A Food Safari

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You know there’s magic going on in the kitchen when you’re on a game drive, following a gorgeous leopard padding through an open plain, and then find yourself wondering what’s for dinner… “Huh!? What’s wrong with you Rach … we’ve just had high tea, and before that a big lunch, scrumptious game drive snacks and breakfast almost fit for a lion!”. But I wasn’t the only one having these thoughts. “I’m looking forward to dinner” said Em from the seat next to me. The truth is, we were on a food safari! An Okavango Wilderness Camp food safari!

I’ve always had a healthy appetite and I love eating fresh and wholesome foods, but I’m definitely not a ‘foodie’, and I certainly never thought I would be writing about it on my blog. Yet I’ve come to realise that mealtimes, especially at a Wilderness Safari’s Camp are an essential ingredient to an ultimate safari experience – an experience that, thus far, has been deliciously exceptional.

But meals, of course, are about so much more than just eating. Two of the camps that Em and I stayed at, Xigera and Seba, are “Classic” Wilderness Camps. Instead of sitting at individual tables (like at Premier camps) guests all dine together. I loved this! It creates such a warm and intimate atmosphere.

Usually the evening begins with finger snacks around a cosy campfire, with the warm firelight making it possible to see dusty sunburnt and satisfied faces. Campfires have a way of making even the most uptight of people relax, and also melt away cultural and language barriers, making it perfectly ok for the English guy to mime out the days animal sightings in conversation with his new Swedish friends. You only need to ask and most local guides will be thrilled to entertain you with stories of their experiences growing up in the area, which I found a delight and privelage.

But I think my favourite part of the evening is when the chef’s come out to sing and present the evening’s menu. I don’t know much about wine but the way the ladies explain it makes it sound like a whole romantic meal in itself.

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Tables set for dinner in the boma at Xigera Camp

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Ready for dinner at Seba Camp

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A spectacular surprise bush bar on an evening drive at Seba

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Evening drinks at Seba camp

There were so many incredible dishes served to us throughout our stay but here are two of my favourites with thanks to the chef’s at Seba camp….

 CARROT, GINGER AND LEOMONGRASS SOUP

(makes about 1ltr)

Ingredients

1tbl olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 (10cm) piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped.

1 lemongrass stalk, chopped

750g carrots, peeled and sliced.

1ltr stock

100g butter

chives for garnish

 Method

Cook onion in a large saucepan in oil over low heat for 5 minutes. Add carrots, ginger and lemongrass. Saute for an additional 5 minutes. Pour in stock, add butter and simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender. Liquidise soup right in pan with hand-held blender, strain through a sieve, check consistency and season. Serve hot with a drizzle of creme fraiche or a dollop of Greek yoghurt, then sprinkle with very thinly sliced chives.

APPLE AND HONEY CAKE (with Savanna)

(makes one large cake)

Ingredients

2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

250ml brown sugar

30ml ground cinnamon

420g cake flour

15ml baking soda

2,5ml salt

2,5ml ground cloves

2,5ml allspice

1,25ml ground ginger

250ml vegetable oil

250ml honey

3 eggs

5ml vanilla extract

250ml warm coffee

125ml Savanna (apple cider)

Deep fried apple slices dusted in cinnamon sugar to serve

Thick cream, to serve

 Method

Preheat oven to 190C and lightly grease a 25cm round cake tin. Line the bottom with baking paper. Mix the apple slices in a medium bowl with 30ml of the sugar and 10ml of the cinnamon and set aside. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, half the honey, the remainder of the sugar and the eggs, vanilla, coffee and Savanna. Mix the ingredients well and spoon 1/3 of the batter into the prepared tin. Top with half the apples and then repeat with another 1/3 of the batter, followed by remaining apples and final third of the batter. Bake the cake for one hour, the skewer should come out clean. Out of the oven, drizzle with the remaining honey while still warm. Top the cake with deep fried apples and serve with cream.

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Honey and apple cake

And just because I can’t resist, here are some more gorgeous foodie lunch pictures, thanks to Em Gatland.

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Table set on the side of the dam at Seba Camp –                                                                                                                                 “Eating connects us to our histories as much as it connects our souls to our bodies, our bodies to the earth.”
(Evan D.G. Fraser)

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Mini wraps with venison and avocado served at high tea

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Scrumptious samosas at high tea

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Lunch is a buffet of the freshest, tastiest food you can imagine

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Life is utterly delicious, don’t you think? :)

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The kitchen princesses of Seba camp who kindly shared their recipe’s with us.

Thank you Wilderness Safaris, for sharing some of your delicious recipe’s with us…

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Romance in mind at Tongabezi Lodge

So here I am in Livingstone, Zambia. As I write this, I’m looking over the mighty Zambezi river, which, for all it’s might, is very calming to look at. The sun is sinking slowly, and so am I… into a cosy-cushioned couch on the deck of Tongabezi Lodge’s ‘lookout’. Any last little stresses of the day are floating gently away now…

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Waste, worms and baby baobabs

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Most people in the world are beautiful. They are good-hearted human beings doing the best they can to provide for their families and secure a happy future for their children. I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I find it easy to forget this. Being daily bombarded by the awful realities of poverty, poaching and human greed in Africa can leave me feeling rather miserable. And, while I think it’s important to know about these things, I am now (more than ever) determined not to let them paralyse me into apathy. I want to keep praying, keep hoping, and, in my own individual way (which, to be honest, I’m still figuring out), fighting for what’s right. Perhaps one of these ways is to find the good and celebrate it! Beautiful people with beautiful hearts doing beautiful things. And guess what? If you look around, it’s not so hard to find them…

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Categories: Conservation, Cultural Adventures, Inspiring People, Trees, Uncategorized, Zambia | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Girls in the Wilderness: An Introduction

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The opportunity to spend 10 days with Wilderness Safaris in Zambia and Botswana came about quite unexpectedly. A newish friend of mine (without my knowledge) recommended my blog to a Wilderness Safaris guide. Suddenly I was put in touch with their marketing department, pitching ideas and working out an itinerary! It was a case of pinch-me-I’m-dreaming, and, as the trip went on, don’t pinch me because I don’t want this dream to be over!

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Categories: Birds, Botswana, Travel Adventures, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Zambia | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Smashing owls in Dullstroom – a Birding Ecotours adventure

Sometimes it’s not only what you DO that matters, but WHO you do it with that makes an experience extra-special. Much like the difference between seeing a bird and ‘smashing’ it (which, in case you’re wondering, is not an action of violent intent but rather a common expression used by these adrenalized young birders once they’ve successfully located a desired species!) “Yeah! We smashed that Cape Eagle Owl!” they would say. And boy did we smash it (but more on that later).

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Postcards from the Klaserie bush

The Klaserie is one of the lesser-known areas of Greater Kruger. It should perhaps be called  the wilder side of Kruger. It’s remote and just as beautiful. The reserve is made up of 60 000 hectares of privately owned land and shares unfenced borders with the Kruger.

I spent an amazing week at the reserve and stayed in three beautiful places which I would highly recommend (and I’m not being paid to say this!) Each camp I stayed at had something uniquely special about it.

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Moonlight, a lion fight, and a hand to hold

I reached for his hand and squeezed it tightly. He squeezed mine back just as hard – because even brave rangers get scared sometimes and if ever there was a time to feel frightened, it was now…

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My George-of-the-Jungle tree house in Caprivi

Ever since watching George of the Jungle as a kid, I’ve wanted to live in a tree house. Unless you’re scared of heights or of sharing a bed with the odd creepy crawly creature, who wouldn’t want their own cosy tree hideaway? Recently, I spent time at the legendary Ngepi Camp in the Caprivi region of Namibia where I stayed in the tree house of my dreams! Although George didn’t swing by, I (Ursula) had plenty of company, from hippos and little skittering mice, to fish eagles and coppery-tailed coucals…

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Tea at Twala Dam – an Africa on Foot adventure

It was one of those mornings where EVERYTHING was perfect.

And sometimes, when nothing goes wrong, a story can seem boring. But if you’re a bushbaby like me (and especially if you’re desk-bound or in an office somewhere) you’ll know how very important it is to remember and relive such perfect and beautiful moments, it’s what keeps us going! So, here’s my latest…

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Breaking records for the love of birds

John Kinghorn is a birder on a mission! Having matriculated last year, he set aside 2014 as his Big Birding Year, determined to break the record for the youngest person to see 800 bird species within a calendar year in the Southern African sub region. So far, he has ticked off 610 of Southern Africa’s 956 feathered varieties. Perhaps he will even attempt to break the National Record of 826 species of birds recorded in a year!

But for John, it’s not just about ticking birds off a list. “It’s much more important to me that I enjoy my time with each bird, admiring it in all it’s glory, even if Iv’e seen it many times before.” I love this attitude, don’t you? Intrigued by his quest, I decided to interview John and find out exactly what makes this young birder twitch…

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