Ah the honeymoon. The one bit of the wedding that I had been trusted to organise all on my own.
I’d been given a set budget and some vague instructions about making sure there was some time relaxing by a beach, pina colada in hand, but beyond that the world was my oyster.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, I think the first problem was the complete lack of adult supervision while planning. The second was that I never quite got over my obsession with The Lion King.
As I sat down to have a one-man brainstorm about where I should whisk my new wife off to, I couldn’t shake ‘The Circle of Life’ from playing in my head on repeat.
Despite giving cursory consideration to sunny spots in Asia and soaking up a bit of culture in Europe, there was never really a question that I would choose anywhere else but the home of Timon, Pumba and incredible sing-along soundtracks. An Africa honeymoon it was.
As I started researching an unforgettable safari honeymoon, I quickly realised that I was in way over my head. Sure I could get us over there, but I’m more of a big picture thinker than a details man. Organising flights on local airlines, booking airport taxi transfers and sorting out multiple visas all were all quickly placed in my ‘too hard basket’.
Determined to not let my organisational failings stop us, I asked a few friends who had been on safari for recommendations and was quickly pointed in the direction of Wil Gabb at Sydney-based This Is Africa. Wil had spent 10 years as a guide in East Africa before meeting his now-wife when she was on his tour in Tanzania. She managed to tempt him to move to Aus with her and he now shares his vast knowledge and huge enthusiasm on all things Africa to help people plan their perfect safari.
Working with Wil, I selected the Great Game Parks and Zanzibar tour, which would start in Arusha in northern Tanzania, travel around four game parks before finishing up on the sun-kissed island of Zanzibar for three days of chilling out. The perfect mix of adventure and relaxation and it just squeezed into our budget. Result!
Unfortunately I wasn’t happy with that though. Oh no. I tacked on a three day trip to Rwanda to visit wild mountain gorillas, a dawn hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, a visit to an elephant orphanage in Kenya and an extended stop-over in Dubai on the way back. This took me over my budget. Quite some way over. I told you I needed supervision.
But, as I was planning on only ever having one honeymoon, I wanted to make it as special as possible. Sure it meant that we had to have beans on toast for dinner a few more times than is strictly healthy, but by being clever with the flights I managed to claw some of our budget back.
The trip itself was absolutely incredible – everything that we hoped it would be and much, much more. It was jam-packed with experiences that we’ll never forget and was well worth sacrificing a few nights out to pay for.
Highlights included being photobombed by a 200kg mountain gorilla, seeing a lion catch an unlucky gazelle for its lunch, getting charged by a grumpy elephant, bribing a guard to let us into an ex-African dictator’s house and Faith, my new wife, being given a ride on a quad bike by a minor member of the Saudi royal family.
Lowlights were restricted to a 9 hour stop-over in Nairobi airport on the way there (more evidence of my excellent planning skills) and me playing the Lion King soundtrack so many times that our philosophy on hakuna matata is now ‘no more, please!’ rather than ‘no worries for the rest of our days’.
For the mixture of adventure, experiences and relaxation, Africa was the perfect choice. We squeezed so much into our trip that it felt like we were away much longer than the three weeks it actually was. And, after seeing the pics on our instagram hashtag (#fallymoon, since you asked..), two of our friends have booked their own African adventures through Wil as well.
So, if you take one tip away from me on your honeymoon it’s this: scrimp, save and do whatever it takes to give yourself the biggest, best holiday that you can ever imagine because after the wedmin and the big day are over, you’re going to need it!
The view from our hotel, Rwanda.
Photobombed by a grumpy gorilla.
A massive elephant: too manly to moisturise.
Watch out Mufasa…
A black and white zebra doing an excellent job of using its natural camouflage to blend into the green savannah. Excellent work, evolution!
Giraffes out for a stroll.
Sunrise hotair balloon, taken from another hot air balloon.
Someone put on ‘House of Pain’ and these guys went crazy.
A lioness catches her lunch.
The baby elephant walk – just a little bit cute.
Making friends with Babar.
Trying to get a selfie with Pumba.
Hitching a lift to the airport.
Ms Gingham says: Awesome job of organising this honeymoon Alastair and judging by the look on Faith’s face in the last image, I’m sure she’d agree!
Alastair is a Sydney-based Brit who’s cracked the code to buying an engagement ring. His eBook How to Buy an Engagement Ring is helping chaps all around the world get the ring that his girl dreams of for a price the guy loves.