Africa has played a pivotal role in two of the world’s most enduring and endearing modern romances. When screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor and her great love Richard Burton decided that they couldn’t live without each other following their first divorce, they married for a second time in Kasane alongside Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Thirty-five years later, in 2010, Prince William chose the rustic Rutundu Log Cabins on the remote slopes of Mount Kenya to present long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton with Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire and diamond engagement ring.
At Go2Africa, we’ve been fortunate to have helped many clients arrange their unforgettable small destination weddings in Africa. Memorable ones include Polly and Donny McKay, who celebrated their nuptials with a Masai-inspired celebration at Sarova Mara in Kenya – complete with warriors singing traditional songs and a ‘good omen’ rhino crossing their path on their way back to their honeymoon tent! More recently, we helped Jerod and Jalisa Watson put together an intimate wedding ceremony officiated by a Maasai elder in the Masai Mara, followed by a dream honeymoon in the Seychelles – take a look at their short wedding video to get a feel for the festivities.
The wild spaces and endless skies of Africa remind you about what's important in life; a good reason why weddings and proposals are so popular here. In Africa, you are relieved of your daily worries and free to reconnect with what inspires you, so it's only natural for travellers to get back in touch with the fundamental human experience of love, respect and affection. It may well be all the fresh air that gives you the sudden insight that the person beside you is the perfect partner for you! Whatever it is, Africa overflows with romantic moments to share with the one you love.
More and more, safari lodges and camps are geared to facilitate these small destination weddings in Africa, complete with bubbly on ice and a wedding cake to share in the glow of new love. Here are a few of our favourite places for a small African destination wedding:
1. Bartholomeus Klip, South Africa
If you prefer being closer to a city like Cape Town without giving up the rural ambiance, a working farm like Bartholomeus Klip in the gorgeous wine country town of Riebeeck Kasteel is ideal for your small destination wedding in South Africa. Located amid rolling fields of wheat, indigenous fynbos and endangered renosterveld (a hardy indigenous vegetation – ‘renoster’ means rhino in the Afrikaans language), Bartholomeus Klip offers the rugged beauty of a rural setting within an hour's drive from Cape Town. Consider a posy of beautiful, feathery proteas – South Africa's national flower – for your bridal bouquet, picked fresh from this exquisite African wedding destination.
2. Elsa’s Kopje, Kenya
Lion fans will want to head to Elsa’s Kopje in Kenya's Meru National Park for their small destination wedding in Africa. The lodge is named after Elsa, the orphaned lioness who was hand-reared by conservationist and novelist Joy Adamson. The lioness became a global icon for the rights of wild creatures in Joy's best-selling book – and hit movie – Born Free. Elsa’s Kopje is built on the site of the Adamsons’ original camp and infused with the tranquil spirit of a bygone era. Begin your wedded days with breakfast served in the midst of golden savannah after watching the sunrise on a thrilling dawn game drive. Welcome each magical evening soaking in your spacious tub with its endless views over the Meru plains.
3. Mara Explorer, Kenya
Nestled within a riverine forest in the heart of the Masai Mara, this luxury tented camp offers guests the ultimate wilderness retreat. With only 10 well-spaced tents along the Talek River, you’re sure to enjoy the utmost privacy and exclusivity during your small destination wedding in Africa. Each tent is beautifully furnished in a classic style that pays homage to the romantic ‘explorer’ days of yesteryear. Think hand carved mahogany furniture, antique chests and historic prints, plus open-air Victorian bathtubs from which to watch elephant and giraffe quench their thirst at the river.
A Dream Wedding in the Mara
Jerod and Jalisa contacted Go2Africa to help them arrange their dream wedding in the heart of Kenya’s Masai Mara. Orchestrating a wedding can be stressful but doing it in a remote part of Africa comes with its own unique challenges. Through our contacts at the camp, I was able to arrange all the logistics – from the cake and flowers to blessings by Maasai elders. An intimate, romantic ceremony complete with Maasai warriors singing songs and traditional Maasai dancing ended with celebrations back at Mara Explorer, before jetting off to the Seychelles for their honeymoon.
– Lauren Johansson, Africa Safari Expert
4. Saruni Samburu, Kenya
The Samburu tribe has the tradition of young men giving large amounts of beads to young women as an indication of ‘going steady’ before a wedding ceremony. Like the Maasai, marriage is important to the Samburu who live in north-central Kenya. At Saruni Samburu, your ceremony will take place in an authentic Samburu village – known as a manyatta in Swahili – with the revered elders, the women and the askaris (warriors) taking part. For cultural tourists, the Samburu National Reserve is one of the best African wedding destination spots.
5. Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Tanzania
With experienced wedding planners, fantastic catering and exclusive accommodation for your guests, Serena Safari Lodge is one of the best places for a small African destination wedding. Whether you envision an intimate family BBQ by the pool, an elegant reception in the dining room, a traditional Maasai wedding with a local chief or a romantic ceremony in the bush, the possibilities are endless in the heart of the Serengeti.
6. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater is a natural wonder that will take your breath away. The world’s largest intact caldera from a long-extinct volcano, Ngorongoro is home to about 30 000 wild creatures who live within the safety of the caldera walls. With a gentler climate than the surrounding plains, the crater floor is lush with pastures and mineral-rich springs. It is one of the few wild places in East Africa where you are likely to see all of the Big 5 in a single game drive. At Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, wedding ceremonies take place on one of three decks, each with spectacular views over the crater below. What better place to forge a lifelong bond than in a setting that has been unchanged over millennia? Imagine saying 'I do' while standing on the rim of the crater, a Maasai guard of honour watching over you, and the natural beauty of the wilderness unfolding around you. If you’re looking for a little opulence, this is one of the best places for a small African destination wedding.
7. Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa, Mozambique
If you’ve ever dreamt of being cast away on a paradise island with the one you love (and a generous measure of world-class service), Anantara is an ideal setting for your small destination wedding in Africa. After exchanging vows on a deserted sandbank, step over the threshold of your private villa with its plunge pool and romantic bed wrapped in a fluttering white mosquito net. Imagine the most fairy-tale African wedding destination and honeymoon setting come to life with alluring Indian Ocean hues.
Ready to Plan Your Dream African Wedding?
Like any journey, the help and advice of an Africa Safari Expert make all the difference. Chat about your expectations and the nitty-gritty like the required paperwork for your nuptials well in advance. Making or renewing your vows in an African setting is a moment you'll treasure forever.
Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make your small destination wedding in Africa: