So sorry for not getting back to you sooner – we have had a hectic time since returning from honeymoon – we have a new member of our family who we picked up the day after returning from Tanzania, Barney the puppy! He is an adorable bundle of energy who is keeping us busy!
Our trip was amazing!!! We had the best time ever and saw all the big 5 (the rhinos were in the distance but our guide assured us it was a rhino and not a water buffalo!). On our first afternoon in Tarangire we saw a lion stalk and kill an adult zebra which was exciting (although a little moving when she didn’t have a tight enough grip on the zebra to kill it!). We were also lucky enough to see two river crossings in the northern Serengeti after spending 3-4 hours on our first afternoon there watching the wildebeest walk to the river bank and peer over the side, but not daring to make the jump. We took some amazing photos and our guide even showed us a trick of taking photos with our phones through the binoculars!
All the staff at the camps were lovely and friendly and we loved Kati Kati camp. We heard lions and leopards near our tents at night and we woke up to zebras eating their breakfast as the sun was rising. Eddie our guide was fantastic, so knowledgeable and it felt like we spent a week with David Attenborough teaching us about all the animals.
Zanzibar was a stark contrast to the safari and it took us a while to get used to relaxing and doing nothing. Breezes was a lovely hotel and we went snorkeling nearby which was fantastic – the best snorkeling and range of fish we have ever seen!
We are glad that we now have Barney to keep us busy as it has reduced our post-honeymoon blues.Thank you so much for all your help making it a trip of a lifetime and we can’t wait to go back and do it all again!
First off you should know this is written by a grade one wimp. I’m not a natural fly camper, and my preferred method of getting a good night’s sleep on safari is a large glass of Rioja before bed. For those of us with an over-active imagination, the thought of sleeping out with only a mozzie net between bed and the bush comes with a side-order of sheer terror. Unfortunately, it’s a core part of the Extraordinary Africa ethos that we’ve been there and done that, so we can give you the best possible advice, even when terrified. And it turns out that for each Extraordinary Africa traveller who’s tried it, fly-camping seems to be one of the best bits of their safari.
Frankly, I knew it was high time I toughened up and headed out into the wilds.
Most fly camps operate as part of a stay in a permanent camp, walking out to into the wilderness for a night or two under the stars. We’d made our base at Sand Rivers in the Selous Game Reserve, and if I was going to trust anyone with my nerves, the Sand Rivers guides seemed like a decent bet. So, nobly, your condemned reviewer ate a hearty tea. And afterwards tramped off into the bush, full of Victoria sponge, water bottle slung over her shoulder. And although it did not escape my notice that a steel bottle full of water might make an efficient weapon, it was not needed. Instead, we wandered gently through the Selous between the grasses and the trees in a strict line behind our guide, Ernest. We followed snake trails through the sand, photographed white hyena poo for my six-year-old godson, (obviously), and stepped carefully over armies of angry siafu. Please note- that unless you choose to fully explore the meaning of ants in the pants, this final tip is essential.
A few hours later we arrived in camp to what every traveller needs- a damp flannel for dusty faces, and a cold drink for dry throats. Lusekelo had slung a bucket shower over the branches of the nearest tree, and he’d dug a fresh short-drop loo (complete with a very smart seat) nearby. We were extremely grateful that our crew had built a canvas screen around both to stop the hippos being too startled by bottoms that hadn’t seen the sun in a very long time.
Showers smelt of warm water hitting dry dust, and our bedrooms were mozzie net cubes. It’d be fair to say these are spacious for one, cosy for two. They all had bedrolls to sleep on, but anything larger than a medium-sized elephant would have struggled to fit. Fortunately, when there’s a shooting star every 7 minutes, this didn’t cause too much of a problem. Behind each room was a dressing table with a mirror, bug spray and a safari sink and, further back, a dome tent in case it rained. Or you could sleep in it if you were nervous. But I wasn’t nervous. Obviously.
Instead, caught up in the magic, I rushed my shower to make drinks around the campfire. Dinner was equally splendid. From a small safari kitchen Sallum produced a magnificent feast. And if you have, as I did, a serious foodie as a travelling companion, a tour of a bush kitchen is quite something. No blender, no microwave, no sous vide- just a hot metal box and a bucket of coals.
Afterwards, as (perhaps) not the bravest of souls, it’s fair to say I was tired. My day of dicing with imagined deaths had been fairly exhausting. No longer fearful, but still cautious (what kind of naïve fool do you take me for?), I retired to an early bed planning exactly how I would bop each invading hippo or intrusive lion on the nose. (Public Service Announcement: for those of you who are as nervous as I was, I was delighted to note our tent was at the far end of a peninsula guarded by two Landrovers, the guide and our magnificent crew. An invasion was possible, but on balance, unlikely). So, I looked my fears in the eye, looked up at billion stars, and wondered if there was anywhere in the world I’d rather be. I think you know the answer to that.
We gave our experience at fly camp 9/10 (minus one point for the self-induced terror factor). Your reviewer was accompanied by Mr Extraordinary Africa. He would like it to be noted that he was especially impressed by Max’s splendid fly-camp bar, not to mention its white tablecloth, and the excellent dinner which seemed to come from nowhere. So impressed in fact, that when he returned to the fly net that night, under a sky of Scorpio and a million other stars, he found a Tanzanite ring in the bottom of his rucksack and proposed. And what Africa-lover could say no?
It always seems such a shame that so many honeymoonersjump right into an adrenaline-pumping safari when they’re still tired from the wedding and, more often than not, an exhausting overnight flight or two. So, wherever we can, we try to tempt our guests on a safari honeymoon to spend a day or two relaxing before they head off on their adventure. Here’s our pick of places to really relax…
Ras Kutani– This ultra laid-back beach lodge is just a 20 minute light aircraft hop south of Dar es Salaam, so if your priority is to get your feet in the sand as quickly as possible it should be top of your list. There isn’t masses to do here except eat, sleep, snooze with your book and take a dip in the Indian Ocean. Ideal preparation for a safari in the Ruaha or Selous Game Reserve.
Wildwaters– most people come to this luxury lodge beside the Nile for the excellent white water rafting that Jinja has to offer, however, the truth is that this tiny private island seems much better suited to doing nothing at all. The bathtubs out on the deck of your room are seriously romantic, and a dip in the pool just inches from the rapids would certainly be a great start to making life-long memories together. Follow this on with more magic with gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park.
Tongabezi– this charming, rustic lodge on the banks of the Zambezi is one of our dream spots to start a safari honeymoon. It just seems made for the sort of magic you don’t find elsewhere- lunar moonbows over Victoria Falls, swimming in the Devil’s Pool, and gentle early evening cruises to watch the sun set. From here, it’s an easy hop on to safari in the South Luangwa National Park.
Giraffe Manor– OK- so this one technically does involve a little wildlife- aside from the giraffes that you’ll meet at breakfast there are also a few friendly warthogs scampering around the lawns. However, with a couple of nights here you can truly relax before the early starts and long drives of a safari in the Masai Mara.
The Winelands– South Africa’s Cape Winelands are a truly blissful spot to spend a few days, whether it’s snuggling up beside the fire on a chilly winter’s day or riding through the vineyards on a hot sunny afternoon. Staying in central Franschhoek is the place to be for buzzing restaurants and the (occasionally raucous) wine tram, but if your wedding was party enough, there are some peaceful boutique hotels tucked away in the vineyards. Afterwards use the direct flights from nearby Cape Town to get up to safari in the Okavango Deltaor Kruger National Park.
From the outset, we were looking for a company with that personal touch to help us to organise our honeymoon. We wanted someone we could trust and we certainly found it with Alex and Extraordinary Africa. The booking process was extremely straightforward, after discussing the official things like country, budget and dates Alex helped to develop a better understanding of our requirements and preferences before providing us with suggestions. The documentation that she sent through to us was more than you’d get from a normal company, it came with personal tips and advice about the best rooms, or best seats on the plane something I’ve not had before and a wonderful touch that reassured us that Alex really did know the place personally. Once we had decided on the location and hotel Alex took care of the rest with her in country contacts which made the trip itself very straightforward.
A week or two before the leave date we had our seats confirmed and a handy travel size pack was delivered to our door, we found this extremely useful as it had all our holiday details in one place as well as country details and emergency contacts. From the airport everything had been organised to ensure a smooth trip for us, the airline knew it was our honeymoon (I assume Alex had told them) and offered us extra legroom seats as we checked in. When we landed in Mauritius our name was on the board and our driver waiting. It’s worth noting that I have tried to organise in country transfers in a similar fashion on a number of trips abroad myself and something has always gone wrong, not with Alex’s in country partners though. We had a smooth, swift transport to the hotel and when we arrived at 20 Degrees Sud we couldn’t wait to walk to the paradise beyond the huge wooden gate. Our bags taken and we were seen inside, offered a complimentary welcome cocktail and their guest relations manager met us to show us around and to our room. What a place, Alex was right, beautiful, right on the beach but with the added extra of being a small boutique hotel with the personal service that comes with being so.
Alex had advised us on the ‘charm’ room, and it was lovely, the bed decorated with petals, a welcome basket of fresh fruit and two gifts on the bed, a lovely touch to a beautiful room. With its own patio area, a deep bath, shower room as well as an additional outdoor shower it was right next to the pool, which ensured we always got the best sun beds.
The hotel staff were very attentive without being intrusive, it was lovely to be at a hotel that just said ‘yes’ to sorting any issue we had. Our own travel adapter broke on the first day, within minutes a new one was delivered to our room. We wanted to hire a car for a couple of days sightseeing, it was delivered the next day with no fuss or issues. The food every night was excellent, we were on half board, but never found we needed lunch as breakfast was more than enough and besides at 4pm they had tea and cakes that changed daily. A couple of nights they had live music during dinner and on the Sunday offered a change to the usual waitered service with a ‘Traditional Mauritian Dinner’, although initially concerned as we aren’t that keen on shellfish it ended up being our best meal. Fresh breads, vegetable and chicken currys, dahl-type dips, stir fry, and plenty of it, my Husband had three helpings!
So when it came to leave the hotel and island it was with a heavy heart, but again the organisation of Extraordinary Africa helped smooth the process, we got a message two days before we were due to leave to confirm our pick up time. They arrived prompt (although we almost wished they would have forgotten so we would have to have stayed!) and we were delivered to the terminal building and our bags taken inside for us.
From start to finish Alex was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. We would certainly recommend the personal service provided by Extraordinary Africa, and indeed already have. From initial discussion through to booking and even while away we were reassured to know that Alex was there if we needed her. I didn’t think that a bespoke style holiday would be something we could afford, but with Extraordinary Africa we certainly could without the need to skimp on detail or quality. Thank you Alex!
A lovely email from Faye and Alan, who’ve just got back from a beach honeymoon in Zanzibar, where it was (allegedly) the short rainy season! Lovely reading on a chilly morning at Extraordinary Africa HQ- thanks guys!
It certainly does feel like another world over there now we’re back! We had just the best time – really interesting place and so beautiful. We found everyone really friendly and lovely too.
Stone Town was great and a real eye opener. We had a good look around by ourselves and a big night out actually on our first night! Emerson Spice was wonderful – what a location! Thank you for the recommendation, it was the perfect start. We then want onto the bar on the seafront and had a lot of drinks with the owner of the bar, very random! Serena was amazing and so nice to arrive at after a long journey.
Shooting Starwonderful, the pool incredible and we really enjoyed the beach here. Had it to ourselves and swam in the sea for hours each day, which we loved. Only 5 cottages were in use, which was good as it meant there was plenty of space around the pool etc.
Anna was just incredible. Our favourite place… So attentive but relaxed at the same time. And the management were great too, really helpful. Nikki said to say hi!
We went to a spice farm from Shooting Starand added in a stop at Jozani on our transfer to Anna, which worked well. The monkeys were amazing! Then we did a morning of snorkeling at Anna.Apart from the first couple of days the weather was perfect and so hot. We loved every minute and didn’t want to leave at all.
So nice to remember it all again!! Thank you for everything, definitely somewhere we’d like to go back to and would recommend to others. Maybe with a safari first next time!
Picking a honeymoon should be a fun part of the wedmin. Up there with the food tasting and working out which of your single friends you’re going to set up with each other. However, I often have people call me agonising over how they’re going to choose the perfect honeymoon, so I’ve put together a guide to make life a little easier:
First and foremost- relax- it doesn’t have to be “perfect” (whatever that is)- your honeymoonwill be great, wherever you go. Even if you end up in a tent on Dartmoor (nothing wrong with that- one of my favourite holidays was spent there). It’s easy to get caught up in making a honeymoon perfect, but the reality is you’ll have a great time because you’re together, whether it involves gold taps and butlers or a simple picnic under the stars.
Try to incorporate both of your interests. This might sound obvious, but I once took a call along the lines of: “My fiancée wants to go on honeymoon to Italy. Anywhere except Africa in fact. But I want to go to on safari so I’m booking it anyway.” And then a few moments later he added “By the way, this is my second marriage, so it’s really important this one goes well.” Fortunately the unwitting bride loved the honeymoon in Tanzania we planned, but trying to make sure you’re both getting a little of what you enjoy is usually the best way to ensure you both have a fabulous time.
Be realistic about your budget. There’s a huge pressure to push yourselves and your budget to make your honeymoon impossibly special. However, the reality is that weddings can be expensive, and there is nothing more likely to ruin the romance of a honeymoon than squabbling because you spent so much money on your hotel you can’t afford a second gin and tonic. If you’re really set on going all out, and the budget won’t quite reach, consider a honeymoon gift service instead of a conventional wedding list.
Make time to take it easy at least somewhere during your honeymoon. Even the most adrenaline-fuelled couples can be exhausted by a wedding, and a long-haul international flight can never be described as relaxing. Safari and beach honeymoons work especially well for this- a combination of once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a chance to properly unwind before you return to reality.
Be flexible. If you have a dream honeymoon in mind, and you can’t make it work right after your wedding-don’t worry. I work with plenty of people who can’t get enough time off work, or their dream destination is underwater. Taking a “mini-moon” somewhere close to home and travelling long haul at a time that works better for you can be a great solution.
Let’s face it – we’ve all sat through a thousand boring ‘and then, suddenly, he was down on one knee!’ stories. A 2014 Valentine’s proposal demands something a little more interesting. Paris is passé, and New York is just a tiny bit naff - with direct flights, just an hour’s time difference (two in the winter), Cape Town has world-class food and wine, Valentine’s Day sunshine, and a certain understated cool that makes your moment all yours.
If you’re waiting for the right time to propose, a long weekend in Cape Town will leave you spoiled for choice. Take a helicopter flight over the city or spirit your beloved away on a speedboat ride in the bay. Whisk her (or him) up to the Winelands for a gentle horseback trot through the vineyards and a glass of award-winning local fizz. Cycle through the Mother City by night, or hike up Table Mountain and then, when the timing’s just right…
And – assuming the answer’s “Yes”- celebrate with canapés and sundowners on the Waterfront, a picnic amongst the penguins at Cape Point or dinner in the private art gallery at Ellerman House. So much more interesting than a glass of champagne at the Eiffel Tower – and, once you’re factoring in African prices, not that much more expensive. Who could fail to fall in love with that?
Every time we go back to Africa, we get swept up in the romance of going on safari. There’s just something so impossibly lovely about being out in the wilderness- magnificent animals, incredible starscapes, and sunsets to die for. Safari is a perfect adventure to start your lives together, and having been on a fair few, we’ve picked a handful of our favourite safari honeymoon spots.