Honeymoons and Me: Mauritius and Botswana; a classic combo: Part One

Rob Morris on 01 June 2004
Starting married life with an amazing travel experience and a truly special honeymoon is high on many people’s agendas when planning a wedding and we were no different. Also, like many we wanted something memorable. We were mindful that the run up to a wedding is extremely busy so we would need time to relax before our adventure and it didn’t take us long to settle on the tried and tested Indian Ocean and safari combination and I’ll start by explaining how we got there.

We’d been lucky enough to have enjoyed an amazing trip to South Africa incorporating 3 different safari stays, so the bug had well and truly bitten. We knew that the magical wildlife viewings, impeccable service, unique 5 star surroundings of the African safari lodges would not disappoint, so our newfound love of something we had only just discovered was an easy decision and that was our adventure sorted.

For the relaxation part of the holiday, there is no better accompaniment to Africa than the Indian Ocean and, let’s be honest, destinations like Mauritius, Maldives and The Seychelles are very easy to like!

Next was to decide how to split our generous 3-week holiday. We needed to start with some relaxation. Flight connections from Mauritius to Johannesburg make combining the ‘beach and bush’ convenient and a little more affordable then other Indian Ocean destinations. For those main reasons, we settled on a romantic 7 nights in Mauritius to unwind from the wedding.

For the safari element we spent a lot of time considering our options as there are so many that provide truly fantastic travel experiences. As we had visited several areas of South Africa before, we were eager to find out how a safari experience could differ in other African countries such as Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania. Our research led us to Botswana largely because of the variety of water and land based activities. The quieter, more remote lodge and camp locations also require use of light aircraft and small boats to get to the camp which we thought would give us a true sense of Africa and a different angle on what we had previously thoroughly enjoyed. The majesty of the Okavango Delta and proximity to Zambia and the splendour of Victoria Falls was also attractive.

We settled on two separate camps in Botswana before enjoying a stay on the shores of the mighty Zambezi River in Zambia. We would need an overnight in Joburg in order to connect to Botswana, so with that and a final fleeting visit to the Cape to round off our amazing honeymoon our itinerary was set.

Mauritius:

Our Mauritian home for a week was the extremely comfortable 4* and adult only boutique hotel Paradise Cove a perfect place to spend time not doing a great deal! From the chef in full chef whites who prepared crepes on the beach each morning to the waiter who saved us our favourite sunbeds each day and brought us iced tea in silver goblets, the attention to detail at Paradise Cove punched above its weight.

The private lagoon beach and swimming pool provided an idyllic setting to soak up the sun, relax an unwind from the build up to our wedding and when we wanted to be active there were kayaks and pedalos available to us to explore the coastline. The double kayak provided an early test to our recent commitment!!

We enjoyed one trip out from Paradise Cove to the spectacular National Botanical Gardens; Mauritius’ top tourist attraction, to stretch our legs amongst a beautiful array of indigenous plant species, a variety of palm trees and spectacular lily ponds. I would recommend a visit.

A highlight was a trip on the hotel’s catamaran to a nearby sand island for private relaxation and a romantic lunch surrounded by powder white sand and turquoise seas. The highlight of our half board dining experience was a private meal in The Cove, the hotels individual private romantic dining area nestled between the coconut trees at the water’s edge, each with its own individual thatched canopy. A must for any visit and a special way to celebrate our honeymoon.

The cuisine was a seafood loves paradise where prawns were large enough to be mistaken for lobster!

Mauritius and Paradise Cove provided a perfect start to our honeymoon and we left fully recharged and ready to take on our African adventure.

Johannesburg Airport overnight:

Room service, complete with silver cloches and Forrest Gump on the TV was the order of the day! The hotel staff at the Intercontinental had gone out of their way to make our room special with rose petal hearts and other lovely surprise touches to make our stay special.

Botswana:

A two-hour flight with Air Botswana saw us arrive in Maun Airport; Botswana’s safari hub. Our destination was Little Vumbura in Okavango Delta, which meant a first for me – a light aircraft flight! I loved it. The 35 minutes scenic flight in a six-seater Cessna aircraft gave us unbelievable views of the delta; a landscape that I’d never experienced before. The Okavango is the world’s largest inland delta and World Heritage Site that floods seasonally to create a lush habitat renowned for abundant wildlife. We’d not spent time in a wetland area on our previous safari’s, so we were really excited! The local airstrip appeared out of nowhere and after a few hop, skip and jumps we were on the ground. The abnormally high water levels in the delta not only made for a fantastic spectacle, but also meant that the usual road transfer from the airstrip could not be completed entirely by vehicle, but we instead needed to compete our journey to the camp by boat, winding through the hippo channels; just awesome.

Continued in Honeymoons and Me: Mauritius and Botswana; the classic beach and bush combo: Part Two

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