We have to admit, there is something about an old African romance that keeps making us fall in love with this continent. Yes, the Hollywood adaptations of Africa are screwed and quasi-colonial, like the recent Wildest Dreams music video from Taylor Swift.
The truth is that these portrayals of Africa and 'safari' don't even come close to the real thing. Real African safaris are so much more moving, romantic, and filled with once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters. A real safari is one of the few ways we - humans - can reflect on the greatness and power of nature.
If you're after iconic African sunsets, close-up encounters with some of world's most vulnerable creatures and the wildest of nights sleeping under the southern sky, check out these 5 iconic African honeymoons that will beat Hollywood blockbusters any day, on every level...
Recreate the ultimate ‘Out of Africa’ Kenyan romance
For travellers and lovers of the African continent, Out of Africa is certainly one of the most beautiful films of the twentieth century, and also the perfect blueprint on which to base your one-in-a-million honeymoon.
The movie is loved the world over for its refreshingly real portrayal of Africa, offering insight into the lives of the Maasai Mara and a taste of the natural wonders and wildlife seen in this incredible part of Africa.
If you’re after the real Out of Africa escape, check into the Angama Mara new lodge’s South Camp. Throughout the lodge there are hidden nods to the love story – such as an edition of the book in each guest room and in the library, a mini replica Gypsy Moth aircraft, just like the one in the film.
If you need a more tangible Out of Africa experience, head to the Segera Retreat in Laikipia, just north of Nairobi. Here, the 1929 De Havilland Gipsy Moth bi-plane, flown by Redford's character Denys Finch Hatton in Out of Africa still stands - ready to take honeymooners on that epic Out of Africa flight.
The actual plane, The DH-60 Moth - complete with its registration G-AAMY - is still in superb condition and comes with a permit to fly. Guests visiting Segera also have the opportunity to watch 'Out of Africa', projected on a big screen in the Retreat's Explorer Lounge.
Be alone in Namibia
The golden dunes of Swakopmund set the perfect scene for a different romantic African safari - it has a completely different landscape to other safari hotspots like South Africa, Kenya and Uganda... but is still combines the incredible Namib desert running along the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the best places to experience this, is Pelican Point Lodge, situated on a unique stretch of land, the remote peninsula of Pelican Point at Walvis Bay. This old lighthouse on a sandbank island has been converted to a boutique hotel with only nine luxury suites.
With the untouched beaches of the Atlantic Ocean on the one side and the Lagoon of Walvis Bay on the other, this is the ultimate place to relax, reflect and unwind in one of the most enchanting and unique settings in Namibia.
If you're after a little thrill after a couple of days of relaxing, Swakopmund and surrounds have a wealth of entertaining activities - from quad biking, horse riding, hot air ballooning. On the ocean, cruises often offer some spectacular sights of dolphins surfing the waves.
Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Since a honeymoon is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, blending it with an once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter just seems fitting. Gorilla trekking in Uganda definitely makes our list of the Top 3 things to do in Africa.
“There are no adequate ways to truly describe the surreal sense of privilege and emotion […] in their presence.” Traveller24 contributor Dawn Jorgensen remembers from sitting with a family of gorillas. “As an animal lover and advocate, I knew that to sit only a few meters from mountain gorillas and watch the sweet albeit awkward interaction between a 10-month-old baby and the silverback, would be a memory I forever hold dear.”
If you’re wondering just how incredible gorilla encounters are - there are only about 800 left in the wild. There are 11 habituated families in Bwindi, amounting to about half of the world’s wild gorillas.
Nomad Africa Adventures Tours gives travellers access to where the gorillas live via a mountain pass set in the deep forest. South Africans get an automatic 20% discount on the tour price. Permits need to be bought well in advance.
Visits are capped at three groups of eight people per day, so that there are no more than 24 people on the mountain at any given time. It’s an intimate and unique experience – perfect for an once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon safari.
You can read all about Dawn Jorgensen’s gorilla trekking dream come true here.
Look through the eyes of angles at the Vic Falls
“Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight...” It could be how you describe your newlywed hubby of wife, but this is also the way Sir David Livingston once described the Victoria Falls, setting the tone for perhaps one of the most romantic natural wonders of the world.
This is the ultimate honeymoon destination if you are the ultimate adventure couple - the Vic Falls are as beautiful as they are thrilling.
Since it’s your honeymoon, the gob-smackingly beautiful A 'Flight of Angels' Helicopter Flip would be the perfect start to an adventure in Vic Falls. Then, down on the ground, take a hike in the beautiful rainforest created by the ‘Smoke that Thunders’.
Zambia and Zimbabwe are both landlocked countries, but this doesn’t mean you can’t swim… The devil’s pool is situated right in the middle of the Zambezi. For honeymooners, this is quite an exclusive Vic Falls experience. Only 16 guests may visit at any one time during five daily departures. Access is restricted to a maximum of 80 visitors per day.
End each day with a cruise on the mighty Zambezi to watch that iconic and magnificent African sun melt into the river at nightfall. Before sunset, the river is also the best place from where to watch the abundant wild- and birdlife of the area.
Awaken your wildest dreams in the Kruger
It's easy for South Africans to think of other countries when considering the best safaris on the globe. But overlooking one of the biggest and richest wildlife hubs on the continent, South Africa, is sin.
Apart from the incredible wildlife on offer, SA also has some of the most incredible accommodation options available. Tintswalo's Safari Lodge, for example, fits right into the honeymoon theme. In the native Shangaan language, Tintswalo means “the intangible feeling of love, gratitude and peace bestowed upon someone offering you a meaningful and worthy gift.” So naturally, these guys cater for those in love, with love.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge is an exclusive lodge located in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa in the Manyeleti Private Game Reserve concession. This lush, 5-star lodge is nestled between the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve to the North, Sabi Sand Reserve to the South, and open to the Greater Kruger National Park on its fenceless eastern boundary.
Lion Sands is another Kruger spot that's perfectly suites for honeymooners in search of wild nights... their treetop lodges are perched in the tree canopies, and guests can spot the wildlife roaming below. At night, you get to sleep underneath the African stars.
With all of these destinations, you can opt to combine a country with a private photo safari to document your unique African safari. You can either check out 5 of South Africa’s best photographic safaris, or contact safari guide and private photo safari operator Marlon du Toit.
SEE: PICS: On a southern African safari with Marlon du Toit
What to read next on Traveller24:
- PICS: On a southern African safari with Marlon du Toit
- 10 Affordable safaris to check out this winter
- 5 of South Africa’s best photographic safaris