With wild mountains and hiking traits, this aquatic paradise offers surprise adventure
Often confused with the Maldives, its distant and decidedly flat Indian Ocean neighbour, Mauritius couldn’t be more different (blissful beaches and underwater natural treasures aside). Bursting dramatically from the waters east of Madagascar, this island is no coral atoll – jagged peaks of unimaginable shapes rise above tropical forests, sugarcane plantations carpet rolling hills and rivers cascade off 100m cliffs to frothing pools below. Exciting activities away from the beach abound.
Many of the wild expanses, such as Black River Gorges National Park, are criss-crossed with trails for hiking (and a few for mountain biking, too) that will take you through verdant, flowering foliage and deposit you at viewpoints that will vanquish what breath you have left. Looking down over Mauritius’ coastline and seeing the kaleidoscopic collision of blue hues between the encircling reef and coastline is simply spellbinding. And it’s those protected, shallow waters that are perfect for water-based activities, beneath or atop the surface.
Culturally, Mauritius is bursting with diversity, with Indian, African, Chinese and French ancestries at the fore. Taking the chance to embrace this ever-peaceful society, by visiting communities or dining on cuisine as colourful and ethnically varied as the population at family-run tables d’hote, is one of Mauritius’ true honeymoon rewards.
ESSENTIAL HONEYMOON EXPERIENCES
- Standing like a sentinel, the hulking behemoth of Le Morne Brabant mountain looms large over Le Morne Peninsula – it’s so impressive-looking that it’s hard to know whether to face your beach lounger to the stunning sea or towards its vertical slopes. However, the 500m climb up it with a guide from Yanature offers views that put all else to shame.
- Marriage is about trust and sharing, yes? So head to Grand Riviere Noire and rent a two- person Sea Kart for a tour of Mauritius’ mesmerizing west coast. Take turns behind the controls of this speedy jet boat.
- Located on a secluded bay just north of the capital city of Port Louis, the 5-star Angsan a Balaclava resort offers luxurious suites with traditional elements such as thatched roofs and stone floors. Activities including sunset cruises, kayaking, cookery classes and traditional folk dancing can be arranged.
- Resting peacefully beneath the towering cliffs of Le Morne Brabant, Lux Le Morne has perhaps the most spectacular setting on the island. Although spread along a golden arc of beach, it has an intimacy that belies its size.
ZAMBIA AND MALAWI
Blending the thrills of a safari Zambia with the beaches of Lake Malawi makes for an extraordinary African honeymoon
Flanked by the mighty Zambezi River and the impressive Zambezi escarpment, Lower Zambezi National Park is gorgeous and crawling with iconic African wildlife.
What’s more, the guides are trained to offer you more than just the traditional wildlife drives – you can slide silently in a canoe past elephant, relax with a G&T in a guided powerboat, hike the escarpment for stunning views or track wildlife on foot.
Having this menu of activity options allows you to customise each day to suit your level of energy (after all, you may still be catching our breath post-wedding). And rest assured, even spending the entire day relaxing at the riverside camps is richly rewarding, with wildlife always in sight on the Zambezi.
Do try to wake prior to dawn for safari activities at least once or twice, though, as sunrise is a glorious moment in the African bush, with perfect light for photography and many animals at their most active. Combining an enthralling safari with luxurious beach time is a well-regarded honeymoon favourite, and in this regard Zambia pairs incredibly well with neighbouring Malawi. The ‘Lake of Stars’ has long proved that some of Africa’s most beautiful beaches are not on its coast, but inland, and it is now home to some sumptuous accommodation options.
ESSENTIAL HONEYMOON EXPERIENCES
- Gracefully paddling down the Zambezi in a canoe, past pods of hippos, herds of elephants and flocks of birds, is as enchanting as it is exciting (being at eye level with lions on the bank definitely falls into the latter). Together you can join an expert guide in a single canoe, or take to one yourselves (if experienced) and simply follow the leader.
- Traditional dhows have long been associated with Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, but climbing aboard one for a sunset cruise on the waters of Lake Malawi is a romantic way to see the sun sink beneath the surface.
- Dining by lantern’s light on your lodge’s deck next to the midnight-black waters of the Zambezi is romantic, but it can be eclipsed by a private starlit meal on one of the river’s sandy islets. A quiet word with your lodge manager is usually enough to do the trick.
- Hovering on the banks of the Zambezi minutes from Lower Zambezi National Park, the Royal Zambezi Lodge is rich in safari ambience. Sumptuous tents all have river views, and the sweeping private deck of the honeymoon suite has its own plunge pool, daw-foot tub and day bed. The guiding is top notch.
- Perched above the southern end of Lake Malawi among the trees and rugged outcrops of the Nankumba Peninsula, Pumulani has 10 gorgeous villas, each topped with grass roofs. Chili on the white sands or in the infinity pool with its Lofty Lake views.