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While there are no guarantees, the early sighting of the annual migration, where 1.7 million wildebeest go thundering across the plains, means it could be well worth snapping up a late booking to Kenya’s Masai Mara.  

With the herds already spotted making their way along the Western Corridor/Grumeti Reserves, they are likely to be entering the Mara by around the first week of July.

  • Wildebeest migration – Image by Tristan Pollock

If you want to up your chances of viewing the greatest wildlife show on earth, check out our 13-day Kenya & Tanzania Camping Overland tour, as the 07 July departure is currently being discounted by 20%. 

  • Zebra crossing the road in the Serengeti – Image by Tristan Pollock

The itinerary includes game drives in the game reserve, along with additional wildlife viewing in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, and a relaxing beach stay on Zanzibar.

  • Zanzibar beaches – Image by Cuckoo Project

Prefer a safari with a few more creature comforts?  Try our Accommodated Overland tours…

The post All Bets Are On For An Early Migration appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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Acacia Director, Vivian McCarthy heads off to South Africa to experience its spicy food, eerily solemn battlefield sites and the Mandela trail…

Chow Down…

Most people visiting South Africa think of steak but Kwazulu Natal province, home to Durban, has a large Indian population and is well-known for curry. From an offbeat menu at an informal diner called the Boiler Room – a refurbished factory building – I chose the Durban specialty, Bunnychow – a hollowed out loaf filled with lamb curry and chilli-hot sambai (sauce) – washed down with squeezed juice of fresh orange, carrot, pineapple, and ginger, soaked up with desert of lemon iced carrot cupcake.

Definitely worth a visit if you’re an adventurous foodie.

Mandela Moment…

The N3 highway climbs out of Durban away from the coast. It’s one of South Africa’s busiest routes and continues all the way to Johannesburg but our turn off was to visit the site where in August 1962, the 44 year old Nelson Mandela was arrested by the police as a suspect in the Rivonia Trial.

There is a small museum there, the most interesting exhibit scratchy footage of Mandela’s first BBC TV interview – it was only a short clip and the footage was old but he was impressive, even then.

  • Image by SA Tourism

Going Into Battle…

We continued to Spion Kop, a lone hill standing 400m above the surrounding plains. The battle that took place here on 24 January 1900, between the British and the Boers was short and brutal. Within a few hours some 300 soldiers were dead and another 1600 were wounded or captured, mostly British.

The 24 year-old Winston Churchill witnessed the battle but it was the outnumbered Boers who came out ahead on the day. The British trenches could only be dug a few feet deep because of the iron-hard ground and they provided little protection for soldiers who had slogged their way up the steep sided hilltop overnight.

The battle, an embarrassing loss for the world’s greatest power became so well known in Britain that the word ‘Kop’ was adopted for steep sided terraces at numerous football grounds, most famously at Liverpool’s Anfield.

The post Bunnychow, Battlefields & Mandela appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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#BringYourBottle To The Serengeti

The recent decision by the Tanzanian government (and Kenya’s in 2017) to ban plastic bags and reduce the use of plastic is great news.  Keen to join the cause, our team has signed up to help our local suppliers in a bid to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles.

The Serengeti & Ngorongoro safari vehicles we use are being fitted with new 20-litre water dispensers, each one filled with safe potable drinking water from Arusha.

Now, we’re asking clients to come on board, by bringing along their own refillable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles locally. If we have 100% of clients refilling it will significantly reduce the use of waste – our combined efforts putting an end to plastic pollution.

If you’re keen on keeping Africa green, why not share a bott-flie from your tour with the hashtag #Bringyourbottle to encourage other safari-goers to do the same.

Visit the Serengeti, this national park is one of the world’s best locations for wildlife viewing.

  • Protecting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater with no single-use plastic

South Africa Voted Best Safari Experience In Africa

South Africa has been named as the best safari experience in Africa at the 2019 Safari Awards. The awards, which are endorsed by the Safari Guild, sets the Rainbow Nation apart from all the other safari destinations, the country blessed with world-class ocean safaris and incredible land based wildlife viewing.

Entries were judged over a week, after agents and clients nominate and rate them online.

See South Africa on one of our Camping Overland Tours, Accommodated Overland Tours, Small Group Safaris, Short Safaris & Treks or one of our City Breaks & Short Stays.

  • Blyde River Canyon – South Africa

Tanzania Bans ALL Plastic Bags

From 01 June, the Government of Tanzania implemented a ban on all plastic carrier bags, regardless of thickness. They are now prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in mainland Tanzania.

Plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, construction industry, agricultural sector, foodstuffs, sanitary and waste management is excluded from the ban. 

You are advised to avoid carrying plastic carrier bags or packing plastic bags or items in plastic carrier bags in suitcases or hand luggage. Special desks will be present at all entry points for the surrender of plastic carrier bags that you bring into Tanzania.

‘Ziploc bags’ (specifically used to carry toiletries) will, however, be permitted as they are expected to remain in the permanent possession of visitors, and are not expected to be disposed in the country.

View all our tours covering Tanzania.

  • Keeping the beaches clean of plastic on Zanzibar

The post June Safari Bites appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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With Beyonce lending her voice to Nala in the soon to be released, live-action version of The Lion King, we’re pretty sure that safaris in the Serengeti(the film taking its inspiration from the national park) and the Olduvai Gorge, where Mufasa met his untimely end, will prove to be popular this year.

Choose from our Camping Overland, Accommodated Overland and Short Safaris & Treks collections and experience the endless plains for yourself, the Serengeti offering up some of the best wildlife viewings in the world.

  • Lions in the Serengeti National Park

As one Serengeti visitor reported in Getaway magazine, “It’s not hard to see a full spectrum of African wildlife whilst on safari.”

The more complete list included a herd of elephant with calves, a mother leopard and her cubs playing in a tree, an impressive herd of buffalo, a mating pair of lions and a bulging pod of hippo… Wild dog, lion, cheetah, jackal and hyena tailing herds of wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle.

  • Elephants in the Serengeti National Park

You’ll have to wait for The Lion King’s release on 17 July (this year marking the 25th anniversary of the release of the original), but until then why not get your eyes round these film reels as Africa’s dramatic landscapes, exotic wildlife and the cultural melting pot that makes up this wondrous continent continues to be a huge drawcard for Hollywood and many up and coming independent movie producers.

BLACK PANTHER: Wakanda isn’t real so you might have to drop a set-jetting trip off your bucket list, and sadly while many people claim Kenya is its fictional birthplace, much of the Black Panther movie was filmed outside of Africa. Somewhat of a silver lining, Marzano Films did provide a few aerial shots for this cinematic masterpiece, the locations including: South Africa’s Golden Gate Highlands National Park (we drive through this park on our Kruger to Cape Town and our Coast to Cape Town Camping Overland and Accommodated Overland tours), the Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia(a drone was actually flown over the falls to recreate the same scene) and Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Lake Bunyonyi.

  • Lake Bunyonyi

OUT OF AFRICA might have been released way back in 1985, but Meryl Streep and Robert Redford have the kind of relationship chemistry that never goes out of date. Add in some spectacular cinematography and you not only have a compelling romantic drama but also dazzling Kenya landscapes that just scream “Get me on a plane to the Mara NOW!”

We have a whole host of options to suit your travel type from budget camper to more laid back lover of luxury, all of them including game drives in Kenya’s premier game reserve included on our Camping Overland and Accommodated Overland tours, Small Group Safaris and Short Safaris & Treks.

  • Leopard in the tree – Maasai Mara

Even though it was released back in 1980, THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY hstill has a global cult following – Rotten Tomatoes ranking it at an impressive 95%! 

The comedy is full of slapstick, the film contrasting two distinctly different societies: the “Bushmen” of the Kalahari desert, and the civilian urbanites of post-colonial Africa. There are pitfalls on both sides which probably makes the film even more relevant today, though nothing beats meeting the tribe for real in Ghanzi.

On our tours you will have the opportunity to get a handle on how the bushmen work in harmony with nature and manage the renewable resources found in their natural surroundings, and enjoy a cultural evening of dance (on special occasions this could be a healing or trance dance, which can continue all night, and is an intense spiritual experience for participants and visitors alike) before pitching a tent under one of the most unpolluted starry skies in Africa – your campsite based on the edge of the Kalahari.

  • The Kalahari Bushman

THE FIRST GRADER: The real-life story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau veteran who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford, this movie (released in 2010) gives a heartwarming message of triumph over adversity and the importance of learning from our past.  True tearjerker material, the movie secured 18 award wins and 12 nominations making it a must-see.

A British production the film was shot on location in the Rift Valley in Kenya

Director Chadwick conveyed, “We could have shot it in South Africa, but Kenya has this unbelievable, inexplicable energy inherent in the children, and the people we were making the film about”.

An atmospheric journey, as we venture out of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and head for the Mara, our tours take you down the Great Rift Valley passing Mount Longonot before entering the game reserve and is grassy plains. For added excitement we are often able to game drive en route and spot some wild animals.

  • Game viewing in the Maasai Mara

EYE OF THE PANGOLIN is a ground-breaking new documentary about the most trafficked mammal on earth. It premiered on Friday 17 May, Endangered Species Day, and is now freely available online for worldwide viewing. Pangolin. Africa, an NPO dedicated to the conservation of this species and a major partner in the production of the film, took a unique approach to its distribution, in a bold attempt to make this the most watched wildlife documentary ever.

Pangolin.Africa is utilising streaming services, as opposed to more traditional channels, for global distribution thus harnessing the power and popularity of YouTube to take the film to the world.

From the co-director of Blood Lions, the powerful documentary is the story of two men on a mission to get all four species of African pangolin on camera for the very first time. As they travel the continent to learn more about those caring for and studying pangolins they are captivated by these strange, secretive creatures and document the race to save them from being poached to extinction. 

Filmed on location in South Africa, Ghana, Central African Republic and Ghana, Eye of the Pangolin is freely available as an open source film, accessible for viewing around the world via numerous online platforms. The film will also be taken to wildlife and conservation film festivals. 

Inspired? Come to South Africa and visit the Kruger with us, pangolins best sighted on night drives in the national park. 

  • Sunset game drive in the Kruger National Park

More Safari Inspiration From The Big Screen:

LAST KING OF SCOTLAND: Uganda

THE AFRICAN QUEEN: The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda (locations included the Nile River)

WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART: Zimbabwe & Zambia

BLOOD DIAMOND: MOZAMBIQUE & SOUTH AFRICA

THE CONSTANT GARDENER: Kenya, with locations including the capital of Nairobi)

The post Safari Inspiration From The Big Screen… appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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If you’re looking to get back in touch with nature, make sure you have the Garden Route at the top of your list. Located on South Africa’s southern coast and extending for 300-kilometres, the region is filled with verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation, numerous lagoons and lakes and sandy beaches and bays. Starting at Storms River Mouth in the Eastern Cape and running through to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, it features one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world – Nat Geo once describing this route as “the road trip that will break your Instagram”.

From heart pumping adrenaline pursuits to more leisurely cruises and treks, every pit stop is perfect for the adventurer in you – every photo bound to boost your blog ratings or set your insta-feed on fire.

  • Image by Suitcasestories- Valerie and Mik

Get your adventure started in Tsitsikamma National Park (home to the Otter Trail and a wealth of outdoor activities from kloofing to canoeing), the coastal reserve, which is part of the Garden Route National Park, not far from the Bloukrans Bungee jump (the world’s highest commercial bungee jump): man of the moment, Prince Harry once taking the plunge.

  • Image by Suitcasestories – Valerie and Mik

Known as the Pearl of the Garden Route, Knysna is comprised of lagoons and indigenous forests, the waterfront town surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountain range. Whether you want to unwind or seek out something more adventurous, you won’t be disappointed. Hop on a boat cruise to explore Knysna’s lagoon and feast on oysters and sparkling wine, visit Buffalo Bay Beach, famous for whale watching and surfing or take a 4×4 trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve.

  • Image by Eva Routil

The Wilderness National Park is one of the must-sees on the Garden Route. Composed of a series of beaches, natural lakes, bird-rich estuaries, lagoons and long stretches of sand, this nature hub is also rich in adventures hiking, horse-riding, hang gliding and paragliding sure to give you an adrenaline kick.  For an added insta-boost, take a hike to the Map of Africa – a viewpoint where the flow of the river has formed a piece of land shaped exactly like a map of the African continent. 

  • Image by Eva Routil

It may look like a sleepy seaside town, but in Sedgefield adventure abounds. Enjoy a walk along Swartvlei beach, where you might be able to spot the Humpback and Bottlenose dolphins as well as the Southern Right whales – whale viewing season best enjoyed between June and October. Alternatively, enjoy the action packed Myoli beach with surfing, kite surfing, stand up paddling, kayaking and wake boarding on offer. 

  • Image by Marine Dynamics

At Mossel Bay you can truly travel back in time, a large milkwood tree once serving as South Africa’s first mailbox, or so the story goes. The legendary tale dates back to 1500, when a Portuguese sea captain wrote a message reporting a warning of rough waters to the East. He then tucked the message in a boot dangling from the tree. For today’s adventurer there are two blue flag beaches, mountains riddled with San rock art (some of which date back as far as 27,000 years) and a range of adrenaline-inducing activities from shark cage diving to skydiving.

The post Discover Nature’s Playground: The Garden Route appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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Acacia Africa Director and novice rider, Vivian McCarthy, visits South Africa and takes to horse-riding in the Drakensberg foothills.

The city of Durban, normally hot and sunny, was wet and windy when I arrived, but not with the wintry drizzle of England. No, it was African rain – warm, heavy drops that fell vertically and flooded the street within minutes yet cleared the air so magically. A reminder that I was on the edge of the giant continent where Nature is more immediate and relevant to life than at home.

Travelling a few hours inland we were in the Drakensberg foothills and some 1000 metres above sea level – the Drakensberg Mountains running a thousand miles across South Africa forming a barrier with the landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho. 

The mountain air was clear and the temperature varied markedly during the day: at 8am it was barely above zero, by 10 O’clock it was mid 20s and rising. Later that afternoon it was hot and yet as soon as the sun sank behind the mountains it very quickly became cold enough to need a sweater.  

I was balanced (more or less) on the back of Tetu, the path ahead zig-zagging its way up the slope toward the sun. As a novice I was happy to have been given a gentle mare, one content to follow rather than lead, and happy too that the first part of the ride was along a quiet stretch of country road before we turned into trackless fields of yellow-green grass. 

The ground undulated a little before rising to an incline of several hundred feet and our small group of riders formed a line as we tracked slowly up the uneven terrain. With more experienced colleagues ahead and behind, the horses seemed to find their way almost intuitively and I began to relax and look around as we gained height.

As the slope steepened I felt rather than guided Tetu across a narrow stream and muddy ditch. I swayed in the saddle but kept my balance and as we continued upwards I felt Tetu begin to labour and felt sweat running down my back. It was beginning to get hot and I started to wonder if I’d used enough sun-block.

Unfazed by the presence of our little group, life goes on as it always has in this remote corner of South Africa. We rode slowly past a group of local women cutting the long yellow grass and laying it out in neat piles to dry. I was told it was made into broomheads which the ladies sold at market – the land not simply a scenic marvel for visitors but a source of subsistence for the people who live here.

We were now several hundred feet up, the countryside opening out around us. From the top the views were breathtaking. In one direction lay the Drakensbergs – rising to 8,000 feet, its massive, snow-capped, peaks sharp against the sky – and in the other direction the plains of Kwazulu Natal rolling away toward the horizon. 

The scale of it was enormous. At home everything is near: buildings, streets, people, all close enough to touch. Here it was different: distances were immense and the air so clear you could see for miles. It was like another world, and for me, the feeling was magnified by being on horseback. There’s something powerful about sitting six or eight feet off the ground on a horse. Nevermind that Tetu was the gentlest of animals or that if she had taken it into her head to break into a trot my sense of calm control would have been considerably upset. That didn’t matter: right at that moment, I felt an awesome sense of achievement. In more ways than one, I was at the top of the world. 

We let the horses graze before continuing along the ridge and across a high meadow overlooking valleys and a river until eventually, we looked down to the road where we’d begun.  Starting down the slope and along the empty road we turned back into the stables. I realised I was no longer a novice and that horse-riding, something I thought had passed me by long ago, was an extremely enjoyable pastime. I even managed to dismount without falling over.

Pony trekking is an optional activity on our tours. Vivian McCarthy travelled as a guest of South African Tourism.

The post Saddling Up In South Africa’s Drakensberg Foothills appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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Are you planning a trip to South Africa? Then read on… Most people when they think about South Africa, they think about doing safaris and the spotting the ‘Big 5’ the words of Valerie and Mik, genuine creatives of the Suitcasestories that travelled on our 41-day Southern African Adventure tour. But South Africa has so much more to offer. Here are 12 awesome experiences personally tried & approved which will make your trip even more unforgettable. From hiking waterfalls to seeing crocodiles, visiting traditional villages and bungee jumping from the world’s highest commercial bridge. All listed on a map, making it easy for you to schedule them in your itinerary.

Read Valerie and Mik’s full blog here: 12 AWESOME EXPERIENCES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Images and blogs by Valerie and Mik, Suitcasestories 

The post 12 Awesome Experiences In South Africa appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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You’ll find many campsite options that offer an oasis among the rugged desert plains of Namibia. It may be hard to narrow down which to choose from but luckily Valerie and Mik, bloggers of the Suitcasestories have listed their Top 10 picturesque options.  Travelling on Acacia’s South African Adventure 41 Day tour, Valerie and Mik have had the opportunity to visit the majority of camps that offer a vast range of qualities. Whether it’s a backpacker ‘vibe’ or an elephant within reach you’re looking for, find out more here: 10 BEST CAMPSITES IN NAMIBIA

Images and blogs by Valerie and Mik, Suitcasestories 

The post 10 best campsites in Namibia appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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South Africa’s Latest Rhino Horn-trafficking Case Could Be Its Biggest Yet!

In a triumph against rhino poaching, two men have been arrested for possession of 167 rhino horns, in what could be the biggest rhino horn-trafficking case ever recorded in South Africa. The arrest was made on April 13. Information from Save The Rhino.

Come and see South Africa

White Rhino grazing

Gorilla Selfie Goes Viral

Captioned, ”Another day at the office,” a recent image, taken at the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, went viral.  Uploaded by the Elite Anti-Poaching Units and Combat Trackers, the picture showed ranger Mathieu Shamavu posing for a selfie with two cheeky primates, Ndakazi and Ndeze.

In the selfie, the two gorillas were standing tall and mimicking the ranger’s behaviour.

“In terms of behaviour, they like to mimic everything that is happening (around them), everything we do,” Shamavu told the Associated Press.

One of Africa’s most sought after wildlife experiences, go gorilla trekking on our Camping Overland or Accommodated Overland 2tours, or book one of our Short Safaris & Treks.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Last Remaining Northern White Rhino Caught On Camera

In 2018, Sudan, the last remaining male northern white rhino passed away from natural causes in Kenya, his death signalling the end of the existence of their subspecies.

Not far from Sudan’s grave live Fatu and Najin, mother and daughter rhinos that are now the last known living northern white rhinos on the planet – the two recently photographed by award-winning photographer, Justin Mott – their presence captured on film for all time.

Unfortunately, a loss of habitat and poaching of their valuable horns to be sold on the black market for traditional eastern medicinal purposes has led to the demise of their species.

Support rhino conservation and go walking with rhinos in Zimbabwe.

The post May Safari Bites appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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By now you know you can trust Acacia Africa for an authentic African experience at every turn. Why not embrace the ubuntu spirit for yourself, and bring a little taste of Africa back home to your own kitchen? We’ve lined up a fantastic lamb potjie with crispy pot bread for you to try- and it honestly couldn’t be easier, either!

What will I need to start cooking this taste of South Africa?

As any kitchen star well knows, a great dish starts with the very best ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make this delectable dish for yourself.

For the potjie

A ‘potjie’ is a cast iron, 3-legged cauldron-type cooking dish that’s synonymous with South African braai culture. While nothing has quite the magic of the ‘real thing’, this dish can also be made successfully in a Dutch Oven, or even a large cast iron soup pan with lid. This recipe will make just under 8 litres of potjie to begin with, so plan your pan size accordingly.

  • 2 kg lamb knuckles (trimmed of excess fat)
  • 300ml ketchup, sweet chilli or braai relish of choice
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 large chilli, chopped
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 400ml red wine
  • 2 tsp stock powder of your choice
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 tbsp dry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g baby potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 6 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 6 large carrots, chopped. You can peel them if you wish
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, stripped
  • 1 aubergine, cubed
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley, or 2-3 tbsp dry
  • 250g large brown mushrooms, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
For the pot bread

Nothing pairs better with a succulent meat stew than a crusty, hot loaf fresh from the oven. This pot bread couldn’t be easier to make, either. First, gather these simple ingredients:

  • 500 g white bread flour
  • 500 g whole wheat flour
  • 12 ml salt
  • 25 ml white sugar
  • 10 g instant yeast
  • 500 ml milk
  • 500 ml water
  • 40 ml butter or margarine
How do I make this tasty African dish for myself?

The secret to a great potjie is a slow, long cooking process, so be sure to plan ahead for this one. If you’re keen to cook this in a truly authentic style, light your braai (bbq) fire about an hour before you want to start cooking. Altogether, this traditional lamb potjie will need about two and a half hours of cooking time to get fully juicy.

The night before, marinate your lamb knuckles by coating them in the sauce of your choice. Leave them in the fridge overnight to soak up the taste, though you will want to take them out to warm up to room temperature before you start cooking.

Now lightly brown your onions in a frying pan or the base of the pot, adding the chilli. When they start to soften, seal the meat for added succulence. Now gently add the rosemary, bay leaves, stock powder, red wine, and the remainder of the sauce. Stir together well, and allow to simmer gently for an hour. Add your veggies in layer by layer, working through the order we listed above. Be sure to season as you go! The mushrooms should be your last added layer. Don’t stir the mix just yet. Leave to simmer for another hour and a half, or until the veggies are tender and cooked through.

Your delectable South African lamb potjie is ready to serve!

How do I make the pot bread?

This simple pot bread recipe pairs nicely with the potjie in cooking time, too, so don’t feel too intimidated to try it.

All you need to do is mix the dry ingredients, yeast included, together in a mixing bowl. Slowly heat the milk, water and butter together until lukewarm and well mixed. Pour into the dry ingredients slowly, until you have a soft dough. Give the dough ball a knead for about 10 minutes, or until elastic, and set it aside to rise.

Now give it a short ‘knock back’ knead and shape into a ball. You can pop your oven on at 200 ºC at this point, and grease a flat-bottomed, cast-iron pot for it. Don’t forget to grease the lid and the top of the dough! Leave it out to double in size in a warm spot. Now pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Drop the oven temperature to 180 ºC, and leave to bake for another hour. The bread will sound ‘hollow’ when tapped if it is ready to serve.

Your delicious South African feast awaits

After that hard work, it’s time to enjoy the feast you’ve created. Be sure to use the bread to soak up the delicious juices from the potjie!

With this authentic taste of Africa warming your belly, it’s the perfect time to explore our website and choose your next Acacia Africa adventure. With your new-found potjie expertise, you’ll be well prepared for the culinary masterpieces awaiting you on your trip.

The post Cook yourself a lekker South African favourite with Acacia Africa! appeared first on Acacia Blog.

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