Coming to Africa is a romantic experience in itself and the offerings for couples are sure to create unforgettable memories that will have them returning to the continent, reports Hilka Birns.

Africa – with its epic landscapes, iconic wildlife, ancient wonders and exciting cultures – provides the perfect place for a growing trend of intrepid couples looking for life-changing experiences while enjoying a romantic getaway or honeymoon.

“We have definitely noticed a trend toward more adventurous, purposeful honeymoons, with couples looking to share a life-changing journey with a difference,” says Caroline Palazzo, Wilderness Safaris Business Unit Manager for Africa. “Wilderness Safaris is able to offer the perfect blend of adventure and romance, with experiences such as hot air ballooning over the Busanga Plains in Zambia or the Sossusvlei dunes in Namibia, gliding silently along Botswana’s Okavango Delta channels in a mokoro (canoe), tracking Black rhino on foot in Namibia, or mountain gorillas in Rwanda,” she says.

African Hotels & Adventures (aha) Brand Manager Thabang Willie also reports “high demand for unique wildlife experiences, from romantic bush dinners under the stars, walking safaris and outdoor spa experiences, to the extreme opposite such as bungee jumping at Victoria Falls”.

Thompsons Africa Personal Collection Head, Janine Southwood, has noticed an increase in Botswana honeymoon requests. “I believe honeymooners see it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, exclusive and remote, with a touch of adventure.”

South Africa-based Forever Resorts has seen a growing trend in couples who prefer ‘glamping’ in luxury tents at exclusive sites while on a romantic road trip. “We have noticed an increase in couples who travel for the duration of their honeymoon or romantic getaway. They will travel to a destination and spend a night or two, before moving on to the next destination. Not only does this keep things exciting, getting to see and experience something new every day, but it also creates the opportunity for couples to escape the norm and have a memorable adventure,” says Spokesperson, Marlandi Kussman.

Recommended properties for the romantic getaway market include:

Wilderness Safaris:

Magashi Camp in Akagera, Rwanda, opened on May 1, offering a scenic and diverse version of an East African safari. Guests experience the open African savannah as well as riverine woodland, enjoy game-viewing by boat along the shores of Lake Rwanyakazinga, meander through dense papyrus swamps and thrill to sightings of lions and leopards.
Chikwenya Camp in Zimbabwe, which opened in October last year, is situated in a private concession next to the Mana Pools National Park. Guests enjoy a range of activities in this wildlife-rich area, including walking safaris with an expert guide, canoeing on the Zambezi River, or simply relaxing in the privacy of their tent with a deck overlooking the river.

African Hotels & Adventures:

Makalali River Lodge in Limpopo, South Africa, offers a bath butler service: guests returning from dinner find a variety of bath oils, salts and bubbles on offer for the ultimate bath relaxation experience. The lodge also has a private outdoor Sala, where couples can enjoy private massages or dinners.
Bongani Mountain Lodge in Mpumalanga, South Africa, treats couples to a surprise bush breakfast after a walking safari to see San drawings.
David Livingstone Safari Lodge in Zambia offers couples a sunset river cruise.

Forever Resorts:

Loskopdam in the Drakensberg, South Africa, offers a winter special in a newly renovated two-sleeper chalet or log cabin from May 1 to August 7.
Badplaas in Mpumalanga, South Africa, offers 20% discount on all self-catering and hotel accommodation between May 1 and August 31.

Northern Cape:

The Northern Cape’s Quiver Tree Route stretches from Upington through Kanoneiland, Keimoes and Kakamas to the Augrabies Falls National Park and Riemvasmaak. It allows adventurous honeymooners to explore the vineyards along the Orange River and sample their award-winning wine and potstill brandy. Other must-visits include the Augrabies Falls and the hot springs at Riemvasmaak. More information:
What can be more romantic than stargazing in the desert? The !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park, the ancestral home of the Khomani San and Mier communities, has been declared an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, recognising it as one of the world’s darkest places and best areas for viewing pristine night skies. Part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, this makes the park one of few International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world. It joins NamibRand, a Dark Sky Reserve, as the only other Dark-Sky Association accredited Dark Sky Place in Africa. More information:
Khamkirri, on the banks of the Orange River near Kakamas and the Augrabies National Park, has a wedding venue and offers two three-night romantic breakaway packages, including either a sunset river cruise or a nature paddle and sundowner drive.
The four-star African Vineyard guesthouse in Upington has special packages for date nights and anniversaries that include spa treatments, candlelit dinners and sparkling wine; plus one- and two-day romantic getaway packages including luxury accommodation, spa treatments, river sundowners and candlelit dinners.

Eastern Cape:

Prana Lodge in Chintsa Bay is an intimate and luxurious beach lodge and wellness spa – the only five-star hotel in the region. It has eight individually designed suites, seven of which have private plunge pools; and has just opened a new Boutique Store where guests can purchase of health, wellness and beauty products. Prana Lodge is only a 40-minute drive from East London airport.
Western Cape:

For an extraordinary experience, book out the entire historic Karoo town of Matjiesfontein for a wedding. The village has multiple accommodation options, including the renowned Lord Milner Hotel, and a number of activities to experience while guests are there, such as a tour of the village in an old red double-decker London bus, music and drinks in The Laird’s Arms Pub, visits to the village’s museums, and veld walks.

Access to SA’s luxury lodges made easy

Ideal for romantic getaways or honeymoons, Airlink connects guests daily with lodges and safari destinations across southern Africa.

Marketing and Sales Manager, Karin Murray, says the airline offers at least daily direct flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) as well as Skukuza Airport, both gateways to the Timbavati, Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, Phinda and other private game lodges.

Flight schedules are as follows:

Johannesburg to Skukuza: two flights daily
Cape Town to Skukuza: one flight daily
Cape Town to Maun: one flight daily
Cape Town to Hoedspruit: one flight daily
Johannesburg to Hoedspruit: two flights daily
Johannesburg to Kasane: one flight daily
Johannesburg to Vilanculos: one flight daily
Murray says through Airlink’s alliance with South African Airways, travellers can also connect seamlessly with SAA, its partner airlines and other carriers throughout southern Africa and the world.