When it came to honeymoon planning I didn’t hesitate about where we should travel. Since 2015, I traveled solo to over 20 countries and one of them left a major mark on me. Botswana, a small country in Africa, was a soul-changing experience. However, something didnt feel right by going alone. It was incredibly romantic, super intimate, and ultra-luxurious — everything one could imagine in a honeymoon.
However, we didn’t want to go somewhere either of already visited. We wanted it to be unique, different, and memorable. I took the initiative with the planning reaching out to a few different travel agents and gathering itineraries to review with Lindsay.
Hitting a Honeymoon Goal = Make it Memorable
Everyone has their own checklist for what they want out of a honeymoon — stunning views, 5-star luxury hotels, white sandy beaches, adventurous excursions, and the list goes on. For me, it was to make it memorable. Most travel experiences don’t stand the test of time in our memory, leaving a faint and distant trace of the travels we have experienced.
For our honeymoon, I wanted our experience burned deep into our memory to share it with our kids later in life. So memorable we can speak about the people we met and the places we experienced over 40 years from now. Having studied memory structures and ‘how memory works’ I have learned a few things about what makes trips truly stand the test of time in our minds.
Creating Memories by stimulating your mental machinery in ways you have never experienced before.
My 3 top criteria for curating a memorable honeymoon…
- Surprise — unexpectedness within the trip to etch memories.
- Novelty — the newness of experience is a must.
- Arousal — the heightened intensity of moments within the experience.
Everyone has seen beautiful views, white sandy beaches, and 5 hotels. However, few have seen a lion roar as it chases its prey immersed into a foreign culture and celebrated the beauty of nature in an ultra-personal and harmonious way. Yes, it checked all the other boxes — stunning sunsets, amazing beaches, extremely private, 5-star luxury stays, and world-class service.
Flight to Kenya
Flying to Kenya is no easy feat. However, to make the most of the long-haul flight to Nairobi, we flew Qatar Airways business class and chose to stop at Doha Hamad International Airport.
- Qatar Q-Suite: Qatar Airways has one of the best business-class seats available. Their Q-Suites have complete privacy with closing doors and layouts that combine together to create a double bed.
- Doha Hamad International Airport: Rated as the “World’s Best Airport” it certainly did not disappoint. Coming from JFK airport to DOHA airport, you feel like falling asleep in a Best Western and waking up at the Ritz. The airport felt like a resort, tantalizing a la carte and buffet dining and signature hospitality.
13 hours on a plane sounds like torture. However, after a night of sleep on the lay-flat bed and waking up to a delightful breakfast spread left us refreshed and ready for our next day.
Even rated as the “world’s best airport”, we didn’t have super high expectations. Seriously, how can an airport really be that impressive? Hamad International Airport deserves to be categorically separated from other airports.
Beyond the stunning architecture and pure luxury accommodations, the staff at the business lounge found out it was our honeymoon and asked us to wait in the lounge for our flight. After 20 minutes, the service staff brought out a custom cake to celebrate our honeymoon.
1. Hemmingways Nairobi — 2 nights
We arrived at Nairobi airport late in the night but being received at Hemmingways Nairobi quickly eased our travels. Our time here was planned to rebound from the long-haul flight before embarking into the bush for our safari.
Most couples would be happy honeymooning at Hemmingways however, this was just getting started for us. Walking on the Hemmingways grounds you are greeted with lavish gardens tucked into the side of Ngong hill. This tranquil oasis was the perfect entry point into Africa to rid jet lag and freshen up for our safari ahead. We got massages, laid by the pool, and took naps and for me, I got a couple of solid workouts in!
Although this served as a place to recover it truly had impeccable amenities, and services, and experience a taste of world-class service (each room has butler service!) before we embarked on our safaris!!
We left the next Morning and got a private transfer to Nairobi Wilson Airport where we took a small plane to the Masai Mara.
2. Mara Nyika, Masai Mara — 4 nights
Upon arrival at the land strip, we were greeted by our Guide Dixon, our right-hand man for the next 4–5 days. Dixon, a local from the Masai Tribe, is a seasoned expert in animal behavior and a kind soul. A true gentleman, we shared laughs, and stories and got a world-class education in wildlife, the Masai Mara land, and the Masai culture. He truly made our trip super special and unforgettable.
The Masai Mara: The Best Game Viewing in Africa
Mara Nyika is nestled into the Masai Mara, one of Africa’s best game-viewing locations. You may have heard of the Great Migration which happens in the “Mara” from July to August. It is located in a private Naboisho Conservancy. Being a part of a conservancy means tourism is regulated making trips ultra-private. Conservancies are a win—win for wildlife and tourism. Regulating the balance between tourism and wildlife creates a more sustainable habitat for the wildlife and a better tourism experience (fewer people, fewer camps = more private/exclusive).
Mara Nyika — An Ultra Luxurious Tree Camp
Mara Nyika is super intimate with only 6 camps (max 12 people there). We were lucky that we had the entire camp to ourselves. If you are not woken up by the roar of the lions, a member of the staff will be there for your wake-up call. A platter with your favorite coffee and cookies helps ease you into the morning, especially for those not early risers. Staff next escorts you from your room to the main camp — escorts are very required as it is not uncommon to have animals.
Experiencing nature in its raw form is the ultimate form of luxury.
Being with my wife off the map, and connected with nature is an experience that is hard to replicate anywhere else in the world. Seeing wildlife in its natural state, tasting the cuisine of the Masai culture, and witnessing how animals survive in the wild is
Despite being deeply removed from civilization, a safari doesn’t miss the details when it comes to impeccable service, amenities, and luxuries. From spa tubs, curated menus, daily laundry service (except underwear — Masai culture rule) and professional Canon Mark VI Cameras — no stone goes unturned in removing any sense of responsibility.
Typical Day in the Safari…
- 5:30AM: Wake up!
- 6AM: Morning Game Drive
- 9AM: Breakfast out in the Bush
- 11AM: Back to Camp to relax
- 1PM: Lunch at the Camp
- 4PM: Afternoon Game Drive
- 6PM: Sundowner / Watch sunset and have snacks
- 7–8PM: Dinner at the Camp
A Priceless Moment…
Lindsay’s face, when she had her first animal sighting, was priceless. Moments like these are hard to create but this is one I will remember for as long as I live!
After sharing several days at Mara Nyika it is impossible to not feel part of the family. Saying bye was hard!
Safari Game Drives — Excitement, unexpectedness, and embracing the wild in its raw form.
Dressed in khakis, stepping into the Land Cruiser every day is the centerpiece of the Sarafi experience. Stepping outside the congested NYC streets, crammed subways, big buildings, taxi horns, and cop sirens into the open plains, where you become one with wildlife is a soul-changing experience.
- A local sticking his hand into a tree bees nest to pull out honey while getting stung million times
- Cheetah pack teaching its kids to hunt
- Experiencing a live birth of a calf
- Pack of Lions hunt a gazelle
- Mesmerizing sunsets
Some of the best images from Masai Mara…
3. Ol Donyo, Chyulu Hills — 4 nights
We boarded our plane back to Wilson Airport to catch our 2pm flight to Chyulu Hills for our second safari destination.
Ol Donyo Lodge — A Peaceful Retreat tucked in the Hillside
Ol Donyo is nestled into the Chyulu Hills, between Kenya’s Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks. The lodge sits majestically on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills, gazing out across a view of the landscape stretching untouched as far the eye can see.
Our room views looked out over the suite’s plunge pool and across the rolling plains to Mount Kilimanjaro. A private rooftop with a bed to soak in the sun or view the stars at night.
Wake up to snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro and the distant roars of lions.
Horebackriding, Run in the Wild, Pool, Massages & Game drives
After disciplined daily 6am game drives in Mara Nyika, it was a pleasant pivot to spend time differently in Ol Donyo. Ol Donyo, being located along the plains with the concentration of wildlife is not as high, it offers a set of opportunities and experiences that would not be possible in the Mara.
One of the highlights of Ol Donyo was the friendships we made at our camp. Whether we were relaxing at the camp lodge, out on game drives, or horseback riding, we enjoyed the conversations, laugh,s and connection with the locals.
Ol Donyo is a special place. One of the reasons I chose this location is because it has the largest stables in all of East Africa. Lindsay grew up riding horses so this was a treat.
- Private pool
- Horseback Riding.
- Our guide being absolutely hilarious
- running in Kenya
- p to snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro and the distant roars of lions.
4. Alfajiri, Diani Beach — 3 nights
- Hemmingways was really nice. Think many would have be happy honeymooning at this place alone. Hard to digest this was just the beginning!
- The Masai Mara was truly some of the best game viewing.
- At Mara Nyika we had the camp to ourselves for the most part (were the only guest for most of our stay).
- Dixon, our guide at Mara Nyika, was exceptional. Both brillantly smart and wicked organized and discplined with our game drives.
- Ol Donyo had less game viewing, but made up for it with activities and a distinctive camp. We definitely made some memories with horseback riding, laughs with our guide Jermamiah, and great conversations with Savannah & Graham.
- Alfajiri was truly an iconic property. Service was impeccable. Views were breath-taking. It was the best way to finish the trip.