Imagine yourself handcrafting chocolate bars at a farm in the Norwegian fjord lands or learning how to make king crab beignets with an award-winning chef in the Alaska wilderness. Foodies in search of the authentic, the delicious, and the inspiring will find their taste buds tingling at each of the Unique Lodges in our collection. No two experiences are alike: at Bushmans Kloof in South Africa, you'll be treated to contemporary Cape cuisine in a natural sandstone amphitheater lit by candles; while the evening meal at Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland might include berries you've foraged while hiking. Here’s a taste.
Home to lush tropical forests flourishing with edible treasures, Costa Rica can be an untapped garden of delights for the curious foodie. But visitors to Finca Rosa Blanca are treated to some of the best culinary creations the country has to offer, thanks to homegrown, Cordon Bleu-trained chef Rubén Villegas. The exceptional food experience at this rainforest lodge goes beyond a dining table brimming with plantain croquettes and tuna carpaccio. Stroll a family pineapple farm, watch artisans handcraft chocolate from beans grown on-site, and take an exclusive tour of the property’s piece de resistance: the organic coffee plantation.
Skeptical of the buzz surrounding Scandinavia’s recent culinary movement? We dare you not to drool over these enticing edibles: ruby-red berries gleaned from emerald forest glades, thick rye bread piled with pink gravlax, reindeer steaks paired with rich local cheeses. Wash it all down with a glass of Storfjordbrygg—an ale brewed exclusively for Storfjord Hotel in the Norwegian fjord lands. During a stay here, take a culinary safari to sample these and other hyperlocal dishes, made with ingredients foraged from the surrounding woodlands. Top the experience off with your own hand-made chocolate creation, scrumptious enough to turn you into a big believer in new Nordic cuisine.
Fiery Sichuan peppers, fragrant ginger, and spicy garlic are among the starring agents igniting taste buds at Twinkle Valley. With ingredients sourced straight from local farmers and recipes informed by centuries of tradition, every meal is a memorable sensory experience sure to spark curiosity about the secrets of Sichuan cooking. Experiences designed exclusively for National Geographic travelers offer the chance to uncover the layered flavors of this world-famous cuisine. Enjoy a private noodle-making lesson with the lodge’s head chef, then head to the home of a local family and try your hand at making traditional tea.
A stay at Tutka Bay is an invitation to delve into the culinary world of Kirsten Dixon, an award-winning chef who trained at the prestigious Cordon Bleu in Paris. Nearly every experience at the lodge can be infused with an element of Kirsten’s sea-to-table cuisine: kayaking may involve a stop at a floating oyster farm, a hike can include berry picking, and wading in Tutka’s tidal pools encourages mussel plucking and clam digging. Bring your bounty back to the lodge kitchen so the chefs can incorporate it into your evening meal.
Tsara Komba’s French-trained chef follows a slow food ethos that marries Malagasy flavors and French traditions. His daily menu pairs wild and organic island ingredients with the best of the freshly caught fish and lobster brought in on local pirogues. Not only can you indulge in Chef Tina Harry’s barracuda pancakes, lacquered duck, and decadent desserts sweetened with Madagascan vanilla and chocolate, but you can also join him in the kitchen for a cooking class dashed with Malagasy spices. Toast island life with the bar’s legendary coconut rum punch—better yet, National Geographic guests are treated to a local rum tasting.
Mealtime at Bushmans Kloof presents the perfect opportunity to discover a new corner of the lodge’s 18,000-acre nature reserve. Unique dining venues are set up throughout the property, and each is designed in harmony with the stunning attributes of the Cederberg Mountains. Savor contemporary Cape cuisine in a natural sandstone amphitheater, lit by hundreds of twinkling candles and lanterns; or dine in a river boma, dipping your toes in rippling waters. For a festive evening, opt to eat in a former shepherd’s house, with entertainment from a local Riel revival dance troupe, whose moves were born from traditional Khoi and San fireside rituals.
For the chefs at Inkaterra La Casona, the ingredients found in the Andes offer a window into the culinary secrets of the region’s past. Drawing inspiration from the traditions of the Inca and other indigenous peoples, the lodge kitchen masterfully mixes Peruvian fare with international flavors to create dishes that are both familiar and exotic to a diner’s palate. Stay at the lodge and you might enjoy a breakfast of quinoa pancakes; a dinner of deliciously prepared guinea pig, a Peruvian staple; and the perfect pisco sour, whenever the mood strikes.
The menu at Fogo Island Inn is a tribute to the island itself, and the wild food foraged by the executive chef Timothy Charles and his staff (and oftentimes the guests themselves) figures prominently in the cuisine—from spruce buds and seaweed to oyster leaf and chanterelles. It makes for delicious combinations that take a cue from local culinary traditions: an entrée sprinkled with partridgeberries, a dessert featuring homemade sea-buckthorn sorbet and beets. The kitchen produces treats throughout the day, from a snack upon check-in to warm pastries delivered to your door at daybreak.
Situated in Greece’s northernmost reaches, Aristi offers a different taste of the cuisine that so many gastronomes know and love. Rather than olive groves and the Mediterranean Sea, the bounty here is sourced from forested slopes and clear mountain rivers—trout, root vegetables, and rich meats. And in the fall and spring, when conditions are right, lodge guests are invited to participate in the kitchen’s foraging efforts. Explore the surrounding woodlands with an experienced mushroom hunter, learning to identify and collect the region’s wild varieties. Then take your harvested haul back to the lodge chef for a one-of-a-kind tasting session, followed by a mushroom-based gourmet meal.
Executive Chef Josh Drage has made eating an art form at The Ranch, creating unique menus that primarily feature local ingredients. He and his staff design weeklong eating experiences so that guests have the opportunity to sample different foods from the region and diverse styles of cooking and presentation. You may enjoy a sophisticated, wine-paired tasting menu one night; a barbecue on the patio the next; and typical Montana comfort food is served on Sundays.
When slow-food expert Anya Fernald took over Belcampo Lodge in 2012, she set out to transform it into one of the world’s premier agrotourism hotels. This ambitious operation centers on its 3,000-acre organic farm, which sources nearly 80 percent of lodge food and hosts a variety of hands-on gastronomy experiences for guests. Trace the property’s cocoa and sugar cane trails, go jungle foraging, try your hand at bean-to-bar chocolate-making, and enjoy an in-depth tasting with the resident coffee expert. Then set out with the lodge chef on a snorkeling trip that culminates with an onboard barbecue of the seafood you’ve helped fish from the water.