AFRICA FOR COUPLES
Old, young and in-between
What’s your definition of romance?
Safaris are synonymous with romantic travel. Ever since Robert Redford washed Meryl Streep’s hair on the banks of a river in Kenya in Out of Africa, it has captivated and compelled. Released in 1985, the film won seven Oscars – and the hearts of millions.
More than 30 years later, Out of Africa is still inspiring generations of romantics wanting to swap reel life for real life and experience the wonder that is Africa. But it’s not just for newlyweds.
Africa is for couples of any ages – silver nomads; empty nesters; people wanting to reignite the flame; or couples just taking a break from the norm – and the kids! Africa has a special magic that will touch your soul and help you to reconnect and rediscover the things you love the most about each other.
If you’re planning a holiday with the most special person in your world, this wildly romantic continent is calling you.
Couples in the countryside
If you’re going on a holiday to Africa, there’s a pretty good chance you’re planning to go on safari. Wise move: this is one of the most extraordinary, picturesque and life-affirming experiences you can have – not just on holiday, but in life. To be able to enjoy it together is something you’ll always treasure.
Most luxury lodges and reserves offer couples-orientated holiday activities so you can get away from the crowds. From personal game drives and bush walks with an experienced game ranger, to spotting amazing feathered friends while “birding” or taking a night game drive to spot rare species, if you’re a nature lover you’ll be in heaven.
The majority of camps that we recommend are well-suited for couples of all ages and will let you indulge your love for the great outdoors and Africa’s incredible wildlife, just the two of you.
You may be on holiday with your partner, but seeing Africa’s wildlife in spectacular settings is likely to trigger a love affair with this continent.
Couples under canvas
It’s not just the wildlife and the vast African skies that will put romance in the air – it’s also the stunning places where you can stay. Accommodation on an African safari has something to suit just about every taste and budget, but for couples on a romantic getaway, there’s nothing like a safari experience under canvas.
To Australians, the word “tent” might conjure up images of family holidays or festivals in a basic pop-up – forget the pegs and you’re doomed. In Africa, however, a tented camp can mean something entirely different. It can mean luxury tents that are incredibly stylish and intimate, with roll-top baths and game drives that finish with gourmet dinner beneath the stars. Once you’ve stayed in one of these canvas palaces, you’ll never think of a tent in the same way again.
But the most appealing virtue of these luxury tented lodges and mobile tented safari camps is the fact that they take you away, far from the madding crowd. You can enjoy a romantic holiday under canvas… and in total seclusion.
Read more on accommodation in Africa.
Couples on a crusade… for adventure
We all know that a “romantic holiday” generally involves lovely cliches such as a couple’s massage, rose petals on the bed and Champagne sipped while luxuriating in a bubble bath, but for many couples the ultimate aphrodisiac is something quite different: a grand adventure.
For thrill-seeking couples, Africa is beyond compare, thanks to endless opportunities to get off the beaten track, avoid the crowds and partake in sublime activities and adventures that will elevate any holiday to epic status.
Think cycling along the spectacular Garden Route and Whale Coast in South Africa. Getting up close to some of Africa’s wildlife while on horseback. Hiking in “Africa’s Grand Canyon”; the extraordinary Simien Mountains in Ethiopia. Taking a balloon safari over the sand dunes of the Namib Desert in Namibia, or a no-doors helicopter ride over the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
For intrepid, adventure-loving couples, there’s simply nothing like it.
Couples who cruise and canoe
Okay, what we really mean is that couples who love being on the water are going to be spoilt for choice in Africa.
There are exhilarating multi-day canoe safaris on the Zambezi River, where you’ll camp along the way; white-water rafting at Victoria Falls; rafting the Kunene River in Namibia and taking a dugout canoe (mokoro) through the maze of waterways that is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Then there are houseboats, catamarans, traditional dhows and even cruises off Zanzibar or the islands off Mozambique. You might even find yourself being transported to and from a camp via a motorboat – beats an Uber any day!
And, of course, there are wonderful game-viewing opportunities on boats. Gliding through the water in search of wildlife is a unique experience and one not to be missed. You’ll get an entirely new perspective of the animals and their habits, plus you can sometimes get a lot closer to them than if you were in a safari vehicle or on foot. The sight of a hippo’s head suddenly emerging in the water just a couple of metres away is not something you’ll forget in a hurry. And if it yawns, make sure you have that camera ready. Speaking of cameras, some photographic safari tours also utilise boats, adding another lovely element to the entire experience.
Couples who conquer
Thrill seekers will also be challenged and inspired by Africa’s many impressive climbs, hikes and treks. This is a continent dotted with mountains made for people with physical fitness, strong willpower and an eye for adventure.
There’s South Africa’s highest mountain range, the World Heritage-listed Drakensberg. The ice-capped peaks of Mount Kenya; the extinct volcano that’s the second-highest peak in Africa. The remarkable Table Mountain that offers everything from guided walks to three-day hikes and stunning views over cosmopolitan Cape Town. The off-the-beaten track Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where you can sleep on the side of one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in the world, just 500 metres from a fiery lake of lava, and which Encompass Africa founder, Jono Wilson, describes as “the greatest thing you’ll probably ever experience”.
And then of course there’s the “big one” – Mount Kilimanjaro. Towering 5,895 metres above sea level, this large volcano is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Known as the “Roof of Africa”, it’s one of the coveted Seven Summits and dominates the savannah landscape of northern Tanzania. It’s the ultimate natural high, quite literally.
Couples on the coast
There’s nothing like an African safari – and nothing like escaping for a few days of R&R on a beach afterwards. After early morning game drives you’ll treasure the opportunity to sleep in; rising at your leisure to enjoy sunny days, crystal-clear waters, long walks on powder-soft sand and dining under the stars during endless balmy evenings. A beach break lets you truly unwind and relax with your loved one, and really ramp up the romance factor.
But where to go? The list of choices is long and stunning: The glamorous Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. The exotic spice islands of Zanzibar with beaches famous for their white sands and luminescent waters. Mozambique and the exquisite islands that lie off its coast, where you’ll find some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling on the planet. The sandy beaches of Cape Town, the Garden Route and the KwaZulu-Natal coast in South Africa, perfect for a leisurely self-drive beach odyssey.
Or, for something a bit different – and not, strictly speaking, the beach (after all, it’s hundreds of kilometres from the coast!) – how about the palm-fringed shores of Lake Malawi? Straddling Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, this enormous lake is roughly 560 kilometres long and 75 km wide, but still only the third-largest of the African Great Lakes. It boasts beautiful beaches and blue, blue waters that beckon divers and snorkellers keen to swim in its fresh waters, amid the largest number of fish species found in any lake in the world.
An escape to an exotic African beach or Indian Ocean island will enchant couples on a romantic holiday. You’ll be as smitten with Africa as you are with each other.
Couples on a culinary quest
There’s one thing you’ll never be on an African safari, and that’s hungry! From snacks and sundowners on safari, to the delicious meals you’ll enjoy back at camp, you’ll be tempted by tantalising fare at every waking moment.
For diehard gourmet couples, however, you can’t miss a visit to South Africa. A romantic road trip to the Cape Winelands will thrill fine-wine enthusiasts and lovers of world-class food – or just anyone who likes the sound of picturesque mountains and quaint boutique properties set amid rolling hills strewn with vineyards.
Back in Cape Town, there’s a culinary scene so hot that you’ll have to book months in advance to get in to some of the restaurants currently wowing food lovers from across the globe.
But it’s not just Cape Town – there are amazing places popping up all over the country offering stunning international fare and delectable local delicacies – including the tiny beach restaurant in an isolated fishing village recently voted the best restaurant in the world.
Couples who care
For some people, a holiday is a wonderful opportunity to give back and help others in a hands-on way. And so often it’s couples who are compelled to step up and include philanthropic endeavour in their travels. Perhaps their love for each other is so strong that it’s simply overflowing and they feel the need to share the excess with good causes.
For couples committed to helping protect the wilderness and wildlife, it’s about weaving conservation opportunities into a traditional safari – spending time to help plant trees, translocate animals, or participate in anti-poaching or other wildlife programs.
For people wanting to help children and local communities in need, it’s about having the opportunity to meet locals, learn about their lifestyle, witness programs in action that have been designed to support them, and helping out in whatever way possible – from packing simple supplies like pencils, soccer balls or band-aids, to helping to build an orphanage. A holiday to Africa is always life-changing for the person travelling, but it can also be life-changing for other people, too.
By connecting with something that’s important to you, sharing meaningful experiences and helping to make a difference, your holiday together will become even more special. It will become one of the most inspiring journeys you’ve ever experienced, and have a lasting, positive impact that will continue long after you return home.
Read more on making a difference.
Couples with cameras
if the two of you are avid photographers and itching to return home with epic photographs to commemorate this special holiday together, a photographic safari might be the answer.
Instead of a traditional game drive, you can head out with like-minded, photography-mad travellers, or even your own photographic guide. Another alternative is to book at camps set up for photographers like you, and make the most of their facilities – and tips. Whatever option you choose, you’ll be giving yourselves the opportunity to make the most of expert help, take advantage of Africa’s superb light and wildlife, and focus on something that’s important to you both.
Read more on photographic safaris.
Couples who are cautious
Love is love and we believe in equal rights for everyone. But we’re also well aware of the reality in some African countries, where not everyone is welcomed with open arms, We’re here to help you navigate the minefield that is travelling in Africa if you’re a same-sex couple. Don’t worry, it’s totally do-able, there are plenty of wonderful, welcoming places and you’ll absolutely love it. You just need to talk to someone in the know first (that’s us!).