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5 top tips for your honeymoon safari

African safari and Indian Ocean beach is a classic combination for a luxury honeymoon. In many cases neither bride nor groom has been to Africa before, but even when one of them has, there’s plenty of choice of small, remote safari camps with great wildlife and romantic beachfront hotels to ensure you’re both going somewhere new. The weather in the northern hemisphere is generally better for a summer wedding and the months from June to October mean good weather for a honeymoon to Africa too. To make sure your honeymoon safari is unforgettable for all the right reasons, I’ve jotted down my top 5 tips:

1. Reverse the safari/beach order

Typically an African honeymoon is planned with safari first and then a chance to relax on an Indian Ocean beach afterwards. I suggest you plan it the other way round.

Honeymoon Couple Beach Mnemba Island

However hard your best man and maid of honour work, no matter how cool your family and friends are, and whatever size of wedding you have, the chances are you’ll be tired by the time the service and celebrations are over. Add to this the stresses of big airports, and the lack of sleep on an overnight flight, and you’ll be sure to arrive in Africa looking forward to a couple of lazy mornings before you get an early morning wake up call for your first game drive of the holiday. A stay on the beach at the start, or at least a couple of nights somewhere like Victoria Falls, will mean you’re wide awake to enjoy the sight of a pride of lions hunting in the first light of dawn.

Honeymoon Couple Victoria Falls Tongabezi

2. Follow your friends’ advice

This applies whether your honeymoon is a safari or not: put the recommendations of those who you know above Google searches or tips on Tripadvisor. You don’t have to do exactly what they’ve done, but if your friends found a great tour operator to plan their honeymoon, use the same one. At least give them a chance, look through their brochure or give them a call – ask some pertinent questions with regards to what you’d like to do on honeymoon and tell how much you want to spend. If they seem knowledgeable, keen to help, and come up with a few good initial suggestions, you’re one step closer to the perfect holiday.

3. Do things you enjoy

If magazines are to be believed, every bride’s dress is a big white meringue, all wedding receptions are held in rooms decked out in pink bows, and your safari honeymoon ought to be based around a stripy minibus with a group of people you don’t know, followed by a huge hotel on the beach with other big hotels either side of you.

Ol Donyo Lodge Cycling

However, one size does not fit all, and if this isn’t your idea of a fun honeymoon, book something that is. If you enjoy mountain biking or hiking, ask a specialist tour operator if you can fit mountain biking or hiking into your safari; likewise if you’re a keen diver or kite-surfer make sure your beach property has a PADI centre or a decent breeze and a kite-surfing centre. Even better if the consultant you use is keen on these things themselves, or at least knows the right people in Africa to ask.

Rocktail Beach Camp - Honeymoon Couple Diving

4. Get married in September

The safari areas of Africa have fantastic weather somewhere throughout the year. Having said that, if you want the best weather or wildlife, or have a budget to hit, certain months are arguably better that others. Take the following advice with a pinch of salt as I’m exaggerating slightly to make a point, but it’s broadly speaking true. You may well want to get married and go on safari in June, but it’s not a great time for a beach holiday in Africa or the Indian Ocean. Don’t forget that the seasons are reversed and this is mid-winter in the safari areas of Africa, so air and sea temperatures are cool and there are likely to be more cloudy days on the beach than you’d generally wish for.

Honeymoon Couple on Beach North Island

In July and August the wildlife viewing improves and the temperatures rise, but you cross over with the school holidays pushing up prices of flights and hotels. Your honeymoon budget goes further if you avoid these months. And so to September; temperatures are higher on the beach and the weather is more stable on the coast, the grass has died back in the bush and wildlife viewing is superb, there’s whales just off the South African coast at Hermanus, and the wildebeest are likely to be crossing the Mara and Talek rivers. There’s often an Indian summer in the northern hemisphere for a wedding in September and it’s the perfect time for your safari honeymoon too.

Wildebeest Migration Mara Plains

5. Take your mates

Yes it’s not yet the norm, but perhaps have a few days together on your own at the start of your honeymoon and then invite your friends to share some private houses.

Luangwa Safari House - Ideal For Small Groups

They’re your friends because they’re people you like spending your time with at home, and you might even have been on holiday together in the past. Just because it’s your honeymoon doesn’t mean they can’t come to Africa with you. What could be more fun and exclusive than filling a villa on the beach or a private house on safari and enjoying meals, drives and pool time with just your friends?

Whatever you end up doing, wherever and whenever you go, Africa is great and safaris are very special, I hope you have the time of your lives.

Richard Smith is Operations Director at Aardvark Safaris.

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  1. Dear Richard: Great points all. Two more points to make: 1. It’s a long flight to get to Africa from other points in the world, and I think two weeks is a minimum — 3 weeks even better 2. Add the luxury Blue Train for an extra spark of excitement and romance at either the front or back-end of the trip Cape Town to Pretoria or vv. It is one of our World’s Top 25 Trains. Eleanor Flagler Hardy, President, The Society of International Railway Travelers

  2. Take your mates is controversial, but if you are getting married abroad it has to be done! We did italy on the cheap with only 20 close friends and family and it was fab :)

  3. I think the idea of a Safari Honeymoon is great although I would suggest that for sake of romance the holiday split should be 60% romantic honeymoon and 40% safari.

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