Take your taste buds on an adventure on a safari in Kenya.
When traveling, food becomes more than just a means of sustenance. It is an experience to add to your memories. Meals are an integral part of celebrations, holidays and family gatherings – and a safari in Kenya is no different. There are few better ways to connect with your loved ones, as well as form new relationships and new friends, than by sharing a meal. That’s why we believe that every good safari should be accompanied by equally good food.
The wild and intangible spirit of Kenya never fails to capture the hearts of travelers. Reputed to be one of the best destinations in Africa for a safari, Kenya not only offers a wealth of wildlife and wilderness to enjoy, but is also a place where magical and memorable culinary experiences can be found on the menu. .
Many of the top safari lodges have upgraded their dining experiences to take guests on a culinary journey where one can savor Kenya’s rich and flavorful culinary diversity, interpreted with fresh and modern touches. This is no small feat considering the remote locations in which many of these establishments are located. For the most authentic dining, look for lodges that source ethically and support local farmers and artisans.
From traditional dishes to five-star cuisine, savor the flavors of Kenya while surrounded by the rugged beauty of East Africa with these culinary safari delights:
Hearty bush breakfast
Breakfast in the bush should be on every foodie traveller’s bucket list. Eating al fresco in the picturesque setting of the Masai Mara is one of those surreal moments that won’t be soon forgotten. After an early wake up call, you are taken to your bush breakfast which has already been set up in a scenic location where you can witness the sunrise and savor the enchanted hours of the early morning with a cup of freshly brewed coffee at the hand. .
A selection of fresh, seasonal continental breakfast items will keep you busy while the chef prepares a hot breakfast buffet right in front of you. Witnessing this spectacular feat of bush cooking from a distance is an experience in itself. The chefs and their team use ingenious and creative methods to prepare wholesome, restaurant-quality meals amid vast, remote wilderness.
Some of the local Kenyan delicacies that can be found on the menu include mandazi, a fried dough that resembles donuts but can taste different depending on the ingredients used. Mahamri, which is similar to Mandazi, is another breakfast staple, except it is hollow and is usually used to eat mbaazi (pigeon peas) in coconut milk. Another delicious breakfast to watch out for is vibibi – these are sweet fluffy pancakes made with coconut and rice and are most popular in coastal areas.
Lunch is a notoriously lazy time of day on safari. Early morning and late evening mean that in the middle of the day you’ll probably want to rest and relax, maybe even indulge in an afternoon nap. Before starting the afternoon, you can expect multi-course meals which are usually set up on terraces, pool pavilions or somewhere in the camp where you can enjoy the sun and the views.
Bush picnics are another popular option for guests wishing to leave camp boundaries for lunch. This activity offers a feel of “rustic glamour” where you can enjoy a selection of pre-packaged snacks in picnic baskets, while also being looked after by dedicated staff.
Eat like our Ancestors
In addition to various glamorous gastronomic affairs, Kenya also offers you the chance to get your hands dirty and eat like our ancestors once did – rummaging. In Kenya, the Il Torobo tribe, or Ndorobo as they are sometimes called, meaning “man without cattle”, actively practice gathering as a traditional way of life.
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Accompanied by a guide, this immersive activity offers you the opportunity to learn directly from experienced hunter-gatherers about the natural and wild food sources available in the Masai Mara, as well as the medicinal properties of plants.
After you return to camp with your seasonal bounty (which could include ingredients such as wild asparagus, edible flowers and berries), the chef will prepare a tasting experience for you – a rewarding highlight at the end of an educational experience and instructive!
This type of “conservancy-to-cuisine” is the safari equivalent of “farm-to-fork” and is an activity not to be missed by those who want the most authentic taste of Kenya.
When talking about exceptional dining experiences in Kenya, it would be wrong not to mention the sunsets as it is perhaps the most quintessential safari experience. After an exciting day of game viewing and adventures, one thing you can always count on is a sunset drink.
Whether enjoyed from a scenic vantage point on an afternoon game drive or from the comfort of camp, sunsets mean another wonderful day in nature is coming to an end and it’s time to relax and unwind in the evening. While a G&T might be the classic choice, it’s also a good time to experiment with some of the local favorites. The Dawa, for example, which consists of Absolut Vodka, lime and honey, is Kenya’s de facto signature cocktail and is an absolute MUST while on safari.
Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner or cocktails, a crazy culinary adventure that your taste buds will never forget awaits you in Kenya.
Calvin Cottar is director and owner of Cottar’s 1920s Safaris. Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is an award-winning luxury 1920s safari camp and private bush villa located in the famous “seventh” natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and owned and operated by the oldest established safari family and continues in Africa.
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