The BOMA Place of Eating, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls, or Mosi-o-a-Tunya (the smoke that thunders, as it’s locally known) is nothing short of an out of body experience, hypnotic, entrancing and breathtaking. However, whilst the plaudits of this Natural Wonder are well known, the curiosities of the little eponymous town are often overlooked in exchange for the bright lights and bustling streets of its neighbour across the border, Livingstone. The town of Victoria Falls is surprisingly clean and friendly, with hawkers trying to sell currency from the bygone era of  Zimbabwes hyper-inflation (think bills of 50 billion Zim dollars or 100 million Zim dollars) being more entertaining than irksome. 

Now, one would be led to thinking that there is no option but for touristy food outlets, full of greasy, nauseating and expensive dishes, yet there are a few hidden gems such as Mama Africa where local Zim dishes are expertly cooked, but the culinary jewel in the crown of Vic Falls is the BOMA place of eating at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, an immersive, over the top, traditional dining experience that is nothing short of memorable and exciting.

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Originally an acronym meaning British Officers Mess Area, boma also means a safe enclosure and is synonymous across many African countries. The evening started with a traditional sarong-like robe being draped over our shoulders followed by a splash of tribal paint on our faces.

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Once seated, the waiter informed us about the food – one chooses a starter, followed by a trip to the buffet. Although, before any of this, a shot of very potent local maize brew is consumed to much facial contortion! While a local dance troupe energetically contorted and twisted to tribal rhythms, our starters arrived. I had the smoked crocodile and the wife had bush guinea fowl – both equally bland and contrary to popular belief, crocodile doesn’t taste like chicken – it’s much blander!

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Nevertheless, we decided to head over to the main food area and got taken aback by the astounding number of dishes, all of which local and traditional. The most interesting, however, had to be the Mopani Worm, the edible caterpillar of the Gonimbrasia belina moth that is a good source of protein. It was a bit dry & chewy but not at all ‘wormy’ – still, I won’t be rushing back to eat it any time soon! Of the meats, the highlight had to be the grilled warthog – incredibly tender and meaty, whilst the kudu and impala stews came a close second!

Desserts were a mixed bag of largely European inspired dishes through colonial history and nothing particularly special stood out.

Towards the end of our meal a local band struck up a communal drumming lesson followed by much dancing, ending the night on an adrenalin high. I guess the BOMA experience is an all encompassing melange of sight, sound, smell and theatre, each balancing just perfectly, leaving you satiated in many ways and glad for having attended! Definitely a must-do on a trip to one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

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