The Fothergill Story


Fothergill’s story is not a straightforward one. Our history is shaped by hope, bravery, daring feats, and revival. A tale of one step forward, one step back.. and then a magnificent leap forward, driven by vision and dreams for a better and bolder future.

Operation Noah

The Zambezi Valley, which forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia (then Northern and Southern Rhodesia), is one of the richest wildlife sanctuaries on the planet.
The build of Kariba Dam is finished in 1958 and in 1963, the dam is filled for the first time.
The Kariba Dam
Between 1958 and 1963, immense flooding of the Kariba Basin and Zambezi Valley occurs, forcing thousands to leave their homes and move to higher ground. The wild animals also had to move, but only the larger animals who could swim to safety, made it to the mainland.
Rupert Fothergill, Rhodesia’s chief game ranger at the time, moved quickly to address the plight of the animals and mobilised 60 wildlife wardens and rangers for a rescue mission that would be named Operation Noah.
Rupert Fothergill
Over five gruelling years, until 1964, Fothergill and his team worked tirelessly to evacuate and relocate stranded animals using nets (or hand!) to catch them and transporting them by boat, using rudimentary equipment such as ropes (made from old nylon stockings), sacks, and boxes.
With tremendous courage and determination, the men rescued and relocated over 6,000 animals, from warthogs and snakes to rhino, elephant, lion, and leopard. Most of these found a home in Matusadona.
The Matusadona was proclaimed a non-consumptive safari area on November 7th, 1958, before being declared a game reserve in 1963. In 1975, it became a National Park, under the Parks and Wildlife Act of Rhodesia.


Rupert Fothergill’s mission served to set the foundation of Matusadona National Park, within which Fothergill (named after the hero himself!) is located. In subsequent years, however, the area changed hands and the country itself went through a period of uncertainty and turmoil. As the hourglass turned, the instability of the country’s economic climate led to the island’s neglect.

When our leadership team first set foot upon the island, the land was a shadow of what it had once been. The bountiful wildlife was nowhere to be seen, with only the broken branches of trees hinting at the presence of the gentle giants that called this home. But, with Fothergill’s legacy echoing inspiration, we continued with our vision to rehabilitate and transform the island into a sanctuary worthy of his efforts.

We sought collaboration with the relevant conservation and parks authorities to assist in restoring the land and its animals, and rebuilt this idyllic place into a new vision.

Church of Santa Barbara

Kariba City Tour

Interested to learn more? Join us on a tour to the Kariba dam wall and browse the archives of old artefacts, news clippings, and images. Along the way, shop local crafts and art, take some scenic pictures at the lookout point, and visit the Church of Santa Barbara, dedicated to St Barbara, the patron saint of engineers, and built by the Italian company contracted to build the Kariba dam wall.


“The island’s heritage and legacy is the foundation upon which we’ve built our vision, to create a truly remarkable experience in this phenomenal place. Every detail is looked after and every consideration is given to our guests, allowing them to enjoy a sensational affair with Africa that exceeds all expectations. We are tremendously proud of Fothergill’s rich history and namesake. It is a true privilege to call this special place our home.”

Andy Lowe and Neil Evans

Co-owners & fellow island sojourners