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Hotel restaurant in Arusha, Tanzania.
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Safari glossary
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On safari:
Eating and drinking
Most safaris in Kenya and Tanzania are full board, which means that breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Lodges and tented camps have restaurants serving these meals. There are also picnic lunches, usually on for example full day game drives, when returning to the lodge for lunch is not convenient. Camping safaris, which are more basic safaris than lodge or tented camp safaris, may have a cook, or the group may be expected to take part in preparing meals.

Meals in lodges and tented camps
The meals are served in a restaurant, dining-hall or dining-tent, depending on the lodge or tented camp where you're staying. The meals are often served in form of buffets, where you can choose what to eat from a number of dishes. There are always hot dishes available for main course. Some lodges and camps serve à la carte.

The cooking is usually international, but Indian influences and barbeques are common. You may also find some local dishes, for example ugali, a stiff porridge made from maize or cassava usually served with a fish, meat or vegetable sauce. If game such as wildebeest or impala is served, it's usually meat from a farm. The local fruit is excellent; try the pineapple, mango and papaya.

You shouldn't expect a safari to be a culinary tour, especially not as you should limit yourself to eating safe food, to avoid stomach problems. If you stay in exclusive lodges or tented camps, you can expect more from the kitchens, but should still be careful about what you eat.

Coffee and tea is usually included, but whatever you drink with your meal is not. Drinks are ordered and paid at the table; you may pay cash or sign the bill, to be paid when later checking out.

Lodge restaurant.

Picnics
Some lunches may be had in form of picnics in the bush, either in a dedicated picnic site, where tables and toilets may be available, or just in some nice spot found along the route. It's a nice setting for a meal, but it has one drawback: it's a cold meal, which isn't good from a food safety point of view. Be careful to avoid picnic food that may cause stomach problems. Sandwiches are mostly OK, as are hard-boiled eggs, fruit, chocolate, yoghurt etc.

Vegetarian and special food
There is usually no problem for safari-goers who want vegetarian food or want to avoid certain ingredients, for example because of food allergies. When meals are served in form of buffets, you may choose yourself what to eat. The staff is available to help you identify the ingredients that have been used. Where meals are served à la carte, vegetarian options are available, and the staff is usually very responsive to any requests regarding your dishes.

Picnic lunches are arranged by your driver guide. You should tell him at the beginning of the safari that you eat vegetarian, or have other requests regarding the ingredients, allowing him to order food that's fine with you. On safaris by air, where the lodge or camp handles game drives and other bush activities, you should instead speak to reception when checking in.

Lunch break in a national park picnic site.

Meals on budget safaris
On budget safaris, where you stay in camping sites or bandas, the arrangements for meals may be more basic. Make sure to stick to safe food (see Health below).

Most camping safaris include a cook. There are also budget safaris where you are expected to take part in preparing the meals. If so, make sure to enforce a strict hygiene policy. Group members that are ill should not take part in any meal preparations.

Some camping sites have special safe storage rooms for food. Store your food there, or in vehicles etc. Don't store food in your tent, as it may attract animals.

Meals on flights
The international airlines offer special food on request. Make sure to specify your request when booking your flight.

Drinking water and beverages
Due to the hot climate, you may have to drink more than you usually do. Bottled water and familiar soft drink brands are available in lodges, tented camps and roadside shops, and shouldn't be any problem to find. Good lager beers, such as Tusker, Kilimanjaro and Safari, are produced locally. Imported products are generally more expensive. For example, an imported diet coke may cost twice as much as a regular coke produced locally.

A 1-litre bottle of water (0.26 US gallon) or a soda may cost USD 1–2, a 0.5-litre bottle of beer USD 2–4. The prices vary, depending on transport costs and where you have your drink. The lowest prices are of course found where tourists usually don't go.

Coffee and tea
Kenya is known for producing good coffee, which is exported all over the world, and also produces some good tea. Some coffee is also produced in Tanzania. The coffee served in lodges and tented camps varies a lot in quality, though, depending on cooking skills. Most lodges and camps also offer instant coffee, which is sometimes the better option. Many also have decaffeinated instant coffee.

For tea, English breakfast or Earl Grey is usually available. You may also find for example ginger tea.

Wine
Both Kenya and Tanzania produce some wine, but it's not good. You may try it for the sake of trying, but don't expect much. Most wines found in restaurants and shops are South African, with prices starting from USD 20 for a bottle. Wines imported from the rest of the world are quite expensive.

Health
To avoid stomach illness caught from food, you should choose your dishes wisely. Stick to dishes that are 100 % cooked and still hot. Avoid cold dishes, eggs not 100 % cooked (and products containing such, for example mayonnaise), raw vegetables etc.

Wash your hands (or use wet wipes or alco-gel) before meals.

You should not drink water from the tap. Only drink bottled water. (We also use bottled water for brushing teeth.) Some lodges and camps claim to have tap water safe for drinking, but we recommend you not to attempt it; better safe than sorry.

More about health

This page in Swedish
Go to www.savannen.com for this page in Swedish.

 
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Page updated 27 April 2013