From Farm to Table in Africa’s Luxury Safari Lodge ShambasJune 10, 2019
Many travellers are delighted to discover that not only can they enjoy delicious gourmet cuisine while on a luxury safari, but that much of the produce used in it comes right from safari lodges’ own shambas (Swahili for “vegetable and fruit gardens”). Most Micato partner camps and lodges have at least small patches where herbs and a few crops are cultivated—but others, like the properties below, maintain expansive, architect-designed operations that employ entire teams to care for them (and show visitors around). For luxury safari-goers who are fans of farm-to-table cookery, these lodges are a must.
Laikipia Plateau, Kenya
Surrounded by 68,000 pristine acres within the wildlife-rich corridor of the Lewa Conservancy, Sirikoi’s shamba takes full advantage of the Laikipia Plateau’s rich soil. Employing completely organic growing practices (including spring-water irrigation and elephant-dung fertilizer), the garden team here, led by veteran local grower George Kaberia, produces an astonishing array of crops. The bounty—some 80 different vegetables, fruits, and herbs—includes numerous varieties of pepper, squash, beans, and leafy greens; sweet corn, broccoli, avocados, mangoes, and passionfruit. Guests who visit the shamba can learn about (and enjoy a few tastes of) the seasonal produce—much of which they will find incorporated into their meals at the lodge.
Lewa Wilderness Lodge
Sharing the Lewa Conservancy (and its ideal, semi-high-elevation growing conditions), the venerable, decades-old Lewa Wilderness Lodge is surrounded by lush greenery frequented by swooping birds. The shamba here, which has been lovingly tended over many years, and not just organic vegetable plots and fruit orchards, but also a bevy of chickens, cows, and goats, who produce eggs and dairy for the lodge’s sumptuous meals. Farm staffers are happy to show guests around the crop plantings, the herds, and the facility where goat cheese is made onsite; visiting kids can even try their hand at milking a goat or cow.
Cape Winelands, South Africa
Occupying a prime spot in the famous growing region of the Cape Winelands, Babylonstoren maintains a garden that is less of a traditional shamba and more of a fully operational farm. Specially designed by landscape architect Patrice Taravella in 2007, the gardens encompass eight acres of cultivated vegetables, fruits, and nuts—more than 300 different crops in all. The plantings are laid out across 15 clusters, grouped according to produce (including a stone-fruit orchard, berry patches, root vegetables, and herbs for cooking and teas); there are also honey-producing beehives; egg-laying ducks and chickens, and streams and ponds that feed a vibrant array of blossoming lilies and edible lotuses. Guests can take extensive tours of the farm, learning, smelling, and tasting along the way.