Written by Julie Graham
As the year draws to a close, and winter starts to sink its icy claws into the northern hemisphere, the African sun is warming up and preparing for a balmy, tropical Christmas where Santa is more likely to arrive on a Land Rover than a sled! Skip winter this year and instead, join us in celebrating the Christmas in East Africa where a wildlife wonderland awaits.
December in Tanzania is characterized by lush green landscapes, and is known as the beginning of the ‘emerald season’. During this time, enormous herds of wildebeest cover the plains of the Serengeti as they begin to migrate south to Ndutu. Despite some light rains that generally happen overnight, the weather is warm, and days are mostly clear.
There are few places that capture this beauty quite like One Nature’s Nyaruswiga – an ultra-luxurious safari camp, ideally situated in the very heart of the Central Serengeti. The tented camp is nestled into the pristine woodlands of the Nyaruswiga hills, surrounded by breath-taking beauty and overlooking seemingly endless savannah plains. The valley is home to a permanent source of drinking water which attracts an abundance of wildlife all throughout the year. Beautifully incorporating utmost luxury into an authentic and exciting camping experience, Nyaruswiga will be the host of a Christmas in East Africa that you will never forget.
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Although Christmas is not widely celebrated on the tropical island of Zanzibar, there is a definite festive atmosphere on the streets and beaches during this time. A fairly unpredictable month with hot, humid days that can give way for sudden but spectacular tropical storms that bring cool relief, this time of year is a real testament to summer and is just beautiful.
An unforgettable way to celebrate Christmas in Zanzibar in 2021 is a stay at Elewana’s Kilindi Zanzibar resort which epitomizes barefoot luxury at its best. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, and situated on the north-west coast of the island, Kilindi combines Middle Eastern overtones, with chic Scandinavian minimalism whilst allowing nature to thrive throughout its design. Think hot, summer days sipping cocktails at the falling water bar, overlooking the large sparkling infinity pool with unobstructed views out across the azure waters of the warm Indian Ocean and you’re almost there…
Kenya is a superb East African country to visit in December with warm to hot days and nights and a landscape flush with greenery following the short rains earlier in the month. Migratory bird species and an array of newborn animals flood the Masai Mara and as water sources begin to dry up towards the middle of the month, wild-life viewing becomes easier.
Located in the south-east of this natural wonder of the world, within its very own private 6,000 acre conservancy, is the award-winning luxury Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp and private Bush Villa – founded in 1919, it is the oldest safari camp in existence! Cream canvas en-suite sleeping tents come with beautifully hand-built four poster beds, gramophones, old style showers and safari antiques that ooze old-world sophistication. If romance and elegance, in the style of a bygone era, coupled with a world-class bespoke safari experience in the heart of Africa gets you feeling festive, this should be on the top of your East African Christmas bucket list.
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If the idea of spending Christmas experiencing something exhilarating and life-changing like coming face-to-face with the gorillas of Rwanda is what you’re after, we have good news for you! The short dry season from mid-December to early February happens to be the best time for a gorilla trekking experience, so it is an ideal festive season adventure.
Set in the north-west of the country, right on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park, Singita’s Kwitonda Lodge makes this experience easily accessible while providing the ultimate in sustainable luxury hospitality. Following your once-in-a-lifetime experience with the majestic mountain gorillas, spend Christmas day relaxing in your private heated plunge pool from the comfort of your luxurious suite, drinking in the spectacular views of the countryside in what is known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills”. It doesn’t get much better than that…
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Home to half of the world’s population of highly endangered mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a national park in the western region of Uganda, and is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. Located on a forest ridge, right near the entrance to the forest is Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge – a remote, luxury lodge that sits over 2,000 meters above sea level and is Uganda’s highest lodge.
This intimate jungle retreat comprises just eight spacious cottages, each built of local volcanic stone with panoramic views of the Great Rift Valley and magnificent Virunga Volcanoes. Celebrate Christmas interacting with these magnificent creatures in the heart of the jungle before sipping on sundowners and taking in the spectacular scenery and tranquil surroundings of this sophisticated mountain retreat in the clouds.