Last year I had the pleasure of meeting the mother-daughter team behind Extraordinary Journeys. As their name implies, Marcia and Elizabeth Gordon (below) custom craft some pretty swoon-worthy adventures—to Africa, a place they know top to bottom (and all the secret spots in between) and that easily inspires dreamy visions of exotic animals, ancient baobab trees, and untamed landscapes where it’s impossible not to get away from it all.
Since my husband and I have a new baby and no real plans on deck for celebrating Valentine's Day this year, I thought I’d call on Elizabeth to share her expert tips—and provide me/Carry On with a vicarious dose of travel-inspired romance. Clip and save, dear readers. Sleeping under the stars on the Savannah beats a box of chocolates any day.
Question: In your opinion, what are some of the most romantic and memorable experiences in Africa?
Sleeping under the stars and waking up to the Savannah all around you.
In a Star Bed in Loisaba, Kenya, only mosquito netting separates you from the African sky.
Sundowners on a dhow.
At Greystoke Mahale on Lake Tangyanika, there’s nothing like sailing on a traditional fisherman’s boat in the last sunlight of the day. The camp is about as remote as you can get—and close to over 800 chimpanzees!
Spending the day on your own desert island.
Aside from thestaff on Mozambique’s Vamizi island, who provide everything—shade, lunch, drinks, snorkeling equipment, pillows—you won’t see a soul.
Spending the night in a tree.
Alex Walker, a fourth generation Kenyan from long lineage of guides, never ceases to amaze us with the memorable experiences he creates. The Serian Tree House may be rustic, but it’s thrilling to sleep so high in the air, be tuned into the wildlife around you, and hear elephants rubbing against the tree in the morning.
Waking to the sounds of the Zambezi River.
You arrive at Zambia’s Sindabezi Island Camp by short boat ride or a guided canoe trip down the Zambezi. There’s no electricity (everything is lit by lanterns and candles); and there’s definitely something magical falling asleep to the sounds of the river.
Taking a bath in the middle of a sand bar.
After a long dayon safari in the Selous Game Preserve in Southern Tanzania, soak in two big copper tubs in the middle of a sand bar on the banks of the Luwegu River.
Ballooning and breakfast along the banks of the Mara River.
As the sun rises, the stunning Savannah below is revealed (look for elephants and gazelles). The balloon follows the direction of the wind and eventually drops in what seems to be the middle of nowhere, only there’s a breakfast table set with champagne waiting for you.
Tasting your way through Stellenbosch.
Even though you’re close to Cape Town, you feel close to Nature here. Everything is fresh—the food, the air. And there are 130+ wineries to boot. We especially like Waterford Wines; visitors can sample great bottles with views of South Africa’s Boland Mountains in the distance.
Adrien Glover is the online deputy editor at Travel + Leisure.