With expert advice, good planning and sufficient time, it is possible for Jewish travellers to go on a kosher safari holiday in Africa. While there are some obstacles to overcome – like the accessibility to chametz food at a remote safari camp – a growing number of lodges are taking great measures to cater for Jewish travellers who follow a kosher diet.
The key to a wonderful kosher safari is planning your trip well in advance. Start chatting with a travel agent as soon as you know you want to go, and be upfront about your needs.
If you wish to celebrate Pesach, Rosh Hashana or Chanukah in Africa, or just have a wonderful kosher safari, here is our best advice on planning your trip…
Top Tips for Jewish Travellers to Africa
Seasonality on safari is governed by rain. The general rule is that the wet summer is the low or Green Season, while the dry winter is high or peak season. Accommodation is pricier and booked out longer in advance for high season, which generally falls from about June to October across Africa.
Consider when the major Jewish celebrations fall every year to ensure you get your first choice of accommodation and the best available rates:
- Since Passover and the Christian festival of Easter sometimes coincide, you may find availability limited as most African countries have school holidays over Easter and many Africans travel then.
- Safari destinations closer to major cities – like Kruger, Etosha, Addo Elephant, Chobe, Vic Falls and Amboseli – will likely be very busy.
- It can pay to book up to nine months in advance.
- This is a good time to visit Victoria Falls as the waters will be rising, leading to a more impressive display.
- It is likely that this will fall during the African spring, when the high season is slowly transitioning to low season (known in the industry as ‘shoulder season’).
- Since there are no regional holidays and travellers in the US and Europe are generally gearing up for the school year, you should aim to book at least six months in advance.
- As with Pesach and Easter, Chanukah may likely coincide with the Christian run-up to Christmas, both of which will coincide with regional holidays.
- Although December is technically part of low season, rates do increase over Christmas and New Year’s.
- Cities like Cape Town are extremely popular and can sell out six to nine months in advance.
It’s very important to communicate your dietary requirements with your travel agent. Be open about what you cannot eat, because many kosher-friendly substitutes may not be readily available in the places you’ll be staying.
Most safari destinations are remote and must fly in all the produce and ingredients they use to prepare meals. The more information you give in advance of your kosher safari holiday in Africa, the better your travel agent can prepare the safari property for your requirements. Furthermore, if you plan your trip with long-established safari experts like Go2Africa who has a vast network of trusted safari partners, we can recommend the best kosher-friendly safari lodges in Africa.
Take the Following Into Consideration to Keep Kosher in Africa:
- Major South African grocers like Pick n Pay, Spar and Checkers have large kosher sections with plenty of options – especially in Jewish neighbourhoods like Cape Town’s Sea Point and Fresnaye. You can also stock up on snacks here for transfers, days out and self-drive holidays.
- Jewish travellers staying in Johannesburg can order kosher meals to be delivered from Kosher Where.
- In most cases, there will be a surcharge for kosher meals – especially at remote safari camps and lodges in places like Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana, where supplies must be trucked or flown in.
- The closer you travel to South Africa, the easier and more cost-effective it will be to secure kosher meals.
- A few of the exclusive safari villas have separate kosher kitchens and can even accommodate your own chef and supplies.
It’s very challenging to keep kosher on mobile camping safaris, as there are very limited kitchen facilities. If you would like to have a kosher experience during a mobile camping safari, consider booking out an entire camp for exclusive use for your family (with no other guests). The safari operator can then make the necessary arrangements, if possible.
Kosher Safari in South Africa
Most Jewish travellers to Africa head for South Africa. Not only is it the most developed country in Africa, but it’s also home to the continent’s most populous Jewish community. There are at least 80,000 practising Jews in South Africa, making it the easiest place to find hotels with kosher kitchens, kosher restaurants and delis, and synagogues or shuls.
Many international flights arrive in Johannesburg, which has a thriving Jewish community of about 50,000 people, many of whom reside in affluent and safe neighbourhoods such as Sandton – which is also home to the top hotels and kosher restaurants in Johannesburg.
In Cape Town, a community of about 20,000 Jews ensures that there are plenty of kosher options available, especially in the neighbourhoods of Sea Point and Fresnaye. The city also offers Jewish travellers plenty to see and do. Cape Town is home to the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Centre, which border the very popular Company’s Gardens, a green lung in the city centre that is ringed by the National Gallery, the Planetarium and the National History Museum. Parliament and the historical Slave Lodge are also within easy walking distance, as is the historic Gardens Shul.
Kosher-Friendly Hotels in Cape Town
The Clarendon Bantry Bay is an upscale boutique hotel above one of the city’s most exclusive beaches that will happily provide kosher meals.
The Clarendon Fresnaye is the sister property to the Clarendon Bantry Bay. The Fresnaye is closer to the Beit Midrash Morasha (also known as the Arthurs Road Hebrew Congregation) and to the Chabad Centre in nearby St John’s Road. This area is also home to the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation, fondly known as the Marais Road Shul. Both establishments will happily provide candles and matches for Shabbos. If you and family take over the whole of either boutique hotel, the kitchen can be made kosher.
Twelve Apostles Hotel is set in the foothills of the Twelve Apostles mountains and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This cosy hotel outside the city can order in kosher meals at a surcharge.
Kosher-Friendly Wineries to Visit in the Cape Winelands
Backsberg Estate Cellars is situated outside the beautiful town of Paarl. Backsberg creates sparkling Brut, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Merlot and Kiddush wine that are kosher and Mevushal for Passover. All their kosher wines are overseen by the Cape Town Beth-din and the Orthodox Union of the United States.
Kleine Draken, translating as ‘little dragon’ in the Afrikaans language, is the only dedicated kosher winery in South Africa. All its kosher wines are overseen by the Mashiach from the Cape Town Beth-din and are certified by the US OU. The staff can arrange kosher picnics to enjoy out in the gardens, with a bottle of wine or grape juice, of course.
If you are travelling from Cape Town elsewhere into Africa, consider stopping in at Backsberg or Kleine Draken to buy a couple of bottles of kosher wines to take with you to your next destination (be sure to check how much wine you are allowed to take according to customs rules if you are crossing the border out of the country). Although many safari lodges have wine cellars, not all will have access to kosher wines. Spirits, however, are commonly available.
Kosher-Friendly Hotels in Johannesburg
Genesis All Suite Hotel has a convenient downstairs deli which stocks kosher meals. Furthermore, it’s located near a kosher market and kosher restaurants in Johannesburg.
The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa is among the very best hotels in Africa’s wealthiest city. The understated Saxon oozes subtle luxury. The kitchen can follow the rules of kosher but for strict observants, the staff will place an order or allow guests to do so.
The Residence in Houghton, Johannesburg’s most affluent enclave and where former president Nelson Mandela lived, is an upscale boutique hotel with a tennis court, spa and rooftop piano bar. Kosher meals can be arranged.
Kosher-Friendly Hotels in Durban
Durban is a lively city on South Africa’s sub-tropical eastern coast. Depending on the rest of your itinerary, it is a stop-over to get to the Drakensberg, the historic Battlefields, or Phinda Private Game Reserve.
The Oyster Box is probably the city’s most glamorous and luxurious hotel, set right on the beach. The Oyster Box can order in good kosher meals with sufficient notice.
How to Combine Cape Town With a Kosher Safari in South Africa
Cape Town and Kruger is a very popular combination, especially for first-time visitors to Africa. The travelling times between them are relatively short and the logistics very easy.
Many Jewish travellers head for a safari first. After landing at O.R. Tambo International Airport, you can overnight in Johannesburg to recover from your long-haul flight and then fly or be driven to the Sabi Sands, a private game reserve that shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park.
We suggest the Sabi Sands because it is private, with limited visitor numbers, and it is one of the best places to see all the Big 5 (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino). Furthermore, it has the highest number of kosher-friendly safari lodges in Africa.
Other highly recommended and equally wonderful private game reserves in the Kruger area are Kapama, Timbavati and Thornybush.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges in Kruger
Dulini Moya and Dulini River Lodge are both set in the unparalleled Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. Kosher meals can be arranged from a top caterer in Johannesburg.
Savanna Lodge’s Savanna Suite has a private, separate kosher kitchen. If you and your family book the entire lodge, the main kitchen can also be made kosher. In special circumstances, fully catered kosher meals can be arranged from Johannesburg that include options for snacks on game drives and for the rooms’ mini bars.
Singita Castleton, Boulders or Ebony Lodge are renowned for their sophistication – Singita’s lodges are havens of elegant luxury. They can arrange top-notch kosher cuisine to be provided by special caterers.
Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge overlooks one of the Sabi’s largest lakes. The lodge has kosher platers and cutlery, and all food is cooked in foil. The lodge can source meals and wine from a kosher deli in Johannesburg.
Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp is part of the renowned Sabi Sabi family of lodges. Little Bush Camp has just six suites, each with a private viewing deck and heated spa bath. The staff can arrange kosher meals with sufficient notice.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is a six-suite, award-winning luxury hideaway set on the banks of the Sabie River. The lodge’s exclusive Fish Eagle Villa comprises two private, single suites connected by an entrance hall, lounge and study. The villa also comes with its own private chef, safari vehicle and guide, and a separate kosher kitchen.
Kings Camp is a throwback to traditional safari style. It has a very romantic and sophisticated atmosphere, thanks to soft lamp lighting. It is kosher with a dedicated Mashgiach under the Beth-din Council of South Africa.
Ngala Tented Camp and Ngala Safari Lodge offer superb service where no effort is spared to make you comfortable. They can order kosher meals for Jewish guests with sufficient notice.
Royal Malewane is an extremely luxurious lodge with wonderful extras like helicopter flights, elephant interactions, river cruises, specialist guides and hot-air ballooning. Royal Malewane also has a full kosher kitchen for Jewish guests.
Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodge are very refined with excellent service, and have the ability to 'order in' quality kosher meals. Singita Lebombo brings high-end designer style and contemporary interiors to the middle of the untamed Kruger.
Karula, Buffalo Camp and Southern Camp are all part of the Kapama family and lie in a private game reserve watered by the Klaserie River. Kosher meals can be arranged.
You can also combine Cape Town with Madikwe Game Reserve, which has a completely different terrain to Kruger and is an almost unsurpassed place to see rhino and wild dog. Madikwe also lies in a malaria-free region, which makes it a fantastic choice for a family safari with kids.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges in Madikwe
Etali Safari Lodge features a popular private waterhole that attracts lots of animals. Etali’s staff are expertly trained to prepare delicious meals for Jewish travellers in a separate kosher kitchen.
Kosher Safari in Victoria Falls
Seeing Victoria Falls – the world’s biggest sheet of falling water – is a bucket-list item for many Jewish travellers to Africa. In fact, a Cape Town-Kruger-Vic Falls itinerary is one of our most popular, especially with first-time visitors.
The small town of Livingstone on the Zambian side of the Falls has had a Jewish community since the early 1900s, which peaked at about 1,200 people in the mid-1950s. Today, this number may have decreased, but a knowledge of kosher cooking remains in this unexpected corner of Africa.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges & Hotels in Victoria Falls
The River Club lies on the banks of the Zambezi River, which feeds the Falls. The River Club harks back to those gracious days of the turn of the last century with silver place settings, black-and-white photos and activities like croquet and billiards (although they have moved with the times and have Wi-Fi, yoga sessions and a running trail). There is a completely separate kosher kitchen that the Mashgiach will open when needed. They are experienced in handling orthodox guests and have two large villas for guests who prefer complete privacy.
The Royal Livingstone is the most glamorous hotel that has a view of the Falls’ spray. The hotel has access to a kosher kitchen for Jewish guests. Zebra, warthogs and ground squirrels populate the manicured lawns, adding to the uniquely African atmosphere.
Kosher Safari in Botswana
Botswana is a dream destination, and it’s our firm belief that all Jewish travellers to Africa should see the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park at least once. There are a few premier lodges where it is possible to pre-order kosher meals such as:
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges in Botswana
Abu Camp is a very exclusive camp amid a massive private concession in the Delta.
Jao Camp is set on a remote island in the Okavango, which makes it accessible only by air – guaranteeing an intimate and private kosher safari experience.
Kings Pool is part of the Linyanti Game Reserve, with access to three million acres that includes Kings Pool Lagoon and the ephemeral Savute Channel.
Little Mombo has just three luxurious suites, perfect if you want to book the entire lodge and have it all to yourselves. For bigger groups of Jewish travellers, head to its larger sister camp, Mombo.
Vumbura Plains is an eco-retreat in the Moremi Game Reserve. Vumbura is the big brother to Little Vumbura, a smaller camp also perfect for exclusive-use kosher safaris.
Kosher Safari in Kenya
Like Botswana, Kenya is a must-see destination for Jewish travellers. The Masai Mara is known for the annual Wildebeest Migration from about July to October, when hundreds of thousands of bellowing gnus cross the treacherous Mara River in search of fresh grazing on the Mara plains.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges & Hotels in Nairobi
Hemingways Nairobi is a five-star boutique hotel situated in Karen, a peaceful suburb of Kenya’s capital city. The hotel offers Jewish travellers exceptional service, ensuring the utmost comfort and luxury.
Nairobi Tented Camp is the only safari camp situated in the Nairobi National Park, the world’s only national park that exists alongside a capital city. It's the perfect place to see animals like rhino, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard and cheetah.
Giraffe Manor is a world-famous boutique hotel, often referred to as one of the world’s most Instagrammable properties. The stars of the show are the resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes, who may poke their long necks into the manor’s windows in the hope of a treat during breakfast or dinner.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges in the Masai Mara
Angama Mara is a very high-end lodge with expansive views of the Masai Mara from its glass-fronted suites. High up on the escarpment, Angama Mara is able to accommodate travellers who keep kosher thanks to their stand-alone, separate kosher kitchen that is only unlocked for Jewish travellers. It is stocked with all the necessary utensils, crockery and cutlery, as a well as washing up, cooking and refrigeration facilities.
Meals are generally vegetarian at Angama Mara, and fish dishes are prepared without dairy products. Kosher meat, cheese, yoghurt and champagne can be arranged at extra expense from South Africa. Ready-prepared and sealed kosher meals can be flown in from the Beth Din in Johannesburg for the guests' account. Angama Mara can also secure the services of a Rabbi or Mashgiach from South Africa with at least six months' notice – his or her travel, accommodation and transfer costs will be for the guests' bill.
Governors’ Il Moran is widely regarded as the premiere camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Small and intimate, Il Moran is the perfect tented camp for Jewish travellers in search of an extra touch of luxury. The camp does cater for a kosher diet on request, and meals are generally served on a raised lookout deck of dining tent – offering a bird’s eye view of the daily hippo soap opera in the Mara River.
Porini Mara Camp is situated in a private conservancy alongside the Masai Mara National Reserve, providing the ultimate safari experience away from the tourist crowds. This award-winning camp enjoys a beautiful setting under yellow-barked Acacia trees along the banks of the Laetoli River. Comprising just five guest tents, Porini Mara Camp offers an exclusive yet friendly feel. High quality kosher meals can be prepared on request.
Saruni Mara is the only boutique safari lodge in the Masai Mara. Nestled within a secluded valley in a private conservancy alongside the national reserve, Saruni Mara is a fantastic choice for a kosher safari with the family. In addition to its five cottages, the lodge also has one family villa and one private villa, which can be booked exclusively – ideal for groups or families looking for privacy and wanting to set your own safari schedule. The private villa comes with its own safari vehicle and guide, and kosher meals can be enjoyed in your own dining room.
Kosher Safari in Tanzania
Just like Kenya, Tanzania is a must-see destination for Jewish travellers who want to witness the annual Wildebeest Migration. The country’s flagship Serengeti National Park sees the lion’s share of this natural phenomenon (between November and July), but Tanzania’s other heavyweight attractions like the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire make the country one of the best safari destinations in Africa.
Kosher-Friendly Hotels in Arusha
Arusha Coffee Lodge is the perfect beginning or end to any kosher safari holiday in Tanzania. Located on the outskirts of the country’s ‘safari capital’, the lodge is hidden among one of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantations and is a haven for relaxation after a long international flight or following an action-packed safari.
Legendary Lodge is situated within a working coffee plantation on the foothills of Mount Meru. Nestled in lush, tropical gardens alive with birdsong, Legendary Lodge is a gateway for Jewish travellers to Tanzania’s celebrated Northern Safari Circuit.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges in the Serengeti
Mwiba Lodge is located in a private game reserve adjoining the Serengeti National Park. Perched atop massive stone boulders and surrounded by ancient acacia trees, this exclusive property offers Jewish travellers a sublime safari experience, the highest levels of comfort, unique wildlife encounters, and meaningful cultural immersions found nowhere else on Earth.
Sanctuary Kusini is the only permanent camp in the remote southern sector of the Serengeti. The lodge is set around a cluster of small hills, right on the path of the Wildebeest Migration. The views from Kusini are simply sensational and part of its charm is its remote and private location. Kusini takes pride in offering personalised service and is able to cater for Jewish travellers with advance notice.
Serian’s Serengeti North is a unique, seasonal camp that’s governed by the Wildebeest Migration's rip-roaring river crossings. It’s the perfect camp for wildlife enthusiasts who are looking for an authentic, relatively uncrowded, and intimate Serengeti experience. The camp can be privately booked by friends or families travelling together, offering the ultimate kosher safari holiday in Africa.
Kosher-Friendly Safari Lodges in Ngorongoro Crater
Gibb’s Farm is an award-winning, historic lodge situated on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater. This gorgeous property is set on an organic farm and coffee plantation, and comprises two family houses and 17 cottages. Operation of the entire farm is based on sustainable methods – everything is grown organically using only natural fertiliser and compost from the farm. Gibb’s is famed for its farm-to-table dining experience – fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are freshly picked from its organic gardens.
Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp is set in the Ngorongoro Crater rim valley, a stone’s throw from the access road to the crater floor – that means you’ll likely be the first vehicle in the crater on a morning game drive. Supported by a year-round supply of food and water, the Ngorongoro Crater is a refuge for a plethora of animals like buffalo, eland, hippo, elephant and rhino, as well as impressive predators like lion, hyena, cheetah and leopard.
Ngorongoro Farm House is an exclusive hotel built on a coffee plantation with spectacular views of the Oldeani volcano. This tranquil lodge is set within beautiful gardens and located just four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which makes it a wonderful stopover between safari destinations.
Ready to Start Planning Your Kosher Safari Holiday in Africa?
We’ve been planning kosher safaris for Jewish travellers since 1998. Get in touch with our team of Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make a trip based on your travel wishes and needs: