Sam and Nick's Mara Wedding and Zanzibar Honeymoon
We eloped immersed in incredible surroundings!
11 Apr 2019
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Sam and Nick contacted Far and Wild with a very special holiday in mind, they were eloping and wanted a bush wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one trip. They travelled in February 2019 to Kenya and Zanzibar, enjoying 3 nights at Karen Residence, 2 nights at Lolida House, 4 nights at Little Governors Camp, and 5 nights at The Residence. This article by Sam will help you understand why Africa is perfect for weddings and honeymoons, and who knows, you may want to elope yourself after reading about their fantastic experiences.
Beginning of a very special trip
The Karen Residence
Our trip began in Nairobi where we had to arrange our wedding license at Sheria House, accompanied by a representative from Governors Camp. The process was surprisingly fast and easy, allowing us the rest of the day to enjoy the pool at the Karen Residence.
On our second day in Nairobi we visited the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage to see the bottle feeding of the baby elephants and then to the Giraffe Sanctuary where we hand fed the giraffes.
Staying in Karen we were very close to a number of great restaurants and bars and had fantastic meals at both the Tamarind and Talisman restaurants.
The beautifully decorated lodge has a nod to a time gone by, but with modern luxuries. A heaven of tranquility on the serene Lake Navaisha.
Whilst here we took a boat tour on Crater Lake to see the amazing bird life and hippos from the water. On our way back to Loldia House we stopped out on the plains to enjoy tea and cake as we took in the beautiful view. The following day we went to Crescent island on the opposite side of Lake Navaisha and went with our guide Juma on a walking Safari, which was a wonderful experience. We took the opportunity to relax beside the infinite pool during the afternoon.
We enjoyed our evenings taking drinks on the porch whilst listening to the hippos and having dinner with the other guests. One of the highlights of staying at Loldia had to be the night drive seeing a number of animals illuminated yet not startled by the jeep headlights, it was especially nice to see the hippos wandering around and feeding.
Little Governors Camp
The light aircraft flight from Loldia down to the Masai Mara is quite an experience, for me somewhat nerve wrecking but fear was quickly forgotten as I enjoyed the superb views. The short flight was soon over, and there were a few amused looks as I stepped off the plane with my wedding dress box in hand, not the usual luggage.
Drivers were waiting and we were whisked off, experiencing our first glimpses of the magical Masai Mara. To reach our lodge, Little Governors Camp, we had to cross the Mara River in a small boat, where we were met by the camp manager George and warmly welcomed.
Finalising the wedding plans became top priority, George and our guide Robert helped us find our ideal wedding locations, searching out the perfect tree for us to marry beneath, and a secluded spot beside the river for our private bush dinner. We had a very clear idea of what we wanted and George went out of his way to make our dreams a reality.
In the following days leading up to our wedding, we enjoyed wonderful guided game drives with Robert. We were incredibly lucky, on our first drive we saw the Five Brothers, a group of five male cheetahs on the plains. We also took a Balloon Safari, watching the sunrise over the Masai Mara from the air is one of the most spectacular sights I have ever witnessed. We landed and in true ballooning tradition enjoyed the decadent champagne breakfast, having crepes cooked on a re-purposed hot air balloon burner was certainly unique.
Little Governors camp was incredible; a small exclusive tented camp with exemplary service and fantastic food. Set beside a marsh, every day you see families of elephants come in, along with giraffes, cape buffalo and of course the resident hippo’s (one even walked through camp one evening as we were sat having a gin & tonic in the bar tent).
For us we really felt in paradise and could not think of anywhere else we’d rather be getting married!
The Big Day
Our big day started with coffee and biscuits followed by a morning game drive, and we opted for a picnic breakfast on the plains because we wanted to spend our special day immersed in the incredible surroundings. Back at camp we had a leisurely lunch, watching the animals, and got to know our wedding photographer who had just arrived from Mombasa.
Returning to our tent we then got ready for our wedding together.
My groom even held a mirror outside in the daylight so I could apply my makeup, this was probably the most relaxed wedding prep ever, having a beer as we waited for the temperature to drop a little before heading to our wedding ceremony.
Crossing the river in the small boat and then climbing into a safari landcruiser in my wedding dress was all part of the adventure in reaching our special spot on the plains.
Our wedding ceremony was simple and incredibly intimate, just the way we hoped it would be when planning our elopement. The two of us beneath a lone tree in one of the most wonderful places on earth. Champagne, smiles, game drives, animals, laughter and a sunset photo shoot then followed. We had several calls of ‘Congratulations’ as other Safari jeeps passed us, I am sure we were quite a sight, a bride and groom spinning around in the dust at sunset in the Masai Mara.
As darkness fell, we were whisked away for our bush dinner, and couldn’t believe the beauty of the site lit by lanterns creating the ultimate romantic setting for a wedding dinner. Standing beside the fire drinking champagne, listening to hippos in the river below as the Maasai danced for us created a perfect end to a magical day.
We were very sad to leave Little Governors Camp, we’d had an amazing stay, George and the team are wonderful, and we cannot thank them enough.
The Residence Zanzibar
Arriving in Stonetown was an assault on the senses, hustle and bustle, people and a strong smell of fish from the market, as we made our way through the narrow streets to Swahli House. We sat on the terrace and looked out over the cramped rooftops and tightly packed streets, adjusting to the humidity and the huge contrast to Kenya. Our 24 hours in Zanzibar’s capital was great, we hired a local guide to show us around the town, learning about the culture and the island’s history, we visited the slavery museum and shopped for local crafts and spices.
We were then driven to our beach resort The Residence Zanzibar for a few days of beach-side luxury, and a chance to relax.
On our tropical island honeymoon we felt truly pampered, our villa and private pool were beautiful and secluded. When we arrived our room was decorated with fresh flowers and the honeymoon package allowed us to have a couples massage and a private candlelit dinner on the beach.
The Residence is spread over a large area and we really enjoyed getting around on the bikes provided with each villa, even if some of the rides home at the end of an evening were a little wobbly!
Our wedding and honeymoon were an incredible experience, and everything we could have hoped for.