Social media has lately been awash with banners advertising all sorts of packages for couples interested in a romantic getaway on Valentine's Day. East Africa, with its picturesque landscapes, diverse wildlife and vibrant cultures, offers a treasure trove of romantic destinations — from the sprawling savannahs to stunning beaches and idyllic islands.
Here are some of the region’s most popular destinations for a Valentine’s Day getaway:
Uganda’s oldest conservation area offers couples a chance to go on a boat cruise on the Nile and see the impressive Murchison Falls, where the Nile – the longest river on earth – forces its way through a narrow gorge before creating a thunderous spectacle.
Couples also get to explore the park’s diverse wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, leopards, giraffes, and lions, before unwinding in some of the secluded safari lodges.
The archipelago is one of the most popular destinations for holidaymakers. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Zanzibar – where turquoise waters meet the white sands – offers a blend of culture, history, and natural beauty, providing the perfect setting for a romantic escape.
Couples can explore Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town and wander through its streets, which are filled with food markets and ancient palaces, or go for scuba diving and snorkelling in the Indian Ocean. Lovebirds can also take a sunset dhow cruise or escape to a private island.
The Maasai Mara Game Reserve offers a unique and thrilling adventure for wildlife enthusiasts. One of the most visited wildlife reserves in the region, the Mara teems with animals, including the famed African Big Five: elephants, lions, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos.
One of the biggest wonders of the Mara is the annual wildebeest migration, but it happens between July and October, so one would not witness this wonder of the world on Valentine’s Day.
But couples can take hot air balloon rides over the vast plains. Then they can have romantic evenings stargazing around a campfire in the heart of the African jungle.
Arguably Africa’s best beach destination that is located about 30 kilometres south of Mombasa, it is a popular destination for honeymooners.
Diani, which boasts pristine white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and swaying palm trees, making it a perfect destination for a Valentine’s getaway. This tropical paradise offers a variety of activities for couples, including snorkelling, diving from the coral reefs, and taking a romantic boat ride to nearby islands.
Diani is also home to several beach-front resorts that offer couples privacy and luxury. Many of these offer spectacular ocean views, private pools, and personalised service – making for a truly unforgettable Valentine’s Day experience.
Ssese, an 84-island archipelago located about 50 kilometres from Entebbe, is one of Uganda’s most popular honeymoon destinations, offering couples idyllic beaches and cosy accommodation right on the waterfront.
Bugala Island is the most visited because it has sandy beaches that offer a relaxing environment where couples can enjoy the cool breeze from Lake Victoria. Some of the activities on offer are quad biking, beach volleyball, nature walks, boat cruises, and sport fishing.
Located on the shores of Lake Kivu, Rubavu – formerly known as Gisenyi – is an ideal destination for couples seeking a beach experience in Rwanda. Lake Kivu has several beaches, making it a perfect place for couples to relax in the cool breeze from Africa’s deepest lake.
In the recent past, Rwanda has done everything possible to develop Rubavu – which lies on the country’s border with DR Congo – an attractive holiday destination for leisure travellers. The beach town’s hospitality sector is now well developed, and it boasts luxury hotels such as the Serena Hotel, which offers attractive Valentine’s Day packages for guests.
Touted by many a traveller as one of the most spectacular holiday destinations in the world, Seychelles is renowned for its pristine beaches, granite boulders, lush jungles, and exotic resorts – which create a dreamy backdrop for couples.
With its idyllic setting and exclusive retreats, the Seychelles is a real paradise for lovebirds. Some of the activities couples can indulge in include a gourmet beach picnic, island-hopping, scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing.