Throughout the whole month of October when I was in South Africa road tripping from the East to the West, I’ve stayed in various hotels, resorts and lodges, while experiencing activities iconic of the South African culture.
During this whole time, the experiences I had with my stays and activities that I partook in were so romantic in nature that there were more than one instance my travel buddy, Daniela, and I felt almost like we’re celebrating our own honeymoon.
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Imagine entering your hotel room with a bottle of champagne by your bedside. Two sinks in a bathroom. A bathtub overlooking the African wild.
In the afternoon, you go on an exciting safari game drive, which ends up in you spotting so many wild animals.
Following that, you have a spa booked for you, which ends off in a steaming hot bubble bathtub bath.
Come night, a candlelight dinner awaits.
I always thought that the Maldives would be my honeymoon destination, until I went there in January 2017 (not on a honeymoon) and I fulfilled my premature honeymoon dream. From that trip, I realised how visiting the Maldives can also be done easily on a budget. But I digress.
It was not until I was in the shoes of a visitor in South Africa, experiencing all that they had to offer – the service, the hospitality, the wilderness, the views – that I am truly sold for it being a prime honeymoon destination.
Hence this article which will convince you on why South Africa makes for the perfect honeymoon destination!
- South Africa as a honeymoon destination – Why you should book a honeymoon package in South Africa
- 1. Stay in luxury.
- 2. Luxurious spa treatments.
- 3. Wedding packages readily available.
- 4. Totally exclusive, 100% privacy.
- 5. Free-flow champagne, wines, beers.. you get it.
- 6. Indulge in wine country.
- 7. Go on horse-drawn carriage rides.
- 8. Breakfast in bed (with cherry on top)?
- 9. Romance in candlelight dinners.
- 10. Enjoy a picnic in the wilderness.
- 11. Road trip views.
- 12. Animal visits.
- 13. Delight in spotting wild animals on safari game drives.
- 14. Idyllic beaches.
- 15. Thrilling adventures for the thrill-seekers.
- 16. Sporting adventures for the active couple.
- 17. Take a sunset cruise.
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South Africa as a honeymoon destination – Why you should book a honeymoon package in South Africa
1. Stay in luxury.
Nothings puts the spotlight on romance in South Africa more than the luxury hotels here.
And we have to begin with the bathrooms, because out of all the hotel reviews I’ve done, the bathroom usually makes or breaks my experience.
When it comes to the bathrooms in the luxury lodges in South Africa, you can be sure you’ll never see anything quite like it (unless you’re in one of the overwater villas in the Maldives).
Large rooms, fluffy towels, comfortable linen, bed so soft you want to sink and never get out of, so many pillows (anyone else love being surrounded by pillows when they sleep?), quality toilet rolls (trust me, I’ve learned not to take this detail for granted after being in different types of accommodation around South Africa) and turndown service (what this means is that the service staff would come in when you’re out for dinner to open your sheets to welcome you to bed, roll down the window blinds and do a quick sweep of your room to make it look welcoming again when you return. Occasionally, they may include a chocolate or two on your bedside.).
Double sinks, fluffy bathrobes, a choice of indoor or outdoor shower… even the shower heads come in pairs!
Here’s the bonus: I know for a fact that some hotels have bathtubs but no bath salts. All of these above mentioned hotels provide the aromatic scents of bath salts that make you can’t say no to bathtub soaks!
2. Luxurious spa treatments.
Nothing like a pampering session with your loved ones especially since you’re already splurging on a fancy hotel stay aye?
We had the chance to experience spa sessions in some of the hotels we stayed – Brahman Hills and Thanda Safari. Most of these spa rooms have double beds, some even have side-by-side bathtubs for you to soak in after the rejuvenating spa session.
They use natural scented oils to inhale and to rub our bodies with, for a truly sensory experience.
If you want a little something extra like a pedicure or manicure, Brahman Hills offer it.
3. Wedding packages readily available.
If you’re thinking of holding your wedding ceremony or renewing your vows here, most of the hotels, resorts and lodges are well-equipped for it.
They offer a dedicated Wedding Planner, space for bridal preparation, out-of-the-world wedding venues and even world-class gourmet foods that I can imagine it being challenging to pick one location out of so many of them in South Africa.
At the risk of being biased, If I were to hold my wedding here, I know for a fact that Brahman Hills has got me covered.
With their 2 dedicated glasshouse chapels overlooking a lake or the gentle hills, a long table and hearths in their dining restaurant, full bridal hair and make-up service, a dedicated spa room which converts into a preparation room for the ladies and a cosy underground bar for everyone to celebrate, what more can any bride or groom ask for?
I know for a fact that there are many hotels and resorts offering amazing, romantic wedding packages too. Depending on your tastes and preferences – whether you like the outback, somewhere laidback by the lake, right in the bush, a beach wedding – the options are aplenty in South Africa.
4. Totally exclusive, 100% privacy.
For a country that is so wide and expansive, wherever you are, you can almost count on being alone with you and your companion. Some of the lodges I’ve stayed in were void of civilisation around our cottage/ tent/ lodge. All we were surrounded with were large expanse of fields or forests.
Set in the heart of the Blue Crane Reserve, our self-catering cottage in Brahman Hills was so secluded that driving is necessary just to get from the reception to our cottage.
Our bathroom had floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlooked the wilderness – that’s how little you have to worry about being seen naked!
At Thanda Safari, the property sits on 14,000 hectares of private land that we had to have a vehicle drive us to our spa location.
Staying in our colonial safari-style tent, we had our very own viewing deck and an en-suite bathroom which was surrounded by thick bushes, creating a sense of isolation and privacy between tents.
5. Free-flow champagne, wines, beers.. you get it.
If you book with luxury all-in-one lodges such as Thanda Safari, their package includes free-flow house wines, local spirits and beers in it.
More than once, we were gifted a champagne upon check in, which is a pleasant surprise and an instant mood-lifter. We felt very pampered, especially at the The Old Rectory in Plettenberg Bay and at Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa in Knysna.
TIP: If you’re celebrating an occasion, all you have to do when making your booking is to inform them about your occasion, and who knows, you may be in for a treat!
The folks at Thanda Safari very sweetly baked a homemade birthday cake and surprised me on my last dinner there. The cake was delicious and so massive we shared it with all the other guests on the property that night.
6. Indulge in wine country.
You can never go on a honeymoon without going on a wine-tasting experience, can we? Especially when you’re right in the heart of the Winelands. Yes, the Cape Winelands is an actual region, and a very known one at that!
It consists of three main towns – Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl. The closest town to Cape Town is Stellenbosch, which is a mere 40-minute drive away.
Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second-oldest European settlement after Cape Town, established in 1679. Popularly known as the wine town due to its rich viticulture scene, tourists flock here daily for the hundreds of world-class wine estates that fringe Stellenbosch town within a 15km radius.
The little university town, dotted with Victorian and Georgian buildings, is reminiscent of the colonial times that once stood here.
Franschhoek is another underrated town we almost missed if not for the recommendation of a local.
Translating to “French corner”, most of the town’s activity is congregated around the main street on Main Road. It is along the vicinity of the Main Road and towards the Franschhoek Pass that you’ll find vineyards, wineries and wine farms.
You’ll feel like you’re transported to France, with the manicured gardens, the terrace resorts and the undulating valleys interspersed with fields of symmetrical vineyards.
If you want to save the hassle on deciding which wine yards to choose from, you can hop on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, a hop-on-hop-off tram that goes around town and stops at selected vineyards.
Most estates offer food-and-wine pairings, so you can always decide to stop in one you fancy and settle in for a meal.
7. Go on horse-drawn carriage rides.
As if wine tasting on a vineyard isn’t enough, how about taking up a notch and sit on a horse-drawn carriage while you’re at it?
At Hog Hollow Horse Trails in Plettenberg Bay, they offer a 10-seater carriage drawn by 2 beautiful Percherons to take you to explore The Crags Winelands, along with artisan wines from Kay+Monty.
The trail passes through views of mountains, forest, farm land and old woodcutters trails, all while being surrounded by the imposing Tsitsikamma mountain range.
Kay+Monty in itself is another whole new attraction in itself. A wedding venue, tasting room and restaurant, this former old orchid greenhouse was thoughtfully converted into a modern-rustic venue, and now produce crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a delicious dry Chardonnay MCC.
Methode Cap Classique (MCC) is a type of sparkling wine that’s made uniquely in South Africa, according to the traditional Champagne method. I really loved the one I tried in Kay+Monty and grabbed a bottle home!
Even with less than 8 hectares under grape, this sprawling estate can serve up to 200 people in their restaurant, making it a very attractive venue to host a memorable event.
You’ll feel right at home with their large fireplace welcoming you as your entrance and wooden furniture that make up the space, not to mention the picturesque farm that serves as a perfect backdrop.
8. Breakfast in bed (with cherry on top)?
With views like the one we get at Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa overlooking the pool and the Knysna River, it’s hard to get out of the room!
As such, we ordered breakfast in – and I can bet this sure beats eating at the dining hall!
9. Romance in candlelight dinners.
You can be sure to expect candlelight dinners and bonfires wherever you stay.
More functional than for aesthetic purposes, being in the wild means getting used to darkness, though it’s hard to dispute how romantic this whole setting is especially when you’re with your partner enjoying dinner.
Some lodges even offer African boma-style dining settings. A traditional Boma is set up in a way that encloses guests to allow for full privacy while dining under the glittering African sky.
Rhino River Lodge let us experience exactly that! We had a boma dinner on our last night, dining in a private enclosed area by the beach with a bonfire beside our table. A kerosene lamp provided light to our table and the homely staff frequently came in to check in on us and the fire.
This is African outdoor dining at its best!
10. Enjoy a picnic in the wilderness.
Hotels such as Wildehondekloof can prepare picnic baskets for you to take with you wherever your heart fancies.
Whether it is a trail into the Klein Karoo mountain ridge or a viewpoint overlooking the Swartberg Pass, the desert conditions and cool temperature (only 15°C in October) make it a glorious day ANY day to be out!
11. Road trip views.
The drive in and around South Africa itself is a sight in itself. Whether you prefer the lush greens of the Garden Route or through the arid landscapes of the Klein Karoo near Oudtshoorn, the landscapes of South Africa is as ever-changing as you can imagine.
12. Animal visits.
You can wake up to the view of mountains and animals grazing ANY and EVERY morning.
I spotted impalas and nyalas in Wildehondekloof with a backdrop of the thick forests.
Ostriches greeted me from my full-length window when I stayed in a small town called Scarborough in Cape Town’s Cape Peninsula, just 30 minutes drive to Cape Point.
Zebras caught me unguarded as I was stark naked enjoying an outdoor jacuzzi in Brahman Hills.
Warthogs being elusive as ever – my favourite, for they are so cute – inching close to my lodge at Rhino River Lodge when they think I’m not looking.
13. Delight in spotting wild animals on safari game drives.
Fulfil your African safari dream right here on your honeymoon!
Most of the game drives we were on consisted of honeymoon or retired couples. We were always the only two that were travelling as friends.
That’s not to say that solo travellers or family travellers don’t go on game drives, because we did see a fair amount of them as well.
Aim to catch the Big 5 animals (but also keep your expectations low and let the animals you see surprise you) if you can, but otherwise, take in the rawness of South Africa’s game reserves and let the outback experience transport you into another universe where only the fittest survive.
What makes game drives romantic is how you can enjoy a hot cuppa in the middle of the wilderness as the sun rises in the horizon, or a bubbly as you embark on one of the sundowner drives.
Game drives, if you don’t know already, usually include a small tea break in between game viewing for you to stretch your legs and recharge so that your senses are on point to spot more animals in the second half!
14. Idyllic beaches.
If you’ll look at the map, you’ll realise that South Africa borders the South Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
From where we travelled from East to West in Richards Bay to Durban, all along the Garden Route from Plettenberg Bay to Mossel Bay, and even the perimeter of Cape Town, there is the ocean that surrounds it all.
Each of these towns offer their own marine specialty, whether it is shark cage diving, snorkelling, kayaking, penguin-watching or scenic drives.
I’ve had tear-dropping moments looking at the beaches in Cape Town’s Clifton and Camps Bay (especially from my hotel at Cape View Clifton!!).
At the East side of Cape Town, surprises await. Boulders Beach on Simon’s Town has cute resident penguins you’ll spend your whole time looking at.
Kalk Bay and Muizenberg offer surfers addictive surf breaks, and it is here you’ll see surfers year round in action.
Further South, Misty Cliffs and Scarborough offer some really secluded, untouched, local beach hangouts.
The cliffs and natural rock formations forming the West side of Cape Town as a result of the ocean action has turned it into some of the MOST scenic drives I’ve ever been on.
Seriously, I had to bite the urge to stop at every viewpoint! I was also very lucky to have witnessed a rainbow driving through Chapman’s Peak, a scenic drive I ABSOLUTELY recommend if you’re in Cape Town.
I could go on about Cape Town, but I’ll write a detailed post about Cape Town talking all about my favourite city.
15. Thrilling adventures for the thrill-seekers.
If you’re one for the thrills (I totally am), there’s no better excuse than to grab your partner and indulge in some raw adventures!
Make use of the opportunity of South Africa’s abundant wildlife and marine creatures by hopping on board a shark cage diving tour to see REAL Great White Sharks. I ticked off this bucket list at Mossel Bay, where I came nose-to-nose with Great Whites that were as large as 6 metres long! Watching them sear off the tuna head (which acted as bait) gave me a newfound respect for these jaws.
If crocodile is more your thing, Cape Town offers crocodile cage diving tours too.
I did Chapman’s Peak hike solo and was rewarded with a view of Hout Bay on the West and the surrounding towns on the East.
Knysna in particular is nice to kayak and bike because you can do them along the Knysna River where the water is calm and the view is therapeutic.
17. Take a sunset cruise.
At Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa, they offer sunset cruises on the Knysna River towards Knysna Heads.
Nothing sets the tone better than having canapés and wine on the boat while riding into the ocean, with the light around you turning softer and your significant other by your side to take it all in with you. Talk about being romantic!
I already feel in love just writing about all these romantic things to do in South Africa.
So go on, take a break from the city and immerse yourself in the wild. Disconnect from the world with your significant other. It is simply achingly romantic to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset, cuddling and gazing into the nothingness of South Africa’s nature.