Honeymoons can be fun stuff. Or so they tell me. So far I might not comment, but here I am with the beautiful woman who has agreed to marry me and I pray (a little nervous) that the next few days will go spectacularly well.
This is Natasha's first time in Africa. She is not exactly an animal lover and she spent the past week panicking about taking just the right malaria tablets.
Then we & # 39; ve been called & # 39; Spending almost an hour flying over the dry bushveld in a bumpy eight-seater Cessna plane, I slip into the conversation that a handful of famous guests have all stayed at Londolozi, including Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac and Nelson Mandela. She seems impressed. But what the trick is actually doing is when we are shown to our lodge overlooking the river crocodile contaminated Sand River in Mpumalanga province in South Africa, near the western boundary of Kruger National Park – and a glass bubble supplied.
A panoramic view of the Blyde River Canyon Reserve in Mpumalanga Province, where Freddy Halliday is having a wedding
An hour or so later and we're off. & # 39; This is my first safari, & # 39; Natasha tells our tracker, Milton. "Fresh meat for the leopard, then," he says.
The biggest draw of Londolozi is its wild population of wild leopard. On our very best outing, we stumbled across a female named Ximungwe, feeding on a young impala that had killed her just meters from our car, her puppy playing in the sand nearby.
& # 39; She must eat quickly before the lions and hyenas arrive to steal her death, & # 39; says Chris, the dealer.
We have been sitting on the front of the drama as the drama unfolds, back cold yelps of & # 39; e hyena & # 39; s in & # 39; e celebration. This healthy leopard population is largely due to the procurement efforts of Londolozi owner John Varty, driven by a deep personal affinity with the species.
He even sings songs about leopards with his band The Big Cats in the evenings (as the & # 39; boma & # 39; the Swahili term that Varty uses to refer to our camp) to cheerful guests after the dinner.
An American New Jersey captain has been so moved by one of these performances that he decides to go down on one knee and introduce his girlfriend to the high lodge.
African drums beat, guests dance, festive Shangaan songs are performed in the background. . . & # 39; I couldn't think of a perfect moment to ask you to be my wife, & # 39; he declared to appalling applause from & # 39; e bomb. Not a dry eye in sight.
However, it is not all back to nature. Guests will be just as fascinated by Ralph Lauren-inspired interiors and chic black-and-white framed photography as they are by flocks of hippos on the edge of the nearby watering hole.
Mpumalanga Province, which runs in the Kruger National Park, offers visitors some spectacular views
We sleep sundowners at dusk at the splash pool on our balcony at Varty Lodge (there are five camps here, each with its own style). Lion rations in the distance and a passing herd of elephants quietly roam through the acacia trees below.
This is safari at its most arduous, but with a warm heart and a hospitable family space.
Watch out for Vervet's monkey when you are escorted back to your lodge in the evening. Natasha, despite constantly worrying about being on a safari, is surprisingly emotional when it comes to leaving – & # 39; I don't want to go, everyone here is so sweet & # 39 ;, she says blind-eye then & # 39; say goodbye to our hosts who are sitting on the bonnet of their Land Rover, on the edge of our private airstrip in & # 39; e middle of & # 39; e bush.
So after three nights at Londolozi, we were back in & # 39; bumpy Cessna towards the Azura Boutique Retreat on the island of Benguerra, one of a collection of dazzlingly beautiful islands that reach the Bazaruto Archipelago just off the coast from the mainland of southern Mozambique.
After his incredible safari, Freddy and his wife flew to the Bazaruto Archipelago (pictured) just off the mainland coast of southern Mozambique
Freddy Halliday traveled with The Ultimate Travel Company (theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk, 0207 386 4646). Three nights at Londolozi Founders Camp and five nights at Azura Benguerra (including a special honeymoon) of £ 7,450 per person, including flights and transfers.
We arrive in style – a 15-minute helicopter ride from Vilankulo Airport, with spectacular views of the pale white sand dunes and clear waters of the Indian Ocean.
Take a look and you will catch a glimpse of turtles, reef sharks, dolphins and large-scale whales darting in and out of the waves.
Natasha hostages. And we both smiled as we wandered through the palm trees and sipped mango cocktails, venturing to the local kids who jump along the beach on their way home from school.
There are 20 glamorous beachfront villas here, each with their own private swimming pools, tropical gardens and babbling birds. Our honeymoon is going well and I am perfectly happy to take all the credit.
Remember, Abel, our dedicated host, played a role, brought us cocktails and even did a honeymoon (yes, crawl if you like, but we love the theater of it) for us on the beach.
It's not just romance and relaxation at Azura. & # 39; We do a lot of work to support the local community, & # 39; says Eugene, the hotel's South African manager, & # 39; many of whom do not have access to electricity or running water – first, we provide full employment to our 180 hotel staff (most of whom are within walking distance live), but we also opened the island's first school and health clinic since we started welcoming guests 11 years ago & # 39 ;.
Then we take a tour of quaint fishing villages and communities in & # 39; surrounding area to get a true taste of island life here & the medical qualities of & # 39; a local flora – ending with a climb up to the largest sand dune on the island, overlooking a freshwater crocodile lake and miles of uninhabited beaches.
Guests can also enjoy Dhow cruises in traditional Mozambican fishing boats, with islands jumping on the hotel's speedboat (including a delicious lunch with crab salad and fish kebab, dining on a low powdery beach) and snorkeling and diving in the coral reefs of the protected marine reserve. Just watch out for the (harmless) reef sharks.
When we go back to the villa on our last night, there is a mess of leaves and a flick of sand ahead of us.
& # 39; A snake & # 39 ;, Natasha says, and quickly turns back to the safety of & # 39; s reception of the hotel. & # 39; Don't worry, & # 39; says an employee, & # 39; it's just a grass snake. You should see the Mozambique spray cobra on the mainland. Now that's dangerous. & # 39;
I assume we might sleep after this recipe, but Natasha rallies. Her first trip to Africa has had a calming effect and I am excited.
I think we will return to this enchanting continent, but I also know that next time we are unlikely to experience such comfort.
A trip on an Antarctic icebreaker, tracking mountain gorillas and paradise islands: Honeymoons that will make a real adventure into the beginning of marriage
Now this is how you can start a wedding.
Forget a vibrant spa hotel through a large golf course, plump instead for something with the distinct smell of adventure on it.
From a trip on an icebreaker in Antarctica to tracking gorillas in Rwanda, this honeymoon is a difference.
Hot (and cold)
Ski Safari offers a honeymoon that combines skiing in Whister with a stay on the amazing island of Maui (pictured)
Blow up the spider webs of wedding holidays for a honeymoon that combines skiing in Whistler, Canada with a stay at a beach with great surfing on Maui, Hawaii.
There is also the opportunity to see humpback whales and snorkeling with turtles. Sixteen nights of £ 3,375pp including flights and transfers (skisafari.com).
Antarctic ice breaker
Get to the far south of the & # 39; world and see penguins amidst some of & # 39; the most dramatic landscapes of earth
This is a wedding initiation for the brave … don a dry suit and take the plunge together in & # 39; icy waters of & # 39; e Southern Ocean on a cruise beginning in Ushuaia in Argentina and continuing to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. Activities include snorkeling past icebergs and visiting the penguin rockeries.
Twenty-one days including accommodation, food and transfer, but not flights, from £ 15,349pp (vivaexpeditions.com).
Hand in hand in Patagonia
A honeymoon to Torres del Paine National Park (pictured) includes being surrounded by epic mountains
Hike together in Patagonia amidst mountains, glaciers and lakes on a fourteen-day trip for adventurous honeymooners. Fly to Buenos Aires, then head south to Torres del Paine National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier and Tierra del Fuego Lake.
Fourteen days of £ 3,799pp including flights and hotels (tucantravel.com).
Go wild in Borneo
A stay on Gaya Island (pictured) is nearing the end of a 12-day honeymoon adventure through wildfrontierstravel.com
Explore the wilds of Borneo while staying at lush hotels and hiding in jungle homes on this 12-day adventure that includes rainforest expeditions to see orangutans and sunbathers. And the journey ends at a peaceful beach resort on Gaya Island.
Twelve days of £ 4,797pp including flights and some meals (wildfrontierstravel.com).
Tipi for two in Greenland
Typically, catching salmon with your bare hands and kayaking on the fjords are all on the agenda at redsavannah.com's Greenland Honeymoon
Sleeping in a tipi is one of the highlights of a honeymoon in Greenland where – if you want – you can jump into ice-cold Arctic waters (saying it's good for your health). There is also a chance to catch salmon with your bare hands and kayak on the fjords on this return to honeymoon of nature.
Seven nights full board of £ 14,500 with flights (redsavannah.com).
Romantic eco-pods in Cosmoledo
Stay in an eco pod on the isolated island of Cosmoledo. Activities include snorkeling and diving
Stay at the newly opened Cosmoledo Eco Camp, on the isolated island of Cosmoledo – about 600 miles from Mahe, capital of the Seychelles. There are eight beautiful eco-pods on this romantic hideaway. Activities include bird watching, snorkeling and diving.
Thirteen days of £ 10,800 pp including flights, most food, four nights at Cosmoledo and five at Alphonse Island (reefandrainforest.co.uk).
Jungle love in Rwanda
Black Tomato offers a trip to Rwanda to track mountain gorillas. Afterwards, guests fly to Zanzibar for a beach break
Head deep into the Rwandan jungle to track down mountain gorillas before flying to Zanzibar for a romantic beach break. In Rwanda, you stay in a top-class eco-lodge set in an ancient volcanic cone, while in Zanzibar you sit in a cozy lodge on Mnemba Island (pictured below).
Eleven nights with accommodation and flights of £ 14,000 pp (blacktomato.com).
Find your inner tiger in India
Claw-what honeymoon: Take a trip to see tigers in Pench, Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park (pictured)
Fly to Mumbai and back from Delhi on a ten-night honeymoon that includes trips to a tiger park in Pench, Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park, where you will stay in a cozy-chic kutiya (jungle hut) . Explore Delhi on your last day, stay at a five star Oberoi hotel.
Ten nights of £ 3,935pp including flights and some meals (abercrombiekent.co.uk).
A trip in a hot air balloon is a great way to see the sand dunes of Namibia – a remote and magical landscape
Admire the spectacular Sossusvlei sand dunes in Namibia before touching in your hot air balloon for a champagne breakfast. The balloon ride is one of the highlights of a trip to this remote, magical landscape with its serving dunes and bright, starry skies.
Ten nights at Little Kulala Resort with flights of £ 7,500 ppt (trueluxury.travel).
Lived in a South African tree house
Wild times: Kuoni can arrange a honeymoon in the Kruger National Park in South Africa (image)
Listen to lions roaming across the plains while staying in a super comfortable tree house at Lion Sands Game Reserve at Kruger National Park in South Africa. A delicious picnic dinner is provided and it is possible to sleep under the stars. Twice daily game drives are organized.
Nine nights breaks with one night at Tree House, one night at Lion Sands River Lodge and seven nights at the Victoria & Alfred hotel in Cape Town from £ 4,433 pp including flights, transfers and some meals (kuoni.co.uk) .
. (tagsToTranslate) dailymail (t) travel (t) South Africa