African food: what do you eat on your trip? Choose local and sustainable!

Do you always find local food such a great part of your trip? Welcome to Africa! As diverse as the continent is, so is African food. In fact, there is no such thing as "African food": every country and region has its own flavors, smells and colors that you can discover. And you can do so responsibly and sustainably.

Prejudices surrounding African food

When you travel in Asia, you imagine yourself in a culinary paradise. But anyone who thinks of Africa does not immediately think of high quality cuisine. In part, this is because of the preconceptions that still surround Africa and African food.

When you think of food in Africa, you may think of hungry children. Of dirty porridge, unhealthy food without vegetables, crazy ingredients like insects and unsanitary situations.

But after more than ten years of organizing trips to many different countries, we can conclude with dry eyes that these prejudices are really not true. African cuisine is special, varied, delicious, colorful and flavorful.

The rich African cuisine

Moroccan, Tunisian and Ethiopian cuisine are already well established in the Netherlands. But outside, there is mostly a lot of unfamiliarity. Time for a change. We give you a crash course in African cuisine. Mind you, every region is different. Although we see bobotie for example as a typical South African dish , it is on the menu only in small parts of the country.

So the info below is a touch generalistic. During your trip you will find that each place has its own specialties or ingredients.

Typical African dishes you’ll want to try are samp and beans, porridge, boerewors, biltong, chakalaka, fat cake and malva pudding.

South African cuisine

If you’re in Cape Town, feast on “Cape Malay” cuisine. The Cape Malays is a large ethnic group who were brought to Cape Town by the Dutch East India Company mainly from Indonesia. These people brought their dishes and mixed them with South African cuisine to create the following dishes that you really must try: bunny chow, biryani, potjiekos, roti, koesisters, samosas and bobotie.

Afrikaans Eten

Did you know.
Cape Town and Johannesburg have now become true culinary hotspots? You can find high quality food from all over the world. You can even find some of the world’s best restaurants.

Kenyan cuisine and Tanzanian cuisine

Kenyan cuisine and Tanzanian cuisine – which have much in common – will also positively surprise you. There are many international influences, especially from India. Curries, stews, pilau, samosas and chapatis – they are not averse to that here!

In addition, try ugali, nyama choma, kachumbari, mandazi and irio. Want to know more about these Kenyan and Tanzanian dishes? Read our blog about Kenyan cuisine!

Food in Mozambique

Do you like fish? Then you’re in the right place in Mozambique! The national dish matapa – made of cassava, garlic, nuts and coconut – is best eaten with fresh shrimp. But squid and “catch of the day,” which really can be anything, are also often on the menu. While you’re here, try dishes with peri peri sauce, too. Those are on the menu almost everywhere!

You will notice the Portuguese influences on the menu in Mozambique. You haven’t really been to Mozambique if you haven’t eaten pastel de nata.

The cuisine of Namibia

When we ourselves drove from South Africa to Namibia some time ago, the first thing we saw after crossing the border was a huge billboard that read: Welcome to the land of meat. Well, we knew it.
Barbecue is a favorite in Namibia. There is often a wide variety of game on the menu. Think springbok, kudu, antelope, ostrich and more. But lamb they also love!

It can definitely add to your travel experience to try the local cuisine. But should you want to travel sustainably and responsibly – and of course we applaud that – stick to trying it once.


Food in Botswana and eSwatini

In Botswana, you will recognize much from South African and Namibian cuisines. A lot of meat is eaten. Fruit is harder to come by because of the dry climate.

Because the small country of eSwatini is completely surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, it will not surprise you that the cuisine is greatly influenced by these countries.

The cuisine of Uganda and Rwanda

Want to know more about the cuisine in Uganda? Then read our earlier blog on food in Uganda. Rwandan cuisine is somewhat similar to this. A lot of potatoes, cassava, fried bananas, goat and fish are eaten.

Local and sustainable food

Making responsible choices while traveling is also about food. By making the right choices, you support local people and reduce your own footprint. Some tips:

  • Meat and fish are high on the menu in many African countries. To reduce your footprint, alternate animal dishes with plant-based ones. Fortunately, there are often plenty of those too!
  • It can be a special experience to try African game. Don’t eat endangered animals anyway and limit your consumption of other types of game.
  • Eat street food or go to a local restaurant. Try to skip the tourist spots, which already make enough money from travelers, a little more often. And hey … Burger King is also found in the Netherlands, so you can skip that one anyway.
  • Cooking your own dinner one night? Then don’t get your ingredients at the supermarket, but at the local market or food store.
  • Eat local ingredients.
  • Try local cuisine. An important part of cultural exchange is learning about local cuisine. Even though dishes can sometimes look exciting, at least try them! Especially if they are offered by the host where you are sleeping.
Eten in Afrika

Authentic dining experiences on your trip with Charlie's Travels

If you travel with us, you are guaranteed to experience culinary adventures. Cooking local dishes together with the host of your homestay, eating a piece of barbecue goat meat from the goat your mountain guide just slaughtered, trying new ingredients at the local market, going into the field together to harvest vegetables for dinner….
This can all be part of your authentic travel experience with us.

Fancy such an adventure? Then get in touch with us! Then together we will put together a unique experience. For all your senses, including your taste buds.


Do you have questions for our Africa experts?

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