Best season to travel to South Africa

Mopane Worms

Try the traditional delicacy of South Africa

Best time: late December–January

Mopane Worms

Many foreigners might consider this to be a nasty thing to eat, but in South Africa and neighbouring countries, mopane worms are a much-loved local staple. The worms got their name from the mopane trees they live on. However, they do have more than one name depending on the region: Masonja for South Africa and Zimbabwe, Phane for Botswana, and Amangungu for Zambia and other parts of Africa. Getting used to the taste is a matter of habit—give it a try you'll soon come to love this delicacy.

Interestingly, the mopane worm is not a worm at all, but a caterpillar of the emperor moth. It is quite large in size—as long as a finger and as thick as a cigar. For ages, it has been the source of livelihood in African countries. However, as a result of climate change and other factors, it is likely to end up as a rare delicacy, or worse—disappear for good.

Mopan worms are harvested at the beginning of the rainy season in late December and January. During this time, you can try them roasted, boiled, stewed, or, if you're bold enough, raw. Out of season, mopane worms are also sold in local markets either dried, smoked, or canned.