Floating on cloud nine feels pretty good. I'm going to start by shouting from the roof tops that I am jetting off tomorrow to road-test Bali honeymoons - so you had better keep an eye out for my post from beautiful bali.
Today I want to share with you a honeymoon destination that you may have overlooked or even tossed into the too hard basket. Sensational South Africa.
I have been chatting with the lovely Richard Holt from Travel Concepts in Cape Town about culture-rich, wildlife-abundant, majestic Southern Africa. Travel Concepts is a company that exists to plan your honeymoon with customised itineraries so that your first holiday as a married couple is absolutely unforgettable.
I think you'll be surprised by the beauty and variety you will find in SA.
Kate: What makes Southern Africa so special as a destination for honeymooners?
Richard: Without doubt it's the total diversity and the difference of the place, the culture and the people. There are the wide open spaces of the bush, the majestic scenery of the mountains, beaches, the deserts, the plains and the big African skies. One place that you will not forget easily!
Our mixed culture, history, vibe and energy of the people, where first world and third world meet is commented on by many who visit this magical country. And of course there is the African trump card, the wildlife. There is something extra special, spiritual and mystical about waking up in the bush together and taking that early morning game drive, cuddled up under blankets as the sun comes up. Follow this with naps and spa treatments during the heat of the day and end off with candlelit dinners in the open air under African stars, listening to the sounds of the bush. It just doesn't get more romantic than this in our view!
With great weather almost guaranteed, the destination allows for all sorts of combinations of romantic, exciting and adventurous honeymoons.
Kate: What are the most beautiful destinations and breathtaking landscapes overall?
Richard: Phew, this is a tough one with the different countries and regions all offering different experiences. But from our own travels in the last years there are a number of special memories.
- The silence and solitude of cruising down the Chobe River between Namibia and Botswana on the new luxury houseboat, the Zambezi Queen. Waking early in the morning to see elephants swimming past on their way to the other bank was unforgettable! A few days on the Zambezi Queen is great to combine with a land based safari in Chobe National Park and a visit to the majestic Victoria Falls which lie between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- On safari in the Madikwe Game Reserve, a short flight or 3 hour drive west of Johannesburg. A 5 star experience with fantastic game lodges, staggering landscapes, the Big 5 and a rare sight of the African wild dogs, made this one of our best ever safari experiences. Madikwe is malaria- free and being so easily accessible from Johannesburg Airport, makes it a great place to combine a safari with a sea honeymoon, like one of the Mozambiquan islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago. (a collection of idyllic islands lying just off the coast of Vilanculous)
- Closer to home nothing beats the style, sophistication and scenery of the Cape Winelands. Majestic Cape Dutch architecture and wine estates, world class wines, restaurants, golf courses and spa's make this a special indulgent place. Ideal to combine with a few days in the stunning Mother City/Cape Town and a fly drive honeymoon along the Garden route and game viewing in the Eastern Cape.
- And finally our first look at the enormity and beauty of the snowed capped Mount Kilimanjaro from the plains of Tanzania in East Africa again great to combine with a safari in the nearby Serengeti or Ngorogoro crater or a few nights on the isle of Zanzibar.
Kate: What should honeymooners definitely NOT miss out on in Africa?
Richard: From all the different experiences and sights here, we think there are two things that stand above anything else. A few days in the bush on safari is a must and really interacting and connecting with the people of Africa will put a smile on your face and joy in your heart.
Kate: Is there anything tourists should avoid doing in Africa?
Richard: Yes coming with preconceptions and fears about safety issues. Be sensible and not paranoid! Come with a large dose of common sense is our best advice.
But also come with an open mind to take in the beauty and majesty of this special place. If you do you will fall in love with Africa. It will steal your heart and mind like it did ours. We have a saying that many of our travellers now also subscribe to "You can leave Africa but Africa will never ever leave you". Forget about strict timetables and schedules and kick back and go with the relaxed pace.
Kate: Should honeymooners be concerned about the politically unstable situation in certain African countries?
Richard: As in many parts of the world, the political situation can change and local warnings should always be listened to. However much of Southern Africa is going through a long period of stability and there is a real optimism. Our time travelling and interacting with the people in countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana has been some of the most enchanting in our lives.
We are always here for on the ground local and honest opinions around changing situations across the region.
Kate: How long should trips usually last? What do you suggest?
Richard: This is hard to determine as the pace of the world these days dictates that people have less and less leisure time. However for couples with no time constraints three or two weeks would certainly be enough time to experience Africa.
For those who only have a few days then we have specifically created our Mini Moons to give couples a "whistle stop" African experience in some of our favourite romantic locations.
Kate: Where are the best beaches?
Richard: This depends whether you want them crowded and full of beautiful people like Camps Bay or Clifton in Cape Town, or secluded and empty like some of the Indian Ocean Islands. There is a beach experience for all tastes but our absolute favourite for some romance is Praslin Island in the Seychelles.
Kate: How can Travel Concepts help honeymooners?
Richard: Travel Concepts is all about designing honeymoons and journeys where customised itineraries and carefully chosen destinations ensure our couples never forget those first few days of their journey together.
- We don't do standard packages or big impersonal hotel chains. We believe that your honeymoon is a symbol of starting your life together and requires something far more romantic and intimate than a predictable package.
- We specialise in romantic luxury and just love what we do. We are in the business of creating out of this world, romantic experiences where intimacy, solitude and together time are top of the list. We are also totally independent so only recommend things and places we like and that will suit our travellers.
- Being in South Africa allows us to keep ahead of the latest honeymoon hotspots. We are always scouting out the most authentic, interesting and tucked away honeymoon hideaways. We write about our experiences and opinions on our blog on a constant basis.
- All the itineraries on our website are samples only designed to build your excitement on what's possible. We then work with you to customise a final itinerary according to the time you have, your preferred destinations and budget parameters.
Kate: A couple wants to see as much as they can in a short time and have time to relax - what do you suggest?
Richard: There are so many different parts to Southern Africa and so many combinations, we think it's impossible. But if pushed and if we were to create just one honeymoon for people who have never been here before, we would probably combine several days in Cape Town and the winelands, with a few days safari in the bush and end up with some relaxing time on one of the islands or on the coast of Mozambique.
Here are the nuts and bolts of health and safety:
Yellow fever vaccines are a must if you are travelling to Tanzania and you also need to carry a certificate of proof for arrival at airport immigration.
Malaria is also a consideration depending on where you travel and you may also need a vaccine certificate for this.
Also ask your doctor about Typhoid and Cholera.
For more info check out Smart Traveller website.
If you have any questions for Richard - please leave them in the comments section below.
Do you dream of honeymooning somewhere but have no idea where to start - please let me know so I can do some ground work for you.
Make sure you enter the Thomas Gallane Wedding photography competition... the days you can enter are numbered!