- Addo Elephant National Park,
- Africa + Middle East,
- Cape Town,
- Kwandwe Private Game Reserve,
- Mount Kilimanjaro National Park,
- Sabi Sand Game Reserve,
- Serengeti National Park,
- South Africa,
My fiance and I are getting married September 24th, and would love to create a trip for our honeymoon where we could have an amazing adventure and see some crazy wildlife, but also have the opportunity to learn about the culture, sit on the beaches and taste the wine while soaking in the scenery.
Lion Sands, South Africa
Tel: 27 13 735 5000
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Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Tel: 888 882 3742 (toll-free), Tel: 27 46 603 3400
Opened in October 2001 in the Great Fish River Valley, at the heart of the Eastern Cape, this game reserve hosts more than 7,000 animals. The buffalo, lions, cheetahs, rhinos (white and black), giraffes, wild dogs, and elephants were introduced to their new home in a massive translocation exercise that cost upward of $10 million. More diverse than Gorah, the landscape here includes dense thicket and open, river-crossed savannah. Accommodation choices at the reserve include two Relais & Châteaux safari lodges and Melton Manor, run by luxury safari outfitters &Beyond; day and night wildlife viewing trips are offered.
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Knysna, South Africa
Knysna, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 382 5510
Before continuing to Plettenberg Bay, the N2 motorway briefly metamorphoses into Knysna's Main Street. The village was once known as a sleepy-hollow hippie hideout, but a steady stream of tourists has made it a mini-destination of its own. Fortunately, the old town itself—with its wide, tree-lined streets and Victorian houses—has been preserved.
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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, South Africa
Newlands, South Africa
Tel: 27 21 799 8783
Located a ten-minute drive from central Cape Town, this modern Eden is devoted to indigenous plants, and you'll find about 5,000 of South Africa's botanical species here. There is also a fragrance garden, and a medicinal garden featuring plants used by Khoisan healers. The lawns, streams, and winding paths are a magnet for children, so if you're after some peace and quiet, then avoid the lower slopes, which are inhabited by stroller-pushing mothers, and head for the wilder upper slopes, with their great view over the city. The gardens are at their peak when covered in spring flowers in September and October. There have been some muggings, so don't walk alone in the park's deserted areas. Two hiking routes also begin in the gardens: Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine. It takes up to three hours to get to the top of Table Mountain along these routes, and the hike is strenuous, so consider going with a guide (bookings can be made through the Cape Town Tourism office, 27-21-762-0687).
Open daily 8 am to 7 pm.
See + Do
Gorah Elephant Camp, South Africa
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
Tel: 27 44 532 7818
Gorah Elephant Camp occupies more than 12,000 acres of private preserve within state-owned Addo Elephant National Park, between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. It was opened in 2000 by Ian Hunter of Hunter Hotels, who also owns Hunter's Country House and Tsala Treetop Lodge outside Plettenberg Bay. The camp's luxury tents are a fabulous place to stay while watching the wildlife. Addo itself was created in 1931 on approximately 5,000 acres to save the last 11 elephants in the Eastern Cape and now has an elephant population in excess of 450 that ranges over 400,000 acres.
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Denizens of Cape Town are spoiled with so many beach option. The water, though, can make or break an outing, as the Atlantic-side beaches are freezing, while the water on the Indian Ocean side is often quite warm. However, the Atlantic seaboard beaches are more image-conscious (read: social types wearing the latest fashion bikinis), whereas the Indian Ocean beaches are more welcoming to diverse visitors. Keep in mind that the Indian Ocean side loses the sun as early as 3:30 in the winter, as it drops behind the mountains, while the Atlantic seaboard beaches have incredible sunsets—best seen from Camps Bay beach. Sand is usually clean and white. A few words of caution regarding the water: Because there is an undertow, it's important to swim where a lifeguard can see you. Shark watchers scan the waves on the Muizenberg side of the peninsula (scene of most recent shark attacks) for great white sharks, and you'll do well to watch for their flags—a black flag with a picture of a shark on it means get out of the water immediately.
A more sedate option is a visit to Boulders Beach, in Simonstown. One of Cape Town's best beaches, it has secluded swimming coves but is now overrun with Jackass penguins that nest on the shoreline. They are charming, but also smell a bit strong. The palm-lined beach at Camps Bay is easy to get to and close to bars and restaurants, whereas Clifton's four beaches and Llandudno each take a bit of a walk. Bloubergstrand is the beach with the most famous postcard view of Table Mountain—but it's windy.
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Adventure Sports on the Garden Route
Stormsriver Village, next to Tsitsikamma National Park, is the epicenter for adrenaline sports. Land Rovers line up outside small B&Bs catering to backpackers, and adventure companies offer zip-lining and river tubing. Stormsriver Adventures offers a Tsitsikamma Canopy tour consisting of ten zip lines (called "slides" here) that take you between ten platforms 100 feet up in the indigenous forest. Half an hour away on the N2, an unmissable sign exhorts you to "Face Your Fear" by taking what's said to be the highest bungee jump in the world, courtesy of Face Adrenalin. Anyone not wanting to weigh in for the 700-foot free fall off the Bloukrans River Bridge can try the Flying Fox, a 600-foot cable zip line onto the arch underneath, or a bridge walking tour.
Mnemba Island Lodge, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Tel: 888 882 3742
A favorite haunt of stars and supermodels, this private island is astronomically expensiveand one of the most romantic places on earth. The resort offers just ten secluded beachside bandas, or cottages, roofed with hand-woven palm matting. Each features a spacious veranda, a huge bed with intricate Zanzibar-style carved wood, and a covered walkway leading to a separate bathroom. Guests feast on fresh fruit, fish, and lobsters. By day, they can laze on the beach, get a massage, or explore the reef around the island, which teems with 600 species of fish, ghost crabs, and green turtles. The price includes all meals, drinks, scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking.
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Pemba, Pemba Island
A short flight from Unguja—the island commonly referred to as "Zanzibar"—will bring you to this tropical gem, a lush, hilly emerald isle where time moves at a snail's pace. Pemba has seen a mere fraction of the development of Unguja; just a single luxe hideaway, Fundu Lagoon, sits along a cozy crescent of beach on the island's eastern side. Drive along the main (and only) north–south artery, and you'll pass villages all but untouched by the modern world, where farmers lay out the latest harvest of cloves and black pepper to dry in the sun. The island is ringed by a dramatically plunging sea wall that offers some of East Africa's top diving. Because of the time it takes to cover the distance in a dive boat, few people make the trip from Unguja, and you'll probably have most of the sites to yourself. Fundu Lagoon organizes everything from dive trips to spice tours to village visits for its guests, though all come at an additional price.
If you're exploring on your own, you'll find facilities on Pemba basic, with just a handful of tourist-friendly hotels and a range of restaurants best described as modest. Ferries from Unguja arrive (erratically) throughout the week; a better bet is one of the daily direct flights (around $70 with Coastal Aviation; www.coastal.cc) from Stone Town to Karume Airport, a short taxi ride from Chake Chake, the island's largest town. From there you can arrange to rent a car or motorbike to get around the island—a better option than the unreliable dalla-dallas that ply the main roads. The Old Mission Lodge is a good place to start for local info on transportation and island tours, and it also offers excellent dive packages (255-24-245-2786; www.swahilidivers.com).
Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp, Tanzania
Tel: 255 28 262 1518
Kilindi, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Tel: 255 24 223 1954
Located on the quiet northern coast of Zanzibar, Kilindi is a tranquil place to round out your time in Tanzania after the excitement of a safari or a Kilimanjaro climb. Antique Zanzibari doors lead to 15 private pavilions, which include a bedroom with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, a lounge, a dining area, a sundeck, an open-air bathroom, and two plunge pools. The white domes of the pavilions add a touch of whimsy to the landscape, deflect the sun, and collect rain for watering the 52-acre grounds. Much of the produce that chef Richie Tewnion (formerly of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen) pairs with local seafood is grown organically at the hotel; other plantings are designed to attract tropical birds and colorful butterflies. Keep in mind that Kilindi is an hour and a half outside Stone Town—if you're hoping to explore the city's restaurants and markets, book a hotel that's closer to town, such as the Zanzibar Serena Inn. Collen Clark
See + Do
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro may be Africa's highest peak—and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world—but what's captured the imagination of generations of adventurous travelers is its topographical drama. Kilimanjaro rises in near isolation from the flat equatorial scrublands; an ascent takes you from subsistence farmland through lush tropical rain forest, open moors, alpine desert, and finally to the snowcapped (for now) peak.
Kilimanjaro is one of the world's most accessible mountains to summit, requiring no ropes or technical climbing experience. But it's a serious physical undertaking. You can climb Kilimanjaro in as little as five days, although swift ascents make altitude sickness much more likely. A six- to eight-day route allows your body time to become acclimated, but nearly every hiker experiences headaches, shortness of breath, and hypothermia. It is crucial to book with a reputable guide (such as Zara Tours, Alpine Ascents, or Abercrombie & Kent), undergo the necessary training (hit the gym at least four times a week and take outdoor hikes for at least three months leading up to your climb), and choose your route wisely. Marangu is the easiest and has huts for overnight accommodations. Machame, the most scenic, is steeper and requires sleeping in tents. Umbwe, the most challenging and direct route to the summit, is recommended only for very experienced climbers. The dry seasons, from late June through October and from late December through February, are generally the best periods to climb.Collen Clark
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Jozani Forest, Zanzibar, Tanzania
A leafy oasis about an hour's drive from Stone Town, Jozani is a good place to break up the monotony of long, lazy days on the beach. Hard-core hikers might be disappointed by the forest's diminutive size, but an amble along Jozani's nature trails makes for a pleasant stroll and can be covered in about an hour. The park is best known for its resident red colobus monkeys, a rare primate species that can be spotted scampering through the lush canopy; visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the best chance of sightings. Jozani is a popular day trip from Stone Town—it's frequently offered along with dolphin tours off the southern coast near Kizimkazi—and visits can be arranged through any hotel in town or travel agencies such as Zan Tours (Malawi Rd.; 255-24-223-3116; www.zantours.com).
See + Do
Chumbe Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Tel: 255 24 223 1040
A pristine, coral-ringed island off the south coast of Stone Town, Chumbe is the site of one of Zanzibar's most ambitious—and successful—conservation projects. The island and its surrounding reefs were designated as a marine sanctuary in 1994 to preserve an incredible variety of marine life, including more than 350 species of fish. The virgin coral-rag forest is busy with birds and other tiny critters; keep your eyes peeled for giant coconut crabs scuttling up the tree trunks. While mostly uninhabited, Chumbe holds some interesting ruins of past inhabitants—including a small mosque and still-functioning lighthouse, both dating from the early 1900s. You can stay on the island at Chumbe Island Coral Park, a luxe eco-lodge, or take a day trip from Stone Town through One Ocean Dive Center's snorkeling tours (255-24-223-8374; www.zanzibaroneocean.com).
See + Do
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is the Africa of postcards, and a must on a Tanzanian safari itinerary. Its 5,700 square miles of grassland, savanna, and forest are home to the Big Five (elephant, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and what is thought to be the country's largest lion population), as well as hyenas, jackals, and cheetahs. Large herds of giraffes graze amid gazelles, elands, impalas, warthogs, and klipspringers, and you'll also spot massive birds such as grizzled vultures and prickly secretary birds. There's nearly as much variety among the lodges in the region as there is among the wildlife: We recommend the Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp for its throwback colonial grandeur, or, for over-the-top opulence, Singita Grumeti, which sits on a reserve bordering Serengeti National Park.
The greatest concentration of wildlife can be found during the rainy season, from December to June. The greatest concentration of tourists can be found between June and August, due to the annual Great Migration, when more than 1.5 million brindled wildebeests and thousands of zebras head north through the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya. The famous crossing of the Grumeti River can occur anywhere from May to July; though the spectacle is one of nature's most memorable, it can be all but impossible to plan for it months in advance. You can also catch parts of the migration as the wildebeests head back through the Serengeti in late October through early December. Collen Clark
Tintswalo Atlantic, South Africa
Cape Town 7806, South Africa
Tel: 27 87 754 9300
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Constantia Wine Route
You don't need to go far to find vineyards around Cape Town—there are five in the Constantia valley, a 20-minute drive from the city center. Groot Constantia is the oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa, though the tastings here can be overwhelmed with busloads of tourists, so you might continue up the Main Road to Buitenverwachting. The restaurant is closed during the month of July, and the picnics are only available in summer (November to April), but the tasting room is open regardless, and free. Klein Constantia is literally up the road, and here you'll find the estate's award-winning nectar, Vin de Constance, a dessert wine popular in the courts of Europe for centuries. If you're short of time, head straight to Constantia Uitsig. The John Platter Wine Guide (an invaluable reference if you're interested in SA wines) always give its grapes high marks, and the three restaurants (including La Colombe) are some of the Cape's finest.