Now is the time to plan your 2015 late fall and winter travel to Africa. And, if you are hoping to spend the holidays in Africa, don't wait any longer to start making plans, as space will become increasingly difficult to secure. Here are Bushtracks’ top five safari destinations for fall and holidays to help get you dreaming of warm days outdoors, with options for city attractions, beachy escapes, and the beauty of the African bush at a very special season: when animal babies are born, and places like the Kalahari and Victoria Falls transform, offering a completely different experience from other times of year.
1. Cape Town, South Africa
In addition to its major attractions, this culinary capital celebrates the holidays in fine style, whether you’re seeking beachy picnics, restaurants serving up a classic buffet, more creative fine dining, or wine estate escapes. Top destinations enhance their usual offerings with special dinners at the wineries of Stellenbosch, seasonal movies at the open air cinema Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, and Santa skips the cable car ride to Table Mountain but arrives on the mountain-top in his own special way. In the Southern hemisphere, this time of year is all about the outdoors with warm, long days. Evenings the city sparkles with holiday lights, and fireworks light up the sky at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront on New Year’s Eve.
2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe or Livingstone, Zambia
There’s plenty to enjoy ringing in the holidays at one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders whether you stay in Livingstone or Victoria Falls. Enjoy stunning sunset Zambezi river cruises, take high tea on the veranda at Victoria Falls Hotel, and enjoy festive dinners at elegant Victorian-era hotels. The falls are at their lowest flow this time of year, offering once-a-year access to Devils Pool, where you can take a breathtaking swim on the edge of the falls.
3. Kruger National Park, South Africa
You’re not the only one interested in using your winter break to go on safari in one of the world’s most sought-after wildlife destinations. December is summer vacation time in the southern hemisphere, and Kruger National Park holds the appeal of a Yellowstone or Yosemite to Southern Africans. It’s definitely a good time to consider camps in private reserves, where the wildlife encounters are more intimate, though equally plentiful due to the unobstructed movement of wildlife between the National Park and the reserves. Kruger is an outstanding destination for your winter holidays, but more than other locations, it must be booked well in advance.
4. Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Located at the edge of Botswana’s Kalahari, the Makgadikigadi Pans’ desert landscape turns green this time of year, and thousands of zebras and wildebeests come from the arid south to feed on the grasses. It’s the second biggest migration of its type in Africa, drawing predators and scavengers, and very few human observers. For wildlife enthusiasts, this well-kept secret is not-to-be-missed. The gracious welcome you'll receive at stylish camps, like Jack's Camp, ensures that spelling your destination correctly will be the hardest part of your safari.
5. Zanzibar’s Beaches + Northern Tanzania
If you are looking for a “beach and bush” style safari, Zanzibar’s legendary sandy white beaches can be added to either the beginning or end of your wildlife-viewing experience. You can immerse yourself in as much or as little of Zanzibar’s heady clove-scented, minaret-studded, labyrinthine street settings as you like before enjoying nearby serene, fine white sand beaches . Zanzibar and its beaches can be linked to a Northern Tanzania safari program, including the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.