Mfuwe Lodge in
happens to have
been built next to a
mango tree that one
family of pachyderms
have always visited when
the fruit ripens.
When they returned one year and
found the luxury accommodation in
the way, they simply walked through
Let the porter grab your trunk: An
elephant wanders through Mfuwe Lodge, in
the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
The animals came in two-by-two: Hotel
staff and visitors have got used to the
elephants' impromptu strolls through
Now the family group, headed by
matriarch Wonky Tusk, return every
November to gorge on mangos - up to
four times a day.
Andy Hogg, 44, director at the
Bushcamp Company that runs the
Lodge, has lived in
But in all his years of dealing with
wild animals he has never seen such
intimate interaction between man and
'This is the only place in the world
where elephants freely get so close
to humans,' says the 44-year-old.
The elephants start coming through
base camp in late November of each
year to eat the mangos from our
'When they are ripe they come
through and they stand about for
four to six weeks coming back each
day or second day to eat the
Living in the 5,000 square mile
national park, the ten-strong
elephant herd are led to the lodge
each day by Wonky Tusk.
Migration route: The hotel was built
directly in the path of the elephants'
route to one of their favourite foods -
'The most interesting thing about
this is that they are wild animals
and are certainly not tame,'
'They come through the lodge to eat
'There are ten in that herd and it
is only that herd that comes
through. It is a strange thing.
'The matriarchal in the herd is
Wonky Tusk, and she brings the nine
others through and they come and go
as they please.'
Mfuwe Lodge consists of seven camps
and the base camp where the
elephants come through.
Employing 150 staff, the management
of the lodge are happy to report
that there have been no incidents
involving the elephants to date.
'The elephants do get reasonably
close to the staff as you can see
with the pictures of the elephants
near the reception,' he explains.
'But we do not allow the guests to
get too close.'
Check-in: But it's unlikely the lodge
has a room big enough for its elephant
'Guests can stand in the lounge are
but as long as there is a barrier
between the elephants and the guests
that is okay,' he added.
'The elephants are not aggressive
but you don't want to tempt anything
as they are wild animals.
'It is the elephants choice to come
into base camp and they have been
doing it for the last ten years.
'There are other wild mango trees
around and they seem to prefer this
And even thought the lodge was
unwittingly built upon the path,
Andy says they had no idea the
elephants would insist on returning.
'It wasn't a design mistake - no-one
really knew they were going to come
through,' he says.
'The lodge was built and then the
elephants started coming through
Gentle giants: The leader of the
ten-strong herd is matriarch Wonky Tusk
'We keep people at a safe distance.
They are obviously close enough to
see what is going on from pretty
close quarters but we also make sure
we have staff around to make sure
the elephants don't get too close.
'But as I said they are still wild
and still dangerous. They are huge
beasts and untamed.
'We have bricks and walls between
the elephants and the guests such as
the counter and other barriers to
stop them getting to people and if
they try to there is enough time for
people to get away.'
Naturally, the lodge becomes a
busier attraction for both elephants
and guests during November time.
'We find that we get more people
visiting us during the elephant
migration because of the unique
experience of being so close to wild
animals in an unusual environment,'
'But as I said this is a totally
natural phenomenon, the elephants
come here of their own accord and it
is certainly a rare but magnificent
Mfuwe Lodge: The hotel is set in an
idyllic national parkland