I’ve planned numerous trips and honeymoons for my readers in the past few years and nothing makes me happier than reading about their trip experiences. Below is a honeymoon I helped plan for my readers Susana and Eric visiting South Africa and Victoria Falls. The post is entirely written by Susana!
As avid travellers, who prefer to sightsee, trek, and get immersed in culture, lying on a beach for days on end isn’t our ideal vacation so when it came to our honeymoon, there was no question that South Africa would offer everything we were looking for and more.
With the chaos of planning a wedding abroad (in the north of Portugal) and trying to juggle our busy careers, it was tough to find time to plan our 5 week honeymoon, particularly the 3 weeks we devoted to South Africa. While doing copious amounts of research online, consulting guide books I had already purchased and even getting the assistance of Johannesburg friends we met a few years ago in Israel, I came across Johnny’s blog, specifically a post on the ‘perfect South African honeymoon.’ This definitely caught my eye and the itinerary he had planned for another couple, resounded with what we had in mind. Within minutes, I had shot off an email to Johnny to ask for his assistance and well, as they say, the rest is history.
- 1 Cape Town & surrounding areas: Days 1-4
- 2 Days 5-6: Winelands in Stellenbosch
- 3 Day 6-11: The start of the Garden Route
- 4 Garden Route Continued – Plettenberg Bay
- 5 Day 12-15: Safari At Nedile Lodge in the Welgevenden Game Reserve
- 6 Day 16-19: Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Finding Johnny’s Blog
Within days, Johnny, took my rough ideas for the 3 weeks, my budget considerations and had put together a comprehensive spreadsheet with our honeymoon itinerary with accommodation options ready to be booked and suggested activities. Not only that, but before working with Johnny, I had reached out to some local travel agents and got estimates back that ended up being anywhere from $5-8,000 CAD more than what Johnny had assembled! A MASSIVE savings yet packed with way more fun and adventure!! Johnny took a major part of our wedding planning off our shoulders and planned what turned out to be one of our most favourite trips. Thanks Johnny!
As our wedding was in August, and our honeymoon a few days after, we arrived in South Africa during their winter, which for us, being Canadians, was equivalent to a pretty average summer back home, anywhere from 20-25 degrees Celsius, although a light jacket/sweater in the morning and/or evening was sometimes necessary.
Planning our honeymoon
Our itinerary ended up being the following so if any of the below sound like what you’re looking for, then make sure to read this post thoroughly!
- Cape Town for 4 nights
- Stellenbosch for 2 nights
- Garden Route for 6 nights
- Safari for 3 nights
- Victoria Falls for 3 nights
We had a general idea of where we wanted to and what we wanted to see. However, organizing such a long trip of almost 3 weeks and planning our wedding was overwhelming and Johnny really helped out in that regard. He’s been all over Africa after all and knew exactly how to combine everything into a well connected trip for us. He told us exactly which flights to buy and walked us through all of it! He was also able to recommend loads of activities in these places that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise (like Devils Pool in Victoria Falls!)
In the end, we spent about $8,000 CAD (about $6,000 USD) excluding flights for a 2.5 week trip. He was able to accommodate all our needs and we couldn’t have been happier! If you’re interested in similar services, make sure to contact Johnny! He will more than happy to assist you with booking your honeymoon to the Rainbow Nation or really most other places in Africa as he has traveled all over the continent!
In addition, Johnny has planned many more honeymoons since ours. Be sure to read the other trip reports to get an idea of what South Africa and the surrounding countries have to offer!
- Niv and Avi | Three Weeks in Southern Africa: Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Garden Route, Safari, and Mauritius
- Lauren and Brandon | The Perfect South Africa and Mauritius Honeymoon
- Marissa and Albert | South Africa and Zanzibar Honeymoon
The Final Itinerary
For the final itinerary, Johnny planned it and organized it all in an amazing Google Sheets that we could access and collaborate before and during. To see our final itinerary, please visit his great travel itinerary spreadsheet. In addition, throughout this post, there will be links to other posts about Africa that Johnny has written but go into detail on the places we visited!
|Name of Accommodation||Where?|
|Day 1-4||South Beach Camps Bay||Cape Town, South Africa|
|Day 4-6||Clouds Estate||Stellenbosch, South Africa|
|Day 6-7||Hermanus Beachfront Lodge||Hermanus, South Africa|
|Day 7-8||Hlangana Lodge||Outdshoorn, South Africa|
|Day 8-11||Milkwood Manor||Plettenberg Bay, South Africa|
|Day 11-14||Nedile Lodge||Limpopo Province, South Africa|
|Day 15-18||Victoria Falls Safari Lodge||Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe|
Cape Town & surrounding areas: Days 1-4
We landed in Cape Town, picked up our car rental (which was one of Johnny’s $$ saving tips) and drove to our beautiful accommodation in Camps Bay, South Beach, just outside the downtown core. With ocean facing views (literally mins from the beach) and stunning views of Table Mountain and Lion Head behind us, this hotel is a dream (talk about location!). With a fully stocked fridge every day to prepare a wonderful breakfast, loads of restaurants in the area and the Miami vibe of the villa and the ones surrounding it, it was perfect.
Johnny made sure to give us the entire scoop on Cape Town beforehand, letting us know what to do where where to go. We had 4 days there and he helped plan every day for us with activities and day trips around the region. Having a rental car also made it much easier to be spontaneous and discover little things we would otherwise miss if we were relying on group tours.
Day 1, we arrived in the late afternoon and with the shorter days of winter, we found ourselves pretty exhausted after a long flight from Porto>Brussels>Addis Ababa > Cape Town. We had a nice dinner at the nearby, ‘The Codfather’, with a lovely assortment of seafood, watching the sunset and slept the night away while listening to the ocean.
Lion’s Head and Table Mountain
Day 2: Rested up and ready to go, we started the day off with hiking Lion’s head. A fairly moderate hike, with great views of Table Mountain, Cape Town and the sea. The weather was fantastic and the views were spectacular. The hike up took us about an hour at a very leisurely pace and another hour back down. Seeing Cape Town from the top on our first true day of sightseeing made us REALLY excited to see it up close.
After Lion’s Head, we decided to keep on theme and check out Table Mountain, this time by cable car, which is a quick 5 mins ride up. We walked along the various trails and got great views of Lion’s Head where we just climbed and the whole Cape Town vicinity.
Once on the ground, we visited the downtown core, stopping to admire the magnificent Renaissance style city Hall, where Nelson Mandela made one of his first speeches as President of South Africa. We wandered to the V&A waterfront and chose a spot to take in all the entertainment and liveliness and eat a good meal.
Day 3: Drive to Cape Point
A big day with lots of stops along the way. The first one was a quick stop at Hout Bay where we took a 40 minute boat excursion to see the seals on Duiker island, aka Seal Island. We were impressed to see a massive colony of seals, lounging the day away.
Then we continued on our journey driving south to the Cape of Good Hope. Before we got there, we stopped at False Bay to enjoy the views. Pic:
Cape of Good Hope, our ultimate destination, suddenly before us, with crowds of people forming lines to take the classic photo. The most south-western point in the African continent is stunning. The beautiful blue/green sea, the scenic drama of the cliffs and the endless miles of sea ahead, was captivating. It felt surreal to be where our Portuguese ancestors has passed so many centuries ago as they tried to cross the cape on their way to find the Indian sea route. Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese navigator who sailed in 1487 reached what was then known Cape of Storms, and the King John II of Portugal, foreseeing the realisation of the long-south passage to India, gave it the enduring name, Cape of Good Hope.
We then enjoyed perhaps one of my favourite meals of the whole trip at the scenic Two Oceans Restaurant that overlooks False Bay. Yum – Mozambique prawns, truffle fries, lobsters and calamari – seafood heaven with a view!
After a full stomach, we took off to find the crosses / limestone pillars of both Bartholomeu Dias and Vasco Da Gama, arguably one of the two most important navigators. Their discoveries opened up the trade routes between East and West. Although these, ‘padroes’ as they are called, are replicas, we were humbled to find them and stare at them in awe, recognizing the achievements these two had made to the world economy of today.
We then hit the road for a very fun stop at Boulders Beach where we saw thousands and thousands of squabbling penguins.
Day 4: Last day in Cape Town
Back in Cape town, we used our last full day to see the rest of the city, including sights like the Company garden, the peaceful oasis at the heart of Cape Town, lunch at the V&A food market, tour of the castle of good hope, the oldest building in South Africa, a colourful tour of Bo Kaap neighbourhood AND, the must see, visit to Robben Island guided by an ex political prisoner.
A very varied day, where we learned more about life under apartheid, where Nelson Mandela spent so many years behind bars, to seeing the resilience of a colourful neighbourhood that resisted what was going on around them. South Africa has an extremely complex history and one can’t begin to understand everything but a visit to Robben Island is a definite good first start.
Days 5-6: Winelands in Stellenbosch
Next part of our trip, was saying goodbye to Cape Town, and driving to Stellenbosch, touring wine country along the way. We arrived at our accommodation, the Clouds Estate and were taken back by the beauty of our location and stay. Johnny said this was his favorite place to stay in the wine country and I can see why! With the Jonkershoek Mountains as our view, felt like we were in heaven.
To wet our thirst, we went wine touring and kept getting awe struck at how gorgeous and unique each estate was. Johnny of course recommended some of his favorite wineries having extensively drank his way through Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. We first went to Vergelegen, where the grounds were lovely and I found quite possibly the cutest dutch manor to call my own. We certainly enjoyed the many, many flights of wine, as seen by my husband’s lovely smile:
Next stop was Tokara, nearby our accommodation where it’s modern facilities were the complete opposite of our last winery, yet just as enchanting all the same.
The next day, we took off to Franschhoek, a nearby town where we stopped my favourite winery: Boschendal, facilities were amazing, had the best wine, beautifully manicured estate and oddly, the nicest washroom we’ve ever seen.
Day 6-11: The start of the Garden Route
We were excited to start this next leg of our trip, through the scenic garden route. Johnny raved about this part of the country being his favorite road trip where his Garden Route blog posts really helped us plan! We had rented a car in Cape Town at the beginning of the trip and we continued on eastward towards the Garden Route. It’s not really feasible to do this without a car as you’re traversing such long distances. If you’re on the fence just know that the roads are in perfect condition and it’s an incredibly easy drive. Of course you do have to drive on the other side of the road but it is not as difficult as it sounds!
Our first location was Hermanus, where we slept for 1 night, known as the whale capital of the world. It’s known as the best place for land based whale viewing from June to November. Although we had just missed a sighting of a southern right whale the next morning, according to our hotel host, it was a beautiful town nonetheless. We had a great view of the ocean from the Hermanus Beachfront lodge where we stayed. The hospitality was amazing and the nearby restaurants in town were lovely.
Shark Cage Diving
A new day, calls a new adventure and this was most certainly the start of a chapter I like to call: Adrenaline seeking activities. Being a thrill seeker, I was REALLY excited to drive to Gansbaai, also known as shark capital of the world. Yes, I know, lots of ‘of the world’ places in this part of the world. I signed up for Shark Cage diving with Great White Shark tours and had a blast. Eric stayed onboard (one of us needs to be sensible J ) and still had some great views. We were lucky to see many great whites, up close ready to bite down on our cage. What a rush!
Adrenaline in check, we were off to our next stop: Oudsthoorn where we stayed at the Hlangana Lodge. As we arrived late, we didn’t get to enjoy this hotel as much as we would have liked. However, we did find the absolute cutest place for dinner in Outdsthoorn, Nostalgie. I recommend everyone stop here when passing by Outdsthoorn. It’s like you’ve stepped back in time, with homemade organic food, antique décor, candles everywhere and artisanal goods to take home.
Although not technically part of the Garden Route, Outdsthoorn is a must as it’s known for 2 things: wait for it – ostrich capital of the world and the Cango Caves. We first went to the caves, and took a guide tour through the 20 million year old limestone formations.
After exploring the caves, we headed directly to the Highgate Ostrich Show farm, where Queen Victoria use to get her ostrich feathers from. This town has one of the oldest ostrich farming industries and is a fun place to see these cute animals up close. We had a brilliant tour guide and were lucky to see a mate call, which was so bizarre yet vastly entertaining, where the male ostrich, does a dance where he snaps his neck back and forth in the same movement, moving his feathers, putting on a show for his admirer. Suffice to say, he did not get the reaction he had hoped. We also got to learn how strong ostrich eggs really are by even standing on top of them with all our weight. Feeding them was spectacular as well.
Garden Route Continued – Plettenberg Bay
Plett bay, as it’s known by the locals, was where we spent most of our time on the Garden Route, spending 3 nights at the lovely ocean side hotel, Milkwood Manor. We could walk outside and immediately be at the beach. Although it was the winter months, it was still beautiful.
Plettenberg bay, the most resort like town on the Garden route has a beautiful wide curving beach and gorgeous landscapes. We hiked the Robberg Nature reserve which has some truly dramatic cliffs where we spotted seals, dolphins from afar and even whales!
After spotting many water mammals, we decided to make a trip to Jukani wildlife sanctuary where we had the most knowledgeable guide, Bert, who we learned so much about regarding big cats. Highly recommend you visit and are lucky to have Bert as your guide!
And while we were at, Eric wanted to visit a monkey land sanctuary so we also tacked on that and were up close with these furry adorable friends.
After seeing many land and water based animals, I was ready for a new sight. We drove over the inconspicuous Bloukrans bridge and stopped at Face Adrenaline. I strapped at, and got ready to jump off the world’s highest bungee jump at 216m above the Bloukrans river. By far the scariest thing I’ve done, yet such a thrill, I was talking myself out of jumping a second time right after.
They say marriage is a journey, so why not dive right in?
After the whirlwind of bungee jumping, we went to calm the soul by Knysna, probably the prettiest town on the Garden Route. Overlooking a beautiful calm lagoon protected by a pair of cliffs, the Knysna Heads, we explored the lagoon by joining the sunset John Benn cruise. It was a great way to relax after such a thrilling day.
On our last day, we drove in the direction of Mossel Bay, another town named by the Portuguese to visit one site specifically: The Bartolomeu Dias Museum where a replica of the 500+ year old caravel used by Dias on his epic 1488 voyage of discovery of the sea route around the southern shores of Africa. This ship, sailed from Lisbon to Mossel Bay on Feb 3 1988, exactly 500 years after the original voyage.
Thoroughly satisfied with this pit stop we drove to George Airport where we got on a short flight to Johannesburg so we can start the next part of our trip: Safari!!
Day 12-15: Safari At Nedile Lodge in the Welgevenden Game Reserve
This was it, the epitome of what we had hoped to experience and see on our honeymoon in South Africa. To experience what a true safari was while staying in the throws of luxury at the most magnificent Nedile Lodge. I’m already planning our return here.
I call this part of our trip, the National Geographic moment because everything felt like it was what you saw on TV. Our guide John, was spectacular, such a great guy, passionate about what he does, respectful of all the wildlife and hungry to show us the big 5. I can’t say enough good things about this location, this lodge and the sights we saw. By far the most spectacular was seeing a cheetah with her cubs, hunt a springbok, kill and feed. It was thrilling to see the chase, how close she was to nearly not getting breakfast and then the triumphant scene.
The rooms were also pure luxury with a view that is hard to beat from their rock infinity pools. The food was also delicious, especially the breakfasts every morning from the deck. The price of food and basic alcohol was all included in the price of our lodge. It was tough to leave Nedile lodge and the reserve. This was the most relaxing part of our trip and also the most surreal in many ways. To have 100,000 acres of reserve with the big 5 and many others to see on a daily basis in their natural habitat was an incredible experience. But alas, all good things must come to an end.
Nedile is not as expensive as the other lodges in South Africa and we felt the value for money was just amazing.
After saying goodbye to our home for 3 nights and the hospitable staff, we drove 3 hours back to Joburg where we had the pleasure of spending a night with some native friends we met a few years ago in Israel. Jessica and James had too gotten married recently and we collectively celebrated our newlywed status at Marble, a very hip modern, place to be restaurant. It was great to reunite with them and share our experience thus far with them.
Day 16-19: Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
After saying goodbye once again to our friends, we flew from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. As avid travellers, we wanted to see this Unesco World Heritage site which is part of the seven natural wonders of the world. In September, it’s low season so we didn’t see the falls at its fullest but nonetheless, it was incredible to see.
Visiting the Victoria Falls
Aptly named “the smoke that thunders”, Victoria Falls is over 100m high and almost 2km in length. You can really feel the power of these waterfalls as you walk by them. To visit, you must pay $30 for an entrance fee and this is only good for once visit. If you want to come back the next day, you’ll have to pay this again. Once inside, there is a map that is easy to follow with numerous “scenic spots”.
Even during low season, we could feel the mist coming from the waterfalls so if you’re visiting during high season where the water is much more thunderous, prepare to get wet!
There is one main trail that goes to all of these scenic spots so that’s exactly what we did. The Zambezi river that the waterfalls flow into separate Zimbabwe and Zambia. As we were on the Zimbabwe side, we could see across the river to the waterfalls which are all on the Zambian side. If you’re staying on the Zambian side, there are still waterfalls to behold looking to the Zim side but not as many. However, it is easy to cross the border and get a view from both sides.
This is exactly what we did when we visited Devils Pool in Zambia!
The benefit of low tide season meant we got to do a couple of rad activities to only add to our adventurous streak yet. This time of year from August –September is the only time where you can experience Devil’s pool, a natural infinity pool at the edge of one of earth’s largest waterfalls. Johnny absolutely insisted on us doing this as he said it was one of his favorite things to do in all of Africa. We listened of course! To do this activity, you must book ahead, and you must cross over to Zambia.
Crossing over was relatively easy, just make sure you have cash, US preferably and that you buy your visa either at the border or better yet, a combo Zimbabwe/Zambia visa when you land at the airport.
Devil’s pool was a blast, literally! Although at the edge of waterfall, it’s remarkably safe, so long as you don’t do anything risky and you stay on that boulder that is holding you back from falling over. Yes you will fall over if you decide to climb the wall! There are three time slots you can book to visit the Devil’s Pool; breakfast, lunch, and high tea. Johnny recommended the breakfast visit but as we had to cross from the Zimbabwean side, we did not have enough time to make it for such an early time slot. However, if you are staying on the Zambian side, the morning trip includes an epic breakfast right on the banks of the falls!
A must do when in Zimbabwe/Zambia!!
White water rafting
And of course, we couldn’t leave Zambia without doing one more thing – white water rafting in the Zambezi river – one of the ultimate / dangerous locations in the world for rafting. It’s considered one of the most extreme entertainments in the world and oh boy was it ever. We had to end our African honeymoon trip with a bang and this certainly did it. With more than 20 rapids ranging from class 3-5, a beautiful hike down the gorge of Vic Falls, this is the ultimate adrenaline pumping trip.
‘Oblivion’, the 18th rapid, aptly named, was definitely the rapid where ¾ rafts flip and we certainly did. Thankfully, when we flipped, you fall into what they say is a natural swimming pool, although I’d say it didn’t feel like any swimming pool I’ve been. The current was fast and it was easy to get swept away. Conclusion: A definite must!
After all the fun of rafting, we were pretty tired. So we settled in at our beautiful hotel, the Victoria Falls Safari lodge and joined the crowds for a music filled, entertaining dinner at the Boma – the dinner and drum show.
And just like that our African honeymoon trip was over. We caught a flight to London to spend a few days before heading back home to Toronto.
Now home, reflecting back, we couldn’t have had a better trip or honeymoon. Johnny made sure we got the most out of every day, including booking the most fabulous accommodations, booking activities to keep us on our toes, ensuring we saw the sights of the various places we stayed and overall making sure we had fun. I’m a travel planner, but all hats go off to Johnny who planned a trip like no other. If you’re looking for help when you visit Africa, Johnny is your guy without a doubt.
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