The guests of Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, had just left for their afternoon safari drive on Saturday when the creature paid an unexpected visit.
The lodge's general manager Ian Salisbury, 68, spotted the adult male bull elephant calculating how to haul its four giant legs over the stone wall without falling over.
Hilarious photos captured by Ian show the giant mammal hitching its legs over the wall in the same way a human might traverse the obstacle.
And as it wandered into camp, Andy Hogg - managing director of The Bushcamp Company which owns the lodge - videoed the giant creature's brief but unsuccessful hunt for fruit.
A family of elephants visit the site in southern Africa between October and mid-December, but this unexpected visitor was too late as it searched for mangos, which were out of season.
Ian, originally from Bacup, Lancashire, said: "He just chose the most direct route and made himself right at home. The guests were very amused at the idea of a climbing elephant. They were in amazement that it would bother to climb over such a high wall.
"They were out on a safari drive in the National Park at the time, so were sorry to have missed seeing it [in person]."
The lodge has a central foyer area that is open and often attracts a family of elephants in the early winter. But the herd usually take a stoned pathway, instead of taking the direct route of the wall.
Ian said: "[The elephant] was a stranger to us. He wanted to investigate. He wanted to get into the central area where this big mango tree grows.
"He was obviously quite hungry and expected to get some wild mangos for himself, though there aren't any left now. That's all done with for the year.
"He came and stretched over, had a look around, ate a bit of grass, then strangely turned round and came back the same way, which was quite amusing. His easiest way of getting there was to climb over this high wall. It's really unusual behaviour for an elephant, to climb so high.
"It was impressive he could coordinate his four legs to get over the wall because the elephant was quite a major bull, maybe around 30, so middle-aged."
With the unusually wet weather, Ian believes the lone elephant may have been encouraged to take a detour to avoid floods.
He added: "Elephants tend to wander around quite big distances and depending on the availability of food, they'll turn up in certain areas.
"It has been quite dry then over the last week or so, we had huge amounts of rain that almost caused a flood. Whether that encouraged him to have a look around, I'm not sure."