If you want an exotic destination for your honeymoon, but don’t want to just lie on the beach the whole time, it’s time to consider a safari. The thing about safaris is they’re tremendously expensive, they’re in the middle of nowhere, and you’re going to be sitting inside a jeep for at least eight hours a day. That said, a safari qualifies as one of those once-in-a-lifetime adventures. So pack your bags, you’re going on your honeymoon!
Here’s the drill, after you check into a safari lodge, you wake up at 5 a.m. for your first drive. You see lions, leopards, elephant, giraffe, gazelles, zebras, monkeys, rhinos, buffalo, crocodiles and a of birds. You go back to your lodge for lunch and you head out for the afternoon drive (optional, but why wouldn’t you?). You have a candlelit dinner and then you do this again at another lodge. To mix things up, the lodges set up private lunches with views in the valley, champagne sundowners, and even night drives. You’ll want to hit up a tour operator like US-based Pique Travel Design to make your Africa travels seamless.
South AfricaKruger National Park, South Africa
South Africa is the most popular safari region for many reasons: it’s easy to get there with direct flights and you get to spend time in cosmopolitan cities like Cape Town. Some of the best safari lodges in the world are here, like Singita lodges, which are constantly voted top in the world.
Kruger National Park is the main safari game reserve. There’s a huge density of animals in the wild especially the Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos), which is sort of the “goal” of these safaris. It’s kind of like Pokémon but with real animals and no trapping. With all this in mind, Kruger is not as intimate as other safari regions. Let’s say your game driver spots a lion… well, there will be about 10 other safari jeeps that spot the same lion, sort of ruins the experience
KenyaMaasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association Narok, Narok, Kenya
Kenya might be just as popular as South Africa, but it’s not as crowded thanks to its sprawling landscapes. The most famous spot is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which is chockful of wildlife (it has the world’s highest concentration) and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll see the Big Five (even though they’re hard to track down in the wild). The added bonus of Kenya is that you get to interact with the Maasai Tribe, who live out in small villages. It’s a total culture shock at how little modern comforts they have, so be prepared. The locals get paid from safari tour operators, so everyone wins. There are some excellent lodges here, many of which you reach by private plane or jet (of course), like Campi Ya Kanzi, one of the most luxurious that works closely with the Wilderness Conservation Trust.
BotswanaOkavango Delta, Botswana
Amongst regions of dry terrain, Botswana’s Okavango Delta is the largest island delta system in the world. You’ll be able to scope out the animals chilling out in the wetlands that include swamps, deep lagoons, water channels and even islands. Botswana is known for camps that are “unbound,” which means they are immersed in nature. So you can go to bed as a lion slinks outside your cabin and wake up with a snake on your front door. It’s safe though (as in, no reported fatalities, ever). Mombo Camp, Savuti Camp, and Vumbura Plains are your best options. Your lodge and walkways are raised on stilts, so animals can actually prowl below you.
ZimbabweHwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Further off the radar lies Zimbabwe, where most of the safari lodges are unbound. What makes them unique, however, is that lodges considered budget are still as luxurious as the ones you’ll find anywhere else. They are also very intimate, some with only six rooms. Kanga Camp features a water hole that animals frequent allowing you to sit on the porch all day without even going on actual safari (but where’s the fun in that?) Little Makalalo (in Hwange National Park, 3.5 million acres, the largest in Zimbabwe) has a manmade log pile where you stash yourself to see elephants from twenty feet away. Singita Pamushana, however, is the creme de la creme, and everyone from Bill Gates to Michael Douglas has stayed there.
IndiaBandhavgarh National Park, Tala, Madhya Pradesh, India
Want to see a tiger in the wild? Go to India, where they roam freely in several national parks. Tigers are native to India (not Africa), and safari tours have been all the rage. To be honest, these cats don’t make sightings easy at all. Honeymooners tend to flock to Bandavgarh National Park, which is known to have mostly guaranteed sightings. Definitely camp out here at one of several luxury resorts like Kings Lodge or Syna Tiger Resort. You can also ride an elephant if that’s your thing, and monkeys are basically everywhere. The closest major city is New Delhi, so make a stop at one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the Taj Mahal, while you’re at it.