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Journey along the Zambezi River and through northern Zimbabwe to encounter lions, bipedal elephants and the mighty ‘smoke that thunders’

Journey to southern Africa for unique encounters with wildlife along the shores of the Zambezi – and possible sightings of a mysterious river monster
Around 625 million litres of water fow over Victoria Falls each minute; here, bathers on the Zambian side sit at the lip of the falls, in a basin known as the Devil’s Pool
PHOTOGRAPHS JONATHAN GREGSON @gregsonjonathan

@amandacanning

ZAMBEZI COME ZAMBEZI GO

HAD A VISITOR IN 1958 STOOD ON THE CREST OF BUMI HILLS and peered out through a pair of binoculars, they might have been distracted by the sight of a barechested man in a foppy hat attempting to strap an elephant to a wooden raft. Rupert Fothergill was chief game ranger of what was then Rhodesia, now northern Zimbabwe, and charged with relocating wildlife stranded by the rising waters of the newly created Lake Kariba. Grainy footage of the time shows him contending with a number of irregular predicaments: shoulder-deep in water and clutching a wriggling, rabbit-like hyrax in his arms; casually attempting to shoo away a rhino with a wave or two of his hat; and hoisting a bedraggled baboon into a boat by its shoulders. By the time ‘Operation Noah’ was wound down in 1964, Fothergill and his team had saved over 6,000 animals.

Today, from the vantage point of Bumi, Kariba looks more sea than lake. On the shore, small herds of elephant, buffalo and hippo graze on the jewel-bright grass. Straight ahead, the crumpled, grey hills of Zambia are just visible, but there’s nothing but water to the horizon left and right; the weekly car ferry that traces a steady line through the waves east to west will take a full 24-hours to complete its journey. Over 50 years since it was created, Kariba remains the world’s larges man-made lake. And yet it is seen by some as a temporary blip, one likely to disappear before too long.

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