It's hard to believe it’s already December! With the holiday season fully underway, we’re featuring some of our favorite places to unwind in front of a fireplace this winter—hopefully with some of your favorite people. Speaking of winter, we’re highlighting a recent trip to the Scandinavian Arctic, complete with a viewing of the Northern Lights. Beaches more your speed? We’ve got the lowdown on some of the best hotels in Anguilla. From all of us at First in Service, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. Cheers to 2019!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
A few months after we said “I do” we embarked on a journey that took nearly as much planning as the wedding. Our dream was to have a honeymoon that was far from ordinary – the kind of experience that becomes a permanent feeling rather than a distant memory. Our dream came true. We traveled to Africa and had the time of our lives thanks to First in Service and Abercrombie & Kent. From flying private and landing on a remote bush strip to dancing to the sounds of drumming and chanting, from meeting the children of Nakatindi Village to lunching with a troop of baboons overlooking the scenic Chobe River, our once-in-a-lifetime trip rivaled scenes from National Geographic.
We began in Zimbabwe, where one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is located. Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world and lives up to its local name, “The Smoke that Thunders.” We heard its thunderous roar and saw its rainbow-colored mist steps away from where we stayed, the iconic Victoria Falls Hotel. As if this wasn’t close enough, our walking tour of the Falls offered a live experience complete with a “natural shower” (as the locals call it) and Kodak moments at every step. To add thrill to the mix, our open-air microlight flights flew us directly over the Falls, which proved to be, truly, a Natural Wonder.
The next leg of our trip included a much-anticipated safari in Botswana. We first visited Chobe National Park and stayed at Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero. We then flew to Moremi Game Reserve on Chief’s Island and experienced the award-winning Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, which featured incredible views of the Okavango Delta floodplain. Despite opulent yet cozy accommodations tempting us to stay and relax, our days at the lodges were justifiably busy with game drives. We encountered the Big Five and had the rare opportunity to see critically endangered wild dogs. Whether face-to-face with a white rhino or side-by-side with a lion, witnessing wildlife against the backdrop of the African savanna was incredibly moving. We challenged each other to choose one highlight of many. We’re still at a loss!
From safari to cityscape, we traveled to Cape Town, South Africa where we learned about its rich history and savored its impressive wines. Fortunately for us, our suite at One&Only offered a front row view of Table Mountain, a sight we were able to appreciate from a distance and its pinnacle. We were one with the clouds. And as if expansive, coastal scenery wasn’t enough to showcase Cape Town’s beauty, Cape Point and Boulders Beach were quite the sights to see. On our second day, we explored the panoramic winelands, particularly Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. One word here, Pinotage – a grape blend iconic to this region and forever memorable to our taste buds.
Finally, four countries and a helicopter ride later we arrived in paradise, Benguerra Island, Mozambique. The walk from the helipad to our private casinha was an experience on its own; we were greeted with lively Portuguese singing from the staff and signature drinks from our butler Abel. We enjoyed the ultimate R&R. The serene Indian Ocean, perfectly suited plunge pool, sunset dining, and individualized attention made our stay at &Beyond unforgettably romantic.
We traveled to Africa with a dream of experiencing the extraordinary and returned in awe of all it delivered. These days, we can’t stop talking about the many memories shared that not only enhanced our newlywed bliss, but also planted a seed of love for Africa’s many treasures. We already can’t wait to return.
By Antonio and Angela Gutierrez