Safari Elopement South Africa – How to Guide

As an elopement photographer based in the US, I love to capture the candid and authentic moments for my couples! I’m based out of Minnesota but I was born and raised in South Africa for the first 22 years of my life. One thing I absolutely love about being a wedding photographer is flying back home to South Africa and capturing destination elopements and weddings! My husband and I return there annually during the US Winter to reconnect with family, explore, and capture the magic of elopements and weddings! So if you’re planning a safari elopement keep reading! Here’s a guide to help you plan your safari elopement in South Africa!

Why you Should have a Safari Elopement in South Africa

Having a safari elopement in South Africa is like blending romance and adventure into one day. South Africa is such a hidden gem that not many people know about! From stunning waterfalls, blue oceans and lush bushveld, South Africa has it all- making it the perfect spot for your big day. Let’s not forget the thrill of spotting elephants, lions, and giraffes while you tie the knot while staying at some amazing lodges!

Where Should I fly into for my Safari Elopement in South Africa?

There are 3 main airports to fly into for a safari elopement in South Africa, namely:

  • O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg
  • Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town
  • King Shaka International airport in Durban

From there, you can take a domestic flight or arrange ground transportation to your chosen safari lodge. Domestic airlines in South Africa I recommend would include: FlySafair, CemAir, Lyft, SA Airlink or Mango.

For ground transportation I highly recommend using SWIFT transportations. They are amazing!

Next: Choose Your Safari Lodge

After deciding where you want to fly into and what region you want to have your safari elopement in, you need to decide on a safari lodge. There are so many amazing safari lodges to choose from in South Africa! I’ve listed some of my favorite ones below! I offer different elopement packages at either one of these lodges.

Misava Safari Camp

Outdoor seating area with a lit fire pit, surrounded by wooden chairs, and an open-air building with string lights at dusk. Trees and shrubs are visible in the background at Misava Safari Camp a perfect lodge for a safari elopement!
Sunlight streams into a bathroom with a freestanding bathtub, wicker basket, and large window with curtains, overlooking a natural outdoor setting at Misava Safari Camp a perfect lodge for a safari elopement!

This camp is located in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve on the western edge of Kruger National Park. The closest airport is Hoedspruit airport.

This Lodge is a family owned and run lodge, Misava Safari Camp (previously Angela’s camp) is one of the oldest camps in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, home to a vast variety of wildlife, birdlife and predators.

Chitwa Chitwa

An outdoor patio with a pool at a modern house in the evening, featuring seating areas, a tree integrated into the structure, and warm lighting at Chitwa Chitwa a lodge perfect for a safari elopement
Aerial view of a lush green area with scattered buildings next to a body of water and surrounded by dry land and sparse vegetation. Paths and roads are visible, leading towards the horizon at Chitwa Chitwa a lodge perfect for a safari elopement

This lodge is more than just a luxury private game lodge in the bush. It’s a holistic and sensorial experience which starts at sunrise and captures the very essence of the magnificent wildlife heritage and natural landscape of Africa before sunset. The Chitwa House consists of two beautifully appointed en-suite rooms with private decks and outdoor showers. The closest airport is Nelspruit Airport, which you can fly to from any of the Main airports listed above.

Return Africa

A luxury tent interior with a canopy bed, white linens, a ceiling fan, a writing desk, a green sofa, and an open view of a wooden deck and lush greenery through large glass doors at return Africa a lodge for a safari elopement
Group of people hiking on a rocky ridge with a scenic view of a lush valley, mountains, and a winding river in the background under a sunny sky

Known for its conservation efforts and authentic bush experiences. Your wedding ceremony can be held in several locations within the Makuleke Contractual Park, the most stunning being the Fever Tree forest, the Ana Tree forest, or the Luvuvhu flood plain. Your wedding reception will be held on the decks of Pafuri Camp overlooking the Luvuvhu River.

How to get there: There are direct charter flights from Johannesburg to Pafuri Airstrip. You can also get there by taking one of the daily flights to Hoedspruit from Johannesburg or Cape Town, connecting with a 45 minute charter flight to Pafuri.

Lion Sands

Aerial view of a large waterfall surrounded by lush greenery on one side and a rocky terrain with a road on the other.
A spacious bedroom with a canopy bed, a seating area with a white couch and coffee table, indoor plants, and large windows with curtains, offering a view outside at lion sands perfect for a safari

Lion Sands is a private game reserve located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa. It’s known for its luxury accommodations, wildlife viewing opportunities, and exclusive safari experiences. Many couples choose Lion Sands as a destination for weddings, or elopements! This is one of the most expensive safari lodges in the world, with rates starting at $1500pp per night and goes up to $7000pp per night.

Isambane Bush Lodge

A beautiful safari lodge in South Africa near the Kruger National Park
A beautiful secluded wooden deck at a safari lodge in South Africa, with the sun rising in the background
Elephants drinking out of a pool at a safari lodge in South Africa called Isambane Lodge

Isambane Bush Lodge is a beautiful, eco camp lodge situated in the heart of the Greater Kruger National Park area in South Africa. The lodge is within a private reserve, offering guests an exclusive and secluded experience! Isambane Lodge is most definitely one of my absolute favorites! It’s small and private and absolutely breathtaking! The closest airport is Hoedspruit, which you can fly into from Johannesburg or Cape Town Airport.

Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve

A rocky, cave-like building with two large windows and a pair of chairs sits against a rugged, sunlit cliffside at Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve
Outdoor seating area with a fire pit, wooden chairs, and a table set for dining on a stone patio overlooking a vast desert landscape at sunset at Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve

Kagga Kamma is a three hour drive from Cape Town and is nestled against natural rock formations in the Cederberg, far away from big city lights. This is a location which connects visitors of today with the soulful heritage and landscape once inhabited by the Khoi and San of the past.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

A modern home with large glass windows, surrounded by greenery, under a twilight sky. A wooden walkway leads to the entrance, illuminated by small lights at Melozhori Private Game Reserve
A wooden deck with lounge chairs, a small pool emitting steam, and a hammock, overlooks a green hilly landscape under a clear blue sky at Melozhori Private Game Reserve in south africa

Melozhori is a short two hour drive from Cape Town and is the perfect elopement spot! At any time of year, there are so many ways to experience the rejuvenating qualities of Melozhori Private Game Reserve! Enjoy Game drives at your leisure with expert guides, a relaxing hike to enjoy panoramic views, exhilarating mountain bike trails through hilly terrain or a long soak in a wood-fired hot tub under a Milky Way of stars.

Elopement Packages

I offer a variety of different packages, which all include the following:

  • Luxury accommodation for bridal couple
  • All meals & snacks
  • All (non-alcoholic) Beverages
  • 2 game drives per day
  • Full Day Photo Coverage
  • Hair & Make Up
  • Florals
  • Cake

Starting at $10K.

Best Time to Elope in South Africa

Choosing the perfect time for your elopement in South Africa is key to ensuring an unforgettable experience. In my opinion there honestly isn’t a bad time to elope in South Africa. The Winter months (May-August) are still gorgeous and make for the best time to see animals on safari as the bush isn’t as lush and dense. During Summer time (November-March), the lush, green bushes are dense and the sceneries are beautiful. The animals often have young babies in the middle of summer, making it super fun to see the little ones!

The best time to elope in South Africa largely depends on the type of scenery and weather you prefer, but I recommend the months from February to November! Avoiding the holiday rush during December and January.

Decide What to Do on Your Safari Elopement Day

Plan activities that align with your interests and the unique offerings of your chosen lodge. Here are some ideas!

  • Safari Game Drives: Experience the wildlife up close in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Hiking: Explore the bush on foot with a guided walking safari.
  • Massages: Enjoy a relaxing couples massage in the heart of the bush.
  • Fine Dining: Indulge in a romantic dinner under the stars.
  • Boat Trip: If available, take a scenic boat ride on nearby rivers or lakes to see the hippos!
  • Helicopter Ride: This is an incredible way to view the sceneries and wild life!
  • Hot Tubbing: Enjoy a relaxing hot tub with your lover!

What to Pack

Pack essentials and be prepared for various weather conditions. Here’s a checklist to help:

  • Passports and Travel Documents: Ensure all your paperwork is in order, including visas if necessary. (US citizens, Canadians and Europeans do not need any visa’s to visit South Africa)
  • Wedding Rings: Don’t forget these!
  • Clothing:
    • Light, breathable fabrics for hot weather (safari-friendly colors like khaki, beige, and green).
    • Warmer layers for early mornings and evenings.
    • Rain gear if you’re traveling during the rainy season.
    • Comfortable walking shoes and sandals.
    • Swimwear if your lodge has a pool.
    • A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect against the sun.
  • Toiletries: Bring all necessary personal items, including any medications.
  • Insect Repellent: Essential for keeping mosquitoes and other bugs at bay.
  • Camera and Binoculars: To capture and enjoy the wildlife and scenery.
  • Travel Adapters: For charging your electronic devices.
  • Wedding Attire: If you plan to wear traditional wedding outfits, make sure they are appropriate for the weather and setting.

Choosing a Photographer for your Safari Elopement

When it comes to picking a photographer for your safari elopement, you want someone who knows their way around South Africa like the back of their hand. That’s where I come in! I was born and raised in South Africa for 23 years of my life. I now live in the US with my husband and travel back annually to visit my home country and capture beautiful elopements and destination weddings. I’ve got the insider knowledge to make your elopement photos truly epic. From secret spots with killer views to knowing the best times to capture that golden African light, I’ve got you covered. Plus, I understand the unique magic of South Africa’s landscapes and wildlife, ensuring your photos will be perfect.

A wedding photographer with her camera standing in the long green grass with a giraffe walking behind her
A wedding photographer with her camera standing in the long green grass with a giraffe walking behind her

Words From my Couple’s

“Eloping in South Africa was the best experience of our entire life! We cannot thank Heidi enough for helping us plan and capture our special day! It was breathtakingly beautiful and absolutely stress free!” 

“I am so thankful that Heidi got to capture my wedding day in South Africa. She is by far my best investment yet! South Africa is absolutely beautiful and I wish I could get married all over again just to experience this amazing day again.”

If you’re ready to hire me as your safari elopement photographer, let’s do it! I want to be a part of your special day! Contact me here and let’s go on this adventure!

For more information on eloping in Africa, go check out my other blog on How to Elope in South Africa.

South Africa Safari Elopement Photographer with long blonde hair sits on a chair near a potted plant, holding a camera and adjusting her hair, wearing a white top and ripped jeans.

Dress: Be Spoke By Maryke and Hanrie Lues Bridal 

Make Up: Charne Dreyer Beauty and Mua and @sunetbassonmua 

Hair: @accentuatehairandmakeup

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *