Green Safaris, which operates eight camps in Zambia and one in Malawi, recently launched the world’s first electric dhow at the Tongabezi Lodge, just upstream of Victoria Falls.
The eDhow, whether it is the first in the world or not, is a marvel of modern technology that runs completely silently on the Zambezi River. Powered by a 10Kw electric motor, the eDhow provides an experience unlike any other, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the stunning natural surroundings without the noise and emissions typical of traditional fuel-engine boats. Whilst sneaking up on dozy crocodiles might not sound appealing, it is rather unforgettable to do so from the safety of the boat.
Offered as a ‘silent safari’, the eDhow allows guests to cruise the Zambezi River without an engine’s loud and intrusive sound. In addition to cutting noise pollution, the eDhow reduces carbon emissions, which is important for sustainable tourism in the ecologically sensitive area.
The eDhow is very efficient and generally uses around 10% to 15% of its capacity during a three-hour cruise for six to eight passengers, meaning it could undertake six trips before recharging.
In addition to energy efficiency, the vessel is safe and reliable, and needs much less maintenance than standard petrol engines. It also has sufficient capacity to power its way out of strong currents if necessary.
The eDhow is a joint concept between Dutch boat builder Koos van den Steuijt and the carpentry team at Tongabezi.
The design was inspired by traditional dhows used in Malawi (its sister lodge Kaya Mawa is based on Likoma Island on Lake Malawi) and is made from mukwa, a durable indigenous hardwood.