Image courtesy of @friederikestackelberg

Those who have heard of elephants crossing the mighty Zambezi will know that it’s simply fascinating. Whilst everyone is aware of the great migration, these river crossings certainly carry their own magic for those lucky enough to witness them in the flesh.

There are two reasons why elephants cross the river. The first is out of necessity and the second is based on seasonal routes. Connecting with other members of the herd is what drives the need to cross the river, with their infrasound mechanism allowing them to communicate with their kin up to 30km away. As incredibly sociable beings, elephants need to engage with others of their kind, especially where breeding and social purposes are concerned. This makes a river crossing pivotal for survival. It also allows them to secure additional food sources.

The crossing of the Zambezi River is not without its risks. For starters, the river is deep and wide, making the threat of drowning a real one indeed. Currents of the river present additional challenges with calves vulnerable to being swept away. Another danger is the presence of crocodiles, ready to target smaller or weaker elephants.

Older, more established elephants counteract these dangers by following the matriarch into the river, with the calves staying near the upper side of the elders. When the current pushes the calves, they fall onto the older members of the herd, preventing them from getting swept away. Another way they keep themselves and each other safe is by creating a safety chain. Holding each other’s trunks, they move slowly along the river. This presents a problem though, as they use their trunks to breathe. Luckily, elephants are able to float in water thanks to the honeycomb cavity in the front part of their skull, filled with air pockets that help them stay afloat. Their lungs and diaphragm cavity keeps them buoyant as well. With their bodies suspend in the water, they’re able to paddle themselves and continue walking within the water.

If you’ve been dreaming of an elephant encounter in the heart of Africa, there’s no better time to join us at Zambezi Grande. To get started on planning your luxury safari escape, email our reservations team at Ask us about our limited special offers that promise even more adventure. We can’t wait to see you at Zambezi Grande soon.