Q. I am writing to inquire about my honeymoon in August & September of 2010. My fiancée and I are very interested in planning a combination safari and beach extension over a 10 day period. More specifically, we’d like to spend four/five days on safari (preferably in Southern Africa – Botswana/) and then spend an additional four/five days in a beach resort to relax.
A. Andy –
First of all, congratulations!
August and September are perfect for a safari in southern Africa, so I’ll get to that in a minute.
Keep in mind that a “safari” in southern Africa usually includes 2 or 3 days in beautiful non-safari places like Cape Town. Southern Africa is more like California than the Congo. Its range of attractions is immense, including one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town, endlessly beautiful hiking trails and forests, great theaters and museums. So an optimum holiday to southern Africa meshes game viewing with these other “european-like” attractions. If this isn’t what you had in mind because it’s really intense game that you’re after, then I’d direct you to East Africa, instead. Just as a very broad comparison, in a week of best game viewing in southern Africa in August you’re likely to see 10-15 lion. In East Africa, that will be 50-60. But unlike southern Africa, East Africa has few of the other great “european-like” attractions that southern Africa has.
The beach experiences at this time of the year in southern Africa aren’t at their prime. This is southern Africa’s winter. There are islands off Mozambique which will give you a pretty good experience, but starting in about mid-August, the day time temperatures might not get above the lower 70s (although the Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world). There is great variety, though, in mid-August and you could see a day touch 80 but that’s a gamble. Take 5 to 10 degrees off those numbers if you stay in South Africa along its coasts. Now if you are divers or active water sports enthusiasts, this may really not matter. But if all you’re looking for is R&R, then you might rethink this section.
The best beach experiences for August and September are much further north in East Africa: Zanzibar, or off the Kenya or Tanzanian coasts. And keep in mind that there is no beach experience anywhere on the African continent which can compete with our own. I normally point this out to couples when a conflict of interest like this might arise. In other words, the best I could give you at any time of the year anywhere on the continent would probably not meet the experience of our better resorts in the Caribbean or Hawaii.
So if you stick with southern Africa as your venue, you might want to just consider a safari experience that ends for a slightly extended time at a very romantic resort… but not for sunbathing on the beach. For example, there are some very romantic properties at Victoria Falls, as well as actually within game parks. Along the South African coast east of Cape Town (known as the “Garden Route”) there are beautiful and romatic villas and resorts on the sea, but the sea is like northern California in the winter. So you’d certainly be able to beach comb and hike, but not swim. And like in Mendocino, for example, you’d be beaching combing with a nip in the air, probably in your fleece.
For a safari experience August and September are ideal for southern Africa, its winter. The slightly better game viewing is in Botswana and Zambia, near Victoria Falls, but several flights and nearly a day’s journey from Cape Town, so you’re not only investing more time (presuming you start at beautiful Cape Town), but also a larger budget because of the extra flights involved.