This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines now closed

User menu
Elephant Encounter

Elephant Encounter

Overview: Elephant Encounter

As an introduction to elephants, the encounter at The Elephant Camp’s orphanage is very personal. Not only will you get to spend several hours close to these characterful animals, you’ll even have the opportunity to feed them by hand, and to chat to their guides about their background and day-to-day life.

About The Elephant Camp

An upmarket lodge on the outskirts of Victoria Falls town, The Elephant Camp has worked together for years with the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust to run the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage. The sanctuary started in 1992 with four elephants, Jock, Jack, Jumbo and Miz Ellie, all orphans of the elephant-culling operations in Hwange National Park in the 1980s. With all four in need of sanctuary, Wild Horizons and The Elephant Camp were chosen to create a home for them, and to provide space to take in other orphaned individuals.

The orphanage prioritises the elephants’ welfare and wellbeing, but running costs are high, and the elephant encounters – which are open to outside visitors as well as lodge guests – help to offset these.

The ethics

Animal encounters in the name of tourism have rightly come under increased scrutiny in recent years. In many cases, direct interaction with wildlife is to its detriment, and often raises strong ethical concerns. We at Expert Africa carefully consider all animal encounters before choosing whether to support them. While we consider walking with lions and elephant-back safaris to fall short of our ethical standards, we are happy in principle to book elephant encounters for our travellers.

Two major concerns of many animal encounters are where the animals are initially sourced, and how they are treated. Although The Elephant Camp itself is run for commercial purposes, the elephant encounter is a low-key part of their operation, housing genuinely orphaned and vulnerable elephants. There is no sign of animals being removed from the wild for any other reason, or of unnecessary breeding in pursuit of greater profits.
From our experience on our last visit we are also very happy with the professionalism and methods used by staff at the orphanage.

The animals at The Elephant Camp are well looked after, and are trained through positive reinforcement, so while the elephant encounters are run to raise funds for the orphanage, we feel that they demonstrate a strong concern for ethical responsibility.

If you would prefer to observe wildlife only in a wild environment, such an animal encounter may not feel comfortable. From an ethical standpoint, however, we believe that there is a long-term obligation to care for elephants orphaned through human actions, such as culling operations or poaching, where the individual elephants can't be reintroduced to the wild. It’s to fulfil this obligation that The Elephant Camp needs the support and income from their elephant encounters.

Elephant Encounter details

The Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage at the Elephant Camp offers a unique chance to appreciate the size and character of these iconic creatures. Over the course of your three-hour encounter you will have the chance to meet the staff (trained by Kansas City Zoo) who look after the elephants, and learn about the history of each family group at the sanctuary, how the herds interact, and the conservation challenges facing elephant in the region.

You will then take a walk into the bush surrounding the camp to meet the herd, interacting with the elephants on a personal level, with a chance to hand-feed them. While it’s well known that elephants are big, you can truly appreciate their size when you are looking up at their chin, hearing the rumblings of their digestive system deep within their bodies. Up close you can also see the subtle ways the elephants interact with each other and their handlers.

There are three elephant encounters each day, starting from The Elephant Camp at 6.30am, 9.00am and 3.30pm.

<Please note: Expert Africa can only arrange these personalised visits with orphaned elephants as part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary which includes a stop in Victoria Falls. See the Holiday ideas, below, for examples of such itineraries.

Start location
Any of Expert Africa's hotels or lodges in the vicinity of Victoria Falls
End location
Back at your hotel
Meals included
Snacks, tea, coffee soft drinks, local beers & wine
Three hours
Maximum group size
Eight people

Photo gallery

What to look forward to.

1 of 2
The Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls offers elephant encounters...
2 of 2 you a chance for a close encounter with one of Africa's most iconic species.

The Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls offers elephant encounters... you a chance for a close encounter with one of Africa's most iconic species.

Elephant Encounter reviews

46 independent first-hand comments from our travellers.

5 reviews since August 2007

Overall rating: Average

Mr and Mrs LfromUSA

30 May 2023

"Elephant Encounter review"

"It was fantastic to be so close to these gentle giants …" Read Mr and Mrs L’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent


13 Aug 2022

"Elephant Encounter review"

"A real highlight and very memorable. …" Read Charlie’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

MargaretfromSt. Albans

17 Feb 2020

"You should try this"

"you are doing a great job …" Read Margaret’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs RfromKingston

29 Aug 2018

"Unique Elephant Encounter"

"We enjoyed this encounter with these rescued elephants. …" Read Mr & Mrs R’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

See all Elephant Encounter reviews

Ideas for holidays which can include Elephant Encounter

Add this experience to these trip ideas or contact us to start planning your own tailor-made safari to Zimbabwe.

Itinerary image

Sable Self-drive Safari

12 days • 7 locations

A great-value southern African self-drive adventure from Namibia along the Caprivi Strip to Botswana and Zimbabwe, combining other-worldly landscapes, unforgettable wildlife spectacles and rarely visited places, and ending at Victoria Falls.

US$5,980 - US$8,110 per person

Itinerary image

Klipspringer Safari

8 days • 3 locations

An outstanding-value Zimbabwe safari exploring Victoria Falls and two contrasting locations in western Zimbabwe – Hwange and the Matobo Hills – giving you a real feel for Zimbabwe, its people and wildlife.

US$2,890 - US$3,570 per person

Itinerary image

Nyala Safari

10 days • 3 locations

A superb luxury safari in iconic Hwange and Mana Pools national parks, staying in a pair of the finest safari camps in Zimbabwe, with a grand finale at Victoria Falls

US$10,150 - US$15,050 per person

Itinerary image

Great Egret Safari

12 days • 4 locations

A wonderfully varied adventure to Botswana and Zimbabwe combining three fantastic safari areas, a luxury river cruise and the mighty Victoria Falls.

US$9,200 - US$17,100 per person

Itinerary image

Rock Hare Self-drive Safari

20 days • 12 locations

An in-depth look at Namibia from the Namib Desert to the Caprivi, with additional stops in Botswana and Victoria Falls. This three-week adventure includes an unrivalled mix of environments and is great value.

US$5,080 - US$7,250 per person

Itinerary image

Pygmy Mouse Self-drive Safari

18 days • 10 locations

A truly epic southern African self-drive safari adventure from Namibia’s mountains and deserts, along the lush Caprivi Strip to Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, staying at luxury lodges throughout.

US$5,390 - US$8,720 per person

Itinerary image

Leopard Safari

13 days • 4 locations

Victoria Falls, Botswana and Cape Town – a classic southern African itinerary combining luxury, wilderness, safari and culture. We can't think of a better way to spend two weeks.

US$9,220 - US$13,050 per person

Itinerary image

Pied Kingfisher Safari

9 days • 3 locations

A luxury safari combining three of Zimbabwe's top highlights. The trip uses some of the finest safari camps in Zimbabwe and is perfect for a family or small group.

US$7,000 - US$10,780 per person

Itinerary image

The Highlights of Africa

17 days • 7 locations

An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.

US$14,300 - US$18,160 per person

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Other excursions in Zimbabwe

Inspiration and great ideas for other experiences in Zimbabwe to include in your safari.

Ra-Ikane River Cruise

Ra-Ikane River Cruise

Two hours minimum

Cruising the upper sections of the Zambezi reveals another dimension to the river's beauty, adding a sense of serenity to the thrill of watching it cascade over the Victoria Falls. On a Ra-Ikane river cruise, experience the river’s islands and channels, keeping an eye out for wildlife, and the spray from the Falls.

More about Ra-Ikane River Cruise
95% (35 reviews)
Helicopter Flight - Zimbabwe

Helicopter Flight - Zimbabwe

Shortest flight is 12-25 minutes

While viewing the Victoria Falls from the ground is a stunning experience, seen the world’s largest waterfall from the air allows for a completely different perspective, historically said to have been so beautiful as to have been seen by ‘angels in flight’.

More about Helicopter Flight
95% (8 reviews)
Guided tour of Victoria Falls

Guided tour of Victoria Falls

Two hours - AM & PM departures

One of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, the mighty Victoria Falls has to be seen to be believed. Why not take an expertly guided trip to learn about the history, geology, flora and fauna of one of Africa's most spectacular sites?

More about Tour of the Falls
100% (4 reviews)
Zambezi Explorer River Cruise

Zambezi Explorer River Cruise

Two hours

Watching the sunset from the middle of the Zambezi River, with the spray of the falls behind you, is an incredibly popular activity. A large variety of cruises are on offer, ranging from cheap and boozy directed towards the backpacker crowd, to much more luxurious and serene experiences. A great option for the latter style is the Zambezi Explorer.

More about Zambezi Explorer
100% (4 reviews)
Historical Bridge Tour

Historical Bridge Tour

Two hours - AM & PM departures

A feat of engineering the Victoria Falls Bridge was built in 1905 as part of Cecil Rhodes' vision to link the Cape to Cairo. With an expert guide and the appropriate safety equipment you'll not only discover the wonders of this Victorian marvel but also gain a unique perspective of the Victoria Falls themselves.

More about Bridge Tour
Bushtracks Express

Bushtracks Express

Generally four and a half hours

The Bushtracks Express Train starts its journey at Zimbabwe’s iconic Victoria Falls Station before departing on its route through Victoria Falls National Park the Victoria Falls Bridge, where guests enjoy the stunning view of the Falls. Afterwards, the train will depart for a siding out of town, for dinner.

More about Bushtracks Express
Cookery Course & Activity

Cookery Course & Activity

Six hours - afternoon activity

Make a traditional Southern African ‘potjie dinner’ on the banks of the Zambezi River. You’ll be guided through the preparation process by professional chefs before embarking on an afternoon activity while your dinner cooks. The activity is followed by a 3-course meal, including your self-made Pot as the main course.

More about Cookery Course
Elephant Art Experience

Elephant Art Experience

Three hours

The Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Art of Africa have teamed up to create a unique experience in the bush, with private tutors running painting workshops and habituated elephants provision impressive models, standing just metres away from your easel.

More about Elephant Art Experience

Zimbabwe fact file

Useful information to help you prepare for your trip in Zimbabwe

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link

New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team