Send newlyweds on the adventure of a lifetime, suggests Katie McGonagle
What makes a honeymoon different from a holiday?
Well-travelled couples don’t need to say ‘I do’ just to get away from it all for a couple of weeks, so when they do tie the knot, their honeymoon needs to be something extra special.
Whether they’ve always dreamed of going on safari, feeling the crunch of fresh snow in a winter wonderland, or acting like a cowboy on a Wild West ranch, there are plenty of ways to get married life off to an exciting start.
So forget toasters and teapots – the best wedding present a couple can give themselves is the chance to try something totally new. Here are a few of the options on our gift list.
Safari-plus-beach isn’t exactly novel, but its combination of exotic wildlife and time to relax after the big day make it justifiably popular – and Tanzania ticks all the boxes. The northern safari circuit has better-known stops for first-timers – the Serengeti plains and the Ngorongoro Crater, both of which teem with game – but less-frequented southern parks such as Selous Game Reserve, the largest in Africa, boast just as many species and far fewer tourists. Pair it with secluded beaches on the mainland or more lively resorts in Zanzibar, such as on Travel 2’s Zanzibar Selous Safari.
Book it: Kuoni’s four-night Taste of Tanzania safari plus four nights’ all-inclusive in a junior suite at Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa in Zanzibar starts at £2,590 in November, including Kenya Airways flights and transfers; private driver from £294.
The old ‘see it before it changes’ mantra has been applied to many destinations with varying degrees of validity, but of nowhere is it more true than Burma. Despite opening up to tourism only recently, this southeast Asian country has stolen the spotlight for its ancient temples, charming fishing villages and welcoming people, so while it may lack the wide choice of luxury accommodation of other destinations, honeymooners are guaranteed an insight into a country still relatively unexplored. Be sure to include a hot-air balloon flight over the temples of Bagan for that picture-perfect moment.
Book it: Hayes & Jarvis offers an eight-night private tour to Burma from £2,099 departing November 10, visiting Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake, with Singapore Airlines flights.
Trekking? On honeymoon? Sure, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but those who want to strike out on their own two feet can still do it in honeymoon luxury. Peru’s boutique properties are as well-appointed as any five-star hotel: Cox & Kings highlights Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, where couples can sleep in a treehouse 27 metres above the jungle floor, while Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo is featured on Rainbow Tours’ high-end Inca Trail along with other properties where trekkers can soak in a Jacuzzi or get pampered in the spa after their exertions.
Book it: Rainbow Tours’ The Inca Heartland & Salkantay Trek Honeymoon costs from £3,485 for 14 nights, including flights and comfortable accommodation. It takes in Cuzco, Machu Picchu and a scenic rail journey to Lake Titicaca.
Honeymooners don’t have to fly all the way to South America to strap on their hiking boots – there are exciting spots closer to home too. Chief among them are the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia, where unique rock formations, caves and chimneys carved out by volcanic ash can be explored on foot with Anatolian Sky Holidays’ new tailor-made walking tours. Enjoy cave hotels with character, add romance with a hot-air balloon flight or visit to a vineyard, or pair with a beach stay in Turkey’s high-end hotels for the best of both worlds.
Book it: Anatolian Sky Holidays offers a seven-night Cappadocia Walking Holiday from £1,239 for a suite at Alfina Cave Hotel, flights from Gatwick and transfers; a hot-air balloon flight with champagne costs from £199.
Fancy waking up next to an orangutan? Not a way to phrase it if the groom is ginger and hirsute, but in Borneo, couples will find these charming great apes and much more: dense, unexplored jungle, barely-touched beaches and glorious sunshine. This is a great long-haul option where the weather is best in our summer.Experience Travel Group founder Sam Clark says: “People are increasingly looking for places that neither have been to before, and Borneo often works. Mulu in Sarawak has some of the best caves in the world, only reached by boat or aircraft, so just getting there is an adventure. The accommodation is rustic but charming, and when the new Marriott opens later this year it will offer a touch of class for people who don’t want to rough it.”
Book it: Experience Travel Group’s 15-day Borneo honeymoon starts at £3,223 in high season, with flights, stays at the refurbished Mulu Marriott Resort, beachfront Gaya Island Resort in Kota Kinabalu, and nature lodges for trekking and orangutan-spotting.
Anyone looking for action, ancient history, and blissful spas all in one place need look no further than Jordan. Between hot-air ballooning over the vast deserts of Wadi Rum, canyoning through its valleys, and exploring Unesco World Heritage Site Petra, this destination has plenty to stretch both mind and body. And after all that excitement, there’s nowhere better to kick back than the shores of the Dead Sea, where high-end hotels such as the Kempinski Ishtar and Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea make use of the mineral-rich mud in cleansing spa treatments.
Book it: Abercrombie & Kent offers an eight-day tailor-made stay including British Airways flights, accommodation, breakfast, private transport and a guide, from £1,435.
Trendsetting travellers must be finding life trickier these days – with so many destinations opening up to mainstream tourism, it’s hard to get off the beaten track. Not so in Nicaragua, where any couple would likely be first among their friends to explore the colonial architecture of Granada, hike up the forested slopes of the Maderas Volcano and see the twin peaks of Ometepe Island, or kick back on Pacific coast beaches just as idyllic their Caribbean neighbours.
Book it: Journey Latin America offers a 12-day tour exploring Granada, the Maderas Volcano, and staying in a luxury eco-lodge on the coast for biking, horse-riding and hiking. From £2,699 including flights.
Late nights, bright lights, and a chance to snuggle up in front of a log fire – there’s a lot to be said for honeymooning in a place where reindeer outnumber people. Instead of golden-sand beaches and sundowners, couples will be snowshoeing and husky sledding by day, then seeking out the northern lights by night. Squeeze in some traditional Sami culture and log cabin accommodation for the full experience.
Book it: Transun’s Aurora Hunter package starts at £959 for seven nights’ full-board accommodation, flights from regional airports, thermal clothing hire, northern lights snowmobile safari and other excursions, from January-March.
Forget queuing up behind three other safari trucks for a distant glimpse of a lion – for those who want a more exclusive experience, Cox & Kings recommends the remote but luxurious Norman Carr safari bush camps in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley, with walking safaris offering a more back-to-nature experience and night safaris to see nocturnal species, plus there’s even a chance to sleep under the stars.Offering that same sense of freedom, Visions of Africa reports Namibia is growing as a honeymoon destination, with options such as its self-drive tour – including game-viewing in Etosha, a hot-air balloon flight over Sossusvlei and star-gazing – increasing in popularity with those who want to get away from the crowds.
Book it: Cox & Kings offers a seven-night trip to Zambia from £4,460 with flights, transfers, safari activities and full-board accommodation; sleep under the stars from £150 supplement.
For anyone who grew up watching spaghetti westerns, indulging that childhood dream of being a cowboy or cowgirl for the day is too good a chance to pass up – and for everyone else, it’s still fun. A stay on a working dude ranch is the best way to get a feel for the cowboy lifestyle, whether horse-riding through the bush, picking up a few rope tricks, or swapping stories over a campfire after nightfall.
Book it: Western & Oriental offers a 14-night Texan Treasures fly-drive with three nights at the Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, then San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and Austin, with direct flights and car hire from £2,205 in low season.
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