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Africa's Most Romantic Escapes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it seems only right to bring you Africa’s most romantic escapes. But don’t expect just the usual ‘candlelit dinners’ and ‘petal-strewn bathtubs’: our experts have ditched the clichés and sought out exceptional experiences and secluded escapes - this is romance with an African twist.

TRULY ROMANTIC SAFARI (BOTSWANA)

Botswana's Okavango Delta is known the world over for its phenomenal game viewing but for something truly special, we’d highly recommend a stay at Baines' Camp.

Baines' Camp offers all the usual safari activities you’d expect in the Delta: morning and evening game drives, guided walking safaris and gentle mokoro journeys along reed-lined waterways – but it’s the evenings when this little camp truly shines.

After a day of game viewing, slip into an outdoor bubble bath on your private viewing deck or ask for your four-poster bed to be wheeled out so you and your loved one can snuggle down under a soft duvet and blanket of stars as hippos snort in the river below you.

You can also go walking with Doug, Sandi and their ‘family’ of three adopted (and now fully grown) elephants: Jabu, Thembi and Morula. Spend the morning with the elephants as they forage for food and take showers in the lagoons, followed by a picnic out in the African bush.

Tell Me More: Baines' Camp is an intimate lodge with just five luxurious suites set in a private reserve in the Okavango Delta.

Romantic Escapes - drift through the Delta in a mokoro
Drift through the Delta in a mokoro
Romantic outdoor dining at Baines Camp
Romantic outdoor dining at Baines Camp
Romantic Escapes - a private island in the Seychelles
It's easy to find your own stretch of sand on the Seychelles island of La Digue

CYCLING FROM BEACH TO BEAUTIFUL BEACH (SEYCHELLES)

For picture-perfect tropical beaches, La Digue tops the list. Although it's the fourth largest island in the Seychelles, you could probably cycle from end to end in about an hour. But that's not the point.

Instead, pedal off at a leisurely pace past towering palm trees and ox-drawn carts in the direction of Anse Source d'Argent. This magnificent stretch of sand, strewn with massive granite boulders is one of the most photographed beaches in the world, and after you've seen it you'll know why

In the afternoon, continue your journey to Anse Patates in the north for a spot of snorkelling, or find your own palm-fringed cove to enjoy in blissful privacy.

Tell Me More: The best way to experience the Seychelles is to do a little island hopping: our Three Island Escapade or more exclusive Island Hopping Paradise holiday both combine a stay on La Digue with the larger islands of Mahe and Praslin.

PRIVATE DINING AND COUPLES SPA TREATMENTS (CAPE TOWN)

Famous for its timeless luxury, the grand old Mount Nelson Hotel (or "The Nellie” as she's affectionately known to the locals) serves up all manner of treats to honeymooners and those looking for a romantic escape.

Ease your way into your day with a blissful couples massage at the hotel’s Librisa Spa – one of Cape Town’s leading day spas - then relax over morning tea in the spa garden. When you’re ready to set out and explore the city, the Mount Nelson staff can prepare a hamper of tasty treats to be enjoyed on top of Table Mountain or on Camps Bay’s famous beach.

In the evening we’d recommend the private dining experience in the ‘wine cellar’ of the hotel's Planet Restaurant. Far from being dark and dingy, this ‘cellar’ has three glass walls of gently glowing wine racks housing row upon row of wine – the effect is truly beautiful!

Tell Me More: Set in nine acres of landscaped gardens, the Mount Nelson is a luxurious city hotel with an air of old world elegance.

Romantic Escapes - a picnic overlooking Camps Bay Beach
Cape Town has plenty of picture-perfect spots for a picnic just for two
Romantic Escapes - a beautiful afternoon in the Cape Winelands
The Cape Winelands offer a heady mix of food, wine and beautiful scenery

WINE TASTING ON HORSEBACK (SOUTH AFRICA)

There's nothing quite like sipping a chilled chardonnay or pleasant rosé in the shade of an ancient oak. Around you, the vines rise up the foothills of craggy-topped mountains and the air is so calm that you become aware of even the softest sound. The subtle mix of oxygen with the delicate bouquet of the wine will give you a slight buzz as you mount your horses and set off through world-famous vineyards in the direction of the next farm.

Our favourite Cape Winelands town is Franschhoek - the gourmet capital of South Africa. This beautiful valley is packed with prize-winning restaurants so after time in the saddle you can look forward to a gourmet feast! For a romantic atmosphere, sit out in the courtyard under the fairy lights at Rueben's or, for the ultimate fine-dining experience, book a table for two at Le Quartier Francais.

Tell Me More: Franschhoek is just an hour's drive from Cape Town but we'd recommend spending a couple of nights at Le Quartier Francais: a romantic retreat known for its high levels of service and award-winning restaurant, The Tasting Room.

Romantic Escapes - the main lodge at Greystoke Mahale
The main lodge at Greystoke Mahale
Romantic Escapes - luxury picnics on your holiday
A romantic dhow cruise at Greystoke

YOU, YOUR LOVED ONE AND THE FORESTS OF MAHALE (TANZANIA)

If you're looking for something decidedly different and truly remote, Greystoke Mahale is not only one of the best places in the world to see wild chimps, it's also a magical hideaway, set below a storybook forest on the shores of transparent Lake Tanganyika.

Each day starts with a chimpanzee trek. The going is generally not too strenuous, and as you wander the forest paths in search of the chimps, expect to spot shy bushbuck, baboons and red-tailed monkeys (regular visitors to the camp itself) while butterflies flit through the branches above you. Mahale is also a superb secluded beach location where you can stretch out on the soft sand, go fishing and kayaking or set sail on the old wooden dhow.

In the evening, dine on lake-fresh sashimi or gaze at the stars over cocktails at the bar on the rocks. After all, this is a place for you and your loved one to spend some peaceful time together, revelling in reclusive luxury.

Tell Me More: Greystoke Mahale is difficult to get to but the experience is definitely worth it. The lodge has just six bandas (wooden chalets) - each is dominated by a four-poster bed and has an upstairs chill-out deck overlooking the lake.

 

Written by Sandra Mallinson. Connect with her on Google+.

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