Best Hiking & Camping Recipes: Part 1

Simple & fresh vegetarian meals for wilderness camping


Let’s be honest, a little bit of effort with meal preparation on an overnight hike can go a long way to restoring tired hikers, and ensuring that the body gets the energy and nutrients that it needs (read: deserves) to recover for another day of tackling the trails.

All these recipes have been tried and tested. Use as is, or moderate to your taste and size of group.

Basil pesto pasta (serves 4-6 persons)

When: Best served towards the last day of a longer, multi-day trip – ingredients will stay fresh for up to a week if packaged carefully and kept relatively cool

Who: The tired hiker on a multi-day trip who needs some energy and a healthy meal full of fresh ingredients

You will need:

  • Off-the-shelf sealed container of ready-made basil pesto (250g)
  • Fresh basil and rocket leaves, in a ziplock bag
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • Pine nuts (100g)
  • Tagliatelle pasta (300g)
  • Chevin (100g)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Dice the tomatoes.

Bring a pot of water to the boil, then add your pasta. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until el dente. Remove from heat and drain excess water.

Add the basil pesto and mix with the pasta until it is covered. Add the tomatoes and crumble the goat’s cheese over the pasta. Garnish with basil and rocket leaves and serve.

Spelt salad (serves 4-5 persons)

When: Best served on a wild-camping trip – lightweight, nutritious and all the ingredients should last 2-3 days if packaged carefully

Who: Hungry hikers on a multi-day excursion, needing a nutritious meal

You will need:

  • Ready to eat Spelt x2 (available from Woolworths) (500g)
  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • 2 large avocados
  • 3 rounds of feta
  • 4-6 sprigs of mint
  • Cranberries (100g)
  • Almonds (100g)
  • Olive oil (50ml)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Dice /chop the tomatoes, avocados, feta, and finely chop the mint. Put the spelt in a pot. Heat over gentle heat for 90 seconds. Allow to cool for five minutes.

Add all the chopped and diced ingredients to the pot, as well as the cranberries, and mix. Pour olive oil over the entire contents. Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss in nuts last. Serve immediately.

Preparing a Spelt salad on Day 2 of a wilderness trail deep in the Cape Fold mountains.

Quinoa Salad (serves 2)

When: The second or third night of a difficult multi-day hike, when you still have enough gas (quinoa takes awhile to cook).  Gluten-free and high in protein, when cooked this lightweight grain will restore energy levels and is packed with amino acids, great for recovery.

Who: Quinoa can be a labour of love, so this meal is best shared with your favourite gluten-intolerant/banting friend

You will need:

  • 1 cup of dry quinoa (stored in a ziplock)
  • A handful of baby/Rosa tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 small round of feta
  • ½ a baby cucumber
  • 4 sprigs of mint in a ziplock bag
  • Pinch of salt and pepper (stored in recycled contact lens case)

Put the quinoa plus two cups of cold water in your pot, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, and allow to simmer for up to 20 minutes – or until the ‘legs’ of the quinoa have sprouted and the water has been absorbed fully by the quinoa.

While the quinoa is simmering, cut your tomatoes, cucumber and mint finely. Slice up your avo.

Once the quinoa is cooked, allow to cool in the pot. Then sprinkle salt, pepper and mint in – mix. Add tomatoes, cucumber, avo, then crumble the block of feta over, and mix. Serve immediately.

Coriander pesto pasta (serves 2)

When: This makes for a hearty meal on the first or second night of a multi-day trail, and gets rid of excess weight/bulk upfront. Then again, the ingredients will stay fresh for a good few days, so it might make for a delicious meal at the end of a trail if you’re willing to carry the extra grams.

Who: Quick and easy, this simple but piquant meal is best prepared when you arrive late to camp and shared with your most impatient or hungry hiking buddy.

You will need:

  • 1 bag of pitted black olives (200g)
  • Pasta (we prefer Farfalloni) (250g)
  • 1 small sealed container of Coriander pesto (we prefer Ina Paarman’s) (125g)
  • ½ block Gruyere cheese
  • Tender-stem broccoli (150g)

Add water and your broccoli to your pot and bring to the boil. Remove the broccoli while still crunchy and set aside, then add your pasta to the pot. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until el dente. While the pasta is cooking, tear your olives in half, and cube your cheese into small blocks.

Remove the pasta from heat and drain excess water.

Add pesto to the pasta and mix thoroughly. Throw the olives, broccoli and Gruyere into the pot, mix and serve while still hot.

Late night serving of a piping hot and delicious coriander pesto for two on Traverse 2 of the Rim of Africa.
About Dania Petrik 10 Articles
Explorer of local places and wilderness spaces, aspirant Instagram celebrity.


  1. Hi where do you buy the small ground sheet in front of the tent photo below (oval shaped)?

    • Hi Roelien, that is actually a custom-made waterproof canvas wrap that acts as both a ‘raft’ and cover for backpacks when doing kloofing adventures. It is quite heavy, and therefore I wouldn’t recommend it for general multi-day hiking or camping trips for use as a ground sheet, but it can double up if necessary, as seen in the picture.

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