Where to go in Africa in December?

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Photo by Amakhala_Safari

Where to go in Africa in December?

This is the time of the year to visit the southern coastal regions with its warm, dry climate.

December is the beginning of the southern summer. This is the time of the year to visit the southern coastal regions with its warm, dry climate. The beaches with their white sand dunes are particularly attractive with the waters of the South Atlantic generally colder than those of the Indian Ocean further north along the coasts of the Eastern Cape and KZN.

Robben Island – Mandela

Cape Town is the popular destination of many tourists and its imposing Table Mountain is always a challenge for those that are fit to climb. I enjoy the more leisurely scenic 5 minute cable car trip up the mountain. At R215 per person it can be expensive for families but none the less it’s a worthwhile experience. Robben Island, the place where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for over 20 years, is worth a visit because of its cultural/historic value. A visitor remarked: “It was a great privilege to listen to the interesting stories of an erstwhile prisoners who acted as our guide”.

The city of Cape Town is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and here the well known wine farms of the Cape offer some of the best red and white wines in the world. My personal favourite of the cultural/historic Vergelegen wine farm near the town of Somerset West. Its tranquil setting invites for shady strolls below some very old Camphor and Oak trees. The oldest of these wine farms are on the slopes of Table Mountain in the Constantia Region.There are over 400 well known high class wine farms amongst the soaring mountains surrounding Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. For the tourists there are many top class 4 and 5 star lodges, hotels and B&Bs worth a stay over.

Top Class 4 and 5 star lodges, hotels and B&Bs worth a stay over.

Many of the fishing type villages along the West Coast of the Western Cape offer excellent accommodation. Booking needs to be made early in the year as December is the main holiday season. Fishing is popular with many holiday makers and the coastal restaurants offer some great seafood value for money. My favourite is the West Coast Crayfish.

Travelling eastward from Cape Town I find the route through the rural agricultural Cape Agulhas region to the Garden Route particularly attractive. On the way the town of Hermanus beckons for a few days of stay over. It’s a mere two hour drive from Cape Town and a major look-out point for the migrating southern whales. My favourite villages and towns of the Garden Route include Wilderness, Sedgefield, George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Here the attractive forests invite for short and longer walks with the Otter Trail my all time favourite, sadly though the age limit of 60 years prevents me to meander along its four day backpacking route between Stormsriver mouth and Nature Valley near Plettenberg Bay. A convenient airport at George at the start of the Garden route cuts the 6 hour road trip from Cape Town to the Garden Route down to an hour flight.

Addo Elephant Park with its wonderful close-up encounters with elephants

Port Elizabeth is the business hub of the Eastern Cape and has its airport linked to all major centers of South Africa. Two hours inland by car and I am at the main gate of the Addo Elephant Park with its wonderful close-up encounters with elephants and a number of the Big five. Accommodation for all National Parks is booked via SAN Parks. There are a number of high class private concessions such as the Amakhala and Riverbend lodges. The rural setting of the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape has many attractive destinations for those seeking time out away from busy centers the serene coastal setting of Coffee Bay, Hole-in-the-Wall and Port St Johns are ideal.

Durban forms the KZN tourist hub.

For a number of years I regularly visited the KZN coast with its golden sand beaches offering wonderful surfing in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean with temperatures in the low to middle 20°C. Durban forms the KZN tourist hub. It has its own international airport and many 4 and 5 star hotels and lodges to choose from. Here the tropical climate with daily temperatures soaring to the mid 30º C, invite visitors to spend their days on the beach along the coast. From Durban the road northward takes one within three hours to reach the HluHluwe Game Park and another hour further to the World Heritage St Lucia wetlands close to the Mozambique southern border known for its wonderful diversity of wild and birdlife.

Namibia and Botswana with its high summer temperatures from December to March tend to be more popular in the southern winter and spring months of July to October with its milder temperatures but are always a favourite with many tourists. The Etosha Pan area in northern Nambia and the great Fish River Canyon and huge dunes of Sossusvlei in the south are great photographic destinations with many safari lodges offering top class accommodation.

The Etosha Pan area in northern Nambia and the great Fish River Canyon and huge dunes of Sossusvlei in the south are great photographic destinations with many safari lodges offering top class accommodation.

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