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Safari Throwback: Legends of the Lower Zambezi

Get ready for a wild ride because this months newsletter is turning the dial back to the golden age of exploration, to the days of daring pioneers and epic expeditions.

 

Buckle up, intrepid time-travellers, because this month, we’re dusting off the old maps and retracing the footsteps of those who first ventured into the heart of Zambia.
Picture this: khaki-clad explorers, pith helmets, the gleaming African sun, and a sense of wonder that fuelled their quest for the unknown, alongside the legacy of a political pioneer whose bold vision and unwavering determination paved the way for progress in uncharted territories.

 

Our archives are a treasure trove of tales that whisk you away to a time when explorers faced the wild with nothing but their wits and an insatiable curiosity. We’ll be sharing stories of heart-pounding discoveries, unexpected friendships with local wildlife, and the kind of escapades that make you want to pack your bags and join the adventure.

Portrait of Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia. Image credit: Zambia Tourism Association

Unveiling the legends : Get ready to meet the trailblazing legends who set the stage for today’s safari adventures.

With a nation unfolding its wings and, in its heart, a commitment to safeguarding its natural treasures, As we reflect on the early days of Zambia, it’s heartening to know that even amidst the winds of change, the call for wildlife preservation was substantial; with President Kenneth Kaunda as our guiding force, the Wildlife Conservation Society of Zambia embarked on a journey that would shape the nation’s commitment to protecting its unique biodiversity. Fueling his proactive spirit, he championed the cause of inspiring the future of conservation by launching the Chongololo program in schools. This innovative initiative aimed to cultivate a deep connection between children and wildlife by bringing various rescued animals into classrooms. Through these interactive encounters, young minds were not only educated about different species but also developed a profound appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. This hands-on approach ignited a passion for conservation that would ripple through generations to come. This visionary initiative wasn’t confined to classrooms alone; it spread its wings nationwide, reaching radio stations to broaden the accessibility of conservation education.

 

Serving as Zambia’s first president, he brought to light the importance of the crucial link in biodiversity that the Lower Zambezi National Park provides to both the Luangwa Valley and the Kafue Basin. As of today, thanks to a profound and storied history of conservation endeavours, Zambia has committed 30% of its land to the preservation of wildlife, highlighting 20 national parks and 36 game management areas.

Norman Carr leading a walking safari.
Image credit: Zambia Tourism Association

The next legend on our nostalgic journey is a name richly engraved in Zambian history, Norman Carr, known for creating the iconic ‘walking safari’ here in Zambia. He was a visionary ahead of his time. In an era dominated by traditional track-and-hunt safaris, Carr boldly defied conventions by pioneering a conservation-based approach to tourism. He revolutionised the safari experience, replacing the age-old practice of shooting with a gun with the novel concept of capturing moments through the lens of a camera; his progressive outlook is what led him to become one of the most important figures in Zambia’s conservation and photographic safari history.
Growing up in the bush, Carr felt an undeniable connection to and a deep understanding of the rising conflicts between man and animal. This gave him a unique insight and outlook on protecting the natural world around him.

At Royal, we pay tribute to these remarkable pioneers by acknowledging their tireless efforts and embarking on a journey that authentically encapsulates the intended experience.

A recent walking safari in the Lower Zambezi National Park led by Royal Zambezi Lodge
Image credit: Stevie Mann Photography

Victor Kanzala, Head guide at Royal Zambezi Lodge Image credit: Karen Lowe

Royal Legacies: Meet Our Pioneers
Introducing our Royal Legends—the heartbeat of our Royal family, the driving force behind every endeavour, and the most passionate and dedicated individuals within our ranks.  Now, we delve into the extraordinary series of stories that define and illuminate the spirit of those who form part of the backbone of our success.  As we gather around the metaphorical campfire, let us indulge in a timeless tradition: the sharing of stories, but not just any stories—stories that resonate deeply within us, and have shaped our perspectives and influenced our paths. 
 
Our head guide, Victor, fondly reflects on the nostalgic journey that led him to become a guide.
“In the quiet embrace of my childhood village, a chance encounter with a majestic elephant sparked the flame of my lifelong passion for wildlife. Peering through the small window of my humble mud hut, I marvelled at the grace of this gentle giant as it delicately began to break away at the fresh leaves on the nearby tree beside the house; a sense of anticipation gripped me, expecting havoc to unfold, yet, to my surprise, it simply indulged in its meal with a quiet and polite demeanour before gracefully strolling away. Little did I realise back then, but this unassuming moment marked the inception of my career as a guide.”

In 2019, I vividly recall leading a group of guests on a walking safari; as I began the safety briefing, an almost jarring noise reverberated through the air accompanied by eerie calls that immediately caught our attention, with a sense of suspense, I informed the guests that the distinct sounds were resonating from spotted hyenas signalling the likelihood of a recent kill. It was a moment that foretold an exciting and unforgettable day ahead. The calls began to intensify, and once we were just a few meters away, we crouched down low to seamlessly blend into the tall surrounding grass, camouflaging our presence. Silently positioned, we watched the incredible and riveting scene unfold before us, watching in awe as their formidable jaws shredded what little was left of a kudu accompanied by an ear-splitting chuckle, as they methodically pulled away at the bones their frenzied activity spread through the tall grass safeguarding our viewing, immersing us in the experience. Eventually, we gathered the courage to resume our journey; rising from our sheltered position, the air hung heavy as though the very pulse of the environment had synchronised with the drama unfolding around us. A solitary hyena stood in our pathway, locking us into its gaze for what felt like an eternity before breaking away and disappearing into the thicket of the tall grass; as it faded away, a haunting call pierced the stillness, echoing through the desolate landscape, leaving us in a surreal moment of quiet contemplation, a captivating display of nature’s raw and unforgiving moments. 

It was at this moment I realised the profound impact on the guests, observing them take in all the brutality of the wild, yet discerning the underlying beauty behind the scenes of nature, The harmony of brutality and beauty painted a heartrending canvas, etching a lasting imprint on both the landscape and the hearts of those fortunate enough to witness it.

Chef Edwin Chalimba crafts culinary wonders at a bush lunch. Image credit: Stevie Mann Photography

The final legend in this series we will be talking about has a remarkable history intertwined with the realm of culinary excellence for over two decades. His journey commenced as a young man in the kitchen, ignited by an overwhelming passion for cooking and the art of recipe development. Today, he stands as a seasoned senior chef, consistently delivering meals of unparalleled quality worthy of a prestigious 5-star rating. 
Edwin originally hails from the vibrant city of Lusaka, Zambia. As a young man, he embarked on a journey that led him to Mugurameno village, where he started a family, and soon after joined Royal Zambezi Lodge, driven by a desire to broaden his culinary skills. 
A devoted family man, Edwin exudes a gentle spirit and takes great pride in his familial bonds. His affection extends beyond his loved ones to his team, fostering a deep sense of camaraderie in the kitchen. 
At Royal, we take pride in our culinary offerings crafted from locally sourced ingredients, including fresh vegetables grown by Thandiwe, the wife of Edwin.
His passion unfolds through an appreciation for diverse flavours, creating a harmonious blend reflecting his dedication and love for the culinary arts.
When questioned about his initial exploration of crafting recipes, Edwin’s eyes were illuminated with pride. He enthusiastically shared the tale behind his first culinary masterpiece – the legendary chocolate cake. For those who have graced us as previous guests, the indulgence in Edwin’s renowned chocolate cake during tea time is likely a fond memory and If your visit coincided with a birthday celebration, you might have experienced the joy of blowing out candles to the harmonious melody of the Royal Choir, followed by the delightful anticipation of savouring the exact exquisite chocolate cake. This timeless creation is cherished by those who have had the privilege to sample a slice or two.
 
 At Royal Zambezi Lodge, our pride resonates deeply with the exceptional individuals who play a pivotal role in curating the unforgettable experiences you encounter during your stay with us. It goes beyond the breathtaking landscapes and luxurious accommodations; it extends to the passionate team who diligently work behind the scenes. From the skilled chefs crafting exquisite dishes to the warm and attentive staff ensuring your comfort, each team member contributes to the tapestry of moments that make your time at Royal Zambezi Lodge genuinely exceptional. Their commitment, expertise, and genuine care form the foundation of the unparalleled hospitality we strive to provide, leaving a lasting mark on every guest’s experience with us.

Free download: Chocolate cake recipe

Thank you for being a part of this journey as we explore the untold stories of legends. Stay tuned for what’s next in this series as we delve deeper into exciting topics, explore new perspectives, and continue to spark insightful conversations. We’re excited to share more with you soon. Until then, keep exploring and stay inspired!

Dusting off the Pith Helmets: A Fashion Flashback

Lauren and Chileya on Safari with Royal Zambezi Lodge expressing their unique eye for fashion. Image credit : Michelle Mongé

We’re revisiting the iconic styles that once graced the untamed landscapes.
Let’s not forget the safari fashion that captivated the ages! Pith helmets, khaki shorts, and moustaches that could rival any lion’s mane, the epitome of khaki chic.

Fast forward to 2024, and once more, khaki chic has ensnared the attention of those strolling the Royal pathways. It reaffirms the notion that what you choose to wear on safari is as timeless as an African safari.

In the spirit of nostalgia and camaraderie, we warmly invite our cherished past guests to join us in celebrating safari fashion through the ages. Whether you’ve flaunted the classic khaki chic or added your own modern twist, we want to see your memorable moments immortalised in the archives of our safari history.
Share your safari photos with us! Whether you’ve captured the excitement of the wilderness or displayed your unique safari style, we encourage you to email your photos to [email protected] or tag us on Instagram @royalzambezi and use the hashtag #Royalzambezilodge.

Let’s revisit those adventurous days together and create new tales of exploration and style. 

Osa Johnson Naturalist, Adventurer, Photographer, and Filmmaker, posing in her pith helmet
Image credit : Pinterest 

Japhet Nawa proudly wearing a pith helmet on the paths of Royal today. Image credit : Natalie Black