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Honeymoon safari and beach

York, United Kingdom
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Honeymoon safari and beach

Hi there,

We would really appreciate people's help in planning our honeymoon. We would like to spent about a week on safari at two different sites hopefully. We are really keen to do a canoeing/camping safari for 3 nights as part of this week as feel it would be a really different experience. We are not fussed about luxury accommodation but don't really want to camp for the whole time. The most important thing to us is seeing lots of wildlife and we would prefer to have an experience that is a 'real'. I have been on safari in Thornybush in Kruger and while this was amazing, we would like something less developed/touristy. After this we want to have a week on a beach somewhere ideally with good scuba diving.

We really liked the thought of 3 or 4 nights in S.Luangwa then 3 nights on Lower Zambezi doing canoeing safari then week on Mozambique, Malawi or Zanzibar/Mafia Island, but our budget is about £4000pp and I'm not sure we can get this within budget due to the internal flights.

Any thoughts that people have about how our plan might be achieved would be hugely appreciated. While we really like what we have read about Zambia, we are open to other countries that people might recommend.

Thank you in anticipation,

Liz

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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1. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

If you want to combine a canoe safari with 3 or 4 nights land based safari, my initial thought would be that you might be better off in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe for both. Mana Pools is on the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi, opposite Lower Zambezi NP. Similar to South Luangwa, Mana is known for walking safaris.

This might cut out some of your internal flying around. You would come in via Johannesburg as a hub anyway, and you could combine a week on the beach by flying out to somewhere- my gut feeling is that Mozambique would be the most accessible. You might well have to go back via Johannesburg- not sure if you could, for example, fly direct from Harare to Moz.

Edinburgh, United...
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2. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

Hi- I have a crucial question- what time of year do you want to go? Zambia/Zim and Malawi or S. Tanzania/Zanzibar could work equally well for what you want to do, but have slightly different weather systems so this could affect things.

I'd very much agree with you in prioritising the experience over necessarily the posh accommodation, so I can reassure you that having been to all of these places they would tick the off the the beaten track box and they definitely feel authentic/real! Provided you are clever with the budget and aren't looking to go in absolute peak season, you should be able to get what you want in.

I haven't really mentioned Mozambique as I think this is likely to push the costs very high (though it is accessible, to generalise hugely, accommodation is either fairly luxe- lovely but pricey- or geared up more towards South Africans/locals driving in themselves- with things as they currently are, I would not recommend Mozambique self drive for a honeymoon, could be a bit high stress!) but any of the others I would think would work well.

Alexandra Matts- Travel Director- Extraordinary Africa

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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3. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

If you are just looking for a wilder, less commercialised safari experience, and the actual canoeing itself is less important, then I'd agree that a Southern Tanzania/Mafia, Pemba or Zanzibar combination is likely to work out least expensive, and most likely to fit your budget. You could split your week on safari between Selous and Ruaha, or spend 7 nights in Ruaha. If looking for something more interesting than just staying in a safari camp, then you could look at Kichaka Expeditions (http://www.kichakaexpeditions.com/) who specialise in walking. I'm booked to go with them in Aug this year. I think a combination of 3 nights with them plus 4 in a fixed camp in Ruaha (I love Kwihala) would be a great choice, and in the spirit of what you're after but without the canoeing. Although Moli (the guide/owner of Kichaka) did mention to me they were thinking of getting some canoes for use on one of the rivers, so you never know!!

California
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4. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

To further push the Southern Tanzania circuit idea, although it's not canoeing, Selous offers boat safaris.

Wayzata, Minnesota
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5. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

Hi Lizard 101 from Manchester! I see that some other safari gurus have chimed in and delighted that they’ve given you some stellar advice. Based on your original post and your desire to combine canoe/water based safari with another general destination, I’d echo stokeygirls recommendation of looking into Zimbabwe in addition to your Zambia idea. Goliath Safaris owned and operated by Stretch Ferreira is an awesome camp, really honing in on big game walking safaris and canoeing. I consider him, along with people like Steve Edwards from Matusadona, to be living legends of Zimbabwe – they are remarkable people and guides. Stretch used to offer a “canoe trail” program, but I think this program withered away after minimal interest. Now, I believe you just canoe from camp. Other camps you should consider in Mana Pools would be Ruckomechi by Wilderness Safaris (very chic), Vundu or Zambezi Lifestyles by African Bush Camps.

You can then combine your Mana Pools experience with Lake Kariba/Matusadona which is another stellar canoeing destination. As I mentioned, the legendary Steve Edwards (former warden of Matusadona) owns Musango Camp – a rather rustic affair (as is Goliath) but the focus is entirely on the experience. You may also wish to consider Changa Camp which opened relatively recently and from what I understand, owned and operated by ex-Wilderness Safari folk. My colleague Marguerite Smit is currently there with good reports thus far. Changa is a bit more chic than Musango and perhaps a bit more appropriate for honeymooners?

Alternatively, you can head to Hwange National Park – arguably one of the very best places in Africa to see elephants. Based on your budget, I’d look into The Hide, Somalisa, Davidson’s Camp, and Camp Hwange. This pairs really well with Mana Pools as a complementary experience and you can include Victoria Falls as when you depart Hwange (you’d leave Zimbabwe via Vic Falls anyways!). Super circuit, very productive with great water elements to feed your interests.

You also mentioned the idea of Zambia which I think would come in close to Zimbabwe costs (if not potentially less). At your price point, I would recommend Lion Camp in South Luangwa (best value luxury camp in South Luangwa – in my opinion) and combine that with 3 nights at the newly opened Anabezi Camp in Lower Zambezi (they are offering a pay 2, stay 3 special which makes this place exceptional value).

I personally enjoy ZIM for places like Goliath and Musango which are totally experience focused, but for a romantic honeymoon, the accommodations at these places may not deliver. Since I don’t know the two of you, I really cannot make this call, but if I were planning a romantic safari/honeymoon for my friends, I’d probably opt for Zambia. With that said, whether you choose ZIM or ZAM, you won’t be disappointed!

As for the beach portion of your trip, suggestions have been made for MOZ and other areas. I do agree that Mozambique will generally drive up your costs. I understand that this isn’t a “beach” experience, but have you considered Lake Malawi? I think this is a phenomenal destination for a bit of culture and R&R with good canoeing, snorkeling and diving. There are scheduled flights from Zambia that services Lilongwe, Malawi – so from a cost perspective, this may meet your needs a bit better than say, flying all the way to Zanzibar or Mozambique. Check out Kaya Mawa, Mumbo Island or Nkwichi (on the Mozambique side) – I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Congrats on your engagement and good luck on the honeymoon planning~

Kota Tabuchi, Managing Director: Africa, Travel Beyond

York, United Kingdom
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6. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

Thank you all so much for taking the time to give us such great feedback and information. Alexandra we are hoping to be in Africa for the first two weeks of October; does that affect your recommendations?

With regards to Zimbabwe, the locations that you recommend look amazing but my partner does not want to visit Zimbabwe. I know that there are reasons to keep visiting to support locals but he does not want to finance or support Mugabe in any way.

In terms of the wildlife experience in Selous/Ruaha vs South Luangwa/Lower Zambezi, how do they compare? I will be looking at all of the lodges that you recommend in these places.

Thanks for the info on Mozambique; it doesn't sound like it's the right time to visit. We are definitely going to go with Lake Malawi or Zanzibar/Mafia Island. We want to Scuba dive as well as kayak and chill out. Which would you recommend for diving? Kaya Mawa looks AMAZING by the way; right up my street :)

One final question is should we use a travel agency to organise the trip or just contact the lodges and book flights ourselves? How easy will it be to book transfers etc? We have done a lot of independent travel before so are confident in it but don't want a load of hassle with it being our honeymoon. Also in your experience, is it likely to be cheaper to sort ourselves or do travel agencies get promotions/offers?

Thanks,

Liz

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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7. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

>In terms of the wildlife experience in Selous/Ruaha vs South Luangwa/Lower Zambezi, how do they compare?

Pretty similar quality of game viewing I'd say. Certainly Ruaha and South Luangwa (my 2 favourite places) are similar. You won't get any cheetah in the two Zambian parks, whereas they are in Ruaha (but not Selous). October is an excellent time for game viewing in Zambia, although it will be very hot. I haven't been in Southern Tanzania at that time but it's at the end of the dry season there so should also be good.

As for diving, I've only dived in Zanzibar. The diving has been OK but not in the same league as other places I've dived (Red Sea, Maldives, Roatan, Sodwana Bay). I haven't dived in Lake Malawi, but obviously it's fresh water diving so will be a completely different experience.

I would definitely use an agent for these places. Booking everything separately would be complicated and agents do get better rates. I've used Expert Africa for both Zambia and Southern Tanzania and they've been great. For a couple of recent trips they had to re arrange the trips for me because BA cancelled their direct routes to Dar and Lusaka so all the timings changed. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to deal with all that myself.

Edinburgh, United...
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8. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

October- yes, probably that would push me a little more in favour of Tanzania (though I do really, really love Zambia). Not for nothing is October known as "suicide month" in the South Luangwa. Game viewing should be extremely good. And the heat will be extremely hot. As high as 40 degrees some days. Probably Tanzania would better for diving and budget also (though if you were going to throw the budget in the bin, I might do an about turn and shout for Kaya Mawa- magic). If I'm honest though, I've been to all of these places and loved them all, so I am sure you will have an incredible time, whichever you choose.

Alexandra Matts- Travel Director- Extraordinary Africa.

9. Re: Honeymoon safari and beach

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