Plan your Safari for December 2020 now…
Because it really is never too early to start talking about a safari.
“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.”
Throughout the developed world, across all our religions and in spite of the lack of religion we celebrate the festive season with gusto.
The lights go up and for a brief (but ever-expanding?) moment our lives glitter with the intent of goodwill to all. For many of us, the festive season is closely intertwined with endless shopping, planning, cooking and the traditional spot of family drama.
And we all love it. Truly.
But, just in case you ever wondered if there was another option – here are TWO alternatives.
Because we might all deserve one festive season where every detail is planned by someone else, where gourmet meals magically appear, giving is subtly colored by gratitude, everyone in the family is happily occupied with the adventure of their choosing, where the glitter is delivered directly from stars strewn across the night sky and sunlight sparkling over azure oceans.
A festive season where the living is easy? Choose a Christmas safari!
From the Galápagos to the African bush we design merry safaris for those who prefer their celebrations to be memorable… and their trees decorated with elephants!
Image © kikatani – pixabay.com
Enjoy Very Merry Adventure Holiday
We travel to experience the culture of other people. At the end of the year, there is also a window of opportunity to expose other people to our own culture.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your own traditions and requesting what you need to celebrate in the way you usually do at home. You will find the people of South America and Africa as interested in your world as you are in theirs.
These regions are also a fantastic choice for anyone who would like to skip all the traditions and make their own plans for the day. If you take your safari in December your trip might be the beginning of beautiful new traditions.
Note: These safaris are very popular and they sell out very early. It is never too early to book if you want to avoid the disappointment of missing out on the most distinctive properties due to a lack of availability.
Our favorite Ecuadorian Christmas safari is designed around cruising the Galápagos. There is no better way to immerse your loved ones in a world of tranquillity where everyone can grow close and experience the wonder of love. We have access to many boats and can tailor your safari to charter the perfect vessel to fulfill your family’s dreams. You might also choose to spend some of your time on land and charter boats daily to a different island.
Activities to Enjoy while you Cruise the Galápagos
Diving the Galápagos
The Galápagos is an excellent diving destination but it is advisable to consider this only if you are an advanced diver.
Kayaking the Galápagos
A guided kayaking expedition will have your entire family gliding past dramatic volcanic landscapes and playful wildlife.
Snorkeling in the Galápagos
There is no age limit for snorkeling in the Galápagos. If you are comfortable swimming you will love discovering hundreds of fascinating species such as whitetip reef sharks, sea lions, rays, green sea turtles, Galápagos penguins and more…
Snorkeling opportunities are plentiful and you are guaranteed to see something fun every day. Children are always supervised by an expert naturalist guide.
Image © Barefoot Expeditions – flickr creative commons
An Explorer’s Paradise
Buzz Aldrin himself said that some islands in the Galápagos resemble the surface of the moon!
Hiking the archipelago will teach your family about the geography and history as well as the extraordinary wildlife that roam the islands, the oceans, and the skies.
Walk through the natural lava tunnels that are the result of the archipelago’s volcanic nature.
Image © Stephan Harmes – flickr creative commons
The biggest decision of the day during your cruise? Whether you would like to lie in the sun on a red, white or black sand beach.
Do beware: A penguin can be a very harsh judge of your sandcastle architecture… and there is often one to be found keeping an eye on your construction.
Spy on the Sea
If your group has a strong fascination for the creatures that live under the sea another excellent option in the Galapagos is to take a glass-bottomed boat with an expert naturalist guide.
Charles Darwin Research Station or the Giant Tortoise Reserve both offer an excellent opportunity to learn all about the animals and their conservation as well as meet creatures like the giant tortoises and land iguanas. What to expect in Galápagos during Christmas and New Year.
Image © Alexas_Fotos pixabay.com
What you Need to Know About Galápagos Over the Festive Season
In December and January the Galápagos is warm, the water is refreshing and it doesn’t rain much.
This is high season in the Galápagos and it is never too early to book your end of year holiday in the Galápagos. Booking two years in advance will guarantee the best availability and rates.
Marine iguanas, sea turtles, flamingos, masked boobies and white-cheeked pintails come out to be viewed in December. With the lovely weather shining down like a blessing you can swim with sea lions, marine iguanas and penguins before catching the sun right next to your new fury sea lion friends.
In the largely Catholic Ecuador, Christmas is a very special time of year. This does not mean that you will recognize many traditional additions… Carol singing outside and festive lights are scarce in Ecuador but Pase del niño is celebrated continuously between December and February and if you happen to find yourself on the mainland you may spy one of many colorful processions.
With a strong religious origin, the participants are dressed as biblical characters to honor the birth of Jesus Christ… and globalization has also brought some Santa Clause participation to the processions!
Christmas itself is celebrated on the 24th of December. Watch the sun setting over the distant ocean horizon while you sip on an ice-cold chardonnay before tucking into a traditional “Pavo Horneado” (roast turkey), “Hornado de chancho” (roasted pork leg marinated with garlic and beer), “Pernil lojano” (roasted pork loin marinated in an aromatic sauce of bitter orange juice, onion, garlic, achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and panela before being slow-roasted for several hours) and “Canelazo and Naranjillazo” (a hot cinnamon, water, sugar and aguardiente drink) that is perfect before you drift into sleep, gently rocked by the waves.
The crew may pray the “Novena” and you will be able to join in the festive spirit on board your yacht as everyone makes a special effort to bring as much merriment and tradition to the ocean.
If you are accompanied by the young or the young at heart never fear: everyone in Ecuador knows that Santa Claus has a pair of flip flops and swimmers and that his reindeer have a nice rest while he travels around the Galápagos Islands on special sea lions!
Gifts are exchanged but they are smaller tokens rather than extravagant presents.
The perfectly timed cruise will allow you to spend Christmas and New Year traversing The Enchanted Islands.
The tradition of Años viejos on New Year’s Eve is one of the best ways to put any negativity from the last year behind you and welcome a New Year and a fresh start with open arms.
In Ecuador Monigotes (Años Viejo dolls and masks made form newspaper, firecrackers, wood shavings and lists of your regrets, past worries and problems) can be purchased and ceremonially burnt with any bad experiences from the last year at midnight!
The monigote tradition can be found throughout Ecuador and every doll characterizes a political, cultural, social or ecological subject in a critical but humorous way (an excellent guide is highly recommended!)
New Year is also celebrated with fireworks and men dressed as women to signify the widow of the ending year begging for coin while dancing and flirting with anyone in sight.
A popular tradition in Ecuador is to eat 12 grapes at midnight for good luck in the New Year.
Do also try Buñuelos (Ecuadorian doughnuts) and Champuz (a warm flour, honey and fruit drink) if you would like to taste traditional Ecuadorian festive foods.
The Best Bespoke Safaris in Africa in December
The very best way to celebrate Christmas in Africa is to take a private house. Having space that is all yours with your family surrounding you and the African bush only a glance away is pure heaven. But whenever we design a family safari we ensure that every member of the group has the margin to expand their dreams.
What does Africa Celebrate in December?
People differ in how they celebrate the end of every year. Cultural and geographic differences can drive traditions, but each family may have a slightly unique way of marking important days as we move from one calendar year into another. An African December calendar is filled with celebrations.
There are many different religions throughout Africa, but 40% of the continent identifies as Christian, and so Christmas is widely celebrated – and if you are staying at a camp in Africa chances are good that the day will be marked with little gifts, singing and plentiful fabulous food and drink.
Most of Africa is also very tolerant of diverse religions, and your beliefs will be respected.
Far north from the lightning storms painting drama across the Southern African skies, Uganda basks in the lull of the year’s first three-month dry season. This translates to ideal gorilla-trekking conditions. The paths have less mud, which makes for a more comfortable trek, and the jungle is less dense, which guarantees mist-less selfies with the gorillas and chimpanzees.
Image © gerritbril pixabay.com
December is a great time to visit Kenya. The rains are short and refreshing, the vegetation is lush and baby animals abound. Divers and snorkelers will have a whale of a time spotting whale sharks, other sharks, manta rays, dolphins and turtles.
We love the private houses of Arijiju in Borana and Sirai House on the coast – both these beautiful properties offer an incredible location to end your family safari.
Image © Sirai House
Your opportunity to enjoy the wildebeest migration in relative isolation after high season’s crowds have departed comes at the risk of the short rains and herds that are moving fast. Of course, the rain will settle the dust, and the plains are at their very prettiest.
While the best accommodation will be very dependent on how much rain has fallen. Few places on earth will make you feel entirely alone and an absolutely integral part of the whole all at once. Enjoying some bubbles under a black sky strewn with stars and waking up before the sun to welcome the New Year in a mobile camp in the middle of the Serengeti will do that.
Singita Serengeti is your home away from home.
Image © IanZA – pixabay.com
After the first rains, the desert of the Central Kalahari comes to life, and the green shoots draw wildebeest, buffalo, oryx, and springbok… which can lead to lovely cheetah and black-maned Kalahari lion spotting. And wild dog. And hyena. And leopard.
It all comes at the vague risk of an afternoon thundershower, but then some may argue that an African rainstorm should be on everyone’s list of must-do experiences and simply adds to the unique charm of an African safari in December.
Image © itprax – pixabay.com
In most of Southern Africa, the wet season runs through December and early January. The countryside will be gloriously lush though, and baby animals, birds, and reptiles are in plentiful supply. Wherever wildflowers grow, December is a good month to see them.
As the weather and the dense foliage do not make for peak game viewing conditions, Southern Africa can be a good option for anyone wanting to concentrate on food, wine and the beach life in the Cape, the Garden Route and the KwaZulu Natal coast… or enjoy the low season rates in the bush.
Visit Cheetah Plains for exclusive pampering in the middle of Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Image © designerpoint – pixabay.com
If you can imagine a warm holiday, cast away on a deserted island (except, of course, for your splendid accommodation, wonderful meals and spoiling staff) where you can feast on Portuguese prawns on the beach after a morning of diving, then the islands off the coast of Mozambique will be the answer to all your dreams of visiting Africa in December.
Run away to Mozambique’s lagoon coast and stay at the White Pearl Resort.
Image © cotrim – pixabay.com