Our Wilderness food philosophy


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Your Guide to Africa

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Smells & tastes

Have you ever caught a whiff of a familiar smell and been transported back to a specific time and place? Perhaps it’s the scent of the perfume your mother wore when you were a child. The sweet fragrance of camphor heralding forest excursions, or the taste of salt on your lips that takes you back to the seaside. Maybe it’s the smell of wild sage that transports you to the bushveld. The aroma of meat cooking on a fire to remind you of a boma braai in Africa. The whiff of fresh Rwandan coffee brewing in the morning to remind you of your time with gorillas. Whatever it is, smells and tastes can be the triggers for many a fond memory.

Some of the best memories

And often those memories can be linked to food. Tucking into a tasty pizza alongside a gurgling stream. Sipping a glass of freshly squeezed juice or a G&T in the middle of nowhere. Enjoying a herbaceous salad on a fresh summer’s evening while elephants rumble nearby. These are some of the best memories of the safari experience.
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Here at Wilderness, dining plays a big part in our offering and our food philosophy is one of Earth-to-plate sustainable cuisine, guided by three principles: celebrating regional produce, reducing food waste, and fostering collaboration with local farmers and artisans.

Enjoy sustainable dining on your safari


So what is sustainable dining? For us it’s about including more local ingredients on our menu, offering dishes that are authentic to the region you are visiting, introducing tastes and smells that are unique to a specific place, and actively working on reducing our “foodprint”. That means we try our utmost to source everything within the countries we operate, and even better, from the local communities which surround our protected areas. This means fewer air miles generated in getting the food to your plate, increased employment opportunities, better tasting (and smelling) food for you, our guests, and income generation for our resident partners.



For instance, in the early 60s, Botswana was known for cattle farming, with a large portion of the country’s income derived from this industry. However, the consumption of animal products has changed in recent years, with a switch to plant-based diets. This is largely because, with support from the government, farmers are now able to grow a variety of vegetables locally rather than importing them from neighbouring countries such as South Africa. Wilderness is also supporting the local farmers, mainly in the Okavango Community Trust villages, in a variety of ways, from drilling boreholes to providing easier access to water for farming, assisting with the creation of community farms that can be better protected from wildlife, procuring farming equipment, and providing tractors during the ploughing season. Many of the crops grown on these community farms are in turn purchased by Wilderness and used as ingredients in our kitchens.



In fact, ask Wilderness Mombo Executive Chef Tonderai Chipfupi about his favourite ingredient and he’ll not say some expensive, exotic protein but humble millet – a gluten-free ancient grain, high in protein and fibre with a slightly sweet taste and nutty fragrance. “As well as being an antioxidant, millet is very versatile. I use it in our healthy breakfast bowl and it can also be ground into a flour, which we use for our early morning porridge served with peanut butter and toasted, spiced pumpkin seeds”.



These opportunities extend beyond food to every ingredient in our African kitchens. Alfred Muswaka, Wilderness Mombo Sommelier says, “I always look forward to sharing my carefully curated wine selection with our guests, as our cellar comprises some of the best wines to come out of South Africa. Our ethos as a conservation company plays a significant role in the selection criteria, which is why I focus on boutique Fair Trade producers who farm sustainably, and who are socially, as well as environmentally, responsible in their practices.

Wilderness Mombo Somelier Alfred
Only the top South African wines served at Wilderness

Going beyond food on safari

For us here at Wilderness, it’s not only about buying local produce but also involving each country’s citizens in our food and wine journey, and upskilling as many people as possible for a bright future within the travel and tourism industry.


A number of our front-of-house and bar staff have been given the life-changing opportunity of visiting Cape Town, where they have explored the Winelands, learnt the vinification process, met winemakers, assisted in harvesting, and performed manual punch-downs during the winemaking process, to better appreciate the fermentation aromas. This makes them more confident to hold conversations about wine and make recommendations to guests.

Chef Tonderai agrees that his time working abroad in Canada really changed the outlook he has on food. “I learnt a lot. It really opened my eyes to the use of local ingredients. I started experimenting with African ingredients like morogo, which is similar to kale, when I returned home”.


Now at Wilderness Mombo we serve a morogo salad with madila dressing (similar to buttermilk), and it has also been incorporated into our lunch curry dish as a condiment to enhance the spicy, aromatic flavours. We also use local beef seswaa (pounded beef) in fusion dishes like our colourful bush tacos.



In fact, colour is in no short supply in our kitchens, with the freshest ingredients from local gardens providing a feast for the eyes on every plate. “I also grew up eating a lot of cabbage and now we have a salad on our menu called the green garden slaw served with green tahini dressing. It reminds me a lot of when I was up growing up and just munching the fresh cabbage leaves like that before cooking them. Also in the refreshing slaw is a mixture of green apples, garden peas, snow peas, celery and lentil sprouts”, says Tonderai.

Let’s go local

We’re eating organic and employing local but another way that we celebrate local food culture is through our interactive boma nights.
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It’s a memory that is sure to stay with you long after you have returned home, triggered not only by the smells of the delicious food, but the sound of an African drum, the evocative ululation of a local singer, or the jingle-jangle of beaded bracelets.


It’s about providing you with a sensory explosion on your safari, that goes beyond just seeing wild animals, to really touching, tasting, and fully experiencing every one of our wild destinations you visit. Wherever you travel to next, we hope that when you catch a whiff of that something special you’re instantly transported back to this place.

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.