Romantic Kenya

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Romantic Kenya
Mind-blowing landscapes, luxurious lodges, and champagne at sunrise—it's no wonder Kenya is a premier honeymoon destination. Journeys here often launch lifelong love affairs with Africa, too.
By Harriet Constable, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Bill Gozansky/age fotostock
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    The Romance of the Coast
    Romantic, mysterious, and surrounded by the warm Indian Ocean, the tropical Lamu archipelago seduces travelers. The labyrinthine lanes, splendid carved doorways, and ever-present aromas of coconut and coffee contribute to the mystique of Lamu's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Days on the island can be spent sipping cocktails at the luxurious Majlis resort, wandering the narrow streets of Shela village, and cruising down the channel on an elegant old dhow boat at sunset.
    Photo by Bill Gozansky/age fotostock
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    Beneath a Blanket of Stars
    In the vast openness of the Kenyan savanna, falling asleep under the stars adds a layer of romance to an adventure. In the remote Laikipia Plateau, Loisaba Lodge has created uniquely romantic "star beds," which afford unusual access to the night sky. The four-poster beds—on raised, partially covered platforms out of sight of the main camp—are draped with gauze to keep bugs away. A more affordable and rugged option exists in the form of camping on a tree platform in the Ngare Ndare Forest, where adventurous souls can take to the canopy walkway in the darkness and admire the night sky.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Sunrise from the Sky
    Kenya's sunrises are incomparably romantic, but in the predawn quiet of the Masai Mara National Reserve, couples may make their way to a private hot-air-balloon launch from Angama Mara for a truly breathtaking perspective. As the sky warms up with color, morning light is thrown over the savanna below to reveal herds of wildebeest, elephant, zebra, and giraffe, as well as yawning predators. The spectacular flight lands after one airborne hour, when breakfast is served and the clink of champagne glasses mingles with the sounds of the land coming to life.

    Photo by Ton Koene/age fotostock
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    An Introduction to Sundowners
    Taking a sundowner—that is, watching the sun sink over the horizon while enjoying a refreshing drink—is a cherished safari ritual. While a bottle of Kenya's Tusker beer or a fine South African wine may satisfy, travelers should ask at least once to sample a dawa, a local cocktail created by mixing vodka, limes, and honey. Strike out, drink in hand, for the perfect spot to watch the dazzling sunset. Couples may simply relax on the deck of their lodge, or ask camp managers to suggest a particularly scenic locale within driving range. Romantics can slowly sip their drinks while watching wildlife retreat into the night.
    Photo by Günter Lenz/age fotostock
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    Out of Africa
    "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills," begins Isak Dinesen's memoir, Out of Africa, one of literature's most romantic recollections of colonial-era Kenyan life. Dinesen's farm can be reached by a short bus or taxi ride from Nairobi's city center, and visitors can tour the tranquil bungalow where Danish baroness Karen Blixen (Dinesen's real name) fell in love with Africa. A little further on from here, tourists can hike the Ngong Hills made famous in her book and have a romantic picnic atop one of the knuckle-shaped mounds.
    Photo by Luis Davilla/age fotostock
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    Date-Night Restaurants
    Kenya's major cities are home to world-class restaurants, each with elegant—and distinctly African—atmospheres. New-kid-on-the-block restaurant Nyama Mama Delta offers a modern take on hearty African food in a cool, funky setting. In leafy Karen, visitors can't go wrong with date night at Talisman, an elegant gastropub that is widely lauded for offering some of the best food in the city. Grab a table in the garden surrounded by lanterns. At the coast, lovers will want to check out Ali Barbour's, a restaurant set in a candlelit cave, for an über-romantic night.
    Courtesy of Nyama Mama
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    An Unforgettable Honeymoon
    Kenya's lodges throw open their doors to adventurous honeymooners, seducing newlyweds with promises of natural beauty and the undeniably romantic spirit of safari. In the Masai Mara National Reserve, Angama Mara is one of the most luxurious, romantic lodges in the country, set high up on the escarpment. Out of Africa fans can even have their own Denys and Karen picnic in the very spot the scene took place in the film. If spending a night or two in Nairobi en route to safari is in the cards, book a room at the fabulous Giraffe Manor and enjoy eating breakfast while these gentle, long-necked beasts poke their heads through the windows to say hello.
    Photo by Kevin O´Hara/age fotostock