If you consider a honeymoon and the fact that it is one of the most indulgent, expensive holidays you may ever have. It will be over-loaded with high expectations and one of the most important decisions you can ever make as it is usually at the ‘let’s make a great impression’ stage of the relationship. It really puts the pressure on the question of “where do we book for our honeymoon, darling”?
If you research this question, you will come up with reams of paper calling you to lingering romantic sounding destinations such as; Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Bora Bora, Panama, Caribbean, Zanzibar, Cook Islands etc., the list is long. On that list, (if you stick at your research long enough), you will come across Cape Tow, South Africa. That in itself surprised us, but what was really shocking to us was the complete omission of South African Safari as a high on the list of honeymoon destinations. This intrigued us immensely because all you need to do is park yourself up at either Eastgate Airport, Hoedspruit, or the Hendrik Van Eck Airport, Phalaborwa (both South African Safari based airports) to watch the plane come in and see how many couples walk off, hand-in-hand, beaming smiles and with shiny new wedding rings of their fingers; a lot! We can say in all honesty that we rarely experience a safari interaction that does not have at least one honeymoon couple there. We would even go as far as to say ‘if you weren’t married when you first experienced your first safari, you will come back to your second as a married couple’.
Why is this so, well, there is an element of the romantic safari being one of the tourism industries best kept secret. We believe this is so in order to preserve that ultimate decadence of exclusivity, that exceptional dedicated service that makes you feel that you are the most important thing ever to that Lodge or that Game Ranger; as you are being taken around with due care and attention in making sure your experience is the best ever. We are talking of that unique personal greeting when you arrive of having something special, of one of your favourites likes. It may be having lavender scent on your face towel in your arrival pack (when your favourite scent is Lavender), or your favourite soft drink to quench your thirst in the heat of the African sun, or knowing to place you on the front of the vehicle (because we just happen to have taken the time and effort to find out that you get motion sickness if you sit at the back of the vehicle, especially on the back axel). It will be these kind of ‘special touches’ that come with the best of safari’s that gives you that second ‘falling in love’ feeling. It wasn’t enough that you fell in love with your partner, you will fall in love all over again with an African Safari, of that, we can guarantee!
As you disembark the airplane you have already shaken off the stresses and worries of your daily life and routines. As you take the drive from the airport to the Safari destination you will experience a deep and rich sigh. This is not a sigh of anxiety but one of that “aah, this is so beautiful’. In fact, prepare to be WOW’d, but in the most laid-back and natural way from things like; as you drive out of the airport “is that a Giraffe”? or, “oh my, what a stunning view”, as your eyes take in the breathtaking scenery. All this and you are still in transit. The next WOW is arrival at your luxury Lodge or Camp as you take in the splendour of the location, the accommodation and the hospitality. All of this, yet nothing will prepare you for your first experience of predatory game in their natural surrounds. Or, of the first sighting of a large lone bull Elephant as you are being driven through the Reserve. Whilst you may have grown up with images of Elephants, nothing will prepare you for the size of them, how quiet they walk through the Bush, how you can see nothing but trees and bush one minute then POW, an Elephant or a herd of Elephants is suddenly there ahead of you. Nothing will prepare you for that first sighting of Lion (the Kings of the Bush), or the athletic Cheetah, or the majestic Leopard.
When in love, you may be familiar with the whispers of sweet nothings in your ear from your lover. On Safari, you will experience the whispers of the Bush, as everything talks to you through the whispers of trees, of the birds as they busy themselves with their nest building or mating calls or hunting; of the Impala or Kudu or Waterbuck in rutting season, of the Cicada beetle in the summer season as their wings rub against each other or the frogs singing their mating calls.
Then you experience the pleasures of love through food. Exquisitely prepared cuisine enriched in flavours and so carefully prepared and decorated. South Africa has some of the best cuisine and the best wines in the world. Or the amazing sounds of African music and sight of African tribal dancing.
As our heading implies, there is ‘Love’ and ‘Loving’ when it comes to Safari in South Africa, it is one of the most romantic of destinations we can ever think of, in the world.
Maxine Smith – Executive Director – Nyumbani Estate