Honeymoons in the bush
Did you know?
The iSimangaliso Wetlands Park on KwaZulu-Natal's Elephant Coast contains most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests and is Africa’s largest estuarine system.
When it comes to honeymoons in South Africa, one of the most popular to choose from is a honeymoon in the bush. There’s barely a corner of the country that doesn’t have a wildlife or nature reserve, be it a national park or a privately owned game farm.
Honeymoons in the bush are possible in just about every province in South Africa. The world-famous Kruger National Park straddles two provinces. The southern and northern sections, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, are quite different in ambience. The south is busier with more facilities, the north more remote with some species of game not found in the south.
In addition to South African National Parks-operated rest camps, both sections have privately run lodges where the standards are more superior. On the borders of the Kruger are two reserves noted for a clutch of upmarket lodges, namely the Sabi Sand Reserve in Mpumalanga and the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in Limpopo. Renowned names such as Londolozi, Mala Mala, Sabi Sabi and Ulusaba among others are synonymous with these reserves.
A coastal bush honeymoon is possible at the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. This destination is particularly rewarding because it adds two more creatures to the Big 5 – the southern right whale and the great white shark.
A top-end, privately run reserve of acclaim not too far from Addo is the Shamwari Game Reserve, which has six plush lodges.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Elephant Coast (its northern-most coast, beneath the Mozambican border) has a number of wildlife areas suited to honeymoons. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, is the star attraction here, with eight interlinking eco-systems, ancient coastal dunes and a rich marine life. Privately run reserves in the area, like the Phinda Private Game Reserve with its six lodges, are also well regarded.
The North West province has two Big 5 game parks, once again with private lodges – the Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve. The location of the former, next to Sun City, allows bush honeymooners to add a touch of glitzy entertainment to their stay. Madikwe is about a four-hour drive from Johannesburg, and you're guaranteed spectacular sightings and romantic sunsets here.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)12 426 5000
Cell +27 (0)82 233 9111
Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)15 793 2436
Shamwari Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)41 509 3000
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Tel: +27 (0)35 590 1633
Phinda Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)11 809 4300
North West Parks and Tourism Board
Tel: + 27 (0)18 397 1500
Best time to visit
In general, all bush areas in the country are year-round destinations. Winter months (May to August) are often a better time to venture out as the sparser vegetation makes it easier to view game, the temperatures are milder and the lack of rain in most parts of the country reduces the occurrence of malaria.
But there are more bird species to see in the summer, the weather is usually lovely and hot, and the summer rains means the bush is greener and arguably more beautiful.
Driving along sand roads in wilderness areas is often not possible in an ordinary car, so ensure your transport requirements are organised beforehand. You can use a sedan in the Kruger National Park, though a vehicle that is higher up off the road is preferrable. Most private game lodges are accessible by ordinary car, and after you've reached the lodge, you'll be transported in special game vehicles.
What will it cost
Prices range from lower-end more rustic accommodation in the national parks to more costly accommodation in lodges on the private game reserves. Please note that you need to book long in advance for accommodation in national parks, in particular the Kruger National Park. If you can, spoil yourselves with a couple of nights in a private game reserve in the Sabi Sand, Madikwe, Shamwari, or somewhere similar.
Length of stay
Spend a week or more enjoying the bushveld and all it has to offer.
What to eat
Try wild game for the first time. Eating around a traditional African boma under the stars, which is often done for dinners in private lodges, is a wonderful experience. A variety of dishes are usually on offer.