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Dine out under African skies

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Delicious meals do not a holiday make, but they are certainly a vital component of the overall experience. In Africa, the safari bushveld dining experience has evolved from basic fare to competitive haute cuisine. There’s only one problem: when your days on safari are limited, do you really want to head back to camp for a meal? Fortunately, the solution is simple, and many lodges offer their guests the opportunity to dine out against the backdrop of some of the most spectacular landscapes in Africa. Serenaded by the sounds of the wild (with the occasional surprise visit from one of the performers) and with every whim taken care of, nothing could be more immersive than indulging one’s epicureanism in this setting.

Bushveld brunch

A day on safari is one of the exceptions to the old maxim about breakfast being the most important part of the day. In the bushveld, breakfast is a quick snack to be bolted down with a few gulps of coffee before rushing out to enjoy the best part of the day. A few hours later, after an early start and a couple of thrilling sightings on a game drive, everyone has worked up quite the appetite. Nothing tastes quite as good as brunch in the wild.

Angama Mara, Maasai Mara, Kenya

Perched on the top of the Oloololo Escarpment and looking down over the Mara River, Angama Mara’s vantage point emphasises just how vast this critical East African ecosystem truly is. For safari-goers, that means long full days exploring the plains, and no one wants to interrupt that to race back to the lodge for food. Fortunately, the lodge’s culinary artists will have been hard at work preparing the perfect Mara picnic so that their guests do not have to miss a moment of the Great Migration action (and can watch it with a full belly)!

Morukuru, Madikwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Pizza for breakfast? Maybe this sounds more like a student’s lazy provisions than a gourmet meal for a safari guest, but it is well worth trusting the ingenious gourmands at Morukuru in Madikwe. After a morning of frenetic sightings (Madikwe is, of course, known for its wild dogs!), Morukuru’s mobile pizza oven arrives on the scene, making fresh woodfired breakfast pizza for the windswept, elated and ravenous guests.

Track & Trail River Camp, South Luangwa, Zambia

Zambia is the “home of the walking safari”, and the thrill of marching through through this wilderness all morning is guaranteed to ensure that the simple, wholesome brunch spread set out by the team at Track & Trail River Camp is devoured with alacrity. A quick stop to recharge the batteries in the heart of the South Luangwa wilderness before it’s time to set off again is just the ticket!

Lions Bluff Lodge, Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary, bordering Tsavo West National Park, Kenya

End a morning of wandering the golden green savannah with a cooked brunch, to be enjoyed while soaking up views of the surrounding wildlife moving off to the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Guests of Lion’s Bluff Lodge can experience a wholesome meal with delectable fresh produce and rich coffee prepped under the shade of trees, after spending hours exploring the Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary. There can be no better setting than this unique ecosystem which encompasses one of Africa’s most ancient elephant migratory corridors.

Bushveld dining
Brunch – complete with pizza – is the perfect respite after a morning of sightings in Madikwe; overlook rolling savannahs during the morning meal in Tsavo West for the ultimate in bushveld dining; enjoy an epic picnic with a magnificent view over the Maasai Mara at Angama Mara; recharge your batteries in a wild setting in between walks at Track & Trail River Camp

Kwessi Dunes, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

This is an exception to the brunch over breakfast approach because temperatures in the desert will have skyrocketed by midday, and the lodge pool will be calling. Instead, the Kwessi Dunes team sets out a sunrise breakfast, so guests can ogle the colour-changing dunes as the sun crests the horizon and light slowly pours over the desert sands.

Elsa’s Kopje, Meru National Park, Kenya

Considered one of the most spectacular locations in Africa, Meru National Park is a true wilderness. And Elsa’s Kopje is one of the park’s most iconic destinations. Bush brunches at Elsa’s Kopje are a chance to enjoy a full and satisfying meal, al fresco, in the middle of the plains, surrounded by wildlife. From the vantage point of one of the many rocky outcrops, travellers can look out across the diverse scenery without another person in sight. Take a moment to sit back, enjoy the spectacular views, the smells, the colours, and the gentle breeze.

Bushveld dining
Have brunch on the plains courtesy of Elsa’s Kopje for the best options in bushveld dining; enjoy an early breakfast in the dunes of NamibRand Nature Reserve

Machaba Camp, Khwai Community Concession, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Machaba Camp is a luxurious destination on the banks of the Khwai River, built in the classic 1950’s style. Guests can intimately experience the wildness of Khwai by enjoying a luxurious picnic laid out under the trees, with wildlife not too far off. Nourishing, delicious ingredients are the order of the day, and it will be hard to not fall into a satisfying nap after enjoying the excitement of the morning game drives and indulging in a delicious brunch.

Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, Eastern Cape, South Africa

The incredible geological transformations of Samara’s semi-desert landscape beg to be the setting for a delicious meal. The team at Samara offers some amazing dining experiences, from a picnic lunch in a riverbed with cool water flowing past your toes, to mountain-top brunches and lunches overlooking the wide expanse of the Great Karoo below.  Samara’s gourmet picnic food has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that just epitomises holiday mode.

Bushveld dining
Take in epic mealtime views at Samara – a must-visit for bushveld dining; enjoy comfortable shady brunches at Machaba Camp

Starlit suppers

If brunch in the wilderness is a chance to catch one’s breath in the middle of the day, dining under the African stars is a more breath-taking experience. Especially when the lions start to roar…

Tanda Tula Plains Camp, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, South Africa

Aided by the golden glow of paraffin lamps in the middle of a vast dry riverbed, the Tanda Tula staff are well versed in setting up an elegant bush dinner experience. Guests are treated to delicious food and fine wine in the heart of the Big 5 paradise that is the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

Saruni Samburu, Samburu National Reserve

There is something utterly primitive about Samburu – a feeling only emphasised by an al fresco dining experience. The flames of blazing torches chase away the darkness, their flickering light harking to a time long before electricity tamed the nights of Africa, as you dine out in one of Africa’s wildest places. The area around Saruni Samburu is teeming with wildlife – so be sure to take time to listen for the nocturnal sounds as you dine.

Lekkerwater Beach Lodge, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Overberg, South Africa
If you enjoy your open-air dining with a side of whale watching, Lekkerwater Beach Lodge is just the spot. The lodge is perched between land and sea atop the ancient dunes of De Hoop Nature Reserve in South Africa’s Western Cape. The reserve is known for offering some of the world’s best land-based whale watching. Due to its location near the beach, Lekkerwater is able to offer guests al-fresco dinners on the beach, for an immersive seaside experience.

Take your bushveld dining with a side of whale watching at Lekkerwater Beach Lodge; Experience an evening supper by lamplight in a riverbed with Tanda Tula; as well as the best in bushveld dining at Saruni Samburu

Africa on Foot Wilderness Trails, Balule Private Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger, South Africa

Africa on Foot Wilderness Trails has made our list because of the uniqueness of the walking safari experience. Experiencing the truly wild side of the African bushveld does not mean compromising on quality – or good food. After hanging up your boots for the day, you’ll have the opportunity to dine fireside at a different location every night. So despite roughing it on the trail, nights are made very comfortable by the mobile-camp team, who prep scrumptious meals under the stars.

Kichaka Frontier Camp, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Visitors to this remote camp in Ruaha National Park can be forgiven for losing themselves in the intimacy of this authentic safari destination. The small camp only takes six guests at a time, who are incredibly well looked after throughout their stays in one of the most isolated areas on the continent. And with such crystal-clear nights over Ruaha, hosts maximise the potential of the night skies by hosting dinners under the breathtaking vistas of the heavens. The Kichaka team uses only the freshest local produce, and pay special attention to the tastes and preferences of guests, ensuring a fulfilling and satisfying al-fresco dining experience.

Vundu Camp, Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Life in wild and untamed Mana Pools revolves around the mighty Zambezi River, the region’s lifeblood during the dry season. So where better to sate one’s appetite with the Vundu Camp team than on its banks, accompanied by the gentle song of resident hippos as the blanket of the African night falls?

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa

Tswalu Kalahari’s food is among some of the best on the safari scene, which applies equally to meals outside the lodge. As the sun burnishes the red Kalahari sands, a dune picnic is a perfect place to indulge your inner gastronome.

Bushveld dining
Kichaka Frontier Camp dinners offer crystal-clear views of the Ruaha night sky; take a comforting meal after a day of walking with Africa on Foot; enjoy the finest cuisine – renowned for its bushveld dining options – at Tswalu Kalahari; dine out on the banks of the Zambezi at Vundu Camp

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