There are few things that speak more of the nature of Africa than the richness and diversity of its wildlife. While fascinating and colourful creatures could once be encountered almost anywhere that fresh water and sustenance were to be found, such times have now long passed. Humans, with their unending need to build and to expand their territory, have found new uses for the land and its resources, and the consequence of their efforts has been to destroy the habitats of other species, decimate their numbers and drive them to seek safety elsewhere.
Although still numerous, the wildlife population has fallen to a mere fraction of its original numbers, and many species have been lost forever. Today, whether or not future generations will be able to experience the thrill of an encounter with the surviving species in their natural surroundings lies in the hands of those who manage Africa’s national and private game parks.
To maintain their vital role, these parks rely on visitors and the revenue they bring. In South Africa, many game lodges are now extending their options, combine game viewing with conferencing facilities and honeymoon suites. Their efforts are now attracting substantial numbers of delegates and newlyweds who simply love the idea of booking their accommodation in locations such as the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Although parts of today’s reserve were designated as protected areas as early as 1898, the park only gained its official status in 1926, when it became the first of its kind to be established in South Africa. Covering an area of almost 19 500 square kilometres, it is the nation’s largest wildlife reserve. Located partly in Limpopo and partly in Mpumalanga, the original area has since been linked to two other reserves beyond the country’s borders, one in Mozambique and one in Zimbabwe, to form a Peace Park now known as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
The scheme has resulted in the removal of the dividing boundary fences, in order to allow the free movement of both animals and humans within the considerably expanded area. In the case of the wildlife, the freedom of animal species to maintain their normal migratory patterns ensures an adequate water supply and grazing that is vital to their survival, throughout the year.
There is an undeniable magic in the times spent under a starlit African sky and listening to the distant sounds of nocturnal creatures that is the perfect catalyst for romance. It is an enchantment that an increasing number of honeymoon couples, both local and from countries overseas, are now discovering. Many of the game lodges located in the Kruger and other national parks now cater for them with luxurious accommodation that will ensure that the memories of this very special time in their lives will be relived repeatedly, and that their magic will never be forgotten.
A comfortable, elegantly decorated en-suite room with a king size-bed and a private patio from which to enjoy a view of the magnificent bushveld scenery beyond is enough to thrill most people, but for a couple setting out to build a brand-new life together, it is so much more. A chance to relax from the inevitable tensions of the wedding day, to share some private moments in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, and when dusk falls, to enjoy romantic meals and fine wines beneath the light of an infinite multitude of stars never visible in their home cities and towns.
When the lure of the wild can no longer be resisted, the Kruger has far more to offer than luxury honeymoon accommodation. It is home to the iconic Big Five and offers the unique opportunity to view them, not caged, but roaming free in their natural habitat; the chance to capture a rare and memorable experience on film and to cherish it forever.