Soft white snowfall on Christmas Day is a real scene-stealer but the months before and after the powdery magic give the northern hemisphere winter a bad name: sludgy ice mixed with mud tracked all over your living room and grey skies as dull and endless as left-over turkey. Luckily, there's a a perfectly balmy solution to escape your central heating and trade your thermal underwear for beachwear and sandals: say ‘hello’ to Christmas in Africa.
Your instant response is probably: ‘Christmas-means-snow-and-eggnog, not sunshine-and-barbeques!' So I’ll make my case carefully… Africa in December is like this: every day is a good beach day, the savannah is a wild manger full of gorgeous baby animals, the festive spirit infuses the friendly smiles of the people you meet, and each long sunny day begs to be lived to the fullest outdoors. This fun-filled, family-friendly season in Africa is as delicious as grandma's cherry pie.
One of the best ways to experience a home-away-from-home African Christmas is to stay in a family villa. With all the amenities and comforts of a hotel and all the privacy and flexibility of your own home, a luxury villa is ideal for families or groups of friends. And with the huge selection of city, safari and beach villas available in Africa, your perfect Christmas venue could be a short scroll away!
A City & Coast Villa: Jingle Bells, Beach Days & Family Outings
South Africa's favourite coastline, the Garden Route, positively jingles with activity during the Festive Season: locals and visitors flock to the beaches, open-air markets and parks are filled with families and the sun shines cheerfully down on it all. Plettenberg Bay and Knysna are the most central destinations for all the action: close to enough wildlife sanctuaries, breathtaking forests, scenic lagoons and beach trails to fill your Christmas stocking with plenty of outdoor exhilaration.
Top Activities: Explore the forests of the Tsitsikamma on a guided walk or canopy tour, arrange a water-skiing excursion or a sunset cruise on the Knysna lagoon, and take the kids to Monkeyland or Birds of Eden.
Where to Stay: The Villa at Hog Hollow is an exclusive-use villa enjoying beautiful views over the Tsitsikamma Forest canopy and surrounding mountain range. Ideal for those families wanting a holiday away from the crowds yet close enough to join in the fun.
Knysna Heights Villa is set in the heart of Knysna's prettiest neighbourhood, overlooking the lagoon and close to The Heads coastal walk and restaurant. Ideal for a multi-generational family looking for a little bit of indulgence this Christmas.
Lookout Villa is a contemporary beach retreat in Plettenberg Bay, just a short stroll from the centre of town. It's perfect for those wanting an extra level of service too - the villa is attached to the Plettenberg Hotel, so you're welcome to enjoy all the hotel facilities during your stay.
A Wild Safari Villa: Rudolph the Rhino & Afternoon Gin and Tonics
There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning to the sound of pheasants chirping, buffalos lowing and hyenas snickering in the distance as a fresh, crisp dawn delivers another picture-perfect day in Africa. An early start over steaming coffee sees your family set off to explore the wilderness as it springs to life around you. When the heat of the day chases the game into shady copses, it’s time to retreat to the consummate comfort of your villa, where staff see to your every need and a sparkling pool invites you to soak up the sunshine.
A safari Christmas is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: game drives and nature walks in the care of your professional guide, languid afternoons spent relaxing beside the pool, thrilling night drives and saluting the setting sun with a gin and tonic, before sitting down as a family to a 4-course feast.
Top Activities: encounter the Big 5 on morning or afternoon game drives and head out on guided nature walks for more intimate wilderness experiences, indulge in pampering spa treatments and enjoy the bonding and re-connecting with your family that flows from relaxing together… make a lifetime of memories this Christmas.
Where to Stay: Morukuru Farmhouse is a family-friendly safari villa situated in a private section of Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. Expect warm African hospitality from the dedicated service team and the freedom to design your own daily schedule of activities (or extra long siestas!).
Singita Serengeti House is the benchmark of exclusive luxury in the wild heart of the Singita Grumeti Reserve. Its beautiful hillside location overlooks the iconic savannah plains of Africa, setting the scene for a truly unforgettable Christmas. This superb safari villa is ideal for discerning travellers who expect nothing less than fully tailor-made days and gourmet cuisine.
A Private Beach Villa: Hark! The Ocean is Calling
After a childhood spent in the southern hemisphere, when I think of Christmas I think of long summer days spent on the beach with my family, cocktails at sunset and bonding over loads of fun-filled activities. Mauritius, without a doubt, delivers all of this and more: a tropical island famous for its sparkling seas, postcard-perfect beaches and glorious golf fairways. A multitude of top-notch resorts also offer exclusive-use villas, giving you another great option for an indulgent home-away-from-home villa stay, with access to all the fantastic water-sports and entertainment a hotel provides.
Top Activities: hire a catamaran for a family sunset cruise, hit the beach for some volleyball action, go water skiing and snorkelling, thrill yourselves into shrieks of laughter with a tube ride, or order in some fresh fish from the market and let a top chef wow you with his gourmet cooking skills.
Where to Stay:
Villa Infinity overlooks the picturesque Pereybere Bay on the North Coast, and offers a truly secluded island escape. You'll love the close proximity to Grand Baie as well as its very own in-house chef! Ideal for medium-sized families looking for a total beach break in December.
Leora Beach is an elegant grouping of 14 fully-serviced, 3-bedroom apartments that blend the independence of a private villa with the services of a hotel. Ideal for larger families wanting a couple of villas close together, who are looking to enjoy a range of activities, including golf, surfing, scuba-diving and snorkelling.
More Island Escapes: Villas to Celebrate in
And further afield in the Indian Ocean are a couple of other fantastic family-friendly beach villas perfect for a Christmas getaway:
Matemwe Beach House is perfect for a small group who love diving and snorkelling as it's just a short hop from famed Mnemba Island in Zanzibar while on the east coast, check into Dar House, a private villa with a media room that is just steps from the beach.
If the Seychelles sounds more dreamy, then consider Desroches Island Resort 3-Bedroom Villa, an incredible island retreat for a family or group of friends travelleing together, and situated on private Desroches Island.
Christmas is a time for family, reconnecting and reminiscing. Why not do it all in Africa? Beautiful sunny days, endless white beaches, early morning game drives and busy shopping markets await you and your family this December. PS Santa delivers!