James, our European expert, recently went on a quintessential safari and beach honeymoon in Tanzania. He handed the reins over to the Scott Dunn Africa Consultants and let them organize a honeymoon to treasure.
I’m very lucky to work for Scott Dunn. Although I work in the European department if I want some advice on where to go and what to do outside of Europe, all I have to do is cross the office for expert advice from someone who knows the ins and outs of their destination, like the back of their hand! This year I got married, and obviously, as the travel professional, it was down to me to book the honeymoon. The only brief was that it should be outside Europe (otherwise I’d be too busy checking rooms and facilities for future Scott Dunn Europe guests – too much like a work trip!) and, of course, it should be the trip of a lifetime. No pressure then.
After making several cups of tea and buying several after work drinks for various colleagues, I finally settled on East Africa. The weather was set fair for a winter escape from the rain and cold, and the idea of combining the thrill of being on safari with the chance to relax on perfect golden sandy beaches was too good to resist. My wife and I had never considered a safari vacation before, but now I am back I can see why it’s such a popular option for honeymoon couples as it’s an experience quite unlike any other type of luxury vacation, and makes for a unique trip of a lifetime that a newlywed couple will never forget.
As I am sure is the case with many of our guests, at this busy time of life, my wife and I did not have huge amounts of time to look into vast numbers of options. So I put my trust in Scott Dunn’s Africa specialists to find the right trip for me, took all the advice offered, and before long my new bride and I were landing in Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. Exiting the airport and surrounded by thronging taxi drivers, we were greeted by a friendly face with my name on a signboard. From that moment until my return to the UK everything was taken care of – all we had to do was enjoy the ride!
We had chosen a three center vacation, which involved stops at two different and contrasting locations in the bush and a final few days relaxing on the beach before returning to London. Getting around involved a series of flights in tiny propeller planes, which was a thrilling way to see the country. I’ll never forget coming in to land at the tiny airstrip by Siwandu, our first stop, in our tiny Cessna, with a herd of warthog hurrying off the runway just as we touched down.
After a 10 minute drive by safari jeep from the airstrip to the camp, during which we saw our first giraffe and impala, we were shown to our tent. It was unlike any tent I have ever seen! Equipped with a huge king-sized bed, it boasted a well-appointed indoor bathroom complete with outdoor shower. We had an amazing view waking up on the first morning to see a herd of wild elephant trooping along the shores of Lake Nzerakera from our private terrace.
We spent the next couple of days in the Selous Game Reserve. As the dry season was coming to a close, all of the wildlife was clustering close to the lake; we saw everything from vigorously amorous lions to rapaciously hungry crocodiles. The highlight was probably when our eagle-eyed safari guide managed to spot a leopard camouflaged in some scrubland. We quietly approached in our open-topped Land Rover to within 5 meters and got some great photos! As well as game drives we enjoyed a boat safari, a walk through the bush with a rifle-toting local guide, and even a floating lunch on the lake surrounded by hippos.
Our next small plane ride took us to Jongomero, Siwandu’s sister camp located deep in the remote Ruaha National Park. It’s so remote, in fact, that the nearest neighbors are several hours away by gravel track and in order to get supplies for our gourmet dinners, the chef had to make a 10 hour round trip to the nearest town. Happily, this fact seemed to have no effect what-so-ever on the quality of food and drinks which was excellent. And it meant that when we were out and about viewing the wildlife on foot and by jeep in this much lusher, greener, higher altitude area of the country there was no chance of meeting other tourists – a stay at Jongomero is a truly exclusive experience.
Highlights of our stay included enjoying a gin and tonic at sunset while watching a herd of 60 odd elephants crossing the Ruaha river below us and photographing a pride of lions from close quarters as they polished off a meal of yesterday’s left over hippo leg!
Before returning to a chilly December in London we made a final stop at Ras Kutani. ‘Barefoot luxury’ is the name of the game at this small but well-appointed beach resort a short flight from the capital. If it’s available, ask for Suite 1; high above the rest of the resort it offers a lovely terrace with private plunge pool, a view over the trees to the deserted golden sandy beach and the Indian Ocean beyond. It’s perfect for a romantic escape! What did we do here? Nothing much. It was the perfect spot to relax, enjoy some sunshine, friendly and attentive service and delicious meals before our return to the British winter. We were particularly impressed on the last night of our stay when, without even enquiring, we were ushered from the outdoor restaurant to a private table on the beach under the stars for a romantic end to the perfect African honeymoon.