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RUSSELL GAMMON : The Victoria Falls

audio The Life of David Livingstone [audio]

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meet Russell Gammon

Russell Gammon is a wonderful storyteller. He is best known for recounting the life of missionary/ explorer David Livingstone, typically to small groups cruising down the Zambezi river toward the Victoria Falls. He is also a fine safari guide.  Russell has recorded a seven part account of Livingstone's life, which is available here  on GreatGuides and part 1 free on soundcloud.

Russell Gammon - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe [2010 ©]
Russell describes the building of the famous iron bridge at Victoria Falls

'There’s a man at Vic Falls you must meet’. I had heard it so many times that I was delighted to be introduced to Russell at a tourism show, a red-bearded man, who pressed into my hand a CD he had recorded about the life of David Livingstone. Russell has deep roots in Zimbabwe. In the 1890s his ancestors arrived from Scotland. They established transport routes and the first hotels, and the name of the Meikle clan is still associated with tourism in Zimbabwe. Later, Russell’s grandfather, a history professor, established the first teacher training college, and insisted it must be open to black students.

Russell Gammon - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe [2010 ©] - Russell Gammon - The Victoria Falls - Great Guides

It takes no time at all to see that Russell shares with his forebears a love of travel, history, teaching and hospitality; but it was wildlife that first drew him and he worked as a safari guide under the finest of mentors, including John Stevens and Gavin Ford. Much of his guiding was on the Zambezi River leading canoe safaris, and later managing lodges around Mana Pools. He was soon a head guide, then was employed to open and manage some of the top lodges around Kariba and in Hwange. By 1998 he was running his own mobile safari company, African Hinterland Safaris, focused on families. But it proved a bad time to establish a business. Zimbabwe’s tourism collapsed amidst political and economic disasters.

Russel is fascinated by David Livingstone who 'discovered' Victoria Falls 

 Many people left the country, but Russell moved to Victoria Falls with nothing but his commitment to somehow keep working in tourism. Despite the difficulties of those years (inflation topped 250 million per cent), Russell successfully launched the Rai Kane, a luxury cruise boat on the Zambezi on which he guided. His life changed when the historic Victoria Falls Hotel asked him to present a talk on Livingstone to celebrate the hotel’s centenary. His love of history flowed out, with his witty style and the gift of a storyteller. The hotel asked him to become a regular speaker. Guests asked for tours.. tour operators, the BBC and Discovery picked up on him, and Russell found himself regularly presenting talks on the life of Livingstone. By 2004 he was full time as a history-teller, and extending his work to include African Heritage tours, with fascinating visits to his friends in villages around Victoria Falls. 

Russell Gammon | David Livingstone - Zimbabwe [2012 ©] - Russell Gammon - The Victoria Falls - Great Guides

David Livingstone walked 42 000km mapping Africa and ending slavery

Russell is an accredited National Geographic guide, runs regular tours at Victoria Falls, speaks internationally, conducts on-going research and somehow still finds time to take off his history hat and lead wildlife safaris all over southern Africa.


Author: Roddy Bray
Published Date: 25 Sep 2010
Location: Southern Africa | Zimbabwe
Themes: travel, the past, natural world | inspiring, 1850 - 1945, safari guide