Planning our honeymoon was a dream for me, it was an excuse to indulge in a luxury adventure; something I’d usually feel guilty doing.
Planning a holiday usually entails spending hours scouring the internet exploring every tiny detail about hotels, sights and restaurants. The honeymoon planning was very different, we decided that Kuoni or Virgin should do the planning for us even if it came at a premium.
We visited both Trafford Centre stores with the brief ‘we want to go to South Africa and Mauritius’. Kuoni offered us an okay holiday but Virgin offered us a much more lavish affair for less money, plus you get snacks and drinks at their store so it was win, win.
The trip was split into four mini holidays so settle in whilst I tell you what we got up to and where we stayed. If you want the short version, you can watch this video:
Part 1 – Cape Town
Friends had given us excellent reviews of Cape Town and we were promised great food and great wine and we definitely enjoyed plenty of both. We spent three days in Cape Town which was enough for us but I think you could spend longer there if you want to see more of the city.
Things we did in Cape Town:
- Went up table mountain
- Wandered around the waterfront
- A walking township tour with Siviwe
- A wine trip to Stellenbosch
- A coastal drive from Cape Town to Cape Point and then to Franschhoek
The township tour with Siviwe tours was my highlight of Cape Town. Staying at a 5 star hotel on the Waterfront was always going to mean we saw the city in a certain way, the township visit enabled us to see what life is like for the poorer communities in the city. The tour was run by members of the community who took us into peoples homes, a nursery and a bakery. The chicken sandwich I ate from the bakery was hands down the best sandwich I have ever eaten.
We also got to meet ‘Shooter’ who had built a shack to live in when the government couldn’t provide him with housing, he told us all about how he built his home, it was sad to hear his stories but I’m glad we did. Townships are home to a lot of crime so make sure you join a tour and don’t just turn up in one alone.
We ate at plenty of pretty special restaurants in Cape Town but my favourite and somewhere I’d really recommend is The Pot Luck Club. After a short taxi ride and a glass elevator trip to the top of the building we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted with cocktails at the bar before taking our seats at the chef’s table. It’s a tapas concept restaurant, but not as you know it, the menu is split into three parts – sweet, bitter, sour and sweet. We tried the prawn and king crab stuffed chicken wings and smoked beef fillet to name a few but the fish tacos were the standout dish for me. Be warned though, you need to book way in advance for this one!
Part 2 – The Winelands
You can choose between two main wine regions in the Cape Town area, we opted for a stay in Fransscheuk based on one thing alone – the wine tram.
We spent the day on the wine tram’s yellow line, they have loads of different ones depending on the day and time of year you visit but make sure you opt for one that has at least a couple of stops on the old fashioned tram.
We hopped off at five vineyards and tried four or five different wines at each, as well as nibbling on a few snacks along the way. Getting on a bus full of strangers at 11am for a day of drinking is an interesting experience and obviously nobody said a word to each other, but fast forward 6 hours and everyone was best mates. It was a little like an 18-30’s booze cruise but if everyone was 30+ and only drank fine wine.
The village is really quaint, think lots of white shops and restaurants in row where you can buy endless bottles of wine. The standout restaurant for us was La Petit Colombe, it really is a treat restaurant but as we were on our honeymoon so we went for the full shabang – the 9 course tasting menu with wine pairing. They don’t do Michelin stars in South Africa but if they did then this place would have two of them. One dish involved chatting to one of the chefs whilst eating egg and soldiers, that sounds odd when I type it but it was an unique experience that I won’t forget in a while.
We stayed at Cape Vue Country House and they upgraded us to the honeymoon suite so we were living the dream. The guest house was modern but traditional and felt like you were staying in someone’s very, very nice house. The best thing about staying here in the colder months is that the fire in the lounge was always lit which was a lovely touch.
Part 3 – Safari
This part of our honeymoon was out of this world, imagine everything you dream a honeymoon safari would be, times it by ten and you still won’t be anywhere near the experience that Ulusaba offers.
Ulusaba is Richard Branson’s game reserve in Sabi Sands. I feel so extra when I type that but if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to stay in one of Richard Branson’s properties then I can tell you that it lives up to every single expectation.
We flew to Ulusaba’s own landing strip from Johannesburg in a light weight aircraft, this was bloody terrifying but an experience to say the least. We were greeted by a ranger and a bottle of champagne which set the tone for the rest of the stay.
Ulusaba has two lodges, Rock Lodge and Safari Lodge, we chose to stay at Safari Lodge as we wanted to be closer to the animals but the views from Rock Lodge were incredible. We were greeted at Safari Lodge by Benedict who told us we has been upgraded to the Treehouse Suite! The treehouse suite was about 15 minutes walk away from the main lodge which meant you were secluded from other guests and you also benefited from views of the watering hole and the animals who visited it.
Ulusaba is all inclusive but by no way is it a resort, there were 14 guests in total at Safari Lodge and we really enjoyed getting to know people over post game drive drinks and communal dinners. There is a strong focus on spending time together but you can also spend a lot of time alone as a couple too. One night we were escorted to a private outside area of the lodge where a table for two was set in front of a fire pit and the whole area was lit by candles, it felt like we were on our own Love Island date, it was INSANE.
The point of going on safari is seeing the animals and we managed to see the big 5 in our first couple of days, my highlights were seeing a baby leopard and also a male lion, male lions are so much more majestic in real life and being within two metres of these beautiful creatures was really quite moving (you can see them in the video below).
We went on two game drives a day, one at 6am and one at 4pm, sometimes you are in the jeep for hours without seeing anything which for me just emphasized the natural habitat these animals are living in, it isn’t a zoo and you are lucky to see them. Then to top it off when the sun was setting we’d pull over and have a drink of champagne.
During our stay at Ulusaba we also had the opportunity to visit a local school and meet the children. This was also a really special moment for me, the stark contrast in how these kids live compared to us shocked me and I’ll never forget the time I spent playing with those gorgeous children.
I could write about our stat at Ulusaba all day, I could tell you about how every member of staff knows your name, how the food is amongst the best food I’ve ever had and how you never have to lift a finger during your stay but I’m going to stop otherwise this post will be far too long. If you are considering a stay at Ulusaba but considering the cost, trust me when I say it’s worth every single penny.
Part 4 – Mauritius
I wish I could tell you how we embedded ourselves into Mauritian culture and explored the island but I can’t. Instead, we spent our 5 nights in Mauritius eating and drinking as much as humanly possible, taking a couple of breaks to indulge in some watersports (I can’t type that without laughing). We stayed at the Long Beach Resort in Belle Mare, it was an A La Carte all inclusive resort that prided itself on being effortlessly on trend which attracted a lot of beautiful people. One of my low moments was being on a boat with two French models whilst I looked like a potato – not ideal! If you’re looking for a beautiful place on a beautiful island with great food and drink then look no further than here.