The Elephant Cafe-Livingstone Zambia

Hello everyone.
Just passing the word along.. just in case anyone is interested. I'm going next Sept.10th to Livingstone Zambia and I've booked a visit to the Elephant cafe for lunch, transfer by speed boat, anyone interested?
Cost it's $230.00 speedboat transfers and $195.00 bus transfer.
Cost includes-transfer-lunch and 1/2 hour interaction with elephants.
Have a great day.



  • Hi mil, I am interested in lunch by speedboat to the Elephant Cafe on September 10. I understand the experience is about 2.5 hours, departing the Royal Livingstone @10 AM and returning @2:30. Do I need to contact the cafe or the Royal Livingstone for a reservation? Thanks, Rebecca aka ladybombay

  • Hi Ladybombay
    Happy to hear you're interested. I did reserve my spot for it through the hotel, I'll give you the info tomorrow, I think I have the email from the hotel in my work computer.
    Sorry it has taken this long, to answer I just got in from work, Full moon :))

    What the hotel did was reserved a spot for me, now they told me the speed boat will go if there is more than just one person, they do min. of 4 to operate the boat, otherwise it would have to be transport by bus... I'm not worry, everyone wants to do the boat.

    Let me give you the email of the concierge at the hotel anyways, tomorrow but do send the enquiry today, so will contact you ASAP. - Tell them you want to make reservation for the cafe going by Speed Boat.
    Let them know you want lunch on Sept. 10th, that you're traveling with Tauck. and That I, Milena Gonzalez have reserved a spot for same day.

    Also, here is some info. from the hotel. if you like to check out anything else.

    By the way, I'm going solo, so I do book a lot of xtras pre and post Tauck. I'm staying 2 days in Cape town after the tour.
    Have a great evening, let me know if you have any questions.
    Take care.

  • Ladybomay,
    Hi, good morning. I'm at work and as I promised, here is the direct email of the person that made my Elephant Cafe reservation.
    [email protected] - Helgard Meissenhei.
    This is the email I got from him, note the activity he is talking about it's the boat ride, where a min. of 4 people are needed to run it.-
    4 min. total regardless the hotel, if the boat ride is cancelled then you can go by bus.

    Helgard Meissenheimer (Minor Hotels)

    Mar 23, 2022, 16:51 GMT+7

    Dear Milena

    We thank you for the below mail that has been received. Kindly note that we have reserved your request, please take note that the amount of minimum guest for this activity is four guest and you are the only one currently reserved. If there is no further pick up the activity will be cancelled. Payment can be made directly at the resort.

    Should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Until the next email from us, keep healthy and safe.

    Best regards



    Hope your doing well, let me know if you hear from them, Have a lovely day.

  • Excellent; thank you. I, too, received an acknowledgement from the hotel upon my reservation request. Hoping there will be at least two more people interested. Otherwise, there will be bus transport provided, and I’m fine with that option as long as I get to interact with the tembos!🐘🐘🐘🐘

  • Hi Cathyandsteve.
    So far, the rainy season is great, so... no severe drought expected this year.
    I'll cross my fingers.

  • I hope you mean the rains in north-west Zambia and the mountains of eastern Angola, because that is the source of water for the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls. The Okavango Delta gets its water from the Cubango and Cuito rivers in Angola. This reaches the Delta between March and June and peaks in July.

    Zambezi flows at Victoria Falls are slightly higher than last year at this time: 5/2/2022 2,776 m3/s vs 2,745 m3/s on 5/2/2021

    The only info I could find about the Delta was the article at this link: and a radar photo which appeared to show more water there than when we went at the end of May 2019, though the area is still showing abnormal dryness.

    Anyway, I hope the water levels and flow hold thru the summer for your trip!!

  • cathyandsteve AlanS. Hi , Happy Thursday. :)
    Thanks for the info. Well , it is what it is... I'll take what ever I can get, as long as I can see the elephants, I'm happy.
    I have seen several water falls in my life, sure Victoria Falls can be amazing but I'll be okay and if we cannot go on the boat then I'll go by bus...not big deal. I'm easy ;)
    Thanks again.

  • Thanks to all for the information. I visited “The Smoke That Thunders” from the Zimbabwe side on Tauck’s South Africa: An Elegant Adventure and had fun getting soaked. If the water level is low in September I will be ok with that. Do hope the Okavanga Delta is not too dry. Also hoping the weather conditions allow for spending the night in the salt pans.

  • We planned this trip to hit the Zambezi at maximum flood stage in mid-May. it worked. The ‘smoke that thundeers’ was going strong and the Okavango was flooded.

  • milmil
    edited May 2022

    Hi Sealord,
    I booked the trip in Sept. because I was trying to avoid rainy days... I enjoy photography as a hobby, so I like bright sunny days.
    But I would like to do the Zambesi on a speedboat & also hope the Okavango has enough water for the Makoros canoes. We'll see. I'll cross my fingers, Thanks for the info.


  • edited May 2022

    We were there in a September. We were able to arrive by speedboat to the hotel. It would depend on the tiime of day you arrive, they would not be able to do it in darkness.
    The Okavango area was really drying up and it was quite difficult to navigate in the area where the canoe rides are taken. When we did it, we were charged by a very annoyed loan hippo and it was very frightening, the guides abandoned the trip after that. We could do the other speedboat areas no problem.
    Our favorite part of the tour was the Kalahari desert, sleeping out on the salt pan which you are much more likely to be able to do in September. Our second favorite was visiting the Meerkats and having them scamper over everyone. One of my favorites photos of my husband’is when two meerkats are sitting on him and chattering away. One was heavily pregnant.
    We’ve seen the Falls twice, once with plenty of water and once when there were dry areas, it’s still special either way. But all in all, the Botswana and South Africa parts of the tour were my favorite. Adding the Falls to a tour really makes it a much more difficult air journey, either from Zambia or Zimbabwe. Even pre Covid, there are not many flights and it adds many hours ot the long flight from the US. Next time we go to Southern Africa, I hope we can find a tour that doesn’t go to the Falls.

  • Thank you, ladies. Great info. I cannot wait!

    British, when I started to check the air for this trip, yes, I did notice it was a little complicated ...more so, That British Air discontinued the direct flight from JNB. to LIV. But, checking EMIRATES (my Fav. airline) I ended up with a great itinerary and at a great $$. and I don't have to stay overnight anywhere at all.

    I'm flying Seattle-Dubai 14 hours - staying in Dubai 2 days (need to check out the new stuff :) ) and then on to Lusaka , flight- departs at 9:30 am - 7 hours- I will arrive in Lusaka the same day at around 2:30pm (1. 40 mi. Layover) and finally, I'll fly with Proflight ($287 one way) a privately own company to LIV.- 1hour 15 min. I'll arrive at LIV around 5:15 pm same day.
    Grand total (round trip) coming back, Cape T.-Dubai-Seattle Business class $3987.00
    I tell you guys; Emirates is very affordable if you know how to work the system. :)

    Cathy the heat is another factor for booking Sept.- I know is not that hot and a friend also mention about being the best time if I wanted to sleep with the stars at the Kalahari Desert.

    Chobe is a fav. for Elephants so I'm happy to know that one ... is not drying out. :)
    Quick question how is the boat ride around Chobe.. do you have a chance to take pictures.. or do they just cruse along as fast as possible.

    Honestly, this Trip has so many things to look forward, that it would be impossible not to have an amazing time.
    Okay Ladies, have a great evening and Happy Mother's Day.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  • edited May 2022

    Yes, plenty of time to take pictures. Lots of different animals and birds, crocs and I think we saw a monitor lizard there. We even watched an elephant crossing the river to an island area.
    We thought we might try going again in June another time when there is more water around, but then we might not be able to sleep in the desert which would be a priority. We are already looking at other Africa trips for this year in case our Singapore trip is canceled.
    Alan is correct about the source of the Zambezi having nothing to do with rain in the area of the Falls. The Okavango Delta is a fascinating phenomenon, research has revealed that it is because hippos make tracks on land that form channels for the waters to follow over a wide area rather than a river, benefiting wildlife over a much wider area. Without hippos this would forever change

  • edited May 2022

    Happy Mother's Day to all who qualify! :)<3

    B, SA, Z 25 May - 5 June 2019

    The water level over the falls was not dangerously wild and crazy, but really significant. The water taxi to the Royal Livingstone had no problem navigating the river, neither did the Lady Livingstone during lunch on the river on Day 2. The water level in the Chobe was good during our cruise & buffet lunch which was on a large pontoon boat. The boat moved moderately slowly and made a couple of stops to facilitate photos. There were lots of different animals, but not a high concentration of any one species.

    Water levels in Okavango Delta were very low- usually flooded areas in front of cottages were totally dry and the water level in the stream beyond the Sunset Bar was very low- our Mokoros ran aground after traveling 100 yds or so. On the positive side, the animals, especially hippos, were concentrated in very large groups in just a few places- one we saw up close during a stop for drinks and snacks on an afternoon game drive in safari vehicles another from the air during the helo flight.

    Remember, even in normal times, the water enters the Delta but does not leave!! It is never deep and is absorbed by the soil but mostly evaporates, unlike every other Delta in the world. It was cool at night and in the mornings everywhere- blankets in safari vehicles were welcome as were fleece-line parkas available during the very early morning (before sunrise) and very chilly meerkat encounter at Camp Kalahari. Heavy sleeping bags and hot water bottles allowed the half dozen who spent the night on the Pan to stay warm and comfortable.

    View of the falls during our flight from JNB to LVI. The Royal Livingstone cottages create a 'dashed white line at the top left of the photo and at the right on the next photo.

    and the view of my intrepid aviatrix and the falls from a slightly smaller aircraft :o

    Our TD Eric and local guide at Knife-edge bridge- rain parkas and crocs were provided AND NEEDED!! :D The spray came at you from all directions. It was nearly impossible to keep the lens of my GoPro free of water droplets.


    Eagle Island Camp:

    Much of the grassy areas in this photo are normally covered with a few inches of water. The path to the thatched roofed "Sunset Bar" is normally a causeway with water on each side.

    Two different views of different bloats of hippos:

    It was pretty darn dry at Eagle Island. The causeway to the bar is clearly high and dry!

    A really chilly morning at meerkat manor

    Comfortable and cozy and ready for a clear but chilly night on the Makgadikgadi Pan

  • Alan S., thanks for posting your wonderful photos. Can you please tell me more about your light aircraft experience?

  • edited May 2022

    We had no rain on this trip in mid-May 2016. We had some low clouds and fog in Cape Town.

  • edited May 2022

    You can easily see the difference in water levels between when we were there vs when Sealord went!

    Alan S., thanks for posting your wonderful photos. Can you please tell me more about your light aircraft experience?

    We booked several weeks (months?) early through Bushtracks at the Royal Livingstone though we could have done it directly thru Batoka Sky, and also TripAdvisor. Their small dirt airstrip(Maramba Aerodrome) is 10 min. 4.7 mi. from the Royal Livingstone- transfers included. They have one and two passenger "micro" light (regallo wing) powered planes like we flew in, and I believe they also have a helo. If not, helo flights can be booked through Bushtracks as well. At the time they offered two flights a short 15 +/- min, flight over the falls (a couple of circuits over and around the falls) and a slightly longer 30 +/- min. flight that goes a little way up river. I see they now have a 1 +/- hr. charter for $720!!

    The flight was fantastic- great views of the falls and river. We saw a small herd of elephants crossing from island to island and other animals during the extended 30 min. flight. My wife and I flew at the same time but they won't guarantee that will occur. I saw her aircraft but we never got into position for a good photo. If we had known, we might have been able to get both aircraft in one shot. You stay fairly low to keep out of the helo airspace- that actually made it better to see stuff. You are provided with a helmet equipped with intercom and visor so you can converse with the pilot and won't lose eyeglasses. You can not take anything with you during the flight that might foul the propeller, and that includes a camera. If you pay extra, a wing-mounted GoPro will take timed interval (5 sec.?) still, digital photos- a ton of them, so you will get some great shots! (The pilots know which flight path and attitudes result in the best shots. They will let you review them on a laptop, then once you decide to buy them (all or none), will load the photos on an SD card for you to take with you. With the exception of one incident* they have an excellent safety record. *involved two senior pilots in the same aircraft and might have involved in an unusual maneuver.

    If you send an email to the concierge at the Royal Livingstone, they will send you a pdf attachment listing activities in and around Livingstone and Victoria Falls. It includes everything from microlight and helo flights, bungee jumping (off the Vic Falls Bridge!!), ziplining, rapelling, fishing, kayaking, rafting, speed boat, dinner cruises, etc. etc. The large, multi-page info document we received in 2019 listed activity, description, price, and provider. Most could be booked through Bushtracks who had a desk in the hotel.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    The take-off roll:

    The Smoke that Thunders off in the distance:

    To capture a wave, we had to hold the pose (for 5 sec.?)

    Elephants crossing between islands just upstream from the falls:

  • WOW Alan, that must have been awesome. Don't know if I can do it. :D

  • milmil
    edited May 2022

    Ok! so now I'm getting really excited and I'm still almost 4m away from my trip date. I'm not sure how... am I not going to go crazy with the wait. :))
    Sealord your pictures are incredible, but the falls is the best one! it's amazing I love it. Tell me something how call is the water at the little outside bathtub (that's how I'm calling it.)

    Alan, I do want to the do microlight flight, but I'm terrified! :)) also, I would have to check if now with the Elephant Cafe at lunch time, I will have time to book it as well. Are the flights only in the morning? If not, possible... I might do it in Cape Town.
    by the way... those 2 hippos at Chobe are precious :))
    I'm thinking if the water level @ the sunset Bar is that low and there's elephants, I will get someone from the resort to walk me as close as possible... I have already some shots in mind. :))

    Cathy, British thanks for your response... so is the lunch boat and the Chobe River cruise boat the same? How long do you spend around Chobe?
    Ok U all, have a great one.

  • edited May 2022

    During our May/June trip, the water temp in the little soakers at Eagle Island Camp was about the same as the pool at Khwai River Camp- VERY COLD. It may look like one, but it was not a hot tub!! :o At least when we were there.

  • Alan, you were definite there at her coldest time. It was really real hot in the Kalahari for us. We were in the plunge pool.
    Mil, you really can’t get too near elephants especially on foot, in a vehicle is a little safer, but in reality an adult male an easily tip over a vehicle. Cathy posted a picture of an elephant that came right up to her bungalow at one time, it’s ears were flared, not a good sign, but when we were in the same camp, an elephant was on the path on our way back to our room and one of the camp people immediately got us out of the way and in hiding while he dealt with the dangerous situation. An elephant can easily destroy a whole area in a couple of minutes if he so chooses.
    You get very close to elephants on many of the Safari rides.

  • Beautiful pics, Sealord. Thanks for posting! And AlanS, your information is detailed and most helpful. My only issue is what little time I actually have in Livingstone so I must prioritize. I have not traveled since march 2020 so I am chomping at the bit just like Rich Strike yesterday!

  • Alan S, Your pictures are beyond breathtaking. Thank you for sharing. I don't know if I'm capable of doing that either. I had two be helped twice from an episode relating to extreme heights. Once on my first experience zip-lining in Costa Rica where I almost fainted, and on the Sydney Bridge in Australia. So heights may not be my thing.

  • Cathy you're so lucky to take the pics with the elephant behind, lovely pic.
    Now, to see the falls so dried is heart breaking ... What are we doing to the planet? how sad.
    Thanks for your posting, it is always visually informative.
    Thanks everyone.

  • Great pictures, Sealord and CathyandSteve. You definitely captured the authenticity of the environs!

  • edited May 2022

    5:12PM edited 5:14PM
    Alan, I do want to the do microlight flight, but I'm terrified! :)) also, I would have to check if now with the Elephant Cafe at lunch time, I will have time to book it as well. Are the flights only in the morning? If not, possible... I might do it in Cape Town.

    mil, I don't know if they break for lunch, but they fly from 0700 - 1800. Since we were spending the night in Jo'burg before flying to Livingstone, I figured we would be reasonably rested, so I booked our flights for the afternoon we arrived in Livingstone. Being somewhat OCD, I also did some research into orientation of the falls, sun angles vs time of day, etc. to try to figure out the best time to fly to get good airborne photos. (I never did). :D:D

    A number of reviews mentioned that it was a bit expensive for such short flights, but almost of them said it was worth it- an experience of a lifetime! :) I have piloted a tactical jet, have a number of flight hours piloting small private Cessna, Beechcraft, and Piper aircraft, have zip lined, and have over 50 freefall jumps (skydiving)- the thrill (not scary thrill) from the microlight flight was right up there with all of them. You gotta do it!!!

    See this link for more info
    Check out the short video here: (There are other longer videos on YouTube)

  • OMG!! Alan ,I have to do it!
    I'll check tomorrow @ work :p:) of course... if I find a way to schedule it I will do it. :0
    Did you notice the BIG! smile the one lady had as she was getting off, that is pure Happiness! Amazing!
    I have to do it!

  • milmil
    edited May 2022

    Alan how long those it takes, with hotel pick up and drop off- they have 2 spots one at 6:00 am and 1 at 3:00 pm
    My elephant cafe is from 10:15 pick up to 2. for lunch. and also, which flight did you do, the 15m. or the 30min.

  • _ALAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just did. Look!

    Thanks for your reservation!
    We hope you're as excited about your experience as we are. Here's your confirmation number: 12730 . We've also sent the details to
    Total Due $246.16
    You will be charged in 122 days on 9/8/2022.You can pay at any time before then.
    Your statement will list Viator/Tripadvisor as the merchant for this

  • Cathy, this is one of the best Africa trips. Go again at a different time of year!

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