The Elephant Café is a tented exclusive restaurant built on a wooden deck in the Zambezi River, upstream from Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. Sitting only 24 people, it is the centre point of a riverside location that has been home to a herd of hand-reared elephants for many years.
The Elephant Cafe
THE ELEPHANT CAFE
It is the only restaurant in the region where customers can interact with elephants while dining on fresh locally-sourced and wild food. Customers have the option of arriving by jet boat, or by vehicle through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
The Elephant Café offers African fusion food, created with wild and locally-sourced ingredients, inspired by European, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The fine dining menu changes according to the seasonal ingredients that are available at any given time. We pride ourselves on offering unprocessed, preservative-free food that is produced in Zambia.
We support our local Livingstone growers, as well as the river communities who help to forage for our wild ingredients. It is distinctive not only for its flavor and freshness, but also for its colourful originality. Seldom will visitors have heard of, or tasted, the wild food found in the Zambezi Valley. The “bush gourmet cuisine”, as described by Annabel Hughes, the chef and food blogger who develops the recipes, is unique only to The Elephant Café. Many of the wild nuts, fruits and leaves she uses are also much loved by elephants.
Guests have the privilege of interacting with ten hand-reared elephants, of varying ages, before sitting down to eat their meal. The older elephants, like the bulls Bop, Danny and Madinda, were rescued from severe drought and culls decades ago, while others have assimilated from the wild, or were born into the herd. They are elephants that have grown up with safe human support using the “positive reinforcement method.” Being around them in close vicinity, discerning the rumble of their songs from deep within — sensing their wildness and enormity — touches something primal and very old within you. It’s an experience one will never forget.
Around 40 years old Danny is the dominant bull. He was rescued as a youngster in Mana Pools in the Lower Zambezi Valley during culling exercises during the 1960’s and 1970’s. While soft and gentle natured he also keeps the younger bulls in check.
Approximately sixty years old, Bop was also rescued in Mana Pools during the intense culling era of the 1960’s. Taken in and raised by local farmers whom thought it would be delightful to raise a calf. Little did they know how truly sizeable he would become! Bop is now retired, joining the elephants in the bush to live out his years as an old bull.
Our renowned ‘Dancing Elephant’, extremely intelligent, full of character. This 30+ year old bull was taken in after being abandoned by his herd in their long search for food and water during severe drought in Gonarezhou National Park during the 1980’s.
The Matriarch. Also a casualty of drought, she quickly gained respect as the leader once our core group of elephants came together. She will lead the herd in their daily routine of bathing in the Zambezi, foraging the bush or dozing in the shade of nearby Acacia trees.
The glamour cow of the herd, this very social 34 yr old female will hum when contentedly munching on browse. She is one of the original elephants to be reared from orphan using the Positive Reinforcement System of Reward.
Found and raised with Liwa, as low bull in their hierarchy he looks to her for companionship. Exuding a warmth and stability that all our calves find comforting, he is often seen with a young elephant around his feet.
Daughter to Liwa, sired by our own Bop at three years old she has developed tusks. Although her mother is tusk less, Bop carries a stunning set of ivory. A small percentage of all African elephants will never grow tusks due to genetics.
January 31st 2010 the elephants had been feeding on a nearby island. As handlers called the elephants in, they brought this less than a year old youngster with them. He had seemed to have been on his own for sometime though has settled nicely with the herd.
Little bull, born 29 December 2013. He is a playful little elephant, crashing through the bush behind his mother Mashumbi. Often stopping to wallow in the mud. Muyuni, at two years old is a young bull we predict to be huge watching how fast he is growing. Son to our Matriarch Mashumbi. Can you see the small bulges on his top lip? Tiny tusks jutting through.
Born to Liwa on September 22 2014. This little lady has a sense of humour. We have quickly learned not to stand behind her as she has a fairly accurate backward kick. She is often seen in the mud rough housing with Muyuni. Nyami at just 18 months is the youngest in the herd. She is carefully looked after by mother Liwa, sister Nandi and Auntie Mashumbi.
The fine dining menu changes according to the seasonal local and wild ingredients that are available at any given time. Below is a sample menu offered at The Elephant Café.