What is more romantic than a stroll down a perfectly white beach with not a soul in sight and the waves crashing at your feet? Africans have a deep affinity for a love story. At many places in Africa (from restaurants to safari lodges) when the staff get wind of a honeymoon couple or a couple celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary, they tend to go to extreme lengths to make the occasion as memorable as possible. It could be a special candle-lit private dinner in the sand at the water’s edge, or even a pathway of rose petals leading to a romantically set up bush bubble bath.
Avoiding the madding crowd is becoming more and more tricky. Remote destinations that were previously unknown are now a hub of tourist activity, and truly intimate escapes are few and far between. Travelling into the bush, however, is one sure-fire way to avoid the crowds and experience intimacy at its best. Located in some of the most scenic and untouched areas in magical Africa, safari lodges are always a good option for a romantic getaway.
From private picnics, bush sleep-outs to scenic sundowner stops, and champagne dinners – there are a few safari lodges that manage to capitalise on that feeling of intimacy and provide a swoon-worthy experience for couples. Whether you’re looking to pop the question, go on honeymoon, celebrate an anniversary, or simply just want a romantic escape, here are a few lodges to consider:
1. Lion Sands Ivory Lodge & Chalkey’s Tree House, South Africa
The finest lodge at Lion Sands Sabi Sand, Ivory Lodge is the epitome of elegant luxury in one of the most exclusive wildlife destinations in the world. The private suites are designed with simplicity and sophistication. From your own private deck with rim flow pool view wildlife along the bank of the Sabie River. Spend an exquisite night in Chalkey’s Tree House, out in the elements over the reserve listening to the roar of lions below, as you sleep peacefully and safely in the warm night air after a luxurious romantic dinner under the stars. Recently voted one of the ‘coolest hotels in the world’, for this very reason!
2. Zannier Sonop – The Namib Desert, Namibia
Follow in the footsteps of Brad and Angelina and live out your desert dreams in one of these rustic stilt-legged chalets at Wolwedans Dunes Camp. Sleep atop a deep red dune with your canvas blinds open to the silent seclusion of the epically vast Namib Desert. Known for its sublime exclusivity – ‘the Namib will leave you feeling giddy and blissfully alone’
3. La Residence – Franschhoek, Cape Town, South Africa
J’adore Franschhoek – a charming little town set in the winelands and reminiscent of provincial France. Cobbled terraces, elegant roadside cafes, fine dining and an abundance of farms make this a place to love and be loved under the African vines. La Residence is heaven on a silver platter— or as close to heaven any of us might dream to reach. It is spectacular.
4. Tongabezi – Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia
Named after the late Queen of England, Victoria Falls or ‘the smoke that thunders’ is famed for being one of the most naturally regal and romantic destinations on Earth. The New York Times even went as far to say that luxury lodge Tongabezi’s Honeymoon House, on the banks of the Zambezi River, is ‘worth getting married for’.
5. Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, Botswana
This is a small camp with only six luxurious suites. With star baths and sky beds on your private deck, this is a romantic oasis. Set in a grove of trees, and surrounded by papyrus beds, Sanctuary Baines’ Camp is built on raised platforms high above the Boro River in a private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. Baines’ is also offering you the opportunity to walk with elephants.
6. Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Félicité, Seychelles
This private-island resort offers 30 gorgeous villas and a spectacular spa wedged between granite boulders at the ocean’s edge. The turquoise infinity pool merges with the mesmerising colours of the sea, while bamboo hammocks, coiled bar stools, rope swing chairs and mesh cargo nets (for the ultimate over-the-water sunbathing) hold everything together in a subtle seafaring theme. Nested discreetly in the tropical forest are the villas – the wood-shingled roof and Balau-wood cladding make them almost invisible from afar, while natural materials such as the quartzite green Sukabumi tiles in the bathroom and infinity pool mirror the variegated colours of the sea visible throughout from floor-to-ceiling windows.
7. Como Cocoa Island, Maldives
This little slice of tropical heaven offers a total escape from everyday life. One of the smallest, most stylish resorts in the Indian Ocean has just 33 thatched villas inspired by dhonis with large, secluded decks for lounging on or slipping into the lagoon. Holistic, Asian-inspired treatments are offered in the COMO Shambhala Retreat, which has an open-air yoga pavilion and four treatments rooms, including one for couples. There’s a main restaurant, Ufaa, but guests tend to hide away in their villa or opt for private dining on the beach.
8. Mwiba Lodge – Tanzania
What’s to Love: Romance is a cocktail of ambiance, privacy, and comfort, made even better in a dramatic setting far away from everyday life. The hotel feels like something out of Architectural Digest, set against the soothing sounds of an Arugusinyai River rushing below and the lions roaring in the midnight bush.