It’s official: more and more couples are inviting friends to join them on their honeymoon. Increasingly referred to as “buddymoons,” this twist on the traditional romantic getaway prioritizes sharing unique travel experiences with a small group of your favorite friends, not just your new spouse. Why? Some articles (like Conde Nast Traveler) cite that contemporary couples are viewing honeymoons as an opportunity to continue the wedding day festivities à la Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. Plus, as weddings become less traditional, and couples are more apt to live together pre-wedding day, some suggest that honeymoons are becoming more elastic in response.
So, if you were to try one of these “buddymoons” while on dream safari in Africa, where should you go? We’ve rounded up a selection of ideal exclusive-use properties in East and Southern Africa that have been optimized for small, intimate groups and awe-inspiring experiences.
Kenya & Tanzania
Set into the rolling hills of the Borana Conservancy in Kenya, Arijiju feels like a world unto itself. The monastic-inspired architecture contrasts elegantly with the sumptuous comforts and abundance of activities found here. Thick, arched doorways and open inner courtyard, outdoor swimming pool and enlivening hammam, exposed rock walls and elegant chandeliers all contribute to make this a unique sanctuary surrounded by some of Kenya’s richest wildlife. When not romantically cozied away in your own fairytale, you and yours can explore the wonder of the countryside on morning and evening game drives, guided walks, mountain biking on well-established trails, and horseback safaris across Borana and beyond. This painstakingly crafted family home comfortably caters up to five couples. Time to get celebrating.
2. Laragai House
Found in the same region, honeymoon groups can admire views of Mt. Kenya and the Lolokwe and Wamba Mountains from Laragai House. While the property’s opulence won’t appeal to everyone, others will love its formal, over-the-top décor (think: florals, overstuffed furniture and gold-gilt mirrors). Spend your days in the fresh air on game drives, mountain biking, or horseback riding in the open savanna, spying buffalo, eland, giraffe, lion and cheetah. Back home, lounge in the pool house, complete with bar, kitchen and bathroom – perfect for long lunches and afternoon swims. Many of its opulent rooms feature cozy fireplaces and sumptuous king beds. A spacious getaway, Laragai can accommodate up to sixteen.
3. Thanda Private Island
If a private home isn’t enough seclusion, how about a private island? Thanda, off the coast of Tanzania, is ‘getaway’ kicked up a few notches: extravagant beach house complete with indoor aquarium, grand piano (romantic serenades, anyone?), wine collection, cigar humidor, glass rim-flow swimming pool, and wrap-around dining area with 180-degree views of the ocean. Its five air-conditioned suites are perfect for honeymooners and companions to lounge in privacy or hit the white-sand beaches together for a little snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, or some classic sun-bathing R&R. Add in excursions to neighboring islands to explore 11th century ruins and get to know local communities and their traditional craftsmanship. Surrounding Thanda itself you’ll find crystalline waters and vibrant coral reefs that make up part of Tanzania’s Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve.
4. Singita Serengeti House
Designed for exclusive use, there’s a sense of relaxed freedom for families or friends to enjoy shared experiences in nature here. New, casual, living spaces include an eat-in kitchen and media room, a full gym adjacent to the extended outdoor sala, and a brand new tented spa suite at the updated tennis pavilion. Refined yet luxuriously comfortable, this modern-African home on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill offers uninterrupted views across the Serengeti. Throughout the house, a calming neutral palette of sun-bleached blonde, beige and grey bring the grassy plains indoors.
5. Tanda Tula Field Camp
Suitable for maximum of 8 guests, Tanda Tula Field Camp is ideal for honeymooners seeking a classic, tented safari experience. This mobile explorer-styled camp is located within a 6,500 hectare private concession, giving you ultimate freedom in where to follow the wildlife, and how you want to experience the bush. The main focus here are big-game walking safaris led by expert guides and trackers who can teach you a host of new skills from wildlife tracking to recognizing and understanding the medicinal properties of the region’s plants, and more. Of course, traditional game drives are always available too! Camp consists of four custom designed tents, with en-suite open air bush bathrooms, and a communal mess tent. What you want, when you want, exactly how you want – all under the open African sky.
6. Singita Castleton
Formerly the family home, Singita Castleton is an exclusive use lodge set within 45,000 acres of private reserve. The home has ample space to invite your ten closest friends, each with their own individual cottage located within the grounds. Expansive gardens, swimming pool, wine cellar, gym, tennis court and spa treatment room mean opportunities for relaxation are at a premium. Game drives, walking safaris, mountain biking, and community visits mark just a few ways you can expect to spend your days. With a full complement of private staff tending to your needs though, you decide exactly how you want each day to look.
Leobo Private Reserve is a completely private 20,000 acre estate based in the beautiful Waterberg Mountains. Consider those 20,000 acres your personal playground, with your days fully customized around you and your friends’ personal tastes. Kayak, quad bike, helicopter, stargaze, visit ancient caves or camp with hippos, or explore the bush by horseback. Then settle in around the fire pit with your drink of choice. Comprised of eight chalets which sleep a total of 18 people comfortably, Leobo’s got plenty of room for the social butterflies out there.
8. North Island
North Island is a luxury private island resort in the heart of Seychelles. Lush tropical palms, giant granite peaks, and open ocean are the name of the game here. The island features eleven private villas of almost 5,000 square feet of decadent space, with direct beach access and artisan-crafted furniture. For the honeymooners themselves, we recommend “Villa North,” the island’s almost 8,000 square foot multi-tiered villa set apart from the others, complete with over-sized marble bathtub, private plunge pool, leadwood bridge and more.