There is something wildly romantic about the untamed, unfenced African bushveld. Perhaps it’s the quiet seclusion, or the excitement of your first game sighting. Perhaps it’s the feeling of being connected with the ancient rhythms of nature. The sun, an enormous glowing ball, rising and setting; animals migrating, hunting, or grazing; clouds gathering predictably before the afternoon showers. We’ve lined up the most romantic game reserve getaways to make your honeymoon unforgettable. Each of them has something really special to offer (including the Big Five, of course). This could be the beginning of your love affair with the African bushveld.
1. Bongani Mountain Lodge in the Mthethomusha Game Reserve
Where it is: About a 4.5 hour drive from Johannesburg on the south western border of the Kruger National Park.
What to expect: Mthethomusha is home to the greatest concentration of recorded rock art per square meter on earth. Take a rock art or cultural village tour, or go on an adventure game drive or a bush walk through the reserve and spot the Big Five. And what could be more romantic than sipping sundowners on your own private deck – the bushveld stretching out all around you.
2.Kapama River Lodge in the Kapama Private Game Reserve
Where it is: The lodge is positioned along a bend of the seasonal Kapama River in the greater Kruger National Park area.
What to expect: This private game lodge epitomises five-star safari accommodation. Sip cocktails in the pool and watch as the animals quench their thirst at a nearby watering hole, or book a relaxing spa treatment before dinner. The pan-African dishes are served with the freshest ingredients – many from the lodge garden – and the well-stocked cellar boasts over 600 South African wines and mcc’s, not to mention the French champagne (an essential honeymoon ingredient). The lodge also offers bush walks, game drives, elephant interactions, photographic safaris, and more.
Kapama really goes out of their way to bring the romance. From a romantic dinner for two set in the dry riverbed under the star studded African sky, to hot air balloon flights and a romantic sleep out in the bush with all the luxury of the lodge accommodation. Just imagine having your own elevated platform with an oversized bed protected by mosquito netting and encircled with lanterns; a luxury bathroom underneath; and the open African landscape around you.
3. Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park
Where it is: Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge is a concession in the Kruger National Park.
What to expect: The lodge is in one of Africa’s most renowned conservation areas and home to not only the Big Five, but hundreds of other bird, animal and plant species. Take a cooling dip in the pool as animals come down to the watering hole for a drink, or enjoy a relaxing massage before your next game drive. In the evenings, great wine and good conversation are sure to flow as you enjoy your three course meal under the stars. Did we mention they serve high tea with delectable home baked treats?
4. Long Lee Manor in the Shamwari Game Reserve
Where it is: About 75km from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
What to expect: This opulent Edwardian style manor is romantic in itself. It’s reminiscent of Old Africa with its manicured gardens, pools and verandas overlooking plains teeming with wildlife. The reserve offers birding, Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary, game drives, photo safaris, a wildlife rehabilitation centre, indoor and outdoor dining, swimming pools, a fitness centre, and more.
5. Londolozi at Sabi Sands
Where it is: Londolozi is in the Sabi Sand game reserve bordering the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.
What to expect: This lodge was the first game reserve in the world to receive Relais & Châteaux status, so you know you’re in for something special. Why not start your day with a couples yoga session on the yoga deck suspended high in the arms of a 500-year-old ebony tree in the company of nyala, bushbuck and monkeys? Indulge in a high tea before sundowner treats on the evening game drive and finally, a private dinner. Expect a lodge that’s big on conservation and ecotourism. From the way the lodge is designed, to the social upliftment programmes and the home grown organic produce, you know you’re part of something bigger.
6. Lion Sands at Sabi Sands
Where it is: Lion Sands is in the Kruger National Park, in Mpumalanga.
What to expect: Being so close to nature and looking out over the unfenced African bush and the Sabie River is a moving experience. Once you’ve forged your own connection with it, you’ll understand. The Lion Sands Treehouses are at the top of our list for romantic accommodation. You’ll arrive at sunset and share a delicious picnic dinner, and spend the hours of dusk fully appreciating the vastness of the bushveld as it transforms from day to night. Sleep under the Milky Way where you may run out of wishes before you run out of shooting stars. As honeymooners, you can expect a romantic ‘turn down’, a surprise gift, and a bottle of sparkling wine to make your stay even more special.
7. Cliff Top Exclusive Safari Hideaway in the Waterberg Mountains
Where it is: In the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve about 3.5 hours’ drive north of Johannesburg.
What to expect: You’re perched high on an ancient cliff overlooking the breathtaking Sterkstroom river gorge with spectacular sweeping views of the horizon. Take a dip in your private pool, lounge on the deck with a book, or enjoy a relaxing aromatherapy massage in the comfort of your room. After your evening game drive and sundowners you’ll be escorted to your private dining area, specially selected and decorated for you, by your personal butler.