Ever heard the roar of a lion up close? At Lion Sands Game Reserve you’ve got a good chance of experiencing this electrifying primal sound as big cats roam the game-rich plains. Twice-daily game drives will bring you up close to incredible wildlife, with some of South Africa’s best guides and trackers on hand to answer your questions. Choose one of the 5* lodges in the reserve and add a stay in a treehouse for a night you’ll never forget. Perched safely on a platform, you can watch the sunset, enjoy a picnic dinner and sleep under the stars.
The Makalali Game Reserve is a 22,000-hectare conservation area near to Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains. Garonga Safari Camp is its romantic retreat, where you can chill out in your tent and cuddle up together in the hammock on the terrace. For sheer indulgence, we love the romantic Outdoor Bubble Bath experience that is complete honeymoon heaven. A sunken bath set on a secluded platform in the heart of the bushveld, as you relax by candlelight in the bubbles, enjoy a chilled glass of wine to the sounds of the wild African bush.
Indulge in the romance of a bygone era and add on a two-night stay on board the Rovos Rail to your honeymoon. An icon of South African exploration, this train embodies class and elegance, with its vintage Edwardian carriages and handsome period décor. Join her as she begins her flagship journey from Pretoria to Cape Town, en-route passing through the epic Great Karoo, and stopping at the historic village of Matjiesfontein and the ‘Big Hole’ diamond mine in Kimberley. End your adventure with a stay at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa in Cape Town, the ultimate romantic retreat hidden in the foothills of Table Mountain National Park.
Against the fiery backdrop of the Kransberg Mountains, Marataba Safari Lodge is a corner of untouched safari sophistication in Marakele National Park. Luxurious tented suites are chic and understated, and are generously furnished with large king sized beds, an outdoor shower and your own game-viewing deck. See a different side to the South African bush and book onto a sunset cruise aboard the lodge’s river raft, the Miss Mara. One of our favourite honeymoon experiences, this intimate water safari drifts along the serene Matlabas River, a wildlife hotspot of hippo and elephant. As you watch the sun set over this beautiful landscape, make the most of the on-board G&Ts and nibbles, and try and spot a leopard or two drinking at the riverbank.
Beyond the Cape Dutch architecture and rolling emerald hills, it’s not only the wine that’s exquisite in Franschhoek – the restaurants here are some of the finest you can find in the country. Have a romantic meal with a difference in one of the most beautiful wine valleys in the world and try the acclaimed tasting menu at Le Petite Colombe, little sister to the world-renowned La Colombe in Constantia. From the fresh west coast oysters to the ‘Cape Wagyu’ sirloin steak, these classic dishes are positively melt-in-the mouth delicious. To make the most of your time here, you’ll want to stay at least a couple of nights. We love the country-chic rooms at the charming Leeu House, and recommend taking the hop-on hop-off wine tram to see some of the best wine estates in the entire region. For self-confessed foodies, combine this with our Route 62 Gourmet Self-Drive, an itinerary that highlights our favourite food and wine experiences in the Western Cape.
An indulgent safari retreat in KwaZulu-Natal, Thanda Safari Lodge has been tailor-made for romance in the wild. This honeymoon dream is full of unique little touches that really make your stay extraordinary. Succumb to complete seclusion in your luxurious hillside villa; so exclusive and self-contained you’ll struggle to ever leave. Romantic turndowns and dinners in your own private boma are the norm here, and the circular daybed is perfect for a sleep out under the stars. Then there’s the truly magical USP; fine dining in the wild, African style. In a made-just-for-you setting, the staff will create your own bespoke dining room in the African bush. Beneath an endless open sky, lanterns hang romantically from trees, while a charming blanket and cushion setup offers relaxing comfort for a tranquil after-dinner drink.
Madikwe Safari Lodge is an incredibly romantic escape in one of the country’s lesser-known game reserves. Malaria-free Madikwe has an incredibly rich biodiversity and, as the home to the Big Five, is perfect if you’re looking for that traditional safari experience. Ultra-luxurious and exceptionally private, the camp’s intimate Kopano Lodge is complete honeymoon goals. There are just four suites in this adults-only lodge, each a contemporary blend of luxury design and traditional African style. Utterly secluded, the large open-plan bedrooms sit beneath classic thatched roofs, while elegant French doors lead out to your own private panorama of uninterrupted open plains. Request dinner on your viewing deck before relaxing into your private plunge pool; a complete dream after a long day of safari adventures.
Iconic, historic, luxurious – welcome to Cape Town’s beautiful Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. With more than a century of service to its name, this is where classic romance and timeless glamour combine. And really, you couldn’t ask for a more iconic location. A pink-hued statement found at the foot of Table Mountain, this really is the grande dame of honeymoon hotels in the city. Oozing comfort and contemporary indulgence, make sure to try the hotel’s traditional Afternoon Tea, and pamper yourselves with a couple’s treatment in the historic Librisa Spa. What was once the hotel’s writing room, the handsome interior of the Lord Nelson Restaurant is a favourite of ours for a classic dinner. Follow with a drink in the stylish Planet Bar, a timelessly romantic setting where the celestial-styled lights resemble stars twinkling above you.
This feature was published on 2 November 2018. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. Feature by Anna Hunt.