For some (me included!) a holiday is about total indulgence. It is about experiencing the local foods, enjoying a sundowner (or 5!), and not saying ‘no thanks’ to dessert. But – there comes a time when our bodies begin to feel gluggy (it is a real word!), bloated, clogged, and just not on top form. Add lazy days on a safari to the mix, and it all just multiplies! SO – if you keep a regular fitness routine at home, and you’d like to continue while you’re on your safari… READ ON!
Lets talk FOOD first.
The truth is, keeping fit while you’re on a safari isn’t hard at all. In fact, a lot of the lodges are able to easily cater to dietary requests! Low carb diet? No problem. Vegetarian? No worries at all! Gluten free? Easy. Low fat? No worries!
The majority of lodges are able to provide you with meals to suit whatever regime you are on – be it for medical reasons, or pure health reasons.
On any normal day for breakfast, you will most likely be looking at an array of healthy (and not so healthy) options to fill up on after your morning safari. At most of my visits, I’ve had all or at least some of the below:
- Fresh whole and cut fruit
- Plain and flavored yogurts (full fat and low fat options)
- An array of different breads – usually at least brown and white bread
- A selection of cereals; Muesli and cornflakes are generally a staple
- Cooked options such as sausages, bacon, savory mince, scrambled/fried eggs (or, at some lodges, eggs made to order how you like), pancakes, hash browns, baked beans, and so on.
Most lodges offer buffet breakfasts, which allow you the opportunity to choose what you would like on your plate, which assists in staying healthy while on safari.
When it comes to lunch, some lodges present plated meals, whilst others stick to the buffet style. For lunches, it really varies from lodge to lodge – so let us take a look at some of the options I’ve experienced;
- Pre made wraps (usually either chicken strips, tuna, or beef strips – plated)
- An array of salads (garden salads, coleslaw, broccoli/cauliflower salad, bean salads)
- Fresh breads and fresh bread rolls
- Cous-Cous – either plain or with some cooked veggies mixed in
- Fish cakes
- Cold meats
Again, a lot of good healthy options you can choose from if your meal is not plated.
As dinner comes around, again it is up to the lodge whether you have a pre-plated meal, or a buffet. At some lodges, you will have an option for plated meals – think fancy ‘chicken or beef’ style. Here are some of the dinner meals I’ve had;
- Beef fillet seared on an open fire
- Roasted chicken (or grilled chicken)
- Pan fried fish
- Lamb chops
- Bobotie (check out this link for info)
- Game meat (Kudu, impala, warthog) – this isn’t a forced thing, but most of the time the option is given for those who would like to try local meat
- A TONNE of varied and healthy salads
- Vegetable dishes
- Roasted/mashed potato
As you can see, the meals that are offered can easily be chosen to suit any diet (if not already pre-prepared to suit yours). Of course there is still dessert after this (think fried bananas in filo pastry with melted chocolate, chocolate mousse, melktart, cheesecake etc).
For me personally, it is not the meals that make it harder to be healthy, but it is the ‘in between’ meals part – the morning + afternoon game drive stops for coffee or sundowners – and the tasty accompaniemants, not to mention the ‘pre game drive’ early morning coffee & snacks, or afternoon coffee and snacks before one heads out into the wild.
This is where I find the least healthy options offered. Usually, for the morning snacks, you’re looking at biscuits, rusks (a South African hard baked dunking biscuit), muffins and so on. All carbs and all sugar. In the afternoon, you’re looking at the same as the above before you head out on drive – but the mid game drive sundowner/snack stop brings chips (crisps), pretzel mix, and more savory items. Usually though, the lodge does at least offer a mixed nuts selection or some biltong – both which would be the healthier alternative to the other sugary snacks. Agian, you can just request your lodge to have some healthier items available for you – if you give them enough time to prepare (and you’re not TOO picky!), most lodges will happily assist. Otherwise, you can of course bring your own snacks too.
NOW – let us talk about the other side of health – EXERCISE!
More and more lodges are becoming more conscious of the shifting energy of their guests – health is becoming more important to a lot more people. I am finding a lot of lodges either adding an on-site gym to their offerings, or updating their existing gyms. Some lodges that already have great fitness facilities are Senalala Luxury Safari Camp (Klaserie), King’s Camp (Timbavati), and Ulusaba (Sabi Sands). These gyms all stock great equipment, varying from treadmills or spin bikes to cross trainers, free weights and steps, weight machines and more.
There is ample time for a good workout, as you will have ‘free time’ from around 10am (after breakkie) to around 2pm (before lunch) to with what you wish. Nap, read, watch for animals, chat to your ranger as they thrill you with stories of the wild, take a dip in the pool, get a massage or – you guessed it- start sweating in the gym :-).
Other options also include running sprints if your lodge has a big enough lawn, or perhaps engaging in a yoga session (if your lodge has a gym, chances are they have mats) with a gorgeous view. There are some fantastic yoga apps you can download (there are some great ones for free too!), or you can give me a shout (I’m a yoga teacher!) and I can come to the lodge and lead you through a session.
Lastly, you can choose a lodge that specializes in walking safaris, which means you will be active for a good hour or two each day on a walk out in the wild.
In short, it is very easy to keep up your fitness and health routine while enjoying the magic of the Wild.
- Choose a lodge with a gym, or fitness equipment, or a large enough property/lawn for you to run sprints (provided the lodge is fenced! You don’t want to entice any lions, haha!)
- Let your lodge know about your diet/lifestyle long before you arrive, so they have time to speak to you about options, and to prepare your snacks/meals.
- If you’re really concerned, pack your own snacks to ensure health at all times!
**I just love this lion pic – Photographer unknown – please let me know if it it was you!?
For any questions, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help.