The perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, it's not difficult to see the allure of South Africa as an ideal destination for romance and honeymoons.
Magical natural landscapes of enchanting beauty, spectacular wildlife reserves, vibrant cultural cities, romantic beaches, great food, wine and weather plus world-class luxury hotels, the rainbow nation is a land of diversity.
There are many ways to create a memorable itinerary but depending on the time of year, one of my favourite recommendations is flying into Port Elizabeth for an Eastern Cape Safari (malaria-free), road tripping down the Garden Route, feasting in the Winelands, witnessing the natural wonders of the Karoo and roaming cosmopolitan Cape Town before flying home from there.
If a total chillout at the end of your adventure is appealing and time allows, then South Africa can easily be combined with Mauritius too.
Here are two of my best-loved gems that deliver every time for my clients and would undoubtedly feature in one of my suggested romantic South Africa schedules:
Pumba Private Game Reserve
Located an hour from Port Elizabeth in the malaria-free Eastern Cape, Pumba is a proud member of the Green Leaf Conservation Initiative and consistently recognised as a world-class destination, providing an intimate and never to be forgotten African safari experience.
The reserve is home to Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo), hippo, hyena, cheetah, giraffes, various antelope and more than 300 bird species, as well as being home to only the second known free-ranging, self-sustainable population of white lions in Southern Africa.
The awe-inspiring thrill of seeing all these creatures in their natural environment and the feeling of being so close to the heartbeat of nature as you explore the reserve in custom land rovers or on guided walking safaris is very special indeed.
Pumba offers two unique five-star lodges, combining luxury accommodation and exceptional service. From candlelit dinners through to romantic turndowns, it is the little extras that make guests feel pampered and cherished.
Water Lodge, set amongst dense bushveld, consists of 12 stone walled, thatched waterfront chalets overlooking Lake Cariega while Msenge Bush Lodge is set on a floodplain with scenic mountain views offering glassed enclosed, luxury thatched chalets.
All chalets feature dreamy bathrooms with magnificent views, opulent bedrooms opening onto private timber viewing decks with plunge pools and outdoor showers that combine to create a tranquil, intimate and romantic hideaway.
It doesn’t get much better than waking to the sounds of the bushveld as the sun appears on the horizon and winding down the day by stargazing romantically under the clear night sky.
On the culinary front, whether dining indoors or under the starlit sky, meals at Pumba are simply sublime, fusing African cuisine with an Eastern Cape flair complemented by a superb selection of local wines.
In addition to game viewings, you can indulge in bass fishing, bird watching, archery, enjoy a workout in the glass-enclosed gym or a rejuvenating couples spa treatment at Msenge Bush Lodge’s Soul Spa. Additional nearby activities include horse-riding, golf, coastal helicopter flips and Frontier War tours.
The fabulous Spier Hotel is situated on the historic Spier wine farm in the heart of the Stellenbosch Winelands, just 20 minutes from Cape Town International Airport.
Village-style buildings, lush green lawns and spacious rooms are clustered around six courtyards, with each boasting its own swimming pool and spacious pool area.
The design is reminiscent of the Bo-Kaap or Mediterranean villages where pedestrians have right of way.
The hotel’s vibrant décor features strong colours, patterns and textures, and a collection of art that explores contemporary South African culture.
Each of the rooms feature original artworks from the Spier Collection with its riverside rooms offering picturesque views of the Eerste River below and the Helderberg mountains in the distance.
The hotel is a pioneer in responsible tourism and provides a wide range of facilities, including a spa offering a variety of holistic treatments, a superb wine tasting area and on-site farm with café and delicious deli shop to fill your basket before finding the perfect spot for a special picnic on the grounds.
Amazing food is very much part of the experience here with food carefully, ethically and healthily sourced, prepared and made ready for purchase at the farm or consumption at the hotel restaurant or its Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery.
Guided walks, complimentary bikes and segway tours of the farm are all on offer too along with shuttle services both on and off the estate and a driver can be arranged to visit other local wineries.
There are plenty of other hidden gems in the Winelands area in addition to the better known Franschhoek & Stellenbosch, towns such as Paarl, Robertson, Tulbagh, Wellington and Riebeek Kasteel vie for food and wine supremacy in this gourmet capital of the country, a perfect recipe for honeymoon indulgence after any pre-wedding diet.
If you do have the time, flexibility and inclination for a touch more luxury and additional romance, then the splendid Rovos Rail train provides the sense of occasion before you even board with a champagne reception prior to commencing a two-night journey to Pretoria.
A spectacular journey takes you through the mountain ranges and scenic Winelands of the Cape to the haunting stark beauty of the Great Karoo.
Whichever way we construct your fairy-tale South African adventure together, you can be sure of great value for money and an Instagram-ready collection of magical memories to return with.