Tips for enjoying a safari while on a strict diet (such as Diabetic, Gluten-Free, Ketogenic, Low-Carb and other diets)

2nd June 2019  

Tips for enjoying a safari while on a strict diet (such as Diabetic, Gluten-Free, Ketogenic, Low-Carb and other diets)

About forty percent of safari holidaymakers are on a strict diet. Most stakeholders in the safari tourism business have encountered different kinds of clients, all of whom have different dietary preferences.

Most of these travelers are often pleasantly surprised to find the Tanzanian cuisine is filled with delicious, healthy, low-carb food options. Health enthusiasts are more likely to stick to their dietary goals during their safaris in Tanzania.

Moreover, most of the hotel chefs are experts at whipping up healthy, finger-licking meals perfectly suited for those on strict diets. You name it – diabetic, gluten-free, ketogenic, low-carb, vegan, vegetarian, paleo and other diet. The trained chefs will cook, roast, stir-fry, sauté or stew a wide range of appropriate meals for you.

As every dietician will tell you, sticking to a diet while traveling requires a bit of planning, strategizing, and self-discipline. However, it’s easier to enjoy a diet-friendly safari in Tanzania when you play your own role.

In this article, we will explore all the little things you can do to eat healthy during your trip. Our list comprises of essential tips geared towards helping travelers stick to their diets while on a safari in Tanzania.

1. Be vocal about your diet

While planning your safari, talk about your dietary preferences and restrictions. Don’t miss an opportunity to make it known to your tour consultant, lodge manager, hotel chef, and everyone responsible for your meals.

Explain what your diet is about. During booking, for instance, explain that a ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. List the most important foods you can consume and those that you can’t. Offering detailed explanations reduce the chances of anyone confusing a keto-diet with a vegan diet for instance. Chances are you don’t want bananas or pineapples in your keto or low-carb dish.

Most importantly, speak to the hotel chefs about your dietary preferences. Ask questions. If you don’t trust the ingredients used for local meals, don’t hesitate to raise objections. Alternatively, you can give them your own recipe.

In addition, send gentle reminders when meals are being prepared. Tour operators and kitchen staff cater to the dietary needs of various customers.

Be vocal and clear about your dietary requirements so that the staff can serve you the mostsumptuous diet-compliant dishes.

2. Research available food options in advance

When you researching available food options in advance, you are less likely to eat impulsively. While planning your trip, take time to research the most popular foods and drinks. Ask your tour operator what foods will be available to you during your African safari.

If you’re planning to explore the wilderness in Tanzania, then you should narrow your research to the most popular local and international dishes in the region. The good news is that Tanzania has very vibrant food traditions. As a result of acculturation and globalization, Tanzanian chefs are very familiar with Jain, Continental, Asian and Intercontinental dishes. Walk into any restaurant and you’ll find something for your strict diet.

However, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance. To make your job easier, we have drawn up a list of local and western meal options to inspire your budget-friendly meal plan.

Popular meal options for those on a strict diet (such as diabetic, gluten-free, ketogenic, low-carb and other diets) include but aren’t limited to:

  • Fruits: If your diet requires the ingestion of a wide variety of fruits, then you’re in luck. You will find organically cultivated and freshly harvested juicy fruits everywhere you go. Sometimes, the availability of fruits will depend on the season. However, the following fruits are usually available: avocado pears, oranges, apples, bananas, pawpaws, pineapples, cucumbers, grapes, lemons, tangerines and so on.
  • Nuts: Whether fresh or dry, these edible herbaceous plants are always available at reasonable prices. A few popular examples of available nuts include groundnuts, cashew nuts, coconuts, tiger nuts and almond nuts.
  • Vegetables: Tanzania is filled with vegetables of all shapes, colors and sizes. Sometimes, they are served raw as salads. Other times, they are stir-fried or cooked into sauces. Tanzanian veggies are often organically cultivated too.
  • Unripe plantain porridge: this dish is perfect for vacationers on a diabetic diet. Not only is it low in glucose and sugar, it is also easily digestible and finger-licking good.
  • Pilau: (also known as rice pilaf). This spicy dish is often prepared with chicken or meat stock. However, vegans and vegetarians can request that theirs be cooked with coconut milk and spices.
  • Meat: Boiled, grilled, sautéed, fried, baked and roasted, meat can be prepared in a variety of ways. If your diet permits the ingestion of meat, then perhaps you should ask for healthier parts of the meat. If you abhor venison, don’t forget to inform your chef and tour operator.
  • Ugali: Cornmeal is the primary ingredient of this popular, local cuisine. Ugali is often served alongsidesoup and vegetable sauces.
  • Indian fare:If you are on a plant-based, gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ll enjoy exploring the Indian fare. Tanzanian cities host many Indian restaurants where the cuisine is predominantly, vegan and plant-based. Alternatively, you can hire an Indian chef to cook meals for you throughout the duration of your safari in Tanzania.
  • Maharagwe: This protein-rich, red kidney beanscooked is a tasty meal option for low-carb and vegan dieters. Maharagwe can be prepared in different ways: boiled in dairy milk or coconut milk. It’s best served alongside Ugali or chappati rice.

With a comprehensive list of available food options, it’s easier to plan a workable meal timetable.

3. Pack your own foods

While planning your trip, pack a few easy-to-preserve foods. Dietitians recommend nuts, green teas, dates, yogurts, smoked, dried or roasted meats and fish, apples and bananas. Vegans and vegetarians can pack powdered plant proteins too.

It helps to have alternatives to snack on while you’re getting accustomed to your new environment. Hunger pangs and craving won’t allow you adequate time to purchase everything you’ll need from the nearest grocery store.

4. Hire an experienced tour operator who will help you get the best hotel for your strict diet.

Booking with an experienced tour consultant is the safest way to stick to your diet. A good tour operator ensures that you are roomed in the right accommodation where the chefs are experienced in preparing the right kinds of meals for you.

If you’re doing everything yourself, there’s a high risk of ending up in a lodge where every meal time will be a nightmare.

Few tour operators in Tanzania have successfully catered to the specific dietary needs of vacationers. Bushbuck Safaris is a great example of such award-winning tour companies. While planning memorable safari activities, they also ensure that their clients are fed the tastiest and most appropriate meals for them.

Book with tour operators that pay attention to dietary details, Eat at restaurants where the chefs are experienced in whipping up tasty local and western diet-compliant dishes.

5. Have water with you at all times

Stay hydrated at all times. It’s a good way to avoid over-eating. Bush treks, mountain hikes, Great Migration observation trips and game viewing outings can make you feel tired and dehydrated. The last thing you want is to reach out for a soda or an artificially sweetened drinks.

When leaving the lodge, pack several bottles of water. Don’t assume that the tour guides will pack enough. If you want to stick to your diet and stay healthy, take many bottles of water with you, whenever you have to leave your accommodation.



Abiding by the rules of a strict diet can be quite a challenge especially when you’re in a strange environment. With excellent planning, effective communication and adequate research, you can stick you your diet throughout the duration of your safari in Tanzania.