What to Know Before Planning a Safari Honeymoon, According to a Travel Expert

I've helped couples plan romantic Africa vacations for 21 years. Here's what I recommend.

Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi River on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Photo:

demerzel21/Getty Images

For newlyweds who want to combine adventure and romance on their honeymoon, there’s no better place than Africa. Trust me: I lived and worked in Africa as a camp manager and safari guide. I took my own honeymoon in Africa. And for the past 21 years, I’ve been helping couples plan their honeymoon safaris and anniversary celebrations headquarters.

An African honeymoon is, by its very nature, adventurous. Travelers can get up close and personal with lions, elephant, and several other species on game drives and walking safaris. Newlyweds on safari can visit traditional communities like the Maasai or Batwa to see how they live, or visit cities like Nairobi and Cape Town. Want to ramp up the adventure quotient? Take a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti or bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge.

But that doesn't mean romance has to take a back seat. At some safari camps, newlyweds can enjoy couples’ massages, romantic outdoor baths, and private candlelit bush dinners. Returning at night, they might find a special turn down service including champagne and chocolates before cozying up under a warm duvet in their tent beneath the star-studded African night sky, hearing hyenas whoop or lions roar. In the morning, bird calls announce the start of another day.

Three hot air balloons drift over the plains of The Serengeti National Park at dawn.

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 And if rest and relaxation (and romance) at the beach sound attractive, there are no shortage of “bush and beach” options to stay post-safari, from locally owned beach hotels to world-class resorts like the Four Seasons. Exotic destinations such as Zanzibar, the Seychelles, and Mozambique boast beautiful white sand beaches, warm turquoise water, and a range of activities—from sunbathing by the pool to swimming in the ocean to snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing.

To ensure a honeymoon safari is everything you hope for, keep these tips in mind.

Location, Location, Location

East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda) is best for: seeing huge herds of animals; trekking for gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates; experiencing traditional cultures; and beautiful beaches. Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, and Mozambique) is best for: up-close-and-personal wildlife experiences; private reserves; and non-safari activities like golf, wine tasting, and luxury train trips.

Think Strategically about the Time of Year

The best months for game viewing in most safari parks is in the winter season (June through October): the weather is typically cooler, sunny, and dry. In East Africa, the months of December to March can also be great for seeing lots of wildlife, while November, April, and May are the rainier months, (consider avoiding those unless lower prices and fewer crowds are a priority). In southern Africa, November to May is considered the "green" or shoulder season, with warmer temperatures and some precipitation. One exception here is Cape Town, which has warm weather (and is an extremely popular destination) from December to March. 

Aerial view of Cape Town

Johannes Mann/Getty Images

Pace Yourself

Many honeymooners think they’ll only go to Africa once and want to “see it all” in a two-week trip—but actually, for many people that first visit to Africa only inspires return trips. We recommend picking one or two countries or regions and moving at a more relaxed pace, so all the experiences can be enjoyed without feeling rushed. The continent is huge and transportation between destinations can be long and arduous.

The Right Camp is Everything

Whether it’s five-star luxury treatment or a no-frills adventure camping, Africa has a wide range of hotels, tented camps, and lodges that are perfect for honeymooners. Imagine spending the night in Elewana Loisaba's star beds, a treehouse platform where four-poster beds sit under open skies or under thatched cover.  Or, after seeing the mighty Victoria Falls, newlyweds can stay at the Victoria Falls River Lodge's Island Treehouse Suites, located on a private island with plunge pools on the deck and hippos just below. Water lovers love spending a night in The Manta Resort’s underwater room, just off Pemba Island, Tanzania. The choices go on and on.

Private Dining at the pool at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Richard Waite/Courtesy of Four Seasons

Remember — Now's the Time to Celebrate

There are many creative options for couples wanting to do something extra special on their honeymoon safari. For example, in Kenya you could participate in a Maasai wedding ceremony, which involves a warrior escort (spears in hand), a chief or elder to officiate, and a traditional goat roast celebration. Want to take a couples’ bubble bath overlooking the savannah, have a private wine tasting, try a cooking lesson, or feed giraffes through your breakfast window? The opportunities are endless.

By keeping these tips and ideas in mind, you’re sure to have an adventurous and romantic honeymoon safari. Better yet, let an expert do the work and tackle the many details—we can help you plan your dream trip.

Kent Redding is a member of Travel + Leisure's A-List of travel advisors and creates custom trips across eastern and southern Africa for Africa Adventure Consultants. Contact him at 303-778-1089 or info@adventuresinafrica.com.

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