While the northern hemisphere is in the throes of icy weather and grey skies in December, the southern hemisphere offers the perfect sun-baked destination to get away from mid-winter.
You’ll find December a great time to visit many destinations in Southern Africa. The weather is mostly hot and sunny, with the occasional theatre of large thunderstorms (which offer a welcome cooling down!).
From big five wildlife safaris and the spectacle of the zebra and wildebeest migration, to beach holidays second to none, Southern Africa offers something for everyone. Keep in mind though that December in Southern Africa is busy – game viewing is at its peak, beaches at their best, and everyone is looking for some much needed rest and relaxation. It’s best to plan ahead.
South Africa – Cape Town, the Garden Route & KwaZulu-Natal
There’s a reason Cape Town was voted one of National Geographic’s top 10 beach cities in the world. With towering mountains, world class vineyards and glorious beaches all within easy reach, the ‘Mother City’ is one of South Africa’s most-loved travel destinations, and at her most beautiful in December. The weather is hot, with not a rain cloud in sight, the beaches buzzing and the mood festive.
And it’s the same all along South Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline. The Garden Route, an easy drive from Cape Town, is the ideal destination for a family holiday as it is brimming with things to see and do. You’ll find warm waters, wildlife reserves, golf courses, long, pristine beaches and incredible forests. Further north, the KwaZulu-Natal coastline offers a more tropical beach experience, along with big five game reserves, wetland parks and coral reefs.
How to do it: Combine the best of both worlds – a trip to cosmopolitan Cape Town and a big game safari in the Kruger National Park, or a safari in the big five Phinda Private Game Reserve and two days in the luxury of the Oyster Box Hotel on the balmy Natal coast. Or self drive along the Garden Route, spending eight days exploring this stunning region of the country.
Botswana – The Kalahari
A trip to the Kalahari Desert in December will leave you spellbound – the dry, dusty earth is transformed by a carpet of emerald grass, and once dry waterholes are glittering with life.
December is ‘green season’ in the Kalahari and if you can put up with the odd afternoon thunderstorm or two, you’ll find yourself amidst one of the greatest migration spectacles on earth.
During the November to April period, antelope birth their young, gather in huge herds and travel across the country, with opportunist predators hot on their heels. While the Great Migration in the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is famous for being the largest land migration in the world, Botswana’s zebra migration is actually the longest! Witnessing the migration extravaganza in Botswana is certainly one of the top reasons to visit in December.
See why Botswana was voted as Lonely Planet’s number one country to visit in 2016.
Mozambique – Quirimbas Archipelago
If you’d like a Christmas on a tropical beach, lounging under swaying palm fronds, look no further than one of the Indian Ocean islands.
There is a chance of rain at this time of year, although there is less chance in the northern Quirimbasas opposed to the islands further south (the Bazaruto islands).
A trip to one of these tropical island paradises also combines well with a big five safari.