Finding time to be alone together is essential for any new couple trying to build a relationship. But when one half of that pairing happens to be a royal and the other is a successful actress, securing some privacy is even more imperative.
So, where better to escape prying paparazzi eyes than in the African bush, where traffic horns are replaced by humming cicadas and the only crowds encountered are herds of zebra and elephant?
It was deep in the heart of the wild continent, in land-locked Botswana, that Prince Harry and his fiance Meghan Markle famously got to know each other by talking at length and sleeping under the stars. Sources recently revealed one of the camps they stayed at was Meno a Kwena, a favourite haunt of Prince Harry, who’s visited the country many times as part of his conservation and humanitarian work.
It’s a smart but low-key setting
A 90-minute drive from Maun and the international airport, the tented camp is on the edge of the Okavango Delta, overlooking the wending Boteti River.
Unlike some of the sumptuous lodges deep in the Delta, this camp is far more accessible in terms of both getting there (you don’t need to fly) and price (from US$445/£333 per night). Ironically, it’s a place tour operators suggest to safari-goers seeking affordable luxury, and it’s far cheaper than many of the properties in (at times) ludicrously expensive Botswana.
It’s an authentic African experience
Despite the great value price tag, tents are beautifully appointed with views to the river where animals come to drink and bathe. You can watch them from private verandas, an (almost) infinity plunge pool or a waterside hide.
Meals are eaten communally and conversations shared around a campfire which burns all day long and provides heat for cooking meals. (Everything is done on an open stove; there are no electric cookers.)
Harking back to a colonial era, black and white photographs in the canvas lounge area even feature the Queen and Prince Philip on a state visit to Botswana.
Along with watching game and enjoying wilderness, a nature walk with San bushmen is a highlight of a stay. Learn about their traditional way of life and wince as they dig scorpions from the ground.
There are no early starts
Unlike most safari camps, days start late here. Boat rides begin at 8am and full day game drives into the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park set off at 10am. Why? The main attraction is seeing game come to drink at the river, and that doesn’t really happen until temperatures reach scorching levels at midday. From May to early November, Africa’s second biggest zebra migration also passes through here.
The upshot is more leisurely breakfasts and longer hours in spent in bed – ideal for a new couple getting to know each other.
The elephants are ridiculously friendly
Botswana is famous for it’s happy, easy-going eles; protected from poachers, the animals are gentle and relaxed. Most of the elephants in in this area are male bulls, who (when not in musth) tend to have a more subdued temperament.
One of the most pleasurable pastimes at Meno a Kwena is a game drive into the park to see herds playing in the water.
There’s the chance to go really wild
Located on the edge of the Kalahari, the camp is swathed in sand, making this barefoot luxury at its best.
And there’s an option to get (even more) back to basics, with a mobile safari expedition to the Makgadikgadi Pans. Yes, bucket showers, portable toilets and bush meals are provided – but after dark, once the stars are shining, it’s as if you have the world to yourself. So it’s no surprise Meghan and Harry found fuel for their great love story.