Grace Ann & Ryan’s Safari Honeymoon

Sundowner at Ol Donyo Lodge / Courtesy of Great Plains Conservation

May 2024

I’ve put together three different itinerary directions you could go after starting in Cape Town. These could be blended if elements appeal to you in each. All the lodges mentioned are luxurious and cost between $1k and $2k per person per night. Once we have a clear direction, I will create a complete itinerary based on dates and availability.

Note: I usually book 3-4 nights per safari lodge, except Victoria Falls, where 2-3 nights is better. Prices and availability are listed as examples but are subject to change. Unless otherwise noted, the prices listed do not include conservancy fees or transportation to the camps.

Arrival in Cape Town

Each of these itineraries starts with a stay in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands to decompress after your wedding. Days can be spent dining out and exploring the scenic region on short hikes. The favorable exchange rate on the South African rand makes it a great time to splurge on food and wine – and South Africa has some of the world’s best. There are a bunch of hotel options in the area that we can cover once we settle on a safari direction.

1. Pure South Africa: Cape to Kruger

Two of the best safaris in South Africa in one trip

One of my favorite hotels in the Cape Winelands is La Cle ($565/nt), a historic wine estate in Franschhoek. They run a fantastic special offer with Kwandwe Private Game Reserve ($1093/person/nt), where you get 25% off both properties if you book three nights at each. The prices above are before the discount.

Kwandwe is at the forefront of safaris in the Eastern Cape region. The 54,000-acre reserve has been rewilded to an impressive degree and boasts two luxury lodges with private plunge pools. Their Great Fish River Lodge is the best one for honeymooners. The landscape here is a rolling coastal scrubland with a variety of wildlife. Guests here can sometimes take part in rhino tagging with the camp vets for an additional donation.

From the Cape, fly east to the greater Kruger National Park area and Sabi Sands Private Reserve. Private reserves allow off-roading and limit the number of vehicles at a sighting, giving you a better safari experience. Sabi Sands is one of the best in the world, and it is not rare to see all of the “Big 5” on a single game drive. We saw multiple leopards per day on our last visit.

Sabi Sands is famous, so things are booking up, but there are a lot of great lodges to choose from:

  • Londolozi ($1500/person/nt) is my favorite property in the area because of the excellent guides and spa. They have a few options, but I like Varty Camp, which is a classic spot with private pools and the best price.
  • If you would like more of a modern take on safari, SabiSabi Earth Lodge ($1918/person/nt) is really nice. Availability is limited there, but you could combine it with their more traditional Selati Camp ($1,388/person/nt). They also have a stay 4-night pay 3-night offer, which moderates the price.
  • If you like the modern aesthetic, Tanda Tula ($1,340/person/nt) is a good modern option with private pools in the Timbavati Private Reserve, north of Sabi Sands.
  • As I mentioned, there are a lot of good camps in the area, so Mala Mala, Dulini, and Ulusaba could all be options if there isn’t availability at the others.

This trip would require the least travel time since it is all within one country. However, you could combine Kwandwe with Botswana if you like what you see below.

2. Best of Southern Africa: Botswana and Beyond

Botswana’s wildlife spectacle with the option to end in Sabi Sands, South Africa

After time in the Winelands, fly from Cape Town to Maun, Botswana, the jumping off point for safaris. The shallow waters of the Okavango Delta are a dramatic backdrop for wildlife viewing, and the reserves around Chobe National Park has the highest density of elephants on the planet.

Great Plains Conservation operates some of my favorite camps in Botswana because they are on large private concessions. Their premier camps, like Duba Plains and Selinda Camp, are some of the best in Africa, and all have private pools, but they run around $2500/person/nt. If you take advantage of their stay four pay three offer, you can get that to around $1,850/person/nt. Internal flights from Maun and between camps are included in the rate, which drops the price further once factored in.

Their Duba Explorers Camp ($1565/person/nt) is an even better deal because you get the same amazing wildlife experience for a lower price. The only sacrifice is a communal instead of a private pool. Duke’s Camp ($1430/person/nt) is another option on a smaller reserve–but is super stylish and well-located with a communal pool.

There are a few ways you could do a Botswana trip:

  • You could stay entirely in Botswana for most of your trip and have a great experience. Duba Explorers and Selinda Camp are peak wildlife and luxury.
  • You could split time in Botswana with a luxury lodge in the Sabi Sands, South Africa (detailed in the section above) to diversify the itinerary. A combination of camps like Duba Explorers and Londolozi would be incredible. The downside is that the flights line up so that you usually have an overnight layover in Johannesburg unless you book a private charter flight or move Cape Town to the middle of the trip.
  • San Camp ($1800/person/nt) in Botswana’s Kalahari desert would be a drastically different landscape if you wanted some more contrast. There aren’t elephants, but there are lions and meerkats, and the zebra herds should still be there in May.
  • Also, Botswana can connect to Zimbabwe (below) via Victoria Falls if you have an interest in both.

3. Zimbabwe and the Zambezi River

An experiential safari at a better price

If you want to go a little further off the beaten path or save money, the Zambezi River is an excellent safari destination. From Cape Town, you can fly direct to Victoria Falls. In the falls area, the Victoria Falls River Lodge Island Treehouses ($1350/person/nt) has the most incredible view and bath, but there are multiple good options away from the bustle of the falls. You can spend one day at the falls and the rest of your time here on river cruises or safaris into Victoria Falls National Park.

From the falls, fly towards Mana Pools National Park – there are a couple optional stops en route:

  • Somalisa Camp ($785/person/nt) in Hwange National Park is the best place to see elephants in Zimbabwe. There is no private pool, but there is a really great bath and a shared pool.
  • Fothergill ($750/person/nt) is a newly opened safari camp with private pools on an island in Lake Kariba. Lots of water-based options like boat safaris and fishing here.

Mana Pools National Park lies on the shores of the Zambezi River. It’s a favorite destination for safari purists because of the variety of activities and dramatic wildlife viewing. There is something ineffable about the light, which makes for amazing photos. There are a couple of camps here I think you might like:

  • Nyamatusi ($785/person/nt) is a great camp inside the National Park with a small stock tank plunge pool in each room.
  • Tembo Plains ($1145/person/nt) is a premier Great Plains camp mentioned above. There is great food and plunge pools in every room. It is on a large private concession next to the national park.

Beach Extension?

Any of these itineraries could be mixed with a beach if you cut them in half. From Johannesburg you can fly to Seychelles, Mozambique, or Mauritius. I can share resort options if you are interested.


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