A VERY AFRICAN HONEYMOON
Safari Wedding & Honeymoon Ideas
Since the earliest days of colonial exploration, Africa has been inspiring romance and more than the occasional safari wedding.
Its quixotic landscapes and expansive spaces offer solitude and privacy, bathed in the glorious light so ubiquitous and distinctive of an African safari. In the early 1900s, Europe’s aristocracy escaped the austere suffocation of high society, finding forbidden love on the plains. Most famously, Dame Karen von Blixen migrated to Africa to establish a new life, meeting the rugged and dashing Denys Hatton, so creating one of Hollywood’s most iconic and moving safari weddings, documented in her autobiography and immortalised in Out of Africa.
But time rose-tints the romance of the past, and these magical moments were fleeting, amidst a morass of struggles and challenges. Love blossomed as much from these challenges – almost out of necessity – as despite them.
Fortunately, a century of advancements has allowed us to maintain the classical romance of yesteryear while overcoming all of the hardships, resulting in staggeringly romantic, wonderfully timeless safari weddings with every trapping and convenience of our modern world.
Whether bending a knee on the Maasai Mara, uttering your vows in the Okavango or escaping the clamouring attention of family and friends to spend the first days of your new life alone together, Africa is one of the most exceptional destinations for newlyweds and lovebirds.
Inspired by Valentine’s Day just passed and offering ideas for marital bliss in 2024, these are some of our most romantic suggestions for a safari wedding or honeymoon:
SAFARI WEDDING PROPERTIES
SAFARI WEDDING EXPERIENCES
- Ballooning Over Namibia
- Helicopter Horizons
- A Spa Day in the Cape Winelands
- Horseriding in the Okavango
- Knysna, The Pearl of the Garden Route
SAFARI WEDDING PROPERTIES
Segera’s Nay Palad Bird Nest
The seclusion of Laikipia county, with its rolling hillsides, golden plains and plentiful wildlife, inspires even the least poetic of visitors to pick up a pen, focus a camera or daub a canvas in expression of its compelling romanticism.
Into this already divine landscape comes Segera – a highly intimate collection of private properties at which peace washes over you like silk on a gentle breeze and time ceases to be relevant. Here, couples can immerse themselves as much in their surroundings as in their love, sharing incredible game drives, wandering the gardens amid fluttering hummingbirds and enjoying candlelit dinners under the luminescence of nightfall.
The piéce de resistance in Segera’s romantic offerings is its elevated ‘bird nest’ – a private overnight suite a short distance from the main property with an intimate enclosed bedroom and striking rooftop viewing platform swathed in a nest-like wickerwork of sticks.
Even when leaving friends and relatives behind and visiting the most perfect hotel or residence, new love can feel stifled by staff, fellow guests and a lack of privacy. At Segera’s Bird Nest, the world disappears, every distraction is silenced and you are free to indulge uninterrupted in the wonderful glow and excitement of new union.
A safari wedding is incomplete without a little extravagance. These moments will – hopefully – only happen once; they are yours to share, forging memories like fireworks to illuminate your long and happy life together.
Set in the private Londolozi Reserve on the borders of Kruger National Park, the Private Granite Suites are the crowning jewel of Londolozi’s collection of exclusive properties. Specifically catering to honeymooning couples, each of the three suites is set apart, giving guests plenty of personal space and seclusion.
Overlooking a waterway that weaves between vast granite boulders smoothed over thousands of years, couples can enjoy a supremely indulgent bath together while watching families of elephant drinking from the river.
The greater property contains a bar and restaurant at which you can enjoy drinks and meals with the handful of other guests, or you can request chilled, crisp sparkling wine and canapés on your balcony as you conclude a day of game drives and wildlife watching in privacy.
There is something in the serenity of water that fills the heart. The Zambezi gracefully winds its way through South Luangwa National Park, carving out channels and islands isolated from the rest of the world and providing the perfect setting for the more adventurous safari wedding.
Each tented camp offers the comfort of a more established property while eliminating the separation from nature that walls of brick and mortar can instil.
Waking to the trickling waters of the Zambezi, falling asleep to the sound of grunting hippo and enjoying absolute solitude with all the conveniences of a larger property, Sungani is the perfect marriage of privacy and provision.
The indulgence and comfort of the lodge complement the remarkable delta, surrounded on all sides by the Zambezi. The tranquillity is intoxicating, and love and romance are borne upon the ever-changing, gently flowing waters. Couples can canoe, take a game drive or set out on an exciting walking safari, though perhaps leaving the wedding dress and high heels at camp.
Above all, a picnic or champagne brunch in the bush is an imperative addition to your stay, and there are few better ways or locations in which to toast your new life together.
Set in one of the wildest and most remote parts of Africa, and nestled on the banks of the Zambezi in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, Nyamatusi Camp touches on the romance of colonial Africa but with a chic, modern approach. Crisp linen drapes grace each private suite’s interior, flynets gathered around a sumptuous four-poster bed and the property has been impeccably designed to unite traditional building methods with modern luxury and sustainability practices.
When flying into the remote camp, one can only be inspired by a desire to explore the landscapes below. Herds of hippo wallow lethargically in the river’s depths, the water gently oozing like honey through the tall grass at its banks. Elephant amble slowly between trees, taking life one step at a time, and flocks of carmine bee-eaters fill the skies in a continually-fluttering cloud of crimson.
Taking a private game drive, one can gain a true sense of the wilderness, but on foot, this becomes almost inebriating. Taking the time to join an expert guide on a walking safari will uncover experiences that, if not shared, might not be believed. As a couple in love, this can be divinely uniting, walking across the dry grass, between ancient trees, to spot zebra, antelope or if lucky, elephant and leopard.
It is the magic of these experiences that bring couples closer together, revelling around each evening’s campfire in the sights and sounds shared through each day.
The private suites spill out onto timber balconies with breathtaking views, especially at dawn, and a plunge pool to cool off or simply take in the twilight with a glass of bubbles in hand. At Nyamatusi, one enjoys that sense of being cocooned in lavish decadence, pristine sheets and fully-appointed en suites, immaculate furnishings and welcoming comfort. But one glance reminds guests that they aren’t in an exclusive New York hotel, but in the untouched wilds of Africa.
A marriage and a honeymoon are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Even for those who may undertake them several times within their lives, each one will stand apart as its own unique, highly memorable experience.
There are many ways to exacerbate the potency of these moments, through the choice of venue, guests, décor and so on. Though absolutely essential for a safari wedding or honeymoon, it is sometimes the additions that can be the most memorable.
Nyungwe House is, without exception, a property of unwavering excellence inspired by more traditional homesteads but crafted with distinctly contemporary flair. Though perfect for honeymooners or couples celebrating their relationship, what makes Nyungwe particularly romantic lies in the forests of the surrounding mountains.
Photos: One&Only Nyungwe House
The lush foothills of Nyungwe National Park are home to one of the strongest populations of chimpanzees, in addition to several other primates and myriad bird species. Explorations of the jungle pathways or lofty canopy bridges fill one with a sense of wonder and an absolute joy to be alive. After sunset, the verdant hillscapes form darkened shadows on the spectacular night sky, a canopy of stars scattered like confetti across the deep blue heavens.
Sharing these moments gives one a newfound appreciation for life, and a life shared with the one you love.
SAFARI WEDDING EXPERIENCES
Ballooning Over Namibia
Is hot-air ballooning a clichéd addition to a honeymoon bucket list? Perhaps, but for very good reason. So unlike anything else, beginning in the cold hours of dawn and drifting silently through the sky before descending for a champagne breakfast, few things could be more romantic.
Replicable across the world, whether sweeping across familiar terrain or seeing the Great Migration from the sky, ballooning is a truly valid choice for any honeymoon. But there are some places in which the same experience becomes vastly and movingly different, and the deserts of Namibia are one such place.
Few things can prepare you for your first glimpse of the arid plains skirted by towering red dunes, juxtaposed with a vibrant blue sky and occasional shadow of wandering elephants or blackened camel thorn trees. There are numerous elegant properties in the region to choose from, and on the ground, your wedding or honeymoon portraits will be otherworldly, ethereal and simply stunning.
Rising above this wilderness in the dawn’s early light, one will fall in love all over again, and even more so if it is kept as a surprise by your betrothed. Drifting on the morning breeze for an hour or more, you return to the earth and a breakfast setting, complete with furniture, linen and silver cutlery, an icy glass of champagne presented as the gourmet meal is served.
If you weren’t utterly in love before you took off, you certainly will be after a magical balloon flight.
Though soaring across the Okavango Delta in an expertly-piloted helicopter may seem to be the epitome of romantic safari wedding indulgence, which indeed it is, it is the destination that brings it onto our list.
Solitude is an important aspect of any honeymoon, but not so much as to feel isolated. Here in the Delta, newlyweds can board a helicopter and be whisked away to a private island for canapés and sparkling wine, left to drink in the bubbles and the surrounding vistas, while birds chase bugs across the water’s surface and the tranquillity is palpable.
Botswana has a superb collection of first-class properties, and these independently-run helicopter tours can be arranged from several. This allows honeymooners to stay in the lodge of their choice and add a helicopter flight to their safari wedding.
A Spa Day in the Cape Winelands
Gloriously romantic on any occasion, the Cape Winelands of South Africa are a picture-perfect vista of towering mountains, lush, green landscapes, quaint historic towns and exquisite luxury properties.
There are several to choose from – including one of our favourite Winelands properties, Babylonstoren.
However, Delaire Graff Estate in the famed Stellenbosch Winelands is a sublime honeymoon getaway. Positioned atop the Helshoogte Pass, overlooking the breathtaking Banghoek Valley below, Delaire Graff is as much a luxury residence as it is a finely-curated art gallery, featuring fine art and sculptures from many of Africa’s leading creators.
Pairing innovative cuisine with award-winning wines, dining at Delaire Graff is a sensational experience. With a choice of two restaurants, the contemporary, ‘bistro-chic’ Delaire Graff and the Afro-Asian-inspired Indochine, there is more than enough choice of culinary delights.
Photos: Delaire Graff
But wining and dining are only the beginning. Wandering the impeccably-landscaped gardens, taking in the dramatic scenery, honeymooners can then venture to the property’s private spa for a selection of pampering treatments. And of course, for those seeking a shared experience, the Jardin de Delaire couples package is unmissable, incorporating African botanicals, indulgent massages and a scrub and body mask, culminating in a relaxing sauna.
This half-day of luxurious pampering would be wonderful in any location, but embraced by the hillsides of the Cape Winelands, with such flawless scenery in every direction, the sublime becomes an incomparably dreamlike blend of all the region has to offer.
Horseriding in the Okavango
Returning to the Okavango Delta, our next safari wedding experience remains on terra firma. Horseback riding has a beautifully poetic nostalgia to it, harking back to the seemingly carefree days of a careless world, meandering the prairies without a care in the world.
In the Okavango, horseriding takes on a new dynamic.
A half-day horseback safari allows riders to get closer to wildlife, almost accepted as part of the herd, the animals seeing four legs and a familiar shape, feeling far less intimidated than at the sight of a rumbling steel box.
Time slips away in the plodding gait of your horse, and one’s thoughts drift with the breeze as you marvel at the landscapes and their inhabitants.
But the Okavango isn’t the Serengeti, and grasslands are punctuated by creeks and streams that must be forded. In a plume of spray, horses gallop through the floodplains, their riders gleefully grasping saddle and rein, exhilarated and enthralled.
This combination of sedate serenity and dynamic drama brings all participants closer together, particularly if joined in holy matrimony. The laughter, the thrill, the wonder and the peace are shared completely, creating camaraderie and kinship even with strangers.
Dismounting, riders will be treated to a picnic lunch, and few things could embody the archetypal romance of Out of Africa than a picnic on the plains beneath a thorntree, horses quietly grazing and the African sun illuminating the graceful vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Knysna, The Pearl of the Garden Route
South Africa’s Garden Route stretches for 190 miles (300km) eastwards from Cape Town, itself a wonderfully romantic city on the water. Hiring a car and taking a leisurely drive along the quiet coastal roads, weaving in and out of secluded bays with verdant mountains stretching inland and the Indian Ocean reaching beyond the southern horizon, this is a fine way indeed to spend a few days of one’s safari wedding and honeymoon.
There are numerous small towns along the way to offer intimate boutique accommodation or an array of mouthwatering cuisine accompanied, of course, by some of South Africa’s fine wines, but Knysna is particularly well-suited to honeymooners for one specific, rather slippery reason.
Huddled around a tranquil harbour, Knysna is regarded as the producer of South Africa’s finest oysters, and numerous bars and restaurants proffer the local bounty. The harvest culminates each year at the end of June in the Knysna Oyster Festival a ten-day celebration of the local produce during which more shellfish and shucked than could possibly be counted.
For the rest of the year, the town is significantly more sleepy, and strolling the harbour or nearby beaches hand in hand with the one you love is blissfully romantic.
Knysna also holds a fabulous Pride festival each year – the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras – in celebration of creative expression, unity and love in all its myriad glory.
A wedding and its honeymoon are some of the most precious days of our lives. Every thought is given to the ceremony, but little to the honeymoon, short of its destination.
But a wedding isn’t the only cause for romantic celebration, and fifth, tenth or fiftieth wedding anniversaries are equally as worthy, possibly even more, of a commemorative adventure to reignite the love of the past decades.
With the right advice, that unforgettable special day can last for weeks, each and every moment as magical, memorable and wonderfully romantic as the next. Talk to your Travel Designer about crafting the perfect safari wedding or anniversary.