Safari Dining: Wildebeests & Cream Puffs

By Ellyn Ludwig
April 15, 2020

Ever wondered what dining in an African safari camp is like? Five-time Bushtracks traveler and guest blogger Ellyn Ludwig details her own safari dining experience in the Serengeti and explains why your African safari may not be the best place to start a diet.

“Don’t look now but there’s a guy with a table on his head coming toward our tent.” I peered out the side vent. Sure enough, there was Leifius, our waiter, wearing a table on his head.

My husband and I were staying at a tented camp in the western sector of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania. Only a few days into our adventure, our safari gear was beginning to feel tight from all the delicious food we’d been served. So we had opted out of lunch this day to sit on our front deck and watch our close neighbor, the orb spider, spin his web.

Traveler relaxes with a drink in hand at Serengeti Safari Camp 

Apparently, our absence from the dining tent had caused a stir. Behind Leifius was the camp manager; she was concerned that we had missed a meal. And behind her? Our lunch processional.

Outdoor dining provided by Siwandu Camp with a view of Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania

We stood with mouths unhinged as the kitchen staff proceeded to set our private luncheon down upon our deck. And this was no picnic. This was a full-on spread with silver and white linen and a roll basket. We acquiesced. Who wouldn’t?

This was typical behavior in every camp we visited, defying our expectations about dining on safari. For some reason I had thought that since we were in the middle of the Serengeti, or the Namib Desert, or the Okavango Delta, it would be too much to expect five-star dining on top of stunning scenery and amazing wildlife. We went to sleep with the territorial roar of lions in our ears! Did we really expect to be wined and dined as well?

Outdoor dining at Singita Sasakwa Lodge in Serengeti National Park Western Corridor Tanzania
Outdoor dining at Chem Chem

Well, according to the folks that ran our camps, the answer to that was emphatically “yes.” Not only were the minute-by-minute treats a visual delight: our palates were kept busy as well.

Outdoor dining provided by Nduara Loliondo Camp

We ate Fresh Croissants prepared by a Paris-Trained Chef. We were greeted with Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice from a silver tray on our final steps of a morning guided walk. We had High Tea, that rivaled that served at The Connaught. Shall we watch this Pack of Wild Dogs? Have a Bacon-Stuffed Mushroom. Look! There’s a Group of Mama Elephants Bathing Their Babies! Hot Pretzel Roll? You’ll probably need a Gin and Tonic with that…

And your African safari is a moveable feast: when your game drive vehicle leaves the camp on any one of your game drives, it has been packed with goodies and drinks that the guide whips out for any stop along your way. Tables and linens included.

Travelers enjoy outdoor dining near a baobab tree provided by Swala Camp in Tarangire National Park Tanzania

And so it goes, your African safari day by day…meal by constant delight-filled meal. Can you see the Wildebeest Migration from your porch? Good. Have a Cream Puff.

Inspired - Request a brochure - see zebras during a safari in Africa

The first version of this article was posted on 17 Aug 2017 at 12:49 PM.

Trained in the classic style of fine art and illustration at the school of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Ellyn (Berglund) Ludwig has been working in the arts for the past 23 years. Her undergrad degree from U of O in advertising and marketing has allowed her to pursue avenues in copywriting and design, with a sideline of painting and selling her original pastels and acrylics through galleries and licensing agents. The inspiration for all of her work, whether writing or painting, comes from her extensive world travel. Her overall style is best described as whimsical, colorful and energetic. “ My writing and painting is pretty happy because I’m pretty happy. I paint and write because I can’t sing."

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