There’s nothing quite like a bush dinner deep in the middle of the African wilderness.
Losing the four walls of a restaurant and enjoying a meal out in the bush is a wonderful and primal experience that you just can’t replicate anywhere else in the world but Africa.
There’s something about sitting down at a long banquet table, under the blanket of a million stars, the distant cries of animals in the air, as the smell of a fire-cooked meal wafts over from the pop-up ‘bush kitchen’ .
At Tintswalo Safari Lodge, we love our bush meals! Guests will often mention that a bush dinner was the highlight of their time with us: one of the moments that made them feel truly connected to the wilderness.
It happens when you least expect it!
Your game vehicle will round a corner, and there, in the middle of a dry river bed, a lantern-lit table with chairs and candles has magically appeared before you. As you disembark from the vehicle, you are treated to a drink and cocktail, and invited to unwind beside the fire, a welcome warmth after the chilly dusk drive.
As darkness sets in, you sit down at your table and get comfortable as the chef prepares meat and veggies and snacks at the nearby barbeque buffet. It’s not long before you have served yourself a plate full of soul food and the evening is under way. If you sit quietly, you can hear the soft call of the scops owl hooting in the distance, and the eerie shriek of the nightjar filling the night. Lions might begin to roar now; both wonderful and frightening as their calls echo through the night air. Don’t worry—the team will know if anything is nearby. Lions can be heard roaring from many kilometers away.
On one occasion, a herd of elephants decided to join the guests for dinner. The guides saw the elephants coming from quite a way off in the bush, and all the guests congregated by the vehicles just in case. The elephants meandered down into the drainage line, right past the tables and chairs, and then ambled off into the bush to carry on their evening. It was a tranquil scene, and the elephants were perfectly relaxed, as if they had just come to say hello and goodbye.
Bush dinners are a bonding experience—not just with the animals! Sitting close to your friends— new and old—you find yourself more honest and open and truthful. The important things in life clarify, as they always do out in nature. You talk and laugh and learn and grow in the space of just a few hours under the stars.
Bush dinner is also a time to get to know your guide and tracker. Listen to their stories and learn about what makes them live their passion out here in the wilderness. You might also ask for a lesson on the stars, learning which stars and planets hang above the African bush each night.
With a belly full of food and fine wine, there’s nothing better than jumping on the vehicle and taking a night drive into the bush, in search of the animals that you might never see during the day— perhaps a caracal, or a hyena, or a leopard, or a pride of lions getting started on a nightly hunt.
Even if you don’t see any animals, its a wonderful thing to sit back and enjoy the cool night air caress your face, and think how lucky you are to be able to experience a true wilderness in such comfort and ease.