The food travel trend is on the up-and-up in Africa, and South Africa is leading the charge.
Fondly referred to as “the Rainbow Nation,” it’s no surprise that South Africa’s melting pot of colorful cultures and contrasting landscapes has resulted in a destination that serves up some seriously tasty food experiences for food travelers.
Consider Cape Town, the country’s Mother City and the undisputed mother of culinary trends. Here, good food and wine is woven into the DNA of the locals. It’s the kind of destination that sees you transition from European-inspired café breakfasts to on-the-go local specialties like a roti or bunny chow (more on that later); from tucking into tasting menus at celebrated restaurants to savoring marathon tapas lunches at centuries-old vineyards.
Cape Town food experiences
- Don’t miss a private coffee tasting at Truth, the city’s bastion of fair-trade coffee.
- Fancy a taste of fynbos? We’ll take you to Woodstock Gin where you’ll discover the surprising infusions of different types of gin.
- Dine on innovative cuisine conceptualized by the famous Chef Luke Dale Roberts at the Potluck Club, dubbed the coolest place to be in Cape Town.
- Savor a home-hosted lunch with Chef Nicky Gibbs.
- The 12 Apostles’ signature Tea by the Sea experience is a mouth-watering feast of fresh pastries, macaroons, madeleines and more, prepared in-house by Pastry Chef Gina Marziani.
Cape Winelands food experiences
- Boschendal’s innovative farm-to-table dining gives you a choice of four flavor categories; Garden, Ocean, Pasture and Sweet – and depends entirely on the daily harvest. Expect the extraordinary.
- The fertile vineyards of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley produce some of the best wines in the world, especially at the renowned Bouchard Finlayson wine estate. The cellars are open for wine tastings daily, with a selection of nine fine wines from which to choose. Don’t leave without a bottle of Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, which recently scored 100 points at the International Wine Challenge 2018!
- At Babylonstoren, take part in a tea ceremony, stroll the famous gardens, taste the estate’s wines, and enjoy innovative farm-to-fork dining at Babel.
- Embark on a unique journey of food that tells the story of the gardens, culture, environment, heritage and wine of Vergelegen.
Of course, good food and wine are not confined to Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. The Garden Route is equally delicious, with Knysna oysters and Oudtshoorn ostrich delicacies on the menu. Heading east, Durban is the unchallenged curry capital of the country. And in the Kruger Park’s top-end game lodges, fresh flavors and innovative cuisine will take your taste buds on a wild ride.
Dining on safari
Luxury safaris in South Africa are fast gaining a reputation for serving up equal measures of unbeatable wildlife sightings and innovative gourmet cuisine. For most lodges, the focus on the plate is on fresh, sustainable ingredients – often sourced from kitchen gardens on the property.
Off the plate, you can expect a wine and dine experience in some breathtaking locations, making a memory out of each delicious moment! Think candlelit dinners around waterholes, wine tastings on private decks or in wine cellars, high teas served in well-stocked libraries, gin-and-tonic cocktails on sunset game drives, white linen picnics beneath acacia trees, casual dining around campfires… your options certainly don’t end there but do depend on where you’re staying.
What’s on the menu at some of our favorite Kruger Park luxury lodges? Take a look:
Singita Safari Lodges
With lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Rwanda, it’s to be expected that the menus will be vastly different from one property to the next. In South Africa alone, you can take your pick from five luxury lodges in the Kruger National Park or Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve – and here too, the menus are created according the food ethos of each individual lodge, rather than a blanket philosophy.
- Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park, which takes its food cue from its modern, edgy architecture, is famous for serving up innovative tapas.
- Singita Ebony Lodge in Sabi Sands takes its inspiration from the romance and adventure of the safari camps of old. Drenched in nostalgia, it’s no surprise that the lodge receives such great reviews for its High Tea.
And then there’s the wine.
Singita is recognized for its celebrated wine collection, which includes sought-after private reserves and exclusive release, limited single-vineyard and rare auction wines. Then there’s Singita Premier Wine Direct, which allows you to order your favorite wines from your safari to enjoy at home, whether specially packed for you as checked luggage or shipped directly to your door.
Personalized wine tastings within the unique ambience of each lodge’s own temperature-controlled cellar are not to be missed. It doesn’t matter if you’re a connoisseur or casual taster, Singita’s experienced sommeliers will guide you through a variety of wine styles, years, and cultivars to find the wines most suited to your individual tastes.
Hungry for more?
- At Lion Sands River Lodge, whether indulging in a boma feast or savoring refreshments on a game drive, dining is a highlight. The chefs transform local recipes into contemporary dishes, giving you a taste for Southern Africa. Paired with premium wines from the Cape, dining becomes an experience.
- At Ulusaba Rock Lodge, dining is a very important part of your stay, with at least six opportunities per day to eat fresh pan-African dishes influenced by many African cultures, flavors and spices. Whether dining under the African sky, in the boma, on a deck or in the dining room, the menus and meals promise to be exciting, social and inspirational.
What’s that you’re eating?
South Africans are known their unique – if not odd – culinary tastes, but some dishes are an absolute must-try when you’re in the Rainbow Nation.
Here are a few:
- Koeksister: one of South Africa’s favorite sweet treats, a koeksister (derived from the Dutch word “koek” which means cake or biscuit) is similar to a doughnut and can be served either as a ball of dough rolled in coconut or as plaited dough fried in oil and then dipped in sugar syrup.
- Bunny chow: no bunnies were harmed in the making of this fast food meal! Bunny Chow, which originates from Durban, is essentially a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with flavorful, fiery curry.
- Gatsby: Another grab-on-the-go favorite, this loaded sandwich is available pretty much everywhere in Cape Town.
- Braai: similar to a barbeque, a braai (meat cooked on an open fire) is a way of life for South Africans. There’s even a National Braai Day celebrated alongside Heritage Day every September.
- Biltong & Droëwors: this popular snack is similar to jerky in America – dried meat that has been salted and left to dry. Similarly, droëwors (directly translated to dry sausage) is spiced meat that is stuffed as a sausage and then left to dry.
Want to take a gastronomic journey through South Africa? We’ve got the perfect package for you that explores the traditional foods of Africa. This delicious 10-day trip will delight your taste buds with a smorgasbord of flavors, from fine French to local Cape Malay.
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