Special occasion holidays – honeymoons, family vacations, anniversaries, birthdays, proposals and important milestones – deserve an unforgettable setting. They also need to be as foolproof as possible: you may be travelling with several generations of your family, which means different individuals with different interests. The challenge is to tailor-make your itinerary to balance everyone's appetite for relaxation and action. You need exceptional service throughout your stay, a rich variety of activities, and a daily routine that is as flexible as possible.
In Africa, we add to all these advantages our magnificent landscapes, a wide range of accommodation options and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. With destinations ranging from private island lodges and exclusive safari villas to boutique city retreats and wilderness getaways, Africa is the perfect special occasion vacation destination. Many of our favourite safari lodges, hotels and resorts specialise in making milestone holidays truly memorable. They may offer palatial honeymoon suites or comfortable family rooms, home-from-home villas with private guides and chefs, or the convenience of a great children's club.
If you’re planning to celebrate a special occasion the next time you pack your holiday suitcase, take a whirl with us around Africa's best destinations for special occasions.
Crusoe-chic: islands & beaches
Instead of yearning to be rescued, Daniel Defoe’s famous character would have been quite satisfied to spend the rest of his days relaxing on one of Africa’s Indian Ocean island destinations. Private picnics, coral reefs and stretches of soft white sand are the hallmarks of an Africa beach holiday, and you won’t be foraging for supper either. Candlelight flickering at the ocean’s edge means you’ll be 5-star dining that night - with your bare feet in the warm sand.
You biggest challenge? Deciding where to spend your special occasion vacation...
For a romantic honeymoon, Zanzibar’s palm-fringed beaches and turquoise waters are hard to beat. Enjoy complete privacy at the luxurious Kilindi, with superb ocean views and private butler services. The super-exclusive Matemwe Retreat is renowned for its romantic candlelit beach dinners, and its fantastic scuba diving and snorkelling excursions. Matemwe Beach House and Azura Benguerra in the Bazaruto islands are both ideal for barefoot romance, but offer wonderful family villas too.
Return to a bygone era: luxury train travel
How about celebrating a significant birthday or anniversary with a journey through Africa in absolute comfort and style? Let the passing landscapes take your breath away as you travel through the continent’s most beautiful settings, stopping along the way for a wildlife safari and an overnight stay at a luxury game lodge or hotel. Rovos Rail is known as the world’s most luxurious train and offers unforgettable journeys ranging from a couple of days to an epic 22-day voyage from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam.
Candles & canvas: on safari
Milestone holidays honour the years behind you and deserve to be remembered for years to come. If there is any continent that specialises in truly memorable 'bucket list' experiences, it's Africa. Witness spectacles like a hundred thousand wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti's endless plains. Go on mokoro (traditional canoe) excursions to explore the intricate waterways of Africa’s truly great wilderness, the freshwater wetland paradise of the Okavango Delta. Gaze through the moonroof above your bed at a gigantic, never-ending starry sky in Namibia's internationally recognised ‘dark sky reserve’, located in the oldest desert on Earth.
Africa is the last frontier for authentic adventure with a range of safari destinations to make real the dreams travellers from around the world. Our top criteria for an anniversary or honeymoon holiday are big experiences and intimate lodges where your preferences determine the daily pace and exploring the wilderness happens in the care of a private guide.
The famous Wildebeest Migration occurs in the Serengeti's private Grumeti reserves between May and August. Visitors to camps like Singita Explore, Kichakani Serengeti Camp and Sayari Camp can feast their eyes on the spectacle of over a million wildebeest and zebra migrating across the plains, shepherding their foals and fawns past waiting predators and across crocodile-infested rivers.
Memorable experiences that make for unforgettable holidays come in all shapes and forms. Sometimes the landscape is so unusual that it captures your heart, sometimes the people or wild creatures you encounter change your life. One of the most endearing and unforgettable experiences you can have in Botswana's Okavango Delta is exploring the pristine waterways and floodplains around Stanley’s Camp, or taking a helicopter flight from Linyanti Bush Camp for a bird’s eye view of Chobe’s gigantic elephant herds. Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is a serene oasis set close to the mighty and magical sand dunes of the Namib Desert. Each luxurious villa has a moonroof in the main bedroom for private stargazing!
For decades, Africa has been a favourite destination for family celebrations, thanks to its excellent child-friendly and family-orientated camps, resorts and hotels. Many lodges offer specialised safari programmes for kids, as well as babysitting services and kids clubs. Kenya’s outstanding Big 5 game reserves produce rewarding family safaris at superb lodges like Topi House in the Masai Mara and Lewa Safari Camp in the private Lewa Wilderness Trust. Southern Africa’s Okavango Delta and Hwange National Park are also fantastic family safari destinations with charming camps like Khwai Leadwood Under Thatch and Somalisa Acacia.
On the wild side: off the beaten path
If you want to try something really different to celebrate your special occasion, some of Africa’s most exciting destinations have only recently become available to international travellers. These are far off the beaten track but worth every effort to explore. They are home to intimate eco-lodges that deliver warm hospitality, creature comforts and exceptional experiences in equally generous proportions.
Fall in love all over again in a pristine paradise, for decades inhabited exclusively by chimpanzee, elephant and giraffe. Lake Victoria is home to the largest island national park in Africa and the superb Rubondo Island Camp. The ancient forests are filled with chattering monkeys, shy sitatunga antelope slip through the papyrus swamps, and the guests at Rubondo are the only human presence in this rare eden.
Journey deep into the heart of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to encounter rare gorillas from the remote, yet elegant Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. An up-close encounter with the world’s biggest living primate in its natural habitat is an inexpressibly humbling experience, and Bwindi is the place for gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Zambia is Southern Africa's answer to the call of the untamed and offers an authentically wild setting for your milestone celebration or honeymoon adventure. In the country’s flagship South Luangwa National Park, Puku Ridge is an authentic safari camp offering fantastic service and legendary walking safaris.
So... when you want to celebrate a precious moment in your lifetime, you'll find a destination in Africa that's just right. From the romance of a Crusoe-chic private island and the comfortable elegance of a city escape, to setting your spirit free in the great untamed outdoors, Africa offers unique settings, memorable hospitality and bucket list experiences to give you an unforgettable celebration vacation.