Wild Retreats

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Ellerman House in South Africa.
Ellerman House in South Africa.


on the town: south africa 
Without doubt, Cape Town’s got it all—soaring Table Mountain, golden beaches, gourmet restaurants, historic monuments, fine shopping, and whales offshore and vineyards onshore. And tops in town and around the urban fringes are incredible lodgings in unique places. Take for example the Ellerman House. Once the luxurious home of Sir John Ellerman, the property is a pristine example of Cape Edwardian architecture, blended with understated elegance and modern luxury, and showcasing the city’s most panoramic ocean views. The mansion also houses one of South Africa’s most impressive private art collections, enjoys an award-winning wine list, and surrounds itself with well-manicured gardens. Honeymooners can choose between two superior suites custom-designed for newlyweds, or go for one of the luxury double suites, all with stunning sea views. Ellerman House offers a 4-night honeymoon package that includes a welcome Champagne with a honeymoon turndown the first evening; a 60-minute couple’s massage; sunset canapes with a glass of sparkling wine, followed by a 3-course dinner with wine pairing; daily breakfast; and airport and town transfers. Romantics may want to book a 9-night Wine and Whales package ($4,554 pp): Four nights in Cape Town at Ellerman House, two nights at the Delaire Graff Estate in wine country, and three nights at the Grootbos Forest Lodge along the whale route. ellerman.co.za

on an island: zambia
Located on a private island in the Zambezi River, the Sindabezi Island Camp is an idyllic, remote, rustic and exclusive eco-lodge that sleeps 10 people in four large, open-fronted, thatched chalets and a honeymoon chalet (furnished with teak beds, fine bedding and an old fashioned claw-footed bath perfect for two) that dot along the shore among the trees. The majestic river flows directly past, giving life to hippos, crocodiles, elephants and an array of birdlife. There’s dining and wildlife watching on one deck, star gazing on another, and special attractions include visiting “the smoke that thunders” at Victoria Falls, spotting big game on a 4×4 game drive, rafting on the mighty Zambezi, visiting a local village, and taking a sunset cruise. With such extras as all the South African sparkling wine you can drink, the all-inclusive per night cost pp is $498. tongabezi.com

on the beach: mozambique
Mozambique is the new and magical kid on the block for honeymooners to get acquainted with, the perfect add-on for pre- or post-beach getaways. Twenty miles offshore, its stunning islands of the Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelagos are truly ultimate romance-filled destinations, places to find dreamy, top-tier, private island retreats with secluded honeymoon suites just steps from turquoise waters, powdery white-sand beaches and colorful coral reefs. The islands invite languid relaxation and water adventures—windsurfing, scuba diving, fishing, sailing and even airborne safaris. Moments are indeed magical at Azura Benguerra, whose 17 uber-luxe—but sincerely eco-friendly—beachfront villas right on the Indian Ocean come with day beds on the deck and private plunge pools, as well as butlers catering to candlelit dinners under the stars. Here, special treats include sparkling wine on arrival, a complimentary spa treatment, a sunset dhow cruise and a safari in a Land Rover to the interior of the islands. Call for rates. azura-retreats.com

honeymooning “wildland” style
Jeff Stivers, program director, Africa, for Wildland Adventures, states the perfect case for a romance vacation in Africa: “For doing something wild and wonderful you’ve never done before, and experiencing it together, it’s hard to top a first or second honeymoon, or even a wedding anniversary in Africa.”

“Unparalleled,” says Stivers, “is the combination of the beauty and excitement of a wilderness safari mixed easily and authentically with an amazing level of comfort, care and personal service.” And he reminds us of many of the characteristics of romantic and adventurous honeymoon vacations that are hallmarks of African travel—secluded bungalows and luxury tented camps; secluded candlelit dinners in spectacular settings with plains game grazing nearby; unforgettable adventures together such as hot air ballooning, kayaking, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or scuba diving in the Indian Ocean; private safari arrangements for big game tracking by 4×4 and on foot; night drives beneath amazing star-filled skies; and a night in a hide or tree house under the blanket of a million stars. Stivers notes that “our company’s guiding principle is customized honeymoon adventure, personalized to fit the client’s budget and travel style.” But among all the programs under his African umbrella, Stivers has a hotspot honeymoon destination to recommend, the 11-day Malawi: Ultimate African Adventure ($7,475 pp). It’s a mix of feeling the pulse of untamed, wild Africa while standing in the spray of Victoria Falls; and walking in the wildlife wonderland of South Luangwa National Park of the Zambia outback; and kayaking and snorkeling in Lake Malawi’s clear blue waters that run 365 miles north to south through Lake Malawi National Park. wildland.com