EPIC ROAD'S SAFARI BLOG

Entries in african wine and cuisine (2)

Tuesday
Apr012014

Top Ten Music Festivals in Africa

African Safari Music FestivalsMusic speaks volumes about a nation’s identity, and there is no more entertaining way to explore a culture than to dive deep into the rhythm and groove to which it moves.  This is especially true in Africa, where music and dance infuse the cadence of life at all levels, and nowhere is this more evident than in the number of vibrant music and cultural festivals held throughout the year.  Dates vary from year to year, but many are well worth checking out during your African Safari.  So here is the low down on some of our favorites, listed chronologically, to better help you plan. 

  • Festival sur le Niger – Mali (early February): For the first week in February the historic city of Segou, Mali serves as the central hub for Francophone African music, art and culture.   This eclectic festival was originally envisioned to celebrate the distinctive music and dance of West Africa, but has now evolved to also offer a series of workshops and seminars in which musicians, artists, and intellectuals join together to discuss, debate and connect—an unbeatable schooling in the creative forces that shape contemporary African culture, delivered directly by the artists themselves.   
  • Sauti za Busara – Zanzibar (mid February):  One of Africa’s longest standing annual festivals, this landmark event is held in a world heritage site—the Old Stone Fort in Zanzibar’s historic district—and is a can’t-miss a for connoisseurs of African culture.  First founded to celebrate the music and dance East Africa, Sauti za Busara has since expanded its roster to include international artists, and actively encourages collaboration between performers from all parts, both on-stage and off.  No wonder many consider it to be the “friendliest music festival on the planet.” 
  • Asa Baako – Ghana (early March):  Held on beautiful Busua Beach in Western Ghana, Asa Baako is an authentic celebration of African soul, covering generations of music and dance, from 1970’s Afro-funk all the way to modern hip-hop and house.   And you definitely can’t beat the locale:  a tiny, tropical fishing community where guests can groove right alongside the locals—who may even teach you a few of their own moves! 
  • Maitisong Festival – Botswana (late April):  The Maitisong Festival is held in the Botswana capital Gaborone, and offers a slightly more sophisticated urban cultural experience.  Classical gospel choral performances in venues like the National Museum and Anglican Cathedral are scheduled alongside traditional music, dance and theatrical productions, and delicious street food is available in parks and outdoor venues throughout the city. 
  • Kigali Up – Rwanda (mid July):  In just a few short years Kigali Up has become an important platform for Rwandan artists and musicians to step up and shine, and show the world that the country is entering an exciting new phase of positive growth and development.  While the festival is primarily for Rwandan artists, performers from other parts of Africa and beyond now clamor to take part—no doubt to help celebrate Rwanda’s resurgence, and to connect with the close to 4000 attendees who gather every year to sing out on the country’s behalf.   
  • Lake of Stars Music + Arts Project – Malawi (late September): After a few years hiatus, Lake of Stars is back in full force in 2014 to celebrate the warmth, vitality and low-key exuberance that epitomize the very soul of this tiny African republic.  The Lake of Stars festival is also held on the gorgeous shores of Lake Malawi—one of Africa’s largest and most beautiful—providing a dazzling natural backdrop against which to watch some of West Africa’s top artists perform. 
  • Delicious Festival – Johannesburg, South Africa (early October): Delicious is where foodies and music lovers come to play—and the result is one of the most popular fusion festivals in the entire world.   Held on a rolling equestrian estate outside of Johannesburg, festival goers can stroll the beautiful grounds and sample artisanal cuisine from one of the many restaurants and food stands that pop up for the course of the event, or else enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch while listening to a the line up that includes some of the top entertainers from Southern Africa.   
  • Rocking the Daisies – Cape Town, South Africa (late October): This 3-day music and lifestyle festival on a wine estate outside of Cape Town takes its name to heart, creating a world class, yet low impact, experience that also celebrates the ecological innovation and green design.   Activities surrounding the event feature everything from a local artisans market, to creative outdoor installations, and the festival is considered a premier space for passionate and progressive enthusiasts of global culture to gather and share their love for art, the environment and indie music.   
  • Lagos Jazz Series – Nigeria (late November/early December): This festival is a relative newcomer to the world circuit, but in the world of jazz it has already made its mark.  In just three years the event has attracted a collection of extraordinary artists—think Pat Methany, Brandford Marsalis and Marcus Miller—that rivals the line up at some of the greatest global music festivals, and as a result has attracted the attention of media and music enthusiasts worldwide.  One can only expect that, each year, the pool of talent at Lagos will just continue to grow.   
  • Vic Falls Carnival – Zimbabwe (Dec.  29-31):  Usher in the New Year with one of the most high-energy festivals Africa has to offer:  three consecutive days of music, fun and non-stop activity, featuring the top artists of southern Africa and revelers from around the world.  The adventure begins with an evening party on a vintage steam train and ends with a carnival of over 5,000 guests, dancing to the beat of some of Africa’s best music.   Those in need of an extra rush can also sneak in some white water rafting, gorge swinging or bungee jumping—all before the evening’s festivities begin. 

 

 

Thursday
Jun062013

Wine and Dine in Africa

winelands south africa

Harvesting of grapes at a winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Embarking on a safari might top your to-do list while visiting South Africa, but don't forget about the local African wine and cuisine. Great food paired with great wine may be considered a luxury in our daily lives, but on this continent it is not such a rare find. The farm-to-table movement sweeping U.S. gourmet cuisine is alive and thriving in South Africa, and has been for years. Farm-to-table means using fresh, local ingredients to enhance taste, health, and sustainability. 

Primarily along the Cape, high-end chefs are cooking with vegetables from their on-premise gardens, seafood from the near coasts, and meat raised in local valleys. From traditional South African food to experimental gastronomy, only the freshest of ingredients are dominating top restaurants. And dinner is rarely complete without a careful pairing of one of the country's best wines. 

Some of the finest restaurants and wineries in the world can be found in the winelands surrounding Cape Town, and many of them incorporate their own luxury lodgings. Delight in exquisite African wine and cuisine while enjoying Africa's top hotels.

Delaire Graff Estate

Lodging overlooking the vineyards of the Delaire Graff Estate.

Where to Stay

Le Quartier Francais

On the Western Cape, Le Quartier Francais’ cottage-inspired suites are nestled in lush gardens that offer tranquility amidst the liveliness of Franschhoek. The luxury hotel houses two award-winning restaurant experiences: innovative fine dining in the Tasting Room and tapas-style cuisine in the Common Room. Both are run by Food Network’s 2012 Chef of the Year, Margot Janse. Both are notably vegan and vegetarian friendly. Even the hotel’s available cooking classes use locally grown and seasonal produce. 

The Steenberg Luxury Hotel

Surrounded by gorgeous views of the Constantia Winelands, The Steenberg is situated on the Cape’s oldest running farm. The location allows for both the freshest local cuisine and best African wines, with an emphasis contemporary South African flavors. Guests are welcome to have an impromptu wine tasting at the Wine Tasting Bar or schedule a longer experience in the ambiance of the Wine Tasting Lounge. Catharina, The Steenberg’s acclaimed fine dining restaurant upholds chef Garth Almazan’s philosophy that a meal should be as fresh and minimal as possible. 

One & Only Cape Town

For a more urban experience, One & Only offers modern elegance while maintaining the authenticity of South African city life. The accommodations are exquisitely furnished with color palettes inspired by the vibrancy of African culture. This same tribute to Cape Town can be felt in the food at Reuben’s, the hotel’s on-site restaurant, which prides itself on beautifully crafted dishes with big flavors. Beloved South African chef Reuben Riffel collaborates with the country’s top winemakers to host Wine & Dine Evenings that allow guests to indulge in the diverse tastes of South Africa. 

Delaire

One of South Africa’s most historic wine regions, Stellenbosch, is the backdrop to the Delaire Graff Estate. Once exclusively a farm, the lodge now houses two gourmet restaurants, a spa, two boutiques, and a winery. The estate’s executive chef Christiaan Campbell creates what he likes to call ‘sunshine cuisine’, meaning his clients are brought to life through his food, which uses only ethically sourced ingredients. Owner Laurence Graff also displays his personal collection of South Africa’s contemporary artwork, making Deliare an incredibly unique culinary, hospitality, and fine art destination.