the 28-metre cruiser backs out of its mooring in the Kariba town mariner. All the other houseboats seem to look on in envy as she manoeuvres her way to the entrance in slow, graceful movements. Matusadona is fairly new to Kariba, only having launched in 2013, but she steams out of the harbour into open water with the confidence and majesty of an accomplished vessel.


Owners Tim and Sabine Featherby launched Matusadona in 2013 and now charter the boat out to travellers looking for a bit of style and comfort on their Kariba safari – something which Tim believes is hard to come by on Lake Kariba these days.

Matusadona isn’t short of either style or comfort. Four wonderful wood-finished cabins make up the bottom deck of the boat; the central area is made up of an elegant lounge and kitchen area with dining deck out the back. The top deck is the real stunner on this boat: There’s a beautiful open-air lounge with adjacent bar, as well as an elevated Jacuzzi on the bow of the boat.

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We spend our first night moored on an isolated island in the middle of Kariba, a glorious sunset from the upper deck bar welcoming us to Kariba. There are many islands dotted around this great lake, the remnants of high points on the land when the area was flooded in the 50’s. Kariba is a wonder of human ingenuity and the history of this section of Zambezi River is almost as fascinating as the lake itself.

A vast lake

After a big breakfast on the central deck, we steam right up the middle of Lake Kariba. I’m completely overwhelmed by the vastness of this body of water. On the southern side the Zambezi Escarpment rises up into the distance, and on the northern side I can barely see Zambia. We sit on the upper deck and take in the dramatic scenery. The purr of the engine is barely audible and the light breeze is welcome relief from the humidity as we make our way steadily up the lake.


This is our captain’s maiden voyage on Matusadona and he manages to find a secluded island on which to anchor for the night. It’s not long before the staff has packed up a boat full of drinks and we head off for an afternoon adventure on the main land.

We find a secluded beach where the deck chairs are set up and we sit sipping on gin and tonics and merrily watching the sun go down on another epic Kariba day.

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Matusadona National Park

There’s a herd of about 15 elephants drinking on the lakeshore as we steam past the Matusadona National Park on our second day of the journey. This secluded wilderness on the Zimbabwean side of Kariba preserves some of the biggest prides of lions in Africa as well as elephant, buffalo, leopard and even the rare black rhino.

We anchor at a large inlet on the lakeshore of the park and it’s not long before our host, Scott, is zipping us off on a boat game drive through the pools and inlets in search of birds and wildlife. We also take a few rods along and cast a couple of lines out in the hope that a tiger fish might bite.

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We see big herd of impala, a buffalo bull, more elephants and some incredible bird sightings too. One scene is unforgettable: While casting a line out into one of the inlets, a big elephant bull emerges from the bush and starts having a mud bath directly in front of us.

On the way back to the boat we see the emergence of a huge storm cell in the middle of the lake, the dark clouds illuminated by the afternoon light. A lone fish eagle sits on a dead branch in the foreground, seemingly posing for us like a regal statue.

Wonderful food

By the time we get back to the boat, dinner is almost ready and we prepare ourselves for a feast on the main deck. We are first given fried yabbies by the bar, which is a type of fresh-water lobster that had been caught just hours before, and then some of Tim’s own Foothills Wines comes out and the scene is set for a glorious evening.

It’s a warm evening and we sit eating, drinking and watching the impressive lighting strikes from the approaching storm in the distance.


Homeward bound

We leave the Matusadona National Park  in our wake and set a course for home. I’m filled with a new sense of appreciation for the majesty of this incredible place. The history, the beauty, the storms, the sunsets and the animals make this a truly unique safari destination in Africa. Combine this with the style and comfort of Matusadona, helpful staff, plus Tim and Sabine’s incredible hospitality touch – and you’ve got an unparalleled safari experience

Written by Paul Steyn

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