Whilst the quality of food might not be the defining factor when choosing a safari lodge, it is becoming an increasingly influential thought in people’s minds. We would like to highlight those which we think offer the best culinary experience to compliment the superb game viewing you will be enjoying on your safari.

Royal Malewane has, for some time, been one of the best gourmet retreats for safari, offering a wonderful variety of fresh, locally sourced foods, all served in stunning surroundings. They also have a complete Kosher kitchen, which has recently been expanded making it a very appealing option for travellers requiring Kosher food. It also has one of the best wine cellars we have seen at any safari lodge, with the manager happy to recommend the best wines to pair with each of the delicious courses that you enjoy.

Sticking with the Kruger area, it would be hard to write this piece without mentioning the Singita Lodges, notably Singita Ebony and Singita Boulders, both of which are found in the renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The wonderful variety of dishes makes them both a wonderful retreat for foodies and their afternoon teas are superb, with beautifully prepared cakes and pastries served in the tranquil lounge areas. On returning from your evening game drive, you will be able to enjoy one of Singita’s signature dinners, accompanied by wines from their astonishing selection in the cellar, a truly impressive collection that is well worth going down to see. 

Jamala Madikwe recently scooped 1st place in the 2015 Safari Awards for the best cuisine and this was fully justified. The cuisine is exquisite, elegant and freshly prepared, focusing on the quality of ingredients rather than the sheer volume of food which you sometimes see on safari. As the lodge can be taken as an exclusive use property, this is ideal for groups who want a true gourmet experience as you can consult with the chef and help design your own menus and fine dining experience.

Madikwe Hills also deserves an honourable mention for it’s food and not just for the quality (which is excellent by the way) but also for the location of the dining area. Set on the huge open deck overlooking a vast plain, this is surely one of the best dining spots in South Africa. Big game regularly comes into view when you are enjoying your meal and this really heightens the dining experience. The rooms with their romantic decking areas also make this a superb spot for private dining should you wish to enjoy this.

The Phinda Game Reserve is the place to go for safari in KwaZulu-Natal and not least because of the superb food. The Champagne breakfasts are a wonderful way to finish an exciting morning on safari, before enjoying their delicious lunches and sumptuous afternoon teas. The boma dinners here are some of the best you will enjoy in South Africa, with a great variety of meats cooked on the open braais before you enjoy dinner around the fire. The atmosphere, superb food and accompanying wines make this an experience to remember.

Samara is a stunning lodge, sitting on the fringes of the Great Karoo, South Africa’s semi-desert interior and renowned for the excellent quality lamb reared on it’s herby soils. As you can well imagine, Lamb features prominently on the menu at Samara, served in a variety of delicious ways, although their herb crusted rack of Lamb remains a firm favourite with repeat visitors. The manor is a fantastic option for families here, where children can get involved in the cooking process and learn more about the ingredients they are using and how they are grown and thrive in the harsh desert environment.

Kwandwe’ s Melton Manor is one of the leading lodges on the Eastern Cape and being an exclusive use property, guests can really interact with the chef and be part of their food experience. Locally sourced meats, especially game meats such as Impala and Kudu, feature prominently on the menu and the seafood is excellent as well – the coast is only a couple of hours away. This is a fantastic retreat for families as well, the chefs and staff really involve kids in the cooking process, especially for the afternoon tea cakes, making meals here a real family affair!

Bushman’s Kloof, 3 hours North of Cape Town has long been known as one of the best foodie escapes in South Africa and the reputation is justified. The food is exquisite, with hearty breakfasts, light lunches with freshly grown salads and wonderful dinners. The reserve boasts a number of unique locations to serve meals, including an old shepherds hut in an isolated part of the reserve, which is one of the best spots for private dining anywhere in Africa. The wine list here is superb and guests can enjoy tours of a nearby winery as well. For those looking to take some of the recipes home with them a superb cook book is available from the lodge and will hopefully allow you to re-create some of the delicious dishes you have enjoyed.

There is often an assumption that the more isolated a safari lodge, the more the quality of the food suffers. However, a visit to Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, will completely blow this theory out of the water. Set in the Southern part of the Kalahari, the lodge combines a wonderfully tranquil location with truly superb food, using game meat, locally grown vegetables and herbs to provide South African inspired dishes but with an international twist. There are so many wonderful locations for dining as well, especially on the clear desert nights when you can enjoy the views up to the stars of the Southern Sky. 

Blog by: Peter Felix


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