For many people, the perfect way to kick off a life together is to have an adventure. A safari honeymoon is the perfect first adventure for a newly married couple. Going on safari is an unforgettable experience – no one forgets the first time they saw one of the big 5 in the wild! What a fantastic memory to have together!
Safari Honeymoon in South Africa vs other African Countries
South Africa is a great place for a honeymoon safari for a few reasons. Firstly, if you are travelling from the UK or US it is probably the most accessible of the African countries for safari as English is their first language. Secondly, the GBP and USD tend to perform quite well against the Rand so there is some great value for money to be had.
Thirdly and importantly, many of the private game reserves in South Africa are not in malarial areas so guests do not have to take antimalarials. This is a huge plus in general as if you have never taken them before you may react, it is another thing on the list for those planning a wedding and thirdly many people feel the effects of taking antimalarials – even if it is just odd dreams.
NB – Kruger National Park is in a Malaria zone – Do check with your private game reserve if it is in a malaria zone or let your tour consultant know that you would like to visit somewhere not in a Malaria zone.
Fourth, South African wine! Delicious South African wine can be found in other African countries of course but you will be virtually guaranteed good wine in South Africa! Fifth, South African private game reserve safaris tend to have a slightly more relaxed schedule than those of Tanzania and Kenya.
This is because the vehicles tend not to have to drive as far to find the animals as they are within the reserve. I see this as a big advantage if you’re on honeymoon as most people are rather exhausted after their wedding! Of course, there is no mandatory need to go on a long day on safari anywhere but I personally find it difficult to not go out as I feel like while I am there I should do everything etc etc.
Number six – US and British citizens do not need to get visas for South Africa. This is not the case with many other African countries eg Kenya and Tanzania. Finally, South Africa has so much on offer besides safari. I highly recommend their stunning wine region around Stellenbosh. Beautiful cape town has fine dining, great shopping and fantastic tourist activity. There are stunning beaches and lots of water-based wildlife -, especially whales. All of this without having to leave the country!
A great activity to combine with a honeymoon in South Africa is wine tasting! Check out my post on the Best Wine Tours in Stellenbosch.
Romantic Things to do on Safari
I have been on safari a number of times – national parks, private reserves and private game reserves. For honeymooners, I would definitely recommend staying in a private game reserve. Private game reserves tend to offers slightly more luxurious accommodation options and experiences. I have stayed in some stunning places in the Masai Mara but I would not be keen to be limited to one 2 minute shower a day when on honeymoon!
Private game reserves tend to have a slightly more relaxed pace and are more flexible with drive times. It is also often easier to organise things like your own private vehicle, private picnics etc. As the game tends to be closer to the accommodation game drives also tend to be shorter so there is more time for relaxing in the often stunning accommodation!
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Always advise your private game reserve ahead of your visit that it is your Honeymoon so that they can organise special treats. The following are just a few of the romantic experiences that can be requested when on your Safari Honeymoon:
- Dine by candlelight
- Have a picnic lunch just for 2 with an extraordinary view
- Get your own vehicle
- Go on a hot air balloon ride
- Bathe by candle or lamp light
Most private game reserves will be able to organise the above – apart from potentially the hot air balloon ride.
South Africa is a fantastic place for Whale Watching. Check out my guide to Whale Watching Hermanus guide.
Best Times for a South African Safari Honeymoon
The dry months (May to October) are a great time to go as the animals are easier to spot as they congregate around the water holes. Having said that, South Africa is a year-round destination as is its private game reserves. The wetter months still provide great game viewing opportunities – and often better photos as they are filled with greenery and trees. Another benefit of visiting a private game reserve is that not only do they know their animals well it is also possible to go off road to get closer to the animals (going off road is not allowed in the majority of African national parks).
If you’re going on safari it can be a bit daunting to figure out what to pack. Don’t miss my Ultimate Safari Packing Guide.
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
Every year the Safari Guild, an African based organisation which consists of tour operators and experts, holds its annual safari awards. Any camp anywhere can enter itself and be reviewed by 16 expert judges who work in the safari tourism industry every day.
In 2018 the winner of the very prestigious overall Best Safari Experience award was the stunning Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. Kwandwe is north of Port Elizabeth and covers 22,000 hectares.
Kwandwe has a special offer just for honeymooners! Newlyweds are treated to an in-room massage or beauty treatment voucher as well as a romantic turndown with a bottle of South African sparkling wine for no extra charge. Honeymooners also receive a complimentary pamper box on arrival. This box contains bath salts made by the local community, his and hers bracelets and confectionery.
Check out my video of what it is like to arrive at Kwandwe
I stayed in the stunning Great Fish River Lodge for my stay. What a place! My room was really my own lodge. It was beautifully styled with a high open ceiling and wooden beams. There is a lovely big open room with a giant comfortable bed and sitting area. There is a large bathroom area with 2 sinks. Best of all is the clawfoot bathtub and outdoor shower! (and there is an indoor shower!)
Actually best of all is the lovely private plunge pool and sun loungers! Not only is this area extremely private (I stayed in the lodge farthest from the lodging centre and would highly recommend this for honeymooners) I saw quite a few animals whilst sitting on my sun lounger!
Watch my 360 video of my amazing room at the resort:
And my game viewing from my sun lounger!
Eating and Drinking
The food at Kwandwe is fantastic! Not to mention plentiful – it would be impossible to go hungry! The kitchen sources as many ingredients as possible locally. Coffee, tea and light snacks are available pre-game drive. Snacks and coffee/tea are then served during the morning game drive. A full buffet and hot breakfast are available after the game drive. Then there is lunch. Cake and coffee and tea pre-afternoon drive. Drinks and more snacks for sundowners. And then a 3-course dinner with 2 choices. Plus some fantastic South African wines!
Kwandwe has very impressive drivers and guides! Our driver had been trained to drive whilst looking backwards and chatting with us! When I asked him about it he explained that Kwandwe trains its drivers this way so that they can make more eye contact with guests for interactions and share more about the safari experience with them. I did find this made a big positive difference.
Kwandwe had the big 5 and is also well known for its bird watching. Whilst I was there I even saw a kill! I was really happy with the level and variation in the game that I saw. Also, being on a private game reserve meant that we could get very close to the animals and capture some great photos!
Here is some footages of some ostriches at Kwandwe
Kwandwe Gift Registry
Best of all Kwandwe have just opened a gorgeous online shop. Why not set up a Kwandwe gift registry for your wedding guests and have them contribute to your experience? And if you are staying at Kwandwe you can pre-order all your safari kit and pick it up when you arrive – perfect!
I often find once I have visited somewhere I wish I had of bought the hat/vest the guides wore etc as now I am home I really would have used it – but it is too late. No more – you can visit the Kwandwe Registry before and after your visit! And the shop has some fantastic gift sets that are perfect for presents – put them on your gift registry or take them home for friends or family.
Finally, the Registry has some lovely lovely gift items. You can’t beat their animal-themed onesies and I absolutely loved the painted ostrich eggs (although these ones you have to buy there due to customs restrictions with shipping ostrich eggs around the world). Anyway, there are loads of lovely unique and beautiful items on the registry that make for fantastic gifts whether you are going on safari or not.
Check out their store here:
A camera is essential on any trip to South Africa – particularly if you are planning to go on safari. So don’t miss my Best Camera for Safari and iphone Photography Guide.
How to get to Kwandwe
The main international airport for South Africa is Johannesburg. However, there are some direct flights to Cape Town and British Airways are introducing direct flights from London to Durban.
I flew to South Africa with Air France – check out my Air France A380 Business Class Review.
The closest airport for Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is the domestic airport Port Elizabeth. Click here for cheap flights to Port Elizabeth.
The drive to Kwandwe is about two hours. They can organize a transfer for you or you can grab a hire car although of course, it will just sit at the main reception at the lodge until you leave.
Tour Operators who can help plan your Safari Honeymoon
Kuoni has some fantastic luxury holidays and they have an entire area of their website devoted to Honeymoon Safaris. Virgin Holidays offer some great combinations of flights and accommodation for safari honeymoons.
If you click through on the links in this article for flights etc I will get a small commission on the sale. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.
Thanks very much to Kwandwe Private Game Reserve for hosting my stay. Please note although they hosted my stay the opinions expressed above are my own.
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