Water Spirits of Zambia

If you feel there is magic in the water – you may be right

Cultures around the world celebrate unique traditions and beliefs, and in rural African communities traditional folklore is still a popular method of sharing stories.

Despite being land-locked, Zambia has a huge network of rivers and tributaries, so it is therefore perhaps understandable why River Spirits feature so widely in local tales. In Africa, water means prosperity. This has been true for all of time. Water builds cities and grows crops. It nourishes animals and gives life to the bush…

In the rainy season, Zambia turns bright green. Elephants find their home in mud baths, and you would swear that a secret prayer of the wild had been answered. Destruction can also follow – when days of rain burst river banks and destroy all in its path. With no water the land becomes dry. The sun seems cruel and plant life starts to wilt. Leopards and other animals hide away and take refuge in the shade. It’s easy to understand why water is such a sacred power in Zambia.

Zambezi Grande Private Game Experience enjoys a prominent riverside position on the Lower Zambezi, where myths of a River God have special significance for the area.

The Legend Of Nyami Nyami
For years, there have been myths and legends about the great Zambezi River, passed down from elder to child in the Tsonga people.

Considered to be an immensely powerful god, Nyami Nyami is believed to control life in and
around the Zambezi River. A dragon-like creature, with the head of a fish and body of a
snake, Nyami Nyami is said to be 3 metres wide, but the Zambian people don’t dare to
guess the length of him.

Legend has it that the building of the Kariba Dam deeply offended Nyami Nyami because
this barrier separated him from his wife. It is said that he withdrew from the world of man the
day the wall was finished.

To this day, you will still hear the testimonies of many men, about their sightings of this creature, revealing himself as a whirlpool to some, with many wearing pendants of the
mystical creature for protection and prosperity.

Book your stay now at Zambezi Grande Private Game Experience to be enchanted by the
majesty that is the life-blood of Zambia and the source of many folktales…

Zambia through the lense


Recently Zambezi Grande had some incredible visitors. The group was an ordinary family, on a much needed vacation – but to our surprise, they had a skilled photographer amidst them. This special Guest decided to share their photos with us and we couldn’t be more delighted. As a thank-you, we wanted to feature her and her work, asking a few questions about the experience of shooting along the Lower Zambezi River.

“The area is so incredibly hard to explain – it is Africa in the wildest most majestic sense.
There is a reserve minutes away, which is unfenced, so there is no difference to the animals whether they are in the reserve or not. This means there are plenty of opportunities to photograph an array of wildlife.
Elephants cross the mighty Zambezi at all points between Zambia and Zimbabwe, this place knows no boundaries. So you’ll get the most fantastic shots of these wild animals in the water.
It’s jaw dropping to go in the dry season and see all the empty river beds. The area is unbelievably arid, but then you drive over a small hill and find a huge body of water that feeds everything during this dry time.
The dust is red and super fine – it gets everywhere while on Open Vehicle Safari!
This adds to some very dramatic effects when taking pics and the animals tend to stomp up dust.
The vegetation is like nothing you can imagine. Despite the dry climate, there are forests of Winterthorn trees where the elephants and buffalo love to graze.
You can park in the middle of these forests and watch hundreds of animals foraging and eating off the trees. Although you can’t capture it on camera – the crunching sound of the elephants chewing is one of the most incredible sounds I’ve ever heard.
The amount of baby elephants with their mothers is mind-blowing.
They are the cutest little characters to capture on camera. They have the most playful and curious interest in the vehicles on a game drive, but the mothers tend to be protective. The thrill of capturing some of these adorable characters in their playful and sometime shy states was so fulfilling.
I’ve never photographed wildlife before, and I wouldn’t consider myself a “wildlife photographer” by any means, but there are so many opportunities to get incredible shots of such a large variety of animals, in countless environments.
From those forests of Winterthorns, you get the alien Palm Frond Trees. These palms transport you to a more “colonial” time. It just reminds me of “olden days” especially the picture in black and white – it almost adds a vintage element with loads of texture and depth.
The Zambezi River itself is monstrous – the rate the current flows, and how fast the water moves is something you can only really believe when you see it.
It’s so dynamic and makes for the most beautiful shots.
The river is at its most beautiful during sunrise and sunset. The sun rises on the opposite side of the river (the Zimbabwean side) and shines right onto the patios of the rooms at Zambezi Grande. It reflects on the water and there is no way that the beauty of it could ever be captured on camera. There is no picture that does it justice, I tried… and tried… and tried again – but nothing ever came close to the real thing. Drinking a cup of tea/coffee on the veranda watching the sun come up is relaxation and raw African beauty at its finest.
The staff at Zambezi Grande are some of the friendliest and helpful people I have ever come across. They want everyone to be happy and will go out of their way to help if they can. Their smiles are constant and they make everyone feel super comfortable and at home.
Every time you look around you, whether you are in your room, by the pool, on a game drive, or fishing on the river – There is always a photo opportunity and a moment that you want to capture and remember forever. The moments and beauty are unrelenting and constant. It never ends.”

We loved reading this response and hope that all our guests experience the same wonderful opportunities. Would you like to capture the beauty of the great Zambezi for yourself?

Your Zambia awaits…

Happy World Photography Day!

The African Elephant

African Elephant - Zambezi Grande

An Elephant herd is closely developed around family. A herd is made up of an adult female and her offspring, as well as two more closely related females and their offspring. The young elephants, known as bulls, separate from their families once they’ve reached puberty at the age of 16 years old and move on to join other bulls to create bachelor groups, or to move around alone. The best way to determine whether the elephant is male or female is by taking a closer look at their heads. A male’s head is more rounded, whereas a female’s head is squarer.

At birth, an elephant calf can weigh up to at least 118kgs (260 pounds) and walks under its mother’s belly for their first year of life. Elephants can spend up to 16-18 hours grazing, whether it’s up in the trees or down on the ground. Elephants can reach up to 5.5 metres (18 feet) or more in the air if they stand on their hind legs and stretch out their long trunks. Those handy trunks also keep the elephants well hydrated and cooled; drinking up to 7 litres of water per squirt. An elephant can drink up to 50 litres of water before their thirst is finally satisfied.

Have you ever noticed the flapping of the ears an elephant does when charging? It’s not a scare tactic if that’s what you were wondering, but it definitely does help. It is thought to be a cooling action as the stress of the moment causes the elephant to overheat slightly.

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African Pitta Bird

African pita Bird - Zambezi Grande

The African Angola Pitta is a species of bird in the Pittidae family. It is found across Africa in most countries, but most importantly it can be spotted in Zambia.

The African Pitta is an intra-African breeding migrant, breeding in southern and south-central Africa around November-December, and then heading back out to the equatorial Africa around March-April to its non-breeding grounds. They are more scarce and localized in southern Africa occupying mostly the evergreen forest or dense thickets, often along banks of rivers and streams, and in search of food among the dirt and leaves.
African Pitta’s have a black head with a yellow stripe on their side.

They have white feathers that cover their necks with a pink wash that turns yellow closer to the chest. They have a blackish-brown bill with a slightly reddish base, a deep buff chest and sides. It’s hard to miss them with their bright olive green underparts as well as the blue and black banding on their wings. With a dark azure-blue rump, blackish flight feathers, with tips becoming pale on the ends, a black tail with a red underside and blue on top, sporting pinkish to greyish white feet, males and females are pretty hard to tell apart.

The amazing colours and detail of the African Pitta, along with its legendary elusiveness, turned the African Pitta into the Holy Grail of African birding.

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African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog - Zambezi Grande
Scientifically named the Lycaon pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf-like animal’, the African Wild Dog is definitely a must-see when travelling around Africa. Africa’s Wild Dog is slowly being pushed closer and closer to extinction, making these sightings rarer by the day. Many have been wiped about by the destruction of their homes and natural habitat, by diseases like rabies and “canine distemper” which can be caught from domestic animals, as well as some of the human population who view them as pests. The presence of the Wild Dog in any environment suggests that an ecosystem is healthy – conservation goes hand in hand with the survival of many other animals who call the same ecosystem their home, as well as the survival of the land. This makes the Wild Dog a ‘flagship species.’ Wild Dogs are very well-known for their incredibly strong family bonds; they look after their pups and the sick, and depend a lot on each other for survival. If you are lucky enough to witness their interaction with a new litter, you are bound to see the peaceful and co-operative behaviour amongst the entire pack. The pups of Wild Dogs are born every year usually between the months of March and June. A litter could amount to as many as 16, and they can live for up to 10 years, but sadly not all will make it. Wild Dogs used to be present across sub-Saharan African, from East to West and all the way down to the bottom of South Africa. Today, you would be lucky to spot Wild Dogs in West and Central Africa, as most can be found in southern and south-eastern Africa. However, packs are now rather isolated from each other. We hope that your stay at Zambezi Grande offers you more insight into these fascinating animals, and how they pose no threat to us humans if we just let them be.
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