Because English Wedding blog focuses on weddings close to home, there isn’t much opportunity to venture to exotic locations or to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at fabulous destinations. However… as it’s so cold outside, and we’re all wrapped up in scarves and thermals this month, I thought it was time to talk honeymoons! This is a guest blog post – I hope you enjoy it.
For many couples postulating and pondering over where to go on their honeymoon can be a tricky task and more often than not the last thing on their minds is the perceived rough and tumble of an African safari. Indeed usually those first envisaged flashes of inspiration are embodied by three simple elements; a wide swathe of powder white sand, the warmth of an unbroken sun-filled sky and the gentle lapping waters of a gin-clear tropical ocean. Quite the picture postcard; and who am I to argue that this Robinson Crusoe-esque idyll isn’t the perfect way to celebrate a loving new union?
A growing number of newlyweds are however beginning to move away from this kind of archetypical encounter and are looking to explore a range of more unique and more adventurous honeymoon ideas. One of the most popular of these new experiences is that of the African safari and a leading proponent of this honeymoon revolution is specialist African tour operator, Mahlatini. Meaning ‘lover of Africa’ in Swahili, Mahlatini offer an eclectic range of African tours and safari holidays across the subcontinent, from Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda to hot air ballooning across the deserts of Namibia.
Southern Africa remains one of the most culturally and geographically diverse regions on the planet. A place of startling contrasts where the looming grandeur of Table Mountain is juxtaposed against the bustling streets and fashionable restaurants of Cape Town; where the ancient and the modern coalesce and where nature and culture intermingle to produce a truly unforgettable cocktail of sights, sounds and smells.
From the wide open plains of Tanzania and Kenya to the central plateaus of Botswana and Zambia; the lush forests of Uganda to the still waters of Lake Malawi there is something here to suit every taste and temperament.
We often think of a honeymoon as the most memorable holiday of our lives, an escape from the realities of the every day and a way to not only galvanise the new bonds of marriage but also to leave behind the stresses of wedding planners, venues, seating arrangements and the many other rigours that contribute to the big day. An African safari honeymoon certainly promises an experience quite unlike any other; the beauty and the drama of the vast and changeable landscape; the warmth and hospitality of the local people and the opportunity to see some of the planet’s most iconic wildlife free and unfettered in their natural environment.
Safaris for some may conjure images of rickety tents, unyieldingly rigid camp beds and less than inspiring cuisine. Such is the evolution of the African tourism industry though that today some of the most lauded and exclusive accommodation in the world can be found nestled amongst the savannahs and forests across this region, culminating this year with Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World Best Hotels list which in the top five featured properties all situated in Southern Africa.
Neither however, does that mean that a safari honeymoon has to break the bank and in fact destinations such as South Africa have never been so affordable. Following the crowds and higher prices drawn by last year’s Football World Cup, 2011 and the years proceeding promise stable and relatively low prices (which especially in the wake of Europe’s single currency conundrum) means that you can still get more for your pound.
But what if you don’t subscribe to the concept of a safari and you would much rather just relax and appreciate the peace and recuperative powers of a honeymoon? Of course not every tour in Southern Africa has to involve wildlife and Mahlatini offers a range of tailored packages from wine tasting in the valleys of South Africa to cruising around the rugged Cape coastline or embracing the sheer scale of the vast Victoria Falls. But if after all that you are still left yearning for the escape of a coastal retreat fear not as Mahlatini are also a leading operator to the Indian Ocean Islands. So whether you want to unwind uninterrupted on a remote beach in the Seychelles, Mauritius, the Maldives or Zanzibar or even combine a safari with an island stay to produce the ultimate twin centre honeymoon, the choice is entirely yours.