Marriage is probably the biggest adventure you’ll ever undertake, so here are a few exciting honeymoon options to go with it… plus, they’re closer than you think
By Lisa van der Knaap
This article was taken from Wedding Inspirations magazine September/Spring 2011
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
Why you should go: The Namib Desert is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas in the world – a place where the stark serenity of nature is allowed to take centre stage. Here, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge’s 10 villas are made from glass and stone, affording you enveloping views of the fiery sand dunes, some of the highest on the planet. The elegant muted tones of the decor are complemented by natural elements like bone, slate and wood. Your private wraparound veranda is the ideal spot to admire the dusky hues of the breathtaking sunsets. All the villas at the five-star lodge have an en-suite bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower and even a dramatic skylight over the bed for stargazing. Air-conditioning and a cosy fire will ward off extreme temperatures.
In the evenings, you can choose your wines in the lodge’s impressive walk-in cellar, opting to have a romantic dinner by lantern light on the open dining deck or at one of the nearby dunes in summer. For a better understanding of the night sky, the resident astronomer at the state-of-the-art observatory is on hand to help. During the day, hot-air balloon rides and flight safaris are available at an additional cost; or go on a scenic 4×4 drive, followed by a desert picnic excursion. You can get a little closer to nature on a quad bike adventure with an expert guide, or take a slightly more relaxed walk or hike and savour the unspoilt wilderness up close.
Contact details: Call 011 809 4300 or visit www.andbeyondafrica.com
Addo Elephant Back Safaris and Lodges
Note in a box: The history of the region is fascinating and you can learn about the early inhabitants through a bushman’s cave guided walk; there’s also an equally interesting medicinal plants walk.
Why you should go: If you love going to the bush, taking in the natural scenery while riding on top of an elephant will be a once in a lifetime experience. The ride lasts about three hours and when you’re finished, you’ll reward the herd with their favourite treats while walking with your ellie through the diverse valley bushveld.
Bordering the Greater Addo Elephant National Park, the area is regarded as Africa’s most biologically diverse region. Because of this, the lodge has all sorts of eco-friendly systems in place so that minimal unnatural impact is felt – but it still offers five-star comfort. All of the private suites are on elevated wooden decks. Constructed of part canvas, part recycled Brazilian pine, this luxurious tented lodge blends in discreetly with the surroundings and provides undisturbed exclusivity. Some of the suites are nestled in the yellowwood forest, while others are set on the hillside, boasting magnificent views of the surrounds. All of them have en-suite bathrooms with both indoor and outdoor showers. There’s also a private viewing deck and the option of a king-size bed if you’re treating yourselves. To keep you entertained, there are game drives and walks – and if you haven’t had enough of the gentle giants, ask about the Sunset Elephant Encounters.
The history of the region is fascinating and you can learn about the early inhabitants through a bushman’s cave guided walk; there’s also an equally interesting medicinal plants walk. For the romantics, ask about their hillside sundowners and candle-lit bush dinners. There are other day trips which are available at an additional cost – or you can simply soak up the sun on your private deck, unwinding in your own spa bath or enjoying sumptuous cuisine at the elephant’s favourite watering hole. Good to note, Addo Elephant Back Safaris and Lodges is also a wedding venue, should you choose to do something a little different for your big day.
Contact details: Call 086 123 3672 or visit www.aebs.co.za
The Zambezi Queen
Why you should go: Situated between Namibia and Botswana is the Caprivi Strip, on the banks of the Chobe River and National Park, where the Zambezi Queen cruises along. It’s a unique spot – just a few kilometres away, four countries meet: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
On the boat, all 14 suites have two single beds or a double bed and their own private balconies. The four master suites have their own private outdoor areas. The sunbathing area and pool are on the top deck; you’ll also find the telescope here for night-time stargazing. The five-star opulence comes through in the whites and natural tones of the decor, which is fresh and welcoming. The dining room offers unobstructed views of the river.
Water and land play an equally important part on this trip. Besides land-based game viewing in the Park, water-based game viewing on smaller boats allows you to get up close to some of the creatures and takes bird watching to a whole new level.
On the three-day package, the cultural tour of the local village is a must; or, in season, you can try your hand at tiger fishing. For an additional cost, aerial game viewing is an option; you can also use the helicopter as a transfer service to Victoria Falls or the Okavango Delta. The area is one of the most densely populated areas for wildlife on the entire continent, featuring more than 400 different bird species and around 120 000 elephants. Watching the animals gather at the water at dusk is a truly magical experience.
Contact details: Call 021 438 0032 or visit www.zambeziqueen.com
Note in box: Take a walk down to the Sabie River with your specially prepared picnic basket, then treat yourselves to an aromatic full-body massage in the privacy of your
Why you should go: This secluded Lowveld hideaway is located high in the hills and among the forests, close to the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon. Each of the spacious rooms at this five-star lodge features Moroccan-inspired decor (plus an impressive four-poster bed with mosquito netting), adding a romantic feel to the place. The enormous sunken Moroccan baths are perfect for two and really romantic when all the candles are lit around the side; afterwards you can cosy up by the fire.
The lodge has amazing views of the Sabie Valley and river in the distance – whether you are in your private pool or enjoying the sun streaming in at the Bali-style restaurant on stilts. The menu includes salmon roulade, chicken and prawn curry and a light and luscious chocolate soufflé.
Here, it’s all about relaxing. Take a walk down to the Sabie River with your specially prepared picnic basket, then treat yourselves to an aromatic full-body massage in the privacy of your own suite. There’s yoga and horse-riding, or river rafting, quad biking and abseiling for the adventurous. It’s a great bird watching spot where you’ll find species like the purple-crested lourie and the elusive narina trogon. Make your trip really special by watching the sunrise during an early morning hot-air balloon ride. You can also venture out for the day: Pilgrim’s Rest, the Kruger Park and God’s Window are all close by.
Contact details: Call 013 767 1740 or visit www.timamoonlodge.co.za.
Why you should go: Step back in time and enjoy the charm of a bygone era with the conveniences of the modern world. Travelling by train means that you start to unwind from the moment you leave the station – and the most luxurious train in the world ticks boxes for both comfort and five-star elegance. Train journeys range from 24 hours to two weeks, depending on how far you want to go: choose from Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal, the Garden Route, Victoria Falls, Dar es Salaam and Cairo, with staggering views along the way.
The train carries a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 superbly appointed suites, offering privacy for newlyweds. Each room has a twin or double bed and an en-suite bathroom with hot showers and hairdryers. The smallest is the Pullman Suite, which measures seven square metres – but a honeymoon is a great excuse to spoil yourselves, so go for a Royal Suite. Measuring in at 16 square metres, it takes up half a carriage, boasting its own private lounge area and full en-suite bathroom with a Victorian bath and separate shower. In the lounge and club car, wingback chairs and deep sofas are a great place to read a novel and have an afternoon snooze.
During the day, the dress is casual, but a jacket and tie is a minimum requirement for dinner. Your three meals a day feature the best in local, fresh ingredients, with a slight slant towards traditional dishes, all of which are complemented by superb South African wines. At the back of the train, the observation car has an open deck so that you can really take in the scenery. There are also exciting excursions on certain routes. When you travel by train, nowhere else does the adage, “life’s a journey, not a destination” hold more true.
Contact details: Call 012 315 8242 or visit www.rovos.com.