Top five gastronomic African dining experiences

November 16th 2023  |   Unique Experiences  |  by   Lucinda Crawford
Top five gastronomic African dining experiences

Have you ever dreamt of a dining experience like no other? Take your palate on an African gastronomic journey – from sunset cruises and cocktails to tasting menus with wine pairings, feast your eyes on some of our favourite, unique culinary experiences that guarantee to leave you hungry for your next Africa adventure.

Tswalu, South Africa –  Michelin star masterpieces

Tswalu Loapi is a luxurious and exclusive tented camp located in the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa. The chefs create menus and dishes that celebrate the local provenance, heritage and culture.

Klein Jan restaurant is the shining jewel in Tswalu’s culinary crown. Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen was the first South African chef to achieve a Michelin star for his namesake restaurant in Nice, France. His yearning to return home was fuelled by his passion and desire to give the food from the Kalahari the global stage he feels it deserves and to bring fine dining home.

With storytelling at the heart of the dining journey, guests enjoy courses in theatrical spaces like the subterranean root cellar, located four metres below the ochre sands of the Kalahari. The crypt-like root cellar is a visually beautiful storehouse for raw, cured, preserved and dried ingredients destined for the kitchen. Guests staying at Tswalu’s safari lodges are invited to enjoy the seven-course tasting menu at restaurant Klein JAN during their stay. This is a dining experience like no other.

Restaurant Klein Jan

Restaurant Klein Jan – Tswalu Kalahari

Malachite Dinner Cruise, Zambezi River – sunset dining at its bests

Named after the exquisite malachite kingfisher, “Malachite” is a luxury three hour dinner cruise on the Zambezi River. Guests are welcomed on board with a chilled flute of sparkling wine looking out for birdlife and animals from the roof-top deck before enjoying one of Victoria Falls’s famous sunsets.
Amuse bouche and snack platters are served while the sun sinks below the shimmering surface of the Zambezi. A selection of lively cocktails and drinks are served throughout the journey.

Dinner is served at dusk on the lower deck, and the rich aroma of locally sourced fresh ingredients wafts around the diners. Time seems to stand still as the boat gently glides along to the sound of water lapping against her sides. Far removed from the glare of city lights and noise, the moon and stars shine brightly making for a romantic, magical and memorable evening.

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Kruger – the ultimate in guest satisfaction

Located in the southern Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Lion Sands is the only reserve in South Africa to offer a safari along both the Sabi River and Sand River banks. Ivory Lodge has a superb panoramic view of the Sabi River from its setting on the riverbank.

The chefs at Lion Sands aspire to transform local recipes into contemporary dishes, giving you a taste of Southern Africa – springbok carpaccio for starters, pink peppercorn-crusted rib-eye steak with herb potato for the main course, and the most delectable baked cheesecake for dessert. Choose to lunch with the wild as buffalos graze on the banks of the river or dine in the comfort of your suite while enjoying a meal made to your exact taste. Immense pride goes into creating menus that incorporate the guest’s favourite ingredients and pairing them with superb wines from the Lion Sands collection of premium Cape labels. Is your mouth watering yet?

Lions Sands meal

Delicious local cuisine, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge – Kruger

The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar – an ‘exotic island icon’

The south-east coastline of Zanzibar is recognised as being amongst the most beautiful in East Africa and provides the stage for an extraordinary dining experience.

This exclusive and unique restaurant is perched on a rock in the Indian Ocean and is aptly named. The restaurant specialises in seafood and Zanzibari flavours, and its décor is simple and unfussy in keeping with the island style. An easy wade from the beach or a complimentary boat ride if the tide is high, getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself.

Boasting an open-air terrace with panoramic seascapes, by day you can relax and immerse yourself in the surroundings or enjoy a romantic dinner under the African star-lit sky. Most of the seafood is harvested from the reefs around the restaurant maximising the bounties of this magical location. Try ‘The Rock Special’ –a dish made with Cigal (Zanzibar’s speciality lobster), king prawns, octopus, and calamari all on the grill.


An ‘exotic island icon’, The Rock Restaurant – Zanzibar

Duba Plains Camp, Botswana – take a seat at the chef’s table

Duba Plains Camp, Botswana – take a seat at the chef’s table
The camp is located in the north of the Okavango Delta on an island surrounded by expansive seasonally flooded plains, and shaded by tall ebony and fig trees.

At the heart of the camp, world-renowned chefs whip up a gourmet tasting menu with expert wine pairings from the specially built interactive kitchen. Surrounded by the sights and smells of the bush, guests can sit back, watch, and learn as the chefs talk through the process of creating each delicious dish, tailoring recipes to the guest’s liking. Guest can recreate this magical meal when they return home to their loved ones and relive the memories of their safari.

Duba Plains interactive kitchen

Guest enjoy chatting with the chefs at Duba Plains Camp – Botswana

Food and local cuisine play a significant role in many people’s holiday memories.  Our expectations, judgement and enjoyment of food are formulated in our minds based on the sensory inputs (what we see, smell, taste, feel and hear).  The camps and lodges featured go beyond the traditional focus of taste and aroma and have created multisensory African dining experiences that embrace all the senses.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the exclusive stays and trips mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally, we make suggestions. If this is your first time in Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.

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