Zambezi Boy

An excerpt from an interview with Ryan van der Linde

Ryan Van Der Linde, a passionate wildlife and nature photographer, describes Africa as wild, diverse and vibrant. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, into a family passionate about wildlife. Camping and exploring the wild places of Zimbabwe, are among some of his favorite childhood memories.
From very young, Ryan’s love for nature was instinctive, collecting anything from feathers, shells, rocks, leaves, seed pods and even dung, to take home and analysis with great curiosity.
This continued as he got older, pursuing his interest in wildlife and the natural environment by learning as much as he could by reading books, magazine articles, and any resource he could get his hands on.
When he finished school, he passed the Learner Professional Hunters/Guide licence. It wasn’t until he started taking wildlife photographs that he realized his true passion. And so, in 2017 Zambezi Boy Photography was created. Going from strength to strength, selling prints all over the world, but most importantly turning his passion into his profession.

“I fell truly blessed because this is not a job, it is a vocation.”

Each new day in Africa, brings its own challenges, and he wouldn’t trade it for anything. Life in Zimbabwe has strengthened his character, and has taught him humility and gratitude.

“I have learnt so much about the environment and animals around me. One of the most interesting, was learning from the Tonga tribe in the Zambezi Valley, about the many uses of the baobab tree.”

Having traveled through South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, he isn’t short of a tale or two. His favorite place on his travels, the Zambezi River, and a trip in 2016, he did with his Grandfather and brother.
As for close encounters with wildlife, one springs to mind. On a trip to Sinamwenda, a very remote fishing village on the shores of Lake Kariba, Ryan was left stranded in the bush. A heavy rain storm washed away parts of the road, with no way forward or back. Fortunately, he was on route to a fishing camp and had enough supplies to keep him going for the four days he was stranded. Ryan saw it as an opportunity to explore the lake shore and surrounding areas on foot. While out exploring, he spotted some elephants very close-by. He thought they hadn’t seen him, so he stopped to quietly observe them. But they had.

“You can imagine my shock when a young bull elephant started to charge me. I don’t think I have ever run that fast in my life.”

Ryan’s favorite African animal is the African Antelope. Often overlooked by tourists, mostly because they are plentiful and not as imposing as the big five. Antelope such as Kudu, Sable, Gemsbok, and the rare Lichensteins Hartebeest, he says, are some of the most beautiful animals in the African bush velt.
The best part about living in Africa, Ryan says, is seeing the diversity of the people and cultures, and the slower pace and simplicity of life.

“It’s like living in an epic adventure movie. There are so many places to explore within Africa. It is a land of extreme beauty, from the wide-open plains of the Serengeti; lush rainforest of East Africa; dry Kalahari sands; Mopani woodlands; to the vast wetlands of Southern Africa; combined with colorful cultures, deep myths and rich history. Every time I visit a place, even if I have been there before, I learn more, discover more beauty, which makes me fall in love with Africa all over again.”

To follow Ryan on Instagram, please click the link: https://www.instagram.com/zambezi_boy/

I Heart Africa Project Podcast – Episode #1: Stephanie Fuchs

Stephanie Fuchs lives in the Masai Steppe of Tanzania with her Maasai warrior husband and young son. She is a biologist and conservationist by profession, and a Maasai by heart.

Honeymooning with gorillas

An excerpt from Interview with Josh Kanuck

Honeymooners, Josh Kanuck and Amanda Sheplee, missed Africa the moment they returned home in 2017 to New York City, and started thinking about how quickly they could return.
Having lived in New York City for the last seventeen years, Josh and Amanda tied the knot at the Bronx Zoo, and instead of jet-setting immediately off on a honeymoon, they waited until they could have the honeymoon, they both dreamed of – an African safari, including a visit to Rwanda to marvel at the magnificent mountain gorillas.
When Josh stepped foot on African soil, his first impression was nothing like what he had expected. He puts this down to some of the generalizations people make about Africa.

“You have to keep in mind that Africa is a continent, not a country. It is huge, and each place we visited was so different from the next.”

While opting to travel alone, they never felt alone. Linda Friedman from Custom Safaris arranged their travel, and Josh said it made all the difference. Along with meeting other honeymooning couples, they had guides and drivers the entire time, enhancing their experience by having the experience and knowledge of a local person as they traveled around.

“Having guides and drivers with boots on the ground to assist with the logistics from going through customs to getting from point A to point B, really made the experience go smoothly.”

The people they met in Rwanda and Kenya, including their drivers and guides, were incredible, and are the reason their trip is so memorable. Rwanda is one of the greenest countries they had ever been to, and it is one of the safest countries in Africa; a fact that Rwandans are very proud of. Rwanda is a far different country now from its history of genocide, but that didn’t stop Josh’s family and friends from raising an eyebrow.

“When you tell people, you are going to see gorillas in the wild, people are always nervous for you. I think some people have a ferocious gorilla image in their head, but they aren’t violent at all.”

Josh admitted that he thought he would be nervous around them, but as soon as he stepped foot in the mountains, all worries vanished. Gorillas move during the day, and the troupe they were following kept moving higher up the mountain. He felt like they would never catch up, but after nearly four hours of hiking through prickly nettles, their guide signaled them to be silent. The gorillas had stopped and were now a mere twenty-feet away.

“Our hearts jumped. It was an amazing feeling. It was like no other experience I have ever had.”

Observing these magnificent animals in the wild left a profound impression on Josh and Amanda.

“They walked around us, going about their business. They are so calm and gentle and are mostly interested in eating and sleeping. The babies were just as curious of us.”

Will they return? Absolutely, and did earlier this year, to Morocco.

“Everyone should travel to Africa to get out of our comfort zone to connect and witness nature and wildlife in a way that you will have never experienced before.”