Namibia offers some stunning retreats for a romantic holiday
“Kulala” means to sleep in Oshiwambo dialect, and with each of the 11 villas at Little Kulala Lodge boasting a rooftop bed there can be few better places to enjoy a romantic spot of stargazing under a cloudless African sky.
But the spectacle is not just reserved for after dark.
During the day panoramic views of The Namib – the oldest desert in the world – and the world-renowned mesmerising Sossusvlei dunes (where you’ll spend two nights) bring to life the spectacular natural beauty of Namibia which was formed over millions of years and is where the desert meets the sea.
There are outdoor showers, private plunge pools and different wildlife to other African countries.
Whether you trundle over the bush on a quadbike or on foot, or take a hot-air balloon, there’s a unique chance to see the springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, desert elephant, mountain zebra, bat-eared fox, the rarely-spotted aardwolf and a hardy selection of fauna that survive in the harsh, unrelenting conditions.
Namibia is said to be at the top of Meghan and Harry’s honeymoon wish list. And if it is, it’s not difficult to see why.
A flying safari offers the opportunity to scour the extraordinary landscapes.
Namibian wildlife adds another feature to an already beautiful setting
You’ll spend a night in the capital Windhoek, a night each in Swakopmund and Damaraland, two on the Skeleton Coast and two at Ongava Private Game Reserve.
For something completely different, the Shipwreck Lodge on the Skeleton Coast will open its doors on June 1.
Sitting between dunes overlooking the Atlantic, the whitewashed wood structure has been designed to resemble one of the shipwrecks littered along this coastline, around 68km north of Mowe Bay. Even the cabins will look like part of the ship, broken off in a storm.
Cox & Kings (0203 642 0861/ coxandkings.com) offers four nights in Namibia from £4,295pp (two sharing), B&B. Price includes two nights at Shipwreck Lodge and Hoanib Valley Camp, return flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg and transfers. Namibia tourism: namibiatourism.com.na
The shipwreck cabin interior
Sipping sundowners on your private deck while watching elephants and rhinos wallowing in the mud at a waterhole; dining alfresco with the distant sound of lions roaring under a carpet of stars; bumping along winding roads in search of the Big Five with guides who perch on a seat on the bonnet of a 4×4; sleeping in a beautifully appointed and discreet lodge with five-star trimmings.
Yes, Sir Richard Branson’s Ulusaba is a little bit of paradise in the wilderness that is Sabi Sands Reserve near Kruger National Park in South Africa.
The location is a scene-stealer, with the eight-room Rock Lodge perched on the summit of a koppie (small hill). From here, it feels as though the whole of Africa splays out before you. Down at ground level, the 11-room Safari Lodge is sprawled along the Mabrak riverbed.
You’ll cross swing bridges to get to your treehouse room complete with canopied beds, deep baths and massive private decks.
Ulusaba may prove difficult to get to but is well worth the wait
Levels of luxury and adventure that you’d expect from the Virgin billionaire.
And when it comes to eating there’s no shortage of memorable meals. Barbecues in the bush, formal dinners in the Rock House and lunch on the deck overlooking the river are just some of the many dining options.
The game is prolific here with the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo) relatively visible and if you don’t see them, the unflappable guides will literally drive until you do. South Africa’s Eastern Cape is where you’ll have a taster of both worlds.
The 7km of wide and pristine private beach offers an invigorating start to the morning or a chance to stretch your legs after an early morning game drive in the nearby bush.
What makes this safari so different is the vast diversity of activities on tap for guests.
Ulusaba offers a spectacular dining experience
Imagine horseriding along the shoreline, trying to catch the big one on a deep-sea fishing trip and canoeing while searching for the diverse river birdlife. But that’s not all. Play a round of golf or simply chill by the rock pool and while away the hours as you gaze out to sea.
Lodges dotted among the thick, natural bush are built on top of hills to capitalise on the sweeping views; South Africa does do a great beach.
The Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape may be remote but luxury isn’t compromised.
In fact it’s as sleek as a boutique hotel, with seven suites and even a three-bedroom house if you fancy bringing the family.
Highly polished floors, solid wooden furniture, African artefacts and large rugs sit beautifully under the thatched roofs. Pure animal magic.
Virgin Holidays (0344 557 3859/ virginholidays.co.uk) offers a three-night safari from £2,739 (two sharing), all inclusive. Price includes return flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg and private air transfers. South Africa Tourism: southafrica.net
South Africa’s Eastern Cape will provide the best of both worlds
Zimbabwe sat in Africa’s wilderness for many years as it was systematically plundered by deposed tyrant Robert Mugabe. Most tourists stayed away from this charming country while he was in power. Now it is witnessing a new dawn.
Game is being reintroduced into the parks, lodges and camps are opening up and there’s a burgeoning confidence that shines through in the staff, the rangers and the tourism industry.
This extraordinary beautiful country offers incredible vast landscapes, roaring rivers and of course the magnificent Victoria Falls.
Start at Zambezi Sands, an hour’s drive from Victoria Falls, staying in a Bedouin-style tent which is built on a raised platform overlooking the Zambezi river and has outdoor showers. Take game drives along the river or do it on two legs. Then glide along the river and watch the sunset.
At Somalisa in Hwange National Park you’ll experience what it’s like to stay in an authentic bush camp, with net flaps, open-air showers and African artefacts and prints.
Audley Travel (01993 838 590/audleytravel.com) offers three nights at Zambezi Sands in Victoria Falls and three nights at Somalisa Camp in Hwange National park from £4,420 (two sharing), all inclusive. Price includes return flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg and road transfers. Zimbabwe tourism: zimbabwetourism.net
Zambezi Sands’ raised tenting
We know that Botswana is special to Harry. He first went there more than 20 years ago and has been visiting ever since. Not only has he taken Meghan there twice, he chose a diamond from Botswana for her engagement ring.
The country exudes romance – and a stay on the Chobe River floodplain is no exception. Ngoma Safari Lodge offers views across a wild landscape dotted with baobab trees where elephants, giraffe and roan antelope roam. The eight suites are traditional in design with thatched roofs and private pools.
Float down the Chobe River where you’ll spot crocodiles sunning themselves on the shore and, if you’re lucky, elephants swimming across the water.
Other prolific wildlife includes the warthog waterbuck, kudu, baboon, leopard and jackal, not to mention hundreds of species of birds. ? Africa Sky (01342 889 469/africasafari.com) offers five nights at Ngoma Safari Lodge from £3,489 (two sharing), all inclusive. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow to Johannsburg and internal flights.
Botswana tourism: botswanatourism.co.bw
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