South Africa is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway.
Stargazing in the wide open plains of the Kruger, sipping sundowners as elephants meander past and private dining in the bush are just some of the incredible ways to get closer to your loved one in South Africa.
With all that in mind, this is our experts’ guide to the most romantic safari lodges in South Africa.
A collection of unfenced private concessions bordering the Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve is the best place to get up close to wildlife in South Africa. This reserve is the oldest in the country, so the incredible animals aren’t shy when it comes to human visitors. The wildlife here has become accustomed to vehicles roaming the park, allowing for unrivalled chances to watch elusive leopards or wild dogs as they hunt. This wonderful part of South Africa is a must-visit for any honeymooners who appreciate wildlife as much as they appreciate each other.
As well as excellent wildlife spotting, Sabi Sands is also home to some of the most romantic safari lodges in South Africa. Singita properties in particular are known for offering one of the most exclusive safari experiences across Africa, and the Singita Reserve is no different. This reserve in Sabi Sands is Singita’s longest-running operation, and its luxurious lodges here live up to their reputation.
All three lodges offer twice daily game drives with professional trackers, guided safari walks and opportunities for mountain biking and archery. Modern comforts are also not foregone, with a spa, heated swimming pool and an on-site wine cellar all adding to the luxurious feel. The Singita Ebony Lodge is a great choice for couples as well; all twelve suites come with their own private plunge pool, and romantic evenings can be whiled away on stargazing excursions.
Kruger National Park is renowned for being one of the oldest and largest wildlife reserves in the world. Home to over 500 species of bird and more varieties of mammals than any other reserve, it’s no surprise that parts of the Kruger can become crowded. There are ways, however, to ensure you have an exclusive Kruger safari experience; lodges in private concessions bordering the park are a great base from which to enjoy a secluded Kruger safari.
At the private Singita Concession, guests have exclusive off-road access throughout the site. In this area, dramatic ridges overlook wide open plains, making it a truly magical place for a romantic getaway. Both of Singita’s lodges here – Lebombo and Sweni – are around ten minutes’ walk from each other, with each offering twice daily game drives and guided bush walks on request. Lebombo offers sweeping views over the Kruger from its vantage point on a bluff as well as superior lounging opportunities at its long outdoor pool and spacious deck area.
Set in the bush, Sweni feels slightly more secluded – each of the six intimate rooms here come with indoor and outdoor showers, bathtubs and a private deck area. Guests can spend time here swapping stories at the convivial bar or observing hippos in the river below from the large windows.
The expansive Kalahari spreads over Botswana, Namibia and South Africa – far removed from the typical tourist trail, this region offers a unique insight into true African wilderness. The vast Tswalu Private Game Reserve is termed the ‘Green Kalahari,’ as this fascinating area supports eighty mammal species and over three hundred species of bird. There are only two accommodation options here, so there is a maximum of thirty guests in the reserve at any one time. Guests who stay for three nights or longer are rewarded with a complimentary private vehicle, guide and tracker, so you’ll be able to make the Kalahari your own.
There are other incredible luxury lodges in the Kalahari, as well, all of which are perfect for couples in search of a romantic getaway. Motse Camp comes with private sundecks on which to watch the warming sunset, romantic opportunities to sleep out under the stars and an infinity pool to cool off in. Although Tarkuni House is a private house that is rented in its entirety, it’s a good option for couples travelling as a group of friends. Five elegant suites sleep up to ten people, and a private chef, butler, field guide, vehicle and tracker are all provided.
The Western Cape’s mountainous interior provides an off the beaten path safari experience for those looking for something a little different. At a three to four hour drive from Cape Town, this hidden part of South Africa is remote yet accessible and possesses some of the country’s best wilderness retreats. In the shadow of the Cederberg mountains, Bushman’s Kloof Reserve is the area’s standout region, stretching over 7,500 hectares. This landscape is truly captivating; waterfalls and large open plains are carpeted in blooming flowers, and ancient rock formations punctuate blue skies. As well as the expected safari opportunities, there is a plethora of activities to do here. Stargazing, rock painting excursions, nature hiking and swimming near waterfalls are just some of the incredible things on offer.
There are two accommodation options in Bushman’s Kloof – the Main Lodge and the private Koro Lodge. As the latter is a private residence more suited to families, the Main Lodge is the property of choice for a romantic getaway. With fourteen rooms and two suites, there is something to suit every type of couple at this Relais & Chateaux property. The impressive Paterson suite is ideal for honeymooners, as days can be spent enjoying the private infinity pool. Dining at the Embers Boma, surrounded by manicured lawns and verdant gardens, also makes for an unforgettable experience.
KwaZulu Natal is another province in South Africa known for its safari parks and reserves. In the northern corner of the KwaZulu Natal’s eastern coast, the Phinda Private Game Reserve is a small reserve, founded on the principles of conservation-based hospitality. The phrase ‘good things come in small packages’ rings true for Phinda – this intimate 56,800 acre reserve is like no other in Africa. Phinda’s conservation strategy – now used as a model for reserves all over the continent – has led to cheetahs, black rhinos, the Big Five and 415 species of bird all being spotted here. This part of South Africa is fantastic for romantic trips, as its proximity to the coast means travellers can combine both beach and bush.
The Phinda Vlei Lodge is an extremely romantic setting in which to enjoy this region’s magnificent wildlife. This lodge is located on the edge of a thick forest overlooking a grass meadow, so guests can spot game visiting a nearby watering hole every morning and evening. During the day, guests can partake in day trips to the beach or nearby Zulu village, walking safaris and rhino tracking. Some of the more romantic arrangements on offer include private dining on your terrace, in-room massages and cosying up by the fire in the communal sitting room.
Located on the banks of the Sand River in Sabi Sands, Londolozi Granite Suites are as romantic as it gets. The independent and family-run Londolozi reserve, home to five properties including the Granite Suites, has had a longstanding commitment to both ecotourism and local community involvement. As a result, guests are able to view the reserve’s resident leopards and elephants from an enviable setting.
With only three rooms housing six guests, Londolozi Granite Suites is the most exclusive camp in Africa. Staying here is an out of this world experience. A sunset river bar and sunken cocktail lounge are set high above the Sand River, where herds of elephants wander beneath. The granite rocks peppered throughout the property seamlessly blend the indoors with the outdoors, creating the feeling that guests are constantly in nature. Each suite also comes with a luxurious outdoor bath, private heated swimming pool and windows opening on to the Sand River, making this property unbeatable for honeymooning couples.
Feeling inspired? Our expert travel designers are always on hand to help you plan your romantic getaway to South Africa.