There are as many different opinions on the perfect holiday as there are people on the planet, and finding an accord with travelling partners can be a challenge, especially if your opinions are at either end of the scale: one lingering time away at a luxury beach resort, the other getting back to basics in the wilderness on safari. But Mauritius is an ideal destination for people wanting to combine both.
These gorgeous pale, tropical beaches are just across the waters from Africa and there are direct flights from South Africa, Kenya and Zambia to Port Louis, which makes it quick and easy, as far as travel details go, to follow up an African safari with some time on the beach, for a trip that combines seeing some of the world's most impressive wild animals, and untouched places with some beach bound pampering. For a lot of people this kind of trip would also make the perfect honeymoon.
The South Luangwa National Park is a great destination for a walking safari – animal numbers are impressive, with over 60 species and 400 bird species, and the park's layout means the wetlands, where most of the animals come to feed and water, are comfortably reached on foot. Hippos and buffalo wallow in the channels of the river, watched by crocodiles, who also have their eyes on the giraffes and zebras – all watched by camera toting safari shooters.
South Luangwa has plenty of different lodge and camp options, from tented bush camps to permanent luxury lodges, from which you can take day walks or else join a multi-day walking safari between tented camps.
The classic walking safaris run for around eight days, beginning in one of the lodges on the banks of the large lagoons of the Luangwa River, then moving to Luwi Bus Camp, then after a few days on to Nsolo camp, then Kakuli and Mchenja camps. By walking between camps you have a better chance of getting up close to animals without startling them, and you have a chance to cover more ground and see a greater variety of life.
The Kruger National Park is one of South Africa's oldest reserves, it's also one of the largest. There are plenty of lodge and camp options both within the park, and in the private reserves along the borders of the park, places like the Sabi Sands Reserve, Timbavati Reserve, Thornybush Private Game Reserve and Kapama Private Game Reserve. While there are plenty of options, and this is undoubtedly a famous and popular destination, there's also plenty of space: this is the kind of park you can really experience the bush in, without feeling like you're on safari in a zoo.
The big five are all represented here and the Kruger has one of the greatest varieties of mammals of any African Reserve, with around 150 different species, and including migrating and breeding birds, around 500 different bird species.
One way to get the most out of your safari in the Kruger is to follow one of the nine wilderness trails though the park. Most are overnight and some pass though regions otherwise untouched by humans. In the really remote regions there are no trails other than those made by animals.
International flight connections from Zambia and South Africa come in to Port Louis, the Mauritian capital, so even if you're just here for the idyllic tropical beach resorts you're still going to pass though. For visitors seeking a more cultural experience allow for a couple of days here to see the world's only complete Dodo skeleton at the Mauritius Natural History Museum, the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, for the huge water lilies, the Creole design of the old Eureka Mansion, the life of the local Central Market and to admire the historic charm of the old port on the waterfront. It's like easing yourself into island life.
Mauritius is a small island, small enough to drive all over in a day. The highlights, if you fancy hiring a car and going for a mini road trip, are Chamarel and the 'Coloured Earths', a waterfall and a region of exposed volcanic rock that's set into amazing coloured patterns, and Ile aux Cerfs and its beach. End the day trip in Grand Baie, only 30 minutes drive north of Port Louis, and set up camp in one of the resorts here.
Some of the nicest beaches on Mauritius are along the northern coast near Grand Baie, and while some people will find it impossible to move further than the distance from the resort to the resort's beach, La Curvette, Pereybere and Mont Choisy are probably more perfect if you can drag yourself just along the coastline to them.
The Baie aux Tortues, or Tortoise Bay, is south of Grand Baie, and an interesting place to spend an afternoon both for the tortoises and the Balaclava Ruins, the remains of an old French fort where the arsenal was stored, before it was accidentally blown up. Inland from the bay are is the Labourdonnais Orchards, where you can take a free walk or cycle between a scented oasis of coconut, paw paws, passion fruit, lychee and banana trees and bushes, followed by feasting on some of the orchard's bounty on the verandah of the colonial homestead.
There's a lot more to the destination of so many daydreams than the white beaches and the blue bays - if you can drag yourself away from them...