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Sundowners, not Booze Cruise: Drink in Hand with Zambezi Cruise Safaris

This article is written very tongue in cheek and deals with how and why the origins of Gin and Tonic evolved. Whilst Malaria is still around, and causes havoc in untreated and remote areas, the paths our circuits and cruises take are treated and precautions are put in place.

If there is a risk of getting malaria when you travel to an affected area. It’s very important you take precautions to prevent the disease.

Malaria can often be avoided using the ABCD approach to prevention, which stands for:

  • Awareness of risk – find out whether you’re at risk of getting malaria.
  • Bite prevention – avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent, covering your arms and legs, and using a mosquito net.
  • Check whether you need to take malaria prevention tablets – if you do, make sure you take the right antimalarial tablets at the right dose, and finish the course.
  • Diagnosis – seek immediate medical advice if you have malaria symptoms, including up to a year after you return from travelling.

Booze on a cruise, at sundown, has become a signature activity on the Zambezi river. However, the intention was not booze cruises, rather the origins of this refreshing tradition are founded on centuries of safari health principles. Talk to us about booze on a cruise now!

Booze on a Zambezi Cruise

Read on to find out why you should enjoy the Zambezi Sunset, drink in hand.

The Sunset (Problem)

In the early days of Zambezi River exploration (between 1851 and 1853), a quintessential problem arose. A problem that could not be solved predictably. The problem came back every day at sunset, like clockwork.

Elephants Drinking on the Shores of Lake Kariba at Sunset

Little Mosquitoes!

These little buggers cause both present discomfort and life-threatening illness (in days gone by). Appropriately, named nuisance mosquitoes, the insects will bug the peace of the Zambezi out of you.

Today, the problem still exists however we now have multiple ways of preventing and curing malaria. But that has nothing to do with our story of how the booze cruise was born.

Experience Wild Zambezi (the conflict)

While the mosquitoes present a clear and present danger, the call of the Zambezi River and its surrounding wilderness is hard to resist. This is why more than 50,000 people come to this bio-rich region annually.

Game viewing along the lake inlets on tender boats, drink in hand.

The mosquitoes were not going away and neither were the people, a solution needed to be found quickly.

Research (the Action)

Zambezians do not just spend all day enjoying amazing views, fishing, having close-ups with wildlife and basking in the African sun. We also manage to squeeze in some “work”.

View of Kariba sunset from one of Zambezi Cruise Safaris’ Houseboats

Yes, our predecessors researched and researched until they found a truly Zambezi solution to their problem.


People have been using quinine to treat malaria for centuries. Its most popular use was in British Colonial India. Quinine mixed with sugar and soda was used by British soldiers to fight malaria in India during the early 19th century.

As you can imagine or know, this is a very bitter concoction.

The unpleasant taste of the “tonic water”, as the quinine mixture became known, was a small price to pay to kill malaria-causing parasites in the body. Quinine does not prevent malaria but kills the organism responsible for causing malaria (protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium).

Gin And Tonic: A Palatable Remedy (The Climax)

Why Gun and Tonic is a common feature on Zambezi booze cruises

Someone, a true hero, a mixologist par excellence, decided to add gin, a famously bitter spirit, to malaria medicine to make it palatable. How crazy is that? But we all know how well that turned out.

By the end of 1858, tonic water was being produced commercially. The troops in India had created a new drink, with a surprisingly pleasant taste and it was medicinal too!

Now, every night on the Zambezi River people take at least one, but two being a safer number, glasses of gin and tonic.

The level of quinine in tonic water on our shelves today is significantly lower than when this remedy was created. As a result, many Zambezians adjust the dosage up, not because they are enjoying the gin, but to get enough protection from malaria.

The “healing ritual” has become such an integral part of Zambezi Culture that a lager was created to honour the sundowner experience, Zambezi Lager. Enjoying this lager and protecting yourself from mosquitoes with an icy G&T while on a boat at sunset is not a booze cruise, nothing that epic, it is just taking in the Zambezi sundown, drink in hand. Hence the unassuming name, sundowners!

How to Mix Gin and Tonic, The Perfect Zambezi Cocktail, for Medicinal Purposes

Knowing a home remedy without knowing how to make it is completely useless. Therefore, we are going to give you the recipe for that highly beneficial gin and tonic cocktail.

  1. A Bottle of Gin. Different gins have different flavours. The most popular varieties are London dry gins (straightforward taste), Plymouth gins(aromatic) and Bombay gins(spicy).
  2. A Cold Glass
  3. Tonic Water. Single-use containers ensure that the tonic water is fresh and fizzy. An excess of tonic water bottles is required for a longer-lasting healing ritual.
  4. Ice. (making ice cubes out of tonic water not only saves water but keeps the tonic taste undiluted.
  5. Lime Juice and a Lime Wedge are not necessary but add to the drinking experience.

Zambezi Cruise Safaris’ Directions to Mixing the Perfect Gin and Tonic Cocktail

  • Fill the cold glass right to the top with ice
  • Add the gin
  • Then add the tonic water, a ratio of 1:1 is good but let the strength of the gin and desired taste direct you. People partaking in this Zambezi remedy prefer a ratio of 1:3 (gin: tonic)
  • Add a dash of lime (the fresher the better).
  • Garnish with a lime wedge or slice (lemons are a good substitute for lime)

Click on the link to find out more about our houseboats cruising Lake Kariba, on the Zambezi River.

AND, Remember to drink responsibly.

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Sundowners, not Booze Cruise: Drink in Hand with Zambezi Cruise Safaris

Sundowners, not Booze Cruise: Drink in Hand with Zambezi Cruise Safaris
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