Business temporarily screeched to a halt in Victoria Falls town yesterday afternoon, as residents jostled to catch a glimpse of a huge luxurious houseboat which passed through the tourist resort town en route to Botswana.
Some residents braved the scorching heat as they escorted the boat from Lupinyu shopping centre along Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway to Kazungula Road, a distance of approximately 30km.
Schoolchildren in the resort town had to dismiss early to catch a glimpse of the majestic boat, while players in the tourism industry took the opportunity to familiarise with the 157-tonne boat, which was manufactured by a Bulawayo firm, GDI.
The company's engineer Forbes Chimoga said they were likely to arrive in Botswana tomorrow, where they would immediately launch the boat to serve the four neighbouring countries.
"The houseboat will operate as a floating luxury hotel between Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe along Chobe and Zambezi River," he said. "For the technical-minded, the 'ship' will measure an impressive 33,4m (109") in length, with an eight-metre beam (26") - wider than the entire road - boasting three spacious decks, of which the uppermost deck is loaded in another haulage for the journey. It pulls with two Volvo 600-horsepower pumps and that is quite huge."
The houseboat has a carrying capacity of 360 people and can be hired for special occasions like weddings. It also comprises 20 bedrooms, two of them with fitted en suite bathrooms. Chimoga added the houseboat also has a spacious bar and 300 000-litre swimming pool.
It has been on the road for almost a month and is moving at 30km/hr. It is being accompanied by a police escort and a variety of technicians and engineers. The company has manufactured 126 houseboats, most of which have been sold locally and regionally.