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Food & Drinks
From morning cereals to yummy ‘middle-of-nowhere’ lunches, dinners cooked around the fire and ensuring a ready supply of drinks - catering on an overland trip is a breeze! If you’re a vegetarian, have allergies or simply love snacking, read more about food and drinks on an overland safari.
Shopping & Supplies
The cost of food comes out of the communal kitty or local payment, and the tour leader that looks after this fund will budget depending on what items are available at a reasonable price in each country.
All overland trucks do a ‘bulk buy’ before setting off - dry goods, tins, spices, sauces, and a couple of meals that can be whipped up when no fresh produce is available. (Love that tuna!) Otherwise fresh vegetables, fruit and meat are bought along the way and it will be up to you and your fellow travellers to venture into the local markets, haggle with traders using unfamiliar currencies, and ‘guesstimate’ how many carrots you need for 20 people – all part of Africa, all part of the overland experience.
Never mind coming face to face with a rampaging elephant – the most daunting experience for some overland passengers is having to cook for the other 20 people on board the truck. But relax: it’s really not that difficult, and if you don’t have them already, you’ll soon discover culinary skills you never knew you had.
You will be put in a team and everyone will take turns shopping and cooking on a roster system so at least you won’t be wholly responsible for the group’s diet! And anyway, creating a meal together is a great way to get to know your fellow travellers - especially during the first few days of the tour - and your crew will always be on hand to advise: they are more familiar with local prices and know the best places to find food. After a couple of attempts, you’ll be able to control the heat on an open fire as expertly as the gas oven at home and will soon discover that there’s nothing that can’t be cooked on a fire – bake it, fry it, BBQ it, roast it, or stick it on a stick and toast it.
Overlanding with a Safari Cook
If you still find the thought of cooking for a large group on your own a daunting task, then simply choose an overland tour that has a safari cook who will not only make you delicious Western food but also introduce you to the local cuisine.
It’s not completely without obligation however: you will still be required to help out with carrying the shopping, chopping up vegetables and washing up but you don’t have to worry about poisoning your fellow travellers and perhaps get an extra half hour in bed in the morning as the cook is the first one up to light the fire and prepare breakfast.
You’ll be surprised at the quality and quantity of food and you’ll get three square meals a day often conjured up from the freshest of produce. In fact, most people tend to put weight on during an overland tour! Each of our tours indicates if there is a safari cook or not.
Although Overlanding tours cater for vegetarians, you might be wondering why non-meat eaters don’t get a discount on their local payment. It’s all about costing: in Tanzania for example, cheese is more expensive than meat; and in arid Namibia where fresh produce is scarce, it is vegetables that are more expensive than meat. In Africa it costs just as much to feed a vegetarian as it does a meat-eater!
Allergies & Dietary Requirements
Please tell your cook or tour guide at the beginning of the tour if you have any special dietary requirements, food allergies or intolerances. And the crew will need to know why: “I don’t like mushrooms” isn’t enough: they’ll need to know if eating mushrooms (in this case) will make you ill or if you cannot eat them for religious reasons.
Snacks & Extras
Sometimes on long driving days, breakfast can be as early as 5am and dinner as late as 9pm with lunch sometime in between. For these occasions you may want to stock up on a few snacks for those long days so allow extra spending money for this.
It’s also a good idea to budget in your personal spending money for a few restaurant meals that are not paid for by the kitty. On many Overland tours there is the option of sampling local restaurants and there are some fabulous spots to try some game meat or local food, especially in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Swakopmund, Victoria Falls and Nairobi.