Please note: Min Pax: 2, Min Age: 10 yrs, It is essential to inform us of any allergies or dietary preferences at the time of booking.
The Elephant Café, awarded Zambia’s Best New Restaurant 2016, 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, this exclusive Livingstone restaurant is the centre point of a riverside location that has been home to a herd of hand-reared elephants for many years.
Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world. It is the stupendous masterpiece sculpted by the Zambezi, a river so abundant and so powerful it has sculpted the livelihoods, culture and communication of nearly everyone who has settled on, or close to, its banks.
The Elephant Café is built on a wooden deck in the Zambezi River, a 25-minute boat ride upriver from Victoria Falls. This Victoria Falls restaurant sits in a place that is not only breathtaking, it’s imbued with an energy of interconnectedness and calm. It’s a place that invites in other wild animals like giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, and antelope from the surrounding Mosi-a-Tunya National Park. It’s a place that’s alive with bush-speak, from the throats of the river birds, from luxuriating hippos, from squabbling monkeys and baboons in the canopy overhead. It’s a place that carries the spirit of the elephant.
“Nothing short of Magical”
“The Highlight of my Africa trip”
Three magical experiences in one. We invite you to enjoy a speedboat transfer (approx.40 mins) from Livingstone up the Zambezi River to our exclusive tented restaurant built on a wooden deck, upstream from Victoria Falls – the centrepoint of a riverside location that has been home to a herd of hand-reared elephants for many years. This is a Livingstone restaurant like no other.
You will have the opportunity to meet the herd, learn their stories and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime close encounter with these gentle giants before you are welcomed into The Elephant Café for a unique dining experience with Chef de Cuisine Annabel Hughes and her team who specialise in creating a foodie’s delight of fresh locally-sourced food and wild edibles.
Clients have the option of arriving by speedboat or with a road transfer from your Livingstone accommodation. Return transfers and limited alcoholoc / non-alcohlic drinks are included in the rate. Minimum Age is 10yrs.
Reservations for Breakfast, Lunch, High Tea or Dinner are available. Advance Reservation and Notification of any Special Dietary Requirements is essential!
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.
As a Livingstone restaurant, we feel it is only right to 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 FOOD WAS DELICIOUS…
One of the highlights in Livingstone is a jet boat ride on the Zambezi, screaming with the thrill of jetting at speed, then slowing down to give way to a pod of hippos midstream and elephants on the banks. Our destination was the fabulous surprise which is The Elephant Cafe, we were not expecting such an elegant, opened-sided, bespoke, tented restaurant right on the river. The food was delicious, incorporating nuts and produce sourced locally, the children loved feeding the elephants, as did we. Thank you for a truly wonderful day on the edge of the mighty Zambezi at The Elephant Cafe, we would highly recommend a trip for lunch – Victoria Fox-Smith, Sydney, Australia
STUNNING EXPERIENCE AND FABULOUS FOOD FROM LOCAL INGREDIENTS
Stunning experience and fabulous food from local ingredients. Well worth visiting if you are in Livingstone. It was a very special last meal with my 85-year-old Mum who declared it the best meal she had ever had! She loved feeding the elephants as well. Thanks, Annabel – Vivien Brelsford, Bangkok, Thailand
OUR LUNCH AT THE ELEPHANT CAFE WAS ONE OF THE ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR TRIP TO AFRICA
Our lunch at the Elephant Cafe was one of the absolute highlights of our trip to Africa. Meeting the rescue elephants was thrilling–we got to pet them, feel their mighty tusks, and smile as they reached out to us with their trunks for food. We have adorable photos with the baby! Then we were escorted onto this beautiful deck over the river and handed a champagne cocktail before being seated for lunch, so very pleasant. The prix fixe, three-course meal was absolutely fabulous, first class–like nothing I expected to find anywhere in Africa. Lunch was unique because it included surprising elements of local fruits and flavors which we found intriguing and delightful. And watching monkeys cavorting in the trees and hippos puffing in the water below while we sipped our cappuccinos, well, it was a glorious end to a truly exceptional experience – Cynthia Morris, Bluemont, Virginia, USA