A pro’s guide to self-catering in Kruger

Posted on 19 April 2022 By Lauren Dold

Stacking the wood, strategically placing the firelighters, and waving to your neighbours as you all gather on the rondavel verandahs in the evenings is what it’s all about in Kruger.

Lighting and cooking over your own fire is an integral part of the Kruger experience, and although there are a number of restaurants at various rest camps throughout the park, self-catering is a huge part of many Kruger-goers’ memories.

Public picnic area at Mopani Rest Camp

Here’s a proper Kruger-professional’s guide to self-catering in Kruger, based on a family of four but can be adapted to cater for more people. This menu covers three nights and two and a half days, so adapt as needed (or simply repeat!). 

Dinner night one:

A braai in Kruger is compulsory, even for vegetarians, so this one doesn’t need much explaining. Depending on the length of your drive, meat taken out of the freezer in the morning should defrost by fire-lighting time in the evening. Even better, if you’re cooking veggies over the fire there’s no need to worry about defrosting anything.

Quick and easy sides to accompany a braai are braaibroodjies and a bean salad, or a potato salad made ahead of time.

You’ll need

  • Braai meat of choice:
    Boerewors and chops are easy things to braai after a long day of travelling)
  • And/or veggies to braai:
    Whole peppers, mielies and big portobello mushrooms work well over a fire.
  • Sides of choice:
    Ready sliced bread, cheese, tomato, onion and chutney make braaibroodjies a great choice for the first night as they can be assembled and braaied in minutes. Tip: slice the onions and tomato ahead of time.
    A bean salad is also quick, just add a handful of crumbled feta and diced red onion to blanched green beans, with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Breakfast day two: 

Coffee and rusks on an early morning game drive are a great start to the day, followed by a picnic brunch at one of the picnic sites. 

Most picnic sites in Kruger rent out skottels for R20, so all you have to bring is ingredients, crockery and cutlery, and most importantly, an egg lifter or spatula. 

Travelling with fresh bread can be tricky, so things like English muffins and ciabatta rolls work best as they are a bit hardier. 

You’ll need

  • bacon
  • eggs
  • bread of choice
  • optional veggies like onion and tomato
  • cheese

A big meal should tide you over until dinner time, but good snacks to have on hand for the hours in between are things like biltong and naartjies.

Dinner night two:

Chicken pregos take 10 minutes to prepare and about 15 minutes to cook

  • 4-8 Portuguese rolls
  • 4-8 chicken breasts or fillets
  • 1x head of cos lettuce
  • 2x tomatoes
  • Nandos peri peri sauce (or marinade of choice) 
  • 2x onions for caramelising

Breakfast/ brunch day three:

BLTs. This is a good breakfast to have when travelling long distances between camps, or when the weather makes a picnic unsuitable. It’s easy to make in the morning before you head out on a drive, 

You’ll need

  • bacon
  • lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • bread/ rolls of choice
  • condiments like mustard or mayonnaise

Dinner day three: 

Chicken potjie

This is a great social meal to cook together around the fire. Some camps have potjie pots, but it’s best to bring your own. For four people, a size 10 pot should be big enough, but for more than six people a size 12 or larger would be needed. This potjie takes just under and hour from start to finish, and (controversially) requires a bit of stirring. 

Picture: Melanie van Zyl

You’ll need

  • A mix of 6-8 chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 4-6 potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2x cloves garlic
  • 2x peppers, red and yellow
  • green beans
  • 2x sachets brown onion gravy
  • 1x glass red wine
  • rice 

Everyone has their own way of making potjies but we start with onion, then brown the chicken, add the peppers, add the wine and gravy, followed by potatoes and carrots and then the fresh veggies like beans or courgettes go in last.

Breakfast day four:

Coffee and rusks, with fruit and yoghurt or muesli.


Picture: Unsplash

Individual yoghurts work well for a quick breakfast. Avoid packing soft fruit like bananas or nectarines as they can get bruised, and opt for things like apples or pineapple.

Packed lunch day four:

Tuna wraps. These work well for a last-day lunch as wraps keep well when sealed, and tuna in a tin doesn’t spoil. Make the tuna mayonnaise in the morning, add salad, fold up the wraps and wrap in tinfoil, which makes them easy to eat while driving.

You’ll need

  • tortilla wraps
  • tinned tuna
  • lettuce and tomatoes or any other salad ingredients you like
  • mayonnaise 

If tuna isn’t your thing, ham and mayo sandwiches work well too. 

You’ll need

  • bread of choice: Portuguese rolls last well
  • ham or cold meat of choice
  • tomato, sliced
  • lettuce
  • cheese
  • mustard and mayonnaise

It’s helpful to remember that the park’s shops are very well-equipped these days, so if you forget anything it’s not a problem, provided you remember while at one of the main rest camps.

Pictures: Getaway gallery


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