Introducing the World’s First Electric Dhow at Tongabezi Lodge

Natasha Parker | August 3, 2023

At Green Safaris, we are thrilled to announce a groundbreaking addition to our fleet of eco-friendly safari experiences – the world’s first electric dhow!

(For the sake of transparency, we will say that this claim is based on an intensive amount of research, but if you know of another electric dhow in the world, do let us know. We will be more than happy to hand over the title, as our priority is not to be first for the sake of first, but first for the sake of many!)

This innovative vessel, named the eDhow, is a game-changer for sustainable tourism in Africa and a proud testament to our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint while offering unique and unforgettable experiences for our guests. It is currently based at Tongabezi Lodge, just upstream of Victoria Falls, where guests can experience the tranquillity of the mighty Zambezi River with none of the intrusive fuel engine noises.

Silent Safaris on the Zambezi River

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.

Sustainable Power Source

One of the most remarkable features of the eDhow is how easy it is to recharge. Our guides simply return it to the jetty and plug it in! Tongabezi is currently connected to the National Grid in Livingstone, which derives electricity from the nearby Batoka Hydroelectric Power Station adjacent to the magnificent Victoria Falls. Whilst we have plans for solar power in the future, at the moment we are content knowing that we are tapping into a different kind of renewable energy. In fact… our eDhow is powered by the very river it floats upon!

Efficiency and Reliability

During preliminary tests, the eDhow demonstrated remarkable efficiency, using only 10-15% of its capacity during a typical 3-hour sundowner cruise. This efficiency, combined with our 6-passenger suggested capacity and 8-passenger maximum capacity, makes it a practical and eco-conscious choice for guests seeking an intimate and eco-friendly safari experience.

Not only is the eDhow environmentally friendly — which was our primary reason for this change — it also boasts fantastic safety and reliability, even when compared with standard petrol-engines. The engine has more than enough power to make its way through the stronger currents of the Zambezi River, and electric motors require significantly less maintenance. Of course, we will need to ensure that our team knows how to fix the engine if ever an issue does arise, as it is entirely new to them. Fortunately, we have our expert Adrian to guide them, and he is never more than a few lodges away.

The Construction of the eDhow

The eDhow is an inspiring example of local craftsmanship meeting sustainable innovation. Constructed from Mukwa, a Zambian hardwood known for its durability, the design was inspired by traditional dhows found on Likoma Island, Malawi, where our very own Kaya Mawa Lodge is located. Under the guidance of Koos van den Steuijt, an experienced boat builder from the Netherlands, our team of carpenters at Tongabezi ensured that the construction methods and designs met the highest standards, guaranteeing a vessel built to last.

Photo by @izlaphotography

A Fleet for the Future

The eDhow is not just a novel addition to our safari experiences but also a testament to the potential of sustainable travel and green technology in the African tourism industry. As pioneers in this field, we hope to inspire other operators to follow suit, ultimately contributing to the preservation of Africa’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife.

A Trailblazer in Sustainable Safaris

As far as we can tell, the eDhow is the first electric dhow not only in Africa but also in the world. Its debut marks a momentous step towards a greener future for safaris, proving that we can offer extraordinary experiences without compromising the environment. With the eDhow, Green Safaris continues to lead the way in sustainable tourism. It turns out that responsible travel can be both exciting and transformative! But we already knew that.

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