It took us two years after our wedding, which was Labor Day weekend 2011, to finally go on our safari honeymoon in Africa. We went back on forth about where to go, when, and how much to spend. We almost did a shorter Africa trip in February, but we had to cancel when a work emergency came up just days before our deposit was due. We ended up going in late August, just before our anniversary. The weather was hot but not insufferable, there were absolutely no mosquitoes, and the animals were fairly easy to see, especially in Chobe, which is like the Disneyland of safari parks.
Our trip was 17 days and included Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. I love, loved our trip, but if I was going to recommend a honeymoon, I would stick with South Africa, doing a safari in Kruger (Sabi Sands if you can afford the splurge), followed by Cape Town and wine tasting in Stellenbosch.
That said, the Chobe River and Okavango Delta in Botswana were fantastic. The Chobe River is perhaps my favorite. It was very crowded when we were there — I didn’t expect to see as many people as animals — but for good reason. There are animals everywhere. It’s stunning. You see so many giraffes, elephants, hippos, birds, and impala that you almost get tired of seeing them. We even saw lions and (female) and a leopard in our first three days of the trip. We did a sunset cruise which was just magical. All the animals cross the river, which is set against an amazing orange sunset. It was incredibly romantic, except while I was on the cruise my husband was fly fishing elsewhere on the river, having a very romantic evening with his Tigerfish and a random man with a boat.
After Botswana, we headed over to Kafue National Park in Zambia. We saw a lot in Zambia: mating lions, a cheetah, a cheetah eating an impala, a pack of wild dogs, and a small nocturnal cat which I think was an ocelot. There were also biting flies in Zambia, which are a literal pain in the ass. We stayed along the Kafue River and could hear hippos from our “luxury” tents. I picked up the flu virus from one of the travelers on our tour and missed a day of safari (when they saw lions!), but I had a very close encounter with an elephant that came right up to my tent and flapped it’s ears at me.
From Zambia we went to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Hwange is an old park with man-made watering holes. The history is interesting, but I won’t go into it. We stayed in a hotel there and the rooms and patio had a great view of animals, but I actually could have skipped Hwange. It was a little underwhelming after the isolation of Kafue and the beauty of Botswana. However, we did see a lot of female lions and juvenile males, plus the elephants are tame enough you can almost touch them from your jeep.
We ended the trip at Victoria Falls, which is beautiful. We were on the Zimbabwe side of the falls, because it is supposedly a better view. You can hike around the falls from Zimbabwe, but I hear you can (or could?) actually swim in the falls from Zambia. We also took a helicopter ride over the falls (my first!), which I highly, highly recommend.
All and all it was a fantastic trip and it made me want to plan more trips to Afrcia. I would really like to do the Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Sabi Sands trip in South Africa, as well as a Tanzania and Kenya trip, with a stay at Giraffe Manor. If you’ve been, don’t tell me about it, I’ll just be jealous :).