Halal-friendly Safaris in Africa

Halal-friendly Safaris in Africa

It is possible to enjoy Halal meals on safari – all it takes is good planning, expert advice and careful choices for a tailor-made journey through Africa. A small but growing number of top safari lodges and hotels are making provisions to welcome observant Muslim travellers.

We explain:

  • Why South Africa is a good choice
  • How to combine Cape Town with the Kruger National Park
  • Where to go in Kenya and Tanzania
  • Which African islands are best for Muslim holidaymakers
  • Our best tips for Muslim visitors to Africa

But first, Africa Safari Expert Mariam Ngoyi gives her personal advice for a Halal safari:

Mariam in Kenya!

 

‘I am lucky enough to have travelled quite extensively with Go2Africa and have always managed to stay Halal and have prayers on safari, although it does take a little bit of planning. I suggest the following:

  • Many lodges now have Wi-Fi so you can download and use a qibla app on your phone. If your accommodation doesn’t have Wi-Fi or an Internet connection, then ask the guides where east is and use their directions to work out which direction to face for prayers.
  • I prefer not to travel during Ramadan because I like being with my family and community during this time so we can fast and celebrate together.

 

I find it quite easy to work prayers into the ‘safari day’, which runs as follows:

- early morning wake-up call before dawn

- game drive until about 9am

- brunch or lunch at the lodge

- mid-afternoon tea

- late afternoon game drive

- return to lodge for dinner

- The more private your safari, the more easily prayers can be accommodated because you can change the times of meals and game drives to suit your own schedule.

 

  • Always tell your agent during the booking process that you require Halal meals so they can ensure the lodge has the items in stock.
  • It might be tempting but I avoid venison – like zebra, crocodile, kudu, springbok, ostrich and so on – because it is unlikely to have been slaughtered according to proper rites. You can find Halal biltong (a dried meat delicacy found in South Africa) but it will be made of beef and not venison.

 

Finding giraffes in Nairobi National Park.

 

  • You can request that your mini-bar be cleared of alcoholic beverages.
  • Peak safari season is over the African winter and it can be very cold on game drives, which means everyone will be modestly dressed.
  • If you wish to swim, reserve a lodge that has private plunge pools rather than bigger communal pools.
  • I carry my own portable prayer mat as most lodges will not be able to provide one.
  • It is possible to reserve a private safari villa with its own kitchen should you wish to prepare food yourself or if you travel with a chef.
  • Some of the bigger hotels may have separate spa rooms for men and women but most don’t because space is limited. It is sometimes possible to request a spa treatment in the privacy of your own room.
  • Alcoholic beverages are usually offered on the afternoon game drive during a stop for refreshments but there are lots of soft drink options instead. Once again, if you book a private vehicle and guide, then you can request that no alcohol be included at all.

1. Go to South Africa

The history of Islam in South Africa dates back to the late 1600s and today adherents make up about two percent of the population, with a significant number living in the travel hotspot of Cape Town. South Africa is the continent’s most developed country from an infrastructure perspective and has a large number of mosques and Halal restaurants. In fact, residents believe Cape Town is blessed because it is ringed by a Circle of Kramats or the graves of holy men that are found on Signal Hill, near Bakoven beach, in Bo-Kaap and even in Simonstown.

There are plenty of direct international flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg, which also has a significant Muslim population. Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport is the regional hub and from there it is easy to get to the Kruger National Park, Mauritius and even the sought-after East African destinations of Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and the Seychelles.

It is easiest to find Halal foods and upscale accommodation here compared to other safari destinations in Africa. South Africa has four Halal certification authorities and the hospitality industry is fairly geared to Muslim guests’ dietary requirements. Always let your personal Safari Expert know that you require Halal meals so that he or she can ensure that your accommodation makes all the arrangements and has plenty of Halal meat in stock.

Places to stay in Cape Town

Taj Cape Town

The Taj’s façade is one of the most interesting in all of Cape Town: several historic buildings in the city centre were merged to create the hotel but their ornate and different exteriors were preserved. Inside, the marble lobbies were also saved and a modern glass tower was added to give rooms views of Table Mountain, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. In addition to two very good restaurants, the Taj lies within walking distance of the historic Company’s Gardens and the colourful Bo-Kaap, the original Malay Quarter of South Africa. This is an excellent choice if you want to be close to all Cape Town’s main attractions, including the V&A Waterfront. Private dining is available to guests.

Highlights

  • Set in the heart of Cape Town on historic St Georges Mall
  • Meticulously restored & tastefully decorated buildings
  • Lovely views of the city and Table Mountain
  • Excellent dining experiences - try Indian cuisine at Bombay Brasserie

The One&Only Cape Town

 

Part of the global One&Only family that includes dazzling resorts in the Bahamas and the Maldives, One&Only Cape Town also has a prime position, with views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. It is within easy walking distance of the V&A Waterfront and is home to Nobu, the premier sushi restaurant in Africa. It’s other in-house restaurant has upscale versions of classic South African dishes.

Highlights

  • Captivating views of the Waterfront & Table Mountain
  • Contemporary & stylish African decor
  • Fantastic resort facilities including an award-winning spa
  • Centrally located & within easy reach of Cape Town’s attractions

The One Above

 

The One Above is the One&Only’s huge private penthouse with 360-degree views of the city, Table Mountain, the harbour and Robben Island. Not only does it have multiple living rooms, en suite bedrooms, swimming pools and a small gym but is also has a top-of-the-line kitchen, if you prefer to cater Halal meals for yourself.

Highlights

  • Private butler & chef team
  • 2 roof-top swimming pools
  • Spectacular mountain, city & ocean views
  • Multiple entertainment & dining areas

Belmond Mount Nelson

 

A stalwart of Cape Town, the Belmond Mount Nelson has hosted scored of celebrities and luminaries from across the world since the early 1900s. Although it is still close to the city centre, it lies in a leafy neighbourhood that is a welcome oasis after a day of sightseeing.

Highlights

  • Located on a lush estate in the Cape Town city centre
  • Reknowned for its exclusive & tailored service
  • Rooms are modern with an romantic, old-world charm
  • Superb dining at Planet Restaurant

Cape Grace

 

A superb hotel that oozes elegance, the Cape Grace has an enviable position on the yacht marina in Cape Town Harbour. There are limited family suites with kitchenettes if you want to prepare meals yourself but all off the V&A Waterfront’s restaurants and the hotel’s eatery are on your doorstep. This hotel is within strolling distance of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art and the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.

Highlights

  • Set at the heart of the V&A Waterfront
  • Walking distance to a multitude of shops & restaurants
  • Elegant understated luxury
  • Multi-award winning and a regular feature on Conde Naste's Gold Lists of best hotels

Ellerman House

Ellerman House has hosted top international names and has one of the loveliest views in Cape Town over the Atlantic Ocean. It is packed with incredible art and boasts its own art gallery as well as gourmet dining. If you want absolute privacy and access to a kitchen with all the mod cons, reserve one of the villas.

Highlights

  • Situated in exclusive Bantry Bay
  • Reknowned for its impeccable service
  • A historical mansion with classic architecture
  • Africa's largest private art collection

Places to visit in Cape Town

Go2Africans enjoying the Bo-Kaap.

 

  • The Palm Tree Mosque Found on Long Street, this is the oldest unchanged building on the street and dates back to 1820.
  • The Auwal Mosque Lying on Dorp Street in Bo-Kaap, the Auwal Mosque was built in 1794 and is the oldest in the country.
  • District Six Museum District Six was a multi-racial and -cultural neighbourhood in the city that was destroyed by the apartheid government in 1960s and 70s – more than 60 000 people were forcibly removed from their homes, schools and places of work to new settlements far from the city centre. This moving museum gives you a better understanding of the city’s current socio-economic situation.

Go2Africans enjoying the Bo-Kaap.

 

  • Bo-Kaap This is the original neighbourhood is where the descendants of Malay slaves lived in a mix of classic Georgian and Cape Dutch-era houses that are today painted in an array of bright colours. One of the most fun things to do is sign up for a Cape Malay cooking course to learn how Cape Town Muslims make rotis, boeber, chilli bites, samosas, curries, biryani (a pilau) and chilli bites with a local spin.

READ MORE
Hot and spicy: a Malay cooking experience in Cape Town

Go2Africans Mariam and Ashley cooking samosas.

Places to stay in Johannesburg

The Residence

The Residence is in Houghton, one of the city’s wealthiest neighbours where tycoons and politicians live. This is a good place to unwind before you head off on safari – you can hit the tennis court if you need to get your blood pumping.

Highlights

  • Set in Johannesburg's most affluent suburb
  • Elegant décor & dignified ambience
  • Luxurious spa & wellness sanctuary
  • Access to Houghton Golf Course

2. How to combine Cape Town with Kruger

This is one of our most popular journeys, especially with first-time visitors to Africa. The travel logistics are very convenient, the airports are very modern (most have dedicated prayer rooms) and we will arrange all transfers straight to your hotel.

Most international flights land at OR Tambo in Johannesburg. From there, you can overnight in the city, which we recommend to relax after a long-haul trip. Then you can fly on – completely refreshed – to Cape Town for a few days before heading off on safari. Although the Kruger National Park is on of the most famous game reserves in the world, it is not your only option in South Africa. You can also visit Madikwe Private Game Reserve, which, like Kruger, has good numbers of the Big 5 (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino).

Most travellers fly to Kruger but it is also possible to drive. Madikwe is about a 3-hour drive from Johannesburg and completely malaria-free; ideal if you are travelling with young children or elderly relatives.

Where to stay in Madikwe

Etali Safari Lodge

 

With its romantic atmopshere, Etali is a good choice for honeymooners and newlyweds. In addition to game drives, you can also go on nature walks with an experienced guide or enjoy time in the spa.

Highlights

  • Set in the Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Small and exclusive lodge with only 8 suites
  • Luxurious suites each with its own heated plunge pool
  • Enjoy traditional South African dishes

Where to stay in Kruger

Lukimbi Safari Lodge

 

The southern part of the Kruger is known as prime leopard territory because it has plenty of thicket and lots of rocky outcrops. If you’re a keen golfer, one of the country’s premier clubs – Leopard Creek – is a short drive away.

Highlights

  • Located in a private Kruger concession
  • Excellent game sightings
  • Spacious suites tucked away in the bush
  • Spa treatments and romantic candlelit dinners

Selati Lodge

 

Part of the Sabi Sabi family, Selati is found in the Sabi Sands, a private reserve adjacent to Kruger. The animals are free to roam between the two but guests have an exclusive experience in the Sabi Sands. Selati has an old-world charm and is full of antiques and mementos.

Highlights

  • Located in the Sabi Sands on private concession
  • Unique historic 'explorer-style' camp
  • Small, exclusive and intimate
  • Thrilling Big 5 game sightings

Bush Lodge

 

Sister to Selati, Bush Lodge has the same high standards of accommodation, service and cuisine. It overlooks a popular watering hole and is very popular with families thanks to a dedicated kids’ club known as the EleFun Centre.

Highlights

  • Private concession in the Sabi Sands
  • Beautiful, traditional safari flair - African art & tasteful ethnic feel
  • Huge viewing decks & local waterhole
  • Classic Big 5 country & great birding

Earth Lodge

 

This is the centrepiece of the Sabi Sabi crown. Earth Lodge has been designed to blend into the environment and has plenty of super-luxurious touches for pampered guests. Each suite has a private plunge pool and the Amber Presidential Suite has a very unique design, with a tree-trunk headboard and an egg-shaped bathtub.

Highlights

  • Located on a private concession within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve
  • Blends naturally and beautifully into its untouched surroundings
  • Built on environmentally friendly principles
  • Classic Big 5 game viewing and great birding year-round

Little Bush Camp

 

The little sister to Bush Lodge, Little Bush Camp is far more intimate place with only six suites. If you are travelling as a large family or group of a dozen people, consider booking the whole lodge on an exclusive-use basis.

Highlights

  • Private Sabi Sands concession location
  • Luxurious & private suites with river views
  • Personal & intimate Big 5 safari experience
  • Ideal exclusive-use safari - perfect for families & friends

3. Where to stay in Kenya and Tanzania

From South Africa to East Africa: Kenya and Tanzania have some of the best wildlife viewing in the world plus the unique Great Wildebeest Migration, which sees about two million wildebeest, zebra and antelope move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Most international flights will land you in Nairobi (the capital of Kenya) or Arusha, the gateway to Tanzania’s northern safari circuit. There are several mosques in Arusha and along Diani Beach in Kenya. The Muslim community makes up over 11% of the Kenyan population and 35% of the Tanzanian population while the residents of Zanzibar are 99% Muslim.

Where to stay in Nairobi

House of Waine

 

Once a private residence in the leafy neighbourhood of Karen, House of Waine is now a cosy guesthouse that is close to major attractions like the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and The Giraffe Centre.

Highlights

  • Refreshing stay in charming individually decorated suites
  • Situated in the city's most beautiful neighbourhood of Karen
  • Awake to birdsong & relax in beautiful gardens
  • Close to Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Centre & other attractions

Nairobi Serena Hotel

 

A comfortable budget-friendly option, one of the Nairobi Serena’s highlights is having lunch on the sun-splashed terrace that is surrounded by lush trees.

Highlights

  • Central location
  • Range of facilities
  • Accommodating service
  • Comfortable rooms

Where to stay in the Masai Mara

Angama Mara

 

Probably Kenya’s premier lodge, Angama Mara has unadulterated views of the Masai Mara from its perch on the escarpment. Each suite has a private balcony overlooking the plains where you can enjoy Halal meals in complete privacy.

Highlights

  • Superb location in the Mara Triangle with spectacular views from the escarpment
  • Close to a Great Wildebeest Migration river crossing hotspot
  • Plenty of predators and a significant black rhino population
  • Photography studio and garden-to-table dining in the shamba

Cottar’s 1920s Camp

 

The name says it all: this is a camp where history and tradition are alive and well, right down to the vintage wood-panelled game-drive vehicle! The spacious family tent is a good option if you prefer private dining.

Highlights

  • Traditional tented safari reminiscent of the 1920s
  • Witness the Great Migration in season
  • Private concession ensures privacy & exclusivity
  • Personal butler ensures intuitive service

Elephant Pepper Camp

 

An unfenced camp in the Mara Triangle, Elephant Pepper has wonderful attention to detail with brass fittings, spacious tents and lovely hammocks dotted around camp.

Highlights

  • In the private Mara North Conservancy
  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration in season (from about mid-year)
  • Sweeping views of the Mara plains with game often found in camp
  • Gold Eco Status for environmental management

Kicheche Mara Camp

 

Truly a back-to-basics game for those that like adventure, the tents at Kicheche Mara are very well spaced with plenty of rustic furniture inspired by the surrounding African bush.

Highlights

  • Beautiful setting in Mara North Private Conservancy
  • Great year-round game viewing plus Migration safaris
  • Unfenced camp offers an authentic safari experience
  • Maasai village visits for cultural interactions

Mahali Mzuri

 

A sophisticated lodge owned by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Brandon, Mahali Mzuri has all the mod cons, including a powerful telescope on the viewing deck to see the stars after dinner in the mess tent.

Highlights

  • Set in a private Masai Mara conservancy
  • Member of Virgin Limited Edition
  • Variety of safari activities
  • Great for wildebeest migration & Big 5

Sand River Masai Mara

 

Sand River is a luxurious camp, which boasts everything from extremely comfortable tents and private dining next to the water to its own snooker table. A major bonus is that the Sand River is a major crossing point during the annual Great Wildebeest Migration.

Highlights

  • Secluded riverside setting in the Mara
  • Excellent year-round Big 5 game viewing
  • Well-sited for the Wildebeest Migration & predator action
  • Game drives & hot-air balloon safaris

Where to stay in Tanzania

Arusha Coffee Lodge

 

Arusha is the gateway to Tanzania’s famous Northern Circuit, which includes the Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater. This lodge is surrounded by aromatic coffee plantations and has a workshop and boutique for artisanal crafters on the premises should you wish to shop.

Highlights

  • Ideal overnight stay just 5 minutes from Arusha Airport
  • Spacious suites surrounded by coffee plantations
  • Relaxed, serene atmosphere & lovely outdoor restaurant
  • Dining area, shop & swimming pool

Where to stay on Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a large island off the coast of Tanzania and is technically part of the country although it is often thought of as a separate entity altogether. It’s known as the Spice Island because of its plantations of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, cumin and others that tinge the sultry air with their fragrances. Most travellers like to end a safari with a few days at a beach resort to relax before heading home.

Zanzibar has a majority Muslim population with many mosques. Ramadan is observed and Halal meals may be easier to come by in restaurants than on the mainland. Head to the Masjid Barzakh and Ijumaa Mosque for prayers.

Diamonds La Gemma Dell’Est

 

A classic thatched beach resort that has it all: sailing, tennis, water sports and instant access to the powdery sand and warm Indian Ocean.

Highlights

  • Extensive resort activities & facilities - diving, watersports, gym & spa
  • Relaxed, tropical beach resort
  • Enjoy a private terrace with seaviews
  • Fully-inclusive for a great value holiday

Essque Zalu Zanzibar

 

One of the most architecturally impressive beach lodges on the island thanks to its towering thatched roof and long jetty into the ocean, Essque Zalu also has a kids’ club and a spa with yoga facilities.

Highlights:

  • Beautiful layout - modern suites in garden setting
  • Personalised - private guides & butlers tailor your stay
  • Phenomenal cuisine - 3 fantastic restaurants
  • Spa, yoga & gym

DoubleTree Nungwi

 

Part of the global Hilton Hotels group, the DoubleTree Resorts provide excellent value for money. Nungwi is to the north of Zanzibar and where the most exclusive beach lodges are positioned to take advantages of the best sites to watch the sunset.

Highlights:

  • Sea or pool views from all rooms
  • Excellent water sports like parasailing & diving
  • Massage & fitness centre
  • Jet Ski & deep-sea fishing excursions

DoubleTree Stone Town

 

It’s great to be able to combine a beach stay on Zanzibar with time in Stone Town, a historic enclave that is a maze of fascinating alleyways. This DoubleTree puts you in the centre of the action but also provides a quiet sanctuary from the hustle and bustle.

Highlights:

  • Convenient location in Stone Town
  • Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi
  • Room service & on-site Taarab Restaurant
  • Views of historic Stone Town

4. The best islands: Mauritius and the Seychelles

As with a visit to Zanzibar, many safari goers like to cap off time in the wilderness with a few days at a beach destination to unwind before flying home. Mauritius is most easily reached from Southern African destinations like the Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls or Botswana, while the Seychelles combine well with an East African safari to Kenya or Tanzania.

Where to stay on Mauritius

Mauritius is virtually a year-round destination and an excellent option if you are travelling with young children as there are plenty of activities and kids’ clubs to keep them entertained. About 17% of the population follow Islamic principles so hotels and lodges are very familiar with Halal dietary requirements. The main mosque – the Jummah Masjid – is found in Port Louis, the capital.

The Oberoi

 

The Oberoi is one of the island’s top hotels and is known for its excellent and inventive cuisine. By day, enjoy meals overlooking the Indian Ocean under the palm trees; for a special occasion, reserve a table in the exclusive Gunpowder Room, a historic building that dates back centuries.

Highlights:

  • Situated in a bay on the West Coast
  • Elegant & refined experience & discreet service
  • 20 acres of lush sub-tropical gardens
  • Delicious cuisine & fine dining

Where to stay in the Seychelles

A very sought-after and luxurious destination, the Seychelles are an archipelago of picture-perfect islands in the midst of the balmy Indian Ocean. The focus is exclusivity and privacy – a good option for honeymooners and couples. There is a small Muslim community in the Seychelles which is focused on the Pointe Au Sel Islamic Centre in the capital, Victoria.

Labriz Resort & Spa

 

As a member of the Hilton Hotel group, you can expect the same exacting standards of accommodation, service and meals found the world over. The highlight of Labriz is certainly its position on the private island of Silhouette, which is home to a tortoise sanctuary where some of these hard-shelled residents are nearing a hundred years old!

Highlights:

  • Set on the pristine beach of a secluded island
  • Complete relaxation in spacious villas
  • A member of Hilton Hotels & Resorts
  • Seven impeccable, elegant restaurants

Banyan Tree

 

The Banyan Tree resort is on the main island of Mahé, which cuts down on transfer times and costs. It has an exquisite position on the peninsula with lovely views from outdoor decks down over the sandy beach below.

Highlights:

  • One of a few luxury villa-style hotels
  • Situated in a private bay
  • Perfect for special occassions
  • Lovely sea views & private plunge pools