It’s a warm evening in November as I enter the Boma restaurant for the first time. I’ve heard so much about this quirky-themed eating experience just two kilometres outside Victoria Falls, and I’m excited to finally get the chance to see what it’s all about.
Before I get to the main entrance, I’m already wearing an African shawl which was handed to me by a friendly chap as I jumped off the bus in the car park. I can feel the buzz inside as I sign my name in the guest book and make my way into the circular eating area.
There’s a roaring fire in the middle of the Boma which is open to the stars, and tall columns of wood hold up the thatched roof that covers raised seating areas. The place is full of happy guests and each person is wearing some type of African garment — the atmosphere is alive with anticipation.
I’m led to my table and I sit down to take in the scene. It’s not long before an old man with a beard comes over and offers me a variety of cocktails. He doesn’t look like your average cocktail waiter but his drinks sound delicious anyway. I order the fruity punch and relax back into the scene.
It’s buffet time and I make my way over to the line of people waiting eagerly with plates in hand. There’s a variety of meat on offer as the chefs fry up a storm right in front of me. I’m told the warthog is a must: yes please. I grab a T-bone, some chicken stew, salad, traditional pap and head back to my table.
While I feast, the dancers are already lining up for what seems like quite a production. The drumming begins and four dancers line up and begin their routine in unison.
Their movements are strong and purposeful, each thrust and stomp perfectly is timed to the rolling African beat of the djembe drums behind. They leap into the air like springbok and their faces seem to burst with passion and expression. This is no ordinary show.
Once the show is over, the crew gets everyone involved and the next thing I have a drum in hand, beating away with the rest of the guests in the restaurant.
The mopane worms
I head off back to the buffet to get some desert and on the way am intercepted by a man holding a bowl of brown, shrivelled things. He offers me a “mopane worm” with a big smile on his face.
“You’ll get a certificate as proof if you eat one,” he says.
“Ok, why not.”
It doesn’t taste too bad. Like a salty mix between biltong, beef jerky and dried fruit. I chew the worm, swallow and claim my certificate. Definitely worth the prize.
Just before I leave, I’m keen to buy one or two curios from the local sellers who sit in the middle of the Boma.
I meet Baxton Mashuku and Joseph Nyangani, who tell me they have been selling curios at the Boma since 2001.
Caught wood-poaching by the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit scouts in 2001, the gentlemen were offered the option of sourcing their wood sustainably and in exchange, would be able to sell their hand-crafted curios at the Boma — Place of Eating. They have been legally and sustainably selling curios for the past twelve years!
More than a restaurant
I leave feeling full of food and excited energy. The atmosphere of the Boma is something that makes this place truly unique, and the combination of experiences; ranging from the food, to the staff, to the entertainment, leaves me wanting more. I’ll be back soon! — vicfalls24.