If you’re a safari lover (or even dying to embark on your first safari adventure) there’s no better time than your honeymoon. And there’s no need to rough it. Imagine candlelit dinners, romantic bath tubs, spectacular sunsets, amazing wildlife and fresh air. Here are some destinations to enjoy a safari honeymoon in Africa and find romantic breaks for nature lovers.
Inspired by the romance of Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, Kenya is one of the best honeymoon destinations in Africa, offering romantic breaks for couples. Stay at Mara Plains Camp in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara Reserve and feel the heartbeat of Africa. Soak in the freestanding copper bath, listen to the sound of wildebeest on the plains and hippo in the river, go for a picnic on the open plains, horse riding or game viewing with a guide. Come back to dinner set up on your private deck with paraffin lamps to provide old-fashioned romantic lighting. We met a honeymoon couple from Mexico when we stayed here and they loved their African safari honeymoon.
A slightly more affordable African safari honeymoon – still with comfy accommodation, good food and twice-daily game drives – can be found at Governors’ Camp or Little Governors’ Camp. You might even get a wake-up call from elephants wandering nearby.
Things to do in the Maasai Mara include game drives, guided bush walks and cultural visits to a Maasai village. The pick of the bunch is a hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara. You’ll float silently over twisting rivers, grasslands and acacia trees, low enough to spot game like Thompson’s gazelle, zebra, wildebeest and maybe even lion or elephant. After landing, enjoy a slap-up bush breakfast with sparkling wine. A great add-on to a Maasai Mara safari is a few days on the Kenyan coast.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
For your Tanzania honeymoon stay at Ngorogoro Crater Lodge, which has a superb outlook over the wildlife-filled caldera (crater) of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it’s inspired by the traditional Maasai home, touches like brocade sofas, Persian rugs, silver and crystal hint at something more like Versailles. Enjoy the view even when soaking in the tub, with a butler on hand to provide chilled sparkling wine, or enjoy a massage in your room. Of course, this level of sophistication doesn’t come cheap.
Things to do at Ngorongoro include game drives into the crater, a trip to Olduvai Gorge, walking safaris on a crater, or a cultural visit to a Maasai homestead. Extend your trip to include the Serengeti, home of big cats and the Great Wildebeest Migration, or to Zanzibar for some relaxation on the beaches and turquoise waters of Tanzania’s islands (see below).
If the idea of white beaches and aquamarine waters gives you a buzz, Zanzibar is the place to find them. Matemwe Lodge overlooks a coral-fringed lagoon where you can go snorkelling or diving. Or simply chill out in a hammock on your private veranda with a cocktail in hand as you gaze out to sea. The lodge has a pool and two of the chalets have a private plunge pool as well, making it a perfect choice for a Zanzibar honeymoon.
Also, I know a couple who spent their honeymoon at Hideaway of Nungwi Resort and Spa and loved it. Relax by the pool, step from the hotel right onto a public beach, sip wine on your balcony with a view or enjoy a spa massage. An all-in package including flights can be surprisingly affordable.
Things to do in Zanzibar include lazing on the beach, snorkelling, diving on the reefs, kayaking, traditional sailing on a dhow and fishing. Combine your island break with a night or two at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town to appreciate historic old buildings and soak up the sights, sounds and aromas. You might also include a couple of days in Ngorongoro or Serengeti for the ideal beach-and-bush break (see above).
Sossusvlei’s sweeping red sand dunes and dry pans make it an unusual destination perfect for a Namibia honeymoon. Little Kulala Camp is as romantic a place as you could find, with its private plunge pool on your cabin’s deck, its sweeping views of the red sands and surrounding lilac mountains, its wonderful star bed on the roof of your unit (see the photo in the intro to this post).
For something adventurous and even more affordable there’s Dune Star Camp where you can wheel your bed out onto the deck to spend the night under a canopy of stars. How romantic is that?
Things to do at Sossusvlei include climbing a sand dune, photographing the iconic Deadvlei with its dead camel thorn trees, enjoying a sunset drive among the dunes, and exploring the Sesriem Canyon. Pick of the activities is definitely a dreamy hot air balloon ride at dawn for some of the best views of this unique area; you may even see wildlife like springbok, oryx and ostrich. Finish off with a champagne brunch in the dunes.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls makes a fabulous Zimbabwe honeymoon destination because there’s so much to do. Stay at Old Drift Lodge inside the Zambezi National Park, where your tented suite looks out over the Zambezi River. There’s a plunge pool on your deck and a freestanding outdoor bath that must be one of the most romantic in Africa. It’s a perfect setting for your Victoria Falls honeymoon. Indulge in a massage at the spa, enjoy a sunset river cruise or go on an early morning game drive for a chance to spot elephant, lion, buffalo and more.
A good-value stay in town is Ilala Lodge, just an eight-minute walk from the Falls. Set in lush green gardens with courtyards, palm trees and burbling fountains as well as a pool, it’s a relaxing space away from the busyness of all the activities in town. Enjoy a spa massage and a romantic candlelight dinner under the stars
Things to do in Victoria Falls include feeling the spray from the Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, bungy jumping from the bridge above the Falls and white-water rafting (only from August to January). Or take a spectacular helicopter ride over the Falls, which is an expensive but exhilarating experience you’ll never forget.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Thinking of a Botswana honeymoon? The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Okavango Delta is not a cheap destination, especially given that you usually have to fly into the camps on private concessions by small charter plane. But it offers a spectacular safari – one of the best in Africa.
Find a superb Okavango Delta honeymoon at Vumbura Plains Camp. Revel in the understated elegance, a plunge pool on your deck, indoor and outdoor showers for that special connection with nature and each other. Sit in your private ‘sala’ overlooking the waterway to watch passing wildlife, enjoy a massage to work out any kinks from your early morning game drive or bush walk, or a have a private dinner on your deck under a star-filled sky. A romantic cherry on top is to float gently over this spectacular ecosystem in a hot air balloon.
Things to do in the Okavango Delta include game drives, bush walks and lounging by the pool. Some camps will organise a romantic bush breakfast or Out-of-Africa lunch on an island. Two of the most magnificent activities here are to see the Delta from air as you fly in to camp and to drift silently along the waterways in a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) to get close to water lilies and small creatures like birds and frogs, maybe even watch some elephants.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger is South Africa’s flagship park, a place to see the Big Five as well as hippo, croc, cheetah, wild dog and sable antelope. There are scores of places to choose from for your Kruger National Park honeymoon. One of the most romantic has to be a Lion Sands Treehouse. Lion Sands Game Reserve is part of the greater Kruger conservation area, and you enjoy a one-night sleepover in the treehouse from your normal accommodation in the reserve. The best-priced of these options is River Lodge, though it’s still expensive – but this is your honeymoon, right? Your guide will take you to the treehouse for a sunset picnic and is always just a radio-call away. Sip a drink as you watch the sun set and the stars come out, listen to the sounds of the night and fall asleep under a canopy of stars.
Kruger budget safari honeymoon tip
If you’re looking for a do-it-yourself African honeymoon on a budget, Kruger offers a number of camps where you can self-drive and self-cater. Book a riverfront chalet at Olifants to enjoy some of the best views in the park; sneak to the restaurant if you don’t want to self-cater. The food isn't a patch on what you get at the other places I've mentioned, but it comes at a much lower price. Smaller and more private than Olifants are the bushveld camps. My favourite is Talamati in central Kruger, which has a hide at a waterhole just beyond the fence where I once spotted the Big Five and sable in one three-day stay. The self-drive game routes around the Talamati/Satara area are superb. (Note that there are no shops, restaurants or pools at the bushveld camps and so you need to be an adventurous type who gets a kick out of having to be self-sufficient.)
Things to do at Kruger include early morning and sunset game drives, guided bush walks, and the chance to cool off in a pool or take a snooze (or whatever!) in the middle of the day. A guided night drive is a great way to see a whole cast of different characters.
Obviously, the destinations and camps I’ve mentioned here aren’t the only places where you can find romantic getaways that are perfect for an African honeymoon. But they give an idea of the range and quality you can find on this wonderful continent.
Cheers and congratulations!
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