Africa

Out of Africa Come Romantic Retreats

written by | Posted on May 29th, 2012

The 130-acre Lupita Island in Tanzania.

The continent is awash with dreamy destinations that promise romance.

South Africa

Even a thumbnail list of Africa’s enticements is enough to make some would-be travelers start packing, let alone couples with an urge to begin their life together with extraordinary adventures: South Africa offers it in spades. Its splendid Kalahari Gemsbrook and Kruger national parks are the most accessible nature zones in Africa and are sprinkled with properties custom-made for newlyweds.

And if romance in the veldt heads the post nuptial registry list for a starry-eyed couple, then Shambala Private Game Reserve (about $2,000 per night per couple), in South Africa’s majestic central Waterberg Mountains, is the ticket. The property consists of seven chalet-style accommodations furnished in chic Afro-French Provincial style, each with a private entrance and a shower area that opens onto a deck with panoramic views.

Shambala, a word borrowed from the Tibetan to roughly mean “earthly paradise,” offers seclusion and a peaceful atmosphere. The chalets are shaped like honeycombs, imparting an incongruous sight in a remote corner of South Africa. Tributaries from a nearby river slice through the camp adding the gentle murmur of rushing waters to the serenity and the area is famous for its sunsets.

The property offers a first-rate spa, elephant safaris, bush picnics, river cruises, opportunities to go star-gazing and first-rate chefs prepare meals to suit individual tastes.

Contact: shambalagamereserve.com

Couples who want a different South African experience will find that honeymooning in the country’s so-called Garden Route in the Western Cape Region will be filled with peaceful days of wine tasting, beach outings and exploring small, remote historic towns.

In Paarl, a charming town about 30 minutes removed from downtown Cape Town, the Palmiet Valley Estate provides a secluded paradise for newlyweds who opt to honeymoon in South Africa’s equivalent to California’s Napa Valley, with more than 200 cellars producing South Africa’s most respected wines. Quaint villages that have not changed since the 19th century dot the area while mountains loom in the horizon. There are vibrant townships, museums, galleries and festivals throughout the year and the Palmiet Valley Estate is hard to top as a base from which to explore the area.

The property sits on a 300-year-old winery that looks like a Cape Dutch homestead. The 18th century dining room is dominated by a stone fireplace and is lit by candles at night. The vineyards at the entrance stretch out to the foot of the nearby Drakenstein Mountains while beaches at Gordon’s Bay and Strand are only a short drive away, full of hidden coves perfect for picnics which the staff will prepare. A private staircase leading to a romantic nook under thatched eaves accesses Palmiet’s honeymoon suite. A four-posted Dutch bed is accented daily with lavender and rose petals and the Victorian en-suite bathroom is dominated by an antique tub. Rates vary during the seasons but range from approximately $250 pp dbl for the romantic standard suite, to $500 for the luxury suite.