Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Out.
Safaris don?t come cheap, but then neither does your relationship (we hope). Splurge in the name of love—and once-in-a-lifetime photos—for an anniversary, honeymoon, or just because. South Africa?s summer is the perfect time to go, when less rain means easier spotting of animals at watering holes. Ditch the overrun tourist safaris in Kruger National Park and head to the remote Relais & Châteaux?appointed Kwandwe Ecca Lodge (+27-11-809-4300; from $942), a member of &Beyond luxury safari outfitters. After an insipid if easy two-hour drive from Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape (chauffeur service is available), Mother Nature unfurls 55,000 acres of malaria-free wilderness as the front (and back) yard while the retro safari chic accommodations offer dashes of funky flavor, like life-size animal photographs tinted in psychedelic colors, amid otherwise minimalist decor. If you really want to splash out, check into the complex?s Melton Manor, a four-bedroom estate removed from the base and equipped with a private chef, butler, and plunge pool.
Packages include two daily off-road game drives with a rifle-toting ranger, the Big Five—lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros—all but guaranteed. Safari walks and night drives are optional thrills, while sundowner cocktails and candlelit dinners are a must. Don?t be surprised to fall asleep to a soundtrack of hyenas on your back patio or even an elephant slurping away at the pool.
Book your trip toward the weekend and spend a night exploring Port Elizabeth?s small, welcoming gay scene at Aqua Nightclub (York St. and Prince Alfred Rd.; +27-082-732-2199), the nightspot. Doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel takes on entirely new meaning.
To read about local escapes to Paarl Winelands, click here.