The Elephant Camp

The Elephant Camp: Our full report

Rooms
12 tented chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (94%) From 14 reviews
Children
Best for a mature child of 7+
Open
All year

The Elephant Camp sits on its own private concession within the Victoria Falls National Park, 15 minutes' drive from the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls and the waterfall itself. Designed to match the style of a safari camp rather than that of the larger hotels within the town, it was built to maximise the views towards the dramatic Batoka Gorge and the spray of the Victoria Falls. A stay here includes a range of activities, as well as transfers to/from town and local airports.

The camp is set on a rise overlooking the national park and on to the Batoka Gorge in the distance. In a peaceful bush setting, it makes a quiet place to relax at either the start or end of a trip, and is a very convenient base for visiting the Victoria Falls.

A waterhole in front of the camp attracts animals, particularly in the dry season; during our most recent visit, in 2019, a couple of old male buffalo were enjoying a midday drink in the October heat. That said, a well hidden, electric fence keeps wild animals out of the camp itself . Repeat guests will remember The Elephant Camp’s orphaned cheetah, Sylvester, who sadly died in 2018.

With a canvas structure, and panoramic views across the national park, the The Elephant Camp feels like a smart safari lodge, matching the style of lodges in Zimbabwe's more remote national parks, yet with the bonus of mains electricity, air conditioning and WiFi. That said, it doesn't rely on scenery alone to impress guests. The whole camp is designed and decorated in a simple, almost minimalist style and to very high specifications.

Each of the 12 luxury tents is identical, split into two sections with a private deck and plunge pool in front. They’re decorated in neutral safari tones, with rich pops of colour throughout. The open-plan bedroom and living area are separated from the bathroom by a canvas sliding door, which when opened, makes the whole tent feel more spacious and breezy. The same is true of the glass sliding doors leading out onto the viewing deck, so that guests anywhere in the tent can enjoy the views. Mesh windows keep insects out but allow light and air in, or the whole tent can be closed up and cooled with air conditioning and fans.

Inside, the original concrete floors have been replaced with wood-laminate and are scattered with rugs and mats to add colour and warmth. In the lounge area, an old teak chest acts as a coffee table, with a comfortable settee and chair offering a spot to relax, perhaps with a book – there’s a small but very good selection of reference and fiction in the main area. There's a tea and coffee station here, too, along with a well-stocked minibar.

The bedroom features a double bed beneath a four-poster frame and mosquito net, and a ceiling fan above. There's a dressing table with a hairdryer and international plug points, and a full-length mirror. The clean lines and subtle decoration of the bedrooms are evident in the en-suite bathrooms as well, where you'll find a free-standing ball-and-claw bath, indoor and outdoor showers, a flush toilet, a deep porcelain washbasin with complimentary toiletries, dressing gowns and slippers.

The spacious main area at The Elephant Camp is also tented, the ceiling draped in white fabric to give an elegant feel. Here you’ll find a comfortable lounge with a couple of seating areas, a dining area and a central bar. New wooden floors lead out through glass sliding doors to an expansive deck, which was replaced with recycled plastic decking in early 2019. There is an outside dining area, a pizza oven, and more comfortable couches for relaxing and taking in the views,

Down a few steps you’ll come to the swimming pool, where they’ve new added a new sunken boma area around a small firepit.

Brand new for 2019 is The Elephant Camp’s spa, offering a range of beauty treatments in two treatment rooms, from facials and massages to manicures and pedicures.

Since the camp is situated in its own private concession, guests don't have to be back in camp before the national park gates close, so can choose to eat out in town – although dinner at the camp is included in your stay!

Also included in your stay are several activities, among them game drives within the camp’s private concession, birding and nature walks, and cocktails and canapés beside the Batoka Gorge. Probably one of the most memorable experiences is their elephant encounter, thanks to an elephant sanctuary on the concession that is run byWild Horizons. Elephants orphaned in the 1990s have been raised and habituated here, and in the early afternoon it is possible to meet them and the staff who look after them, as well as to touch the elephants and feed them by hand. The animals are well looked after, and trained through positive reinforcement methods, and although this is a commercial operation, it is low key and run with a strong concern for ethical responsibility.

Other inclusions in your stay are a visit to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, a village tour with lunch at the Lookout Café, a guided tour of the Falls (excluding entrance fees which need to be for direct), a Victoria Falls Canopy Tour, mountain bike rides through the Victoria Falls National Park and cycling through town (unguided).

Our view

More like a safari lodge than a city hotel, The Elephant Camp is conveniently located for the airport, and is a good choice for visitors wanting to see the Victoria Falls. With good service, comfortable rooms, and a superb view, we would certainly recommend two or three nights here, at either the beginning of a trip to recover from a long-haul flight, or at the end of a safari.

Geographics

Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights

Directions: The transfer by road from Victoria Falls Airport takes around 15 minutes.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Wild Horizons

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at The Elephant Camp was very good when we last stayed in 2016, but we didn’t have a chance to eat here on our most recent visit in October 2019. We know that their meals are varied and interesting, with game meat often appearing on the menu.

Breakfast is served between 8.00am and 10.30am, with earlier breakfasts available on request. There's both a continental and a cooked buffet, and a chef is on hand to cook eggs to order.

Lunch is served between 12.30pm and 2.30pm from a set menu, with red meat, white meat and vegetarian options available. In the past, we’ve enjoyed stir-fried beef with peppers and fragrant rice, followed by homemade ice-cream,

Dinner is a three-course meal, with the same menu format as lunch. We’ve had a mozzarella, tomato and pesto tart starter, moving on to ostrich medallions with roast potatoes and steamed vegetables, and rounded off with crème brûlée for dessert.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Soft drinks and wines, spirits and beers are included in the price. High-end liqueurs, champagne, imported wines (except most South African wines) and spirits are not. Each guest is provided with a glass water bottle, which can be refilled with filtered water. Bottled water is also available on request.

Further dining info: Private dining can be arranged on the pool deck.

Special interests

Family holidays: Set in a private concession within Victoria Falls National Park, The Elephant Camp is just a short distance from the famous waterfall. They offer a thrilling interaction with elephants, allowing children (aged 7+) to have a wonderful close wildlife encounter on a family safari.

See more ideas for Family holidays in Zimbabwe

Children

Attitude towards children: Children over 7 are welcome; children under 7 may be accepted on request.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age usually 7 years.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: An electric fence around the camp’s perimeter stops bigger animals from coming into camp, but smaller wildlife can still wander through. The pool is also unfenced, so, children should therefore be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator.

Communications: Cellphone reception is available at The Elephant Camp, and there is free WiFi in the main area. The tents have new in-house telephones which connect through to reception and other guest tents.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: All the rooms at The Elephant Camp are fully plumbed in, with hot and cold running water.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Management staff are trained in first aid. The nearest doctor is in Victoria Falls.

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to their rooms by security guards after dark.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are positioned throughout the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Included

Money: N/A

Accepted payment on location: Credit cards are not accepted at The Elephant Camp. Cash payments may be made in US dollars.

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