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Destination I Do

Under The African Sky

Words by Adrienne Jordan


From spotting lions and leopards on a game drive in South Africa, to watching the sun rise over Rwanda’s dramatic volcano landscape, newlyweds can experience an unforgettable honeymoon in Africa. A destination wedding is also possible with careful planning and choosing the right setting, whether it be overlooking animals in the distance or in the midst of Victoria Falls.

Volcanoes Safaris is a luxury safari company operating in the East African countries of Rwanda and Uganda and have honeymoon-style suites at their Virunga and Mount Gahinga lodges. Honeymooners have life-changing encounters with the endangered silverback gorillas, where couples hike with a guide to spend an hour in the majestic primates’ presence.

A third of Africa’s bird species reside in Rwanda and Volcanoes Safaris organizes birdwatching in the lush Volcanoes National Park. Hiking through varying habitats, from bamboo and Hagenia to open areas, will yield endemic species like colorful olive woodpeckers and swift African dusky flycatchers. In Uganda, newlyweds can experience cultural dance performances by the Batwa pygmies, nomadic hunter-gatherers who have lived in the forests for thousands of years.

Most people know South Africa to be popular for its game drive offerings as a chance to spot Africa’s “Big Five” (lion, rhino, leopard, elephant and buffalo). After spending a few days at the upscale Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in Eastern Cape, couples should take a quick flight to Northern Cape for a tour of the country’s desert wildflowers along the Namaqualand Flower Route. Every year in August and September, 4,000 species of flowers bloom with vibrancy in the wildlife reserves of Northern Cape. The 780km route offers a romantic drive with stops in the wildflower parks, 4x4 expeditions, biking, trips to stunning waterfalls and photo-ops inside the alien-like Quiver Tree Forest.

At the 5-star Royal Livingstone Hotel in Zambia (a 40-minute flight from Cape Town), weddings take place on a gazebo with zebras in the background and Victoria Falls as a backdrop. Wedding party guests can participate in a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls or a massage overlooking the Zambezi River. Africa offers beautiful landscapes for a destination wedding. “I would recommend that any wedding couple plan a 10-14 day trip minimum,” says Kim Gorres, President of Travel Leaders in New Richmond, Wisconsin. “There is so much to see and do and such a wide variety of options. Rates would vary from $4,000 to $11,000 per person.” Depending on departure city, flight times can range from eight to 16 hours. For example, a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa from New York takes 16 hours. 

Whether you plan to visit for your honeymoon or destination wedding, Africa is sure to create long-lasting memories for you and your guests.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Volcanoes Safaris (1st, 2nd & 3rd), Kwandwe Game Reserve (4th), South African Tourism (5th) and Sun International (6th)

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2015 issue. You can order a copy here.

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