Why Africa will always remind me that dreams do come true....
Our honeymoon trip to Africa was the absolute highlight of 2019. Of course, right after the wedding! David and I knew we wanted an adventure because we weren’t sure when we would be able to travel that far and for that long in the coming years. We wanted a little bit of adventure, historical sightseeing and uber relaxation. So a trip to the Motherland it was! Thankfully, we got the idea of a wedding honey fund from our friends and it was the best decision we could have made. I had the responsibility of planning our wedding while David planned the honeymoon. With less than 6 months to plan the honeymoon, (once we decided where we wanted to go) it was a lot of planning on his part. The best part for me was that he kept a lot of the details to himself, so I was pleasantly surprised many times throughout our trip.
About 5 weeks after our wedding, we boarded the first leg of our trip, overnight nonstop flight to London Heathrow before a second leg to South Africa. We had over 8 hours in London, but we decided to relax in the airport rather than tour the city. It was December in London and we didn’t pack any cold-weather gear so we brunched it up and caught up on emails.
Later, we boarded our 11-hour flight to Johannesburg then a short flight to Nelspruit where Krueger National Park is located. We were met by our friendly driver who picked us at the gate. The driver was booked together with the safari package. About an hour and a very quiet drive later, we pulled into the driveway of Savanah Lodge at Sabi Sands. It was evening by the time we got there so we couldn’t get a great view of the property. I was surprised at how open the property was…everything felt like it was outdoors.
Our lodge was gorgeous! We stayed in the luxury suite which was fully stocked with local wines, a romantic indoor/outdoor bath and a small pool. Dinner our first night was served outside by our personal butler, Paxton and was incredibly delicious. Paxton was available day and night and soon learned our personal favorite meals and drinks. He was extremely nice and took great care of us. The service overall was beyond first class and made hubby and I felt like royalty for the week! Breakfast ( as well as lunch and dinner) was served family style in a large common area with other guest. We would meet at 5-5:30 AM in the morning before heading out to bush for game drives. Drives started around 6am until about 9:30 am with a 2nd drive around 3 – 6pm. In between drives we caught up on rest, massages or worked out.
The drives started early to maximize sunlight and to minimize driving during high noon. Layering your outfits is key! December in the bush usually starts off with cool mornings that quickly transition to blazing heat and then cool again by nightfall. I always carried a jacket, scarf and wide brimmed hat with me on our drives.
Two of my favorite activities during drives were the mid-morning coffee stops in the middle of the bush and the evening happy hour while watching the African sunset. These were some of the most unforgettable moments of our trip. This was my first safari experience but man oh man… it was so surreal. One our first day, we saw 4 of the Big Five - leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and the buffalo. On our 2nd day, we found a very full and lazy pride of lions. It was amazing, scary and the craziest experience of my life. Don’t get me wrong, we were safe and protected (all the guides carry rifles and are trained to spot distress in the animals) but you also feel very exposed and open in the wild.
Dinner was another unforgettable experience. Hands down, these were some of the best meals I’ve had in my life. To top it off, the lodge also created surprising and unique dinner experiences for all the guest. One night, we had a candle lit dinner in the bush with a special performance from a local tribe. Our African Safari was the dream trip of a lifetime.
After 5 days of the lush bush experience, we jetted off on a late afternoon flight to our next stop, Zimbabwe. We flew into Zambia first and was immediately met by our driver. He took us on a short drive through the city center and then through the Zambia border patrol office. You must be processed both in Zambia and when entering Zimbabwe. The scene at border patrol was extremely chaotic and HOT. Thankfully, part of our package included an expedited passport process. Our driver was able to get us in and out very quickly. Do yourself a favor and book some help beforehand. Every person and vehicle crossing the border has to be screen and the wait time is extremely long! Don’t be surprised if you find some baboons relaxing on the street either.
We checked into the Ilala Lodge Hotel which also has animals parading through the property throughout the day.. The accommodations were uber nice, tranquil and very relaxing! After a whirlwind of activity at the Safari, we used Zimbabwe as a moment to chill and relax. While there, we took in a picturesque river cruise down the Zambezi River and toured the majestic Victoria Falls. We visited the falls during dry season so it wasn’t as powerful as you typically see it photographed but it was still a magnificent site. A paid tour is not needed at all.
We spent 3 days in Zimbabwe before heading to a quick day trip to Johannesburg.
Joburgh was just an overnight layover so we didn’t venture too far. We stayed in a new touristy district with food and shopping in walking distance. It was significantly cooler than our previous spots. The hotel, African Pride Melrose Arch, was beautiful! Very artsy, eccentric and gave me such cool vibes. We lunched at a nearby seafood restaurant serving enormous portions, shopped the nearby mall and grabbed drinks at the hotel library bar. By the next morning, we caught breakfast at the restaurant before jetting off to the final stop on our Love Jones dream trip, Seychelles.
A 4 hour flight across the Indian Ocean and we found ourselves in the beautiful East African island of Mahe, Seychelles. The airport itself had a very creole almost Polynesian feel to it. To my surprise, I detected Haitian creole being spoken by the customs agents which is my parents native language! I was able to communicate with certain people between the islands but you soon learn that Seychelles has a very mixed culture filled with many different nationalities and languages.
Our resort, The Hilton Northholme Resort Hotel , was built on the top of a mountain. It was a very windy taxi ride up the mountain to access it. We arrived the evening of Christmas Eve so the island was relatively quiet. We checked in, grabbed room service and knocked out! By morning, we were finally able to take in our surroundings. It was Christmas morning and I felt like I was waking up to a tropical dream. Our room was breathtaking and was directly above the beach. The waves crashed ALL DAY long. We had a beautiful view of both the water and the mountains in the background. And don’t get me started on the FOOD! The most delicious seafood you could ask for! We were in love! We spent the first few days lounging at the resort pool before venturing out to the nearby local beach for some sightseeing.
A few days before leaving, we decided to go Island hopping by first visiting the Island of Praslin (boasting one of the world’s most beautiful beach) then biking through the tiny island of La Digue. *Note to self, sun burning is real thing- even to black people. We accessed both islands through a private (and bumpy) boat charter. While both Islands are beautiful, La Digue was my favorite…It reminded me more of a tiny Caribbean island with its colorful houses and warm beaches. Those huge boulder rocks you see photographed all the time are also located here. Both Islands were stunning…including Mahe island where we were staying. The water is a striking blue and the sun is WHITE hot.
Seychelles was a perfect end to our dream honeymoon… the trip home was exhausting but oh so worth it! Highly recommend it! Babe, you did good!
The next adventure awaits...catch me if you can!