Seychelles, or officially the Republic of Seychelles is an archipelagic island country in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea.The country consists of 115 islands with nearby island countries and territories that include Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the French territories of Mayotte and Réunion to the south; as well as the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago to the east.
Even though December is supposed to be the rainy season in the Seychelles, it is important to keep in mind that the showers tend to be very short and the sun does come out and bless the islands for reasonably long stretches of time. So, this means that despite the increase in rain and wet weather in December, you are actually going to enjoy a lot of hot, sunny days with pleasant light winds and a clear blue sky.
Attractions and things to do in the Seychelles
This is one of Mahé’s most beautiful beaches, it is a secluded slice of paradise on the island’s south coast and is a favourite spot amongst surfers thanks to its frequent big swells and wild waves. There is no protective reef so swimming here can get a little rough when tide winds blow in from the southeast, although sunbathers and photographers will still enjoy this picturesque, palm-framed strand where turtles have been known to nest along the shore.
Anse Lazio, Praslin
Located on the north shore of Praslin Island, Anse Lazio also known as Chevalier Bay, is one of the island’s most picturesque beaches. You will have to hike over quite a hill in order to gain access to the beach but it is well worth the effort of getting there, surrounded by huge granite boulders, this long stretch of soft blonde sand mixes with crystal clear waters in dreamy shades of blue. Takamaka trees and coconut palms fringe the beach providing patches of shade for escaping the sun and relaxing in a hammock.Hungry travellers can refuel at restaurants on both ends of the beach,the best time to visit would be during the early morning or late afternoon when most of the tour buses have left and you can enjoy the beach all to yourself.
Baie Lazare, Mahé
The cute little village of Baie Lazare on Mahé was named after the 18th-century French explorer Lazare Picault, who landed here when the French government had sent him to investigate the islands. One of the area’s popular tourist attractions is the neo-Gothic Baie Lazare Church, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, which provides a breath-taking panoramic view of the area. The spectacular beaches of Anse Soleil and Petite Anse are favourites among travellers, with their striking azure water and dazzling white sand.
La Digue Island
La Digue is the largest island in the archipelago, it is also a favourite amongst nature lovers and those who wish to experience a glimpse of traditional island life with bicycles and oxcarts being the popular modes of transport here. Striking white-sandy beaches and granite rock outcrops rim the coastline, and beach connoisseurs will find one of the planet’s most charming stretches of sand and sea here, Anse Source D’Argent. You will have to pay to gain access to the beach at the nearby L’Union Estate, where your admission ticket includes a tour through the old copra factory and vanilla plantation. Another popular attraction here is the Veuve Nature Reserve, it is home to the endangered black paradise flycatcher, also known as “the widow” because of its streaming black tail feathers. Diving and rock climbing are also main attractionson this island, and hikers will enjoy La Pass to Grand Anse Trail, which leads past French colonial houses through woodlands and marsh areas to the stunning Grand Anse beach.
Morne Seychellois National Park
Morne Seychellois National Park is the largest national park in the Seychelles, it covers more than 20 percent of the area of Mahé and is a must see for nature lovers and hikers.Within the parks lush borders lies the mountain range that is named after its highest point, Morne Seychellois, which reaches a height of 905 meters and overlooks the capital of Victoria. Hiking trails reach up into the park from the village of Danzil, going through tea plantations and offering breath-taking views of the southwest coast of Mahé from the above mountain slopes. The Morne Blanc hike is one of the most popular trails and offers spectacular views from its summit, it is also suitable hike for beginners and children. When you take a walk west through the park, you will reach the Baie Ternay and Port Launay Marine Parks and if you travelto the northwest you will find the hamlet of Bel Ombre and the isolated beach at Anse Major.
Mozambique or officially the Republic of Mozambique is a country located in Southern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, however, most hotels and resorts are English speaking, if you do wish to converse with locals it wouldn’t hurt to either hire a guide or learn a few Portuguese phrases.
December marks the beginning of the rainy season in Mozambique but starts out with only a few thunderstorms or light afternoon showers, most of the time the weather will be hot and sunny. The festive season in Mozambique can get quite crowded as many South Africans come over to spend their Christmas holidays here. Don’t be deterred by this though, the South African and Mozambican mix that happens during December can only mean one thing, party time! With the traditional drinks flowing and the natural friendliness that come from both of these cultures, it will be a wonderful time for any social tourist who wishes to experience not just the place, but the people, and make lifelong friends along the way.
Mozambique Island and Fort Sao Sebastian
Unlike most islands in Africa, you do not need to take a crowded ferry or an expensive charter flight to reach the island, it is connected to the mainland by the 3.8-kilometre Mozambique Island Bridge. The island offers a number of attractions, making it one of the most popular things to do in Mozambique. The remnants of Portuguese occupation in the 16th century can still be found in many parts of the island and in the influence of later architectural structures as well as in the local cuisine that is still served today. Another popular site on the island is the beautiful promenade which runs along the coast of Mozambique, a serenely quiet atmosphere accompanies this side of the coast and makes for the perfect place for an early evening stroll as the sun dips behind the horizon and changes the colour of Portuguese churches from a light orange to a deep red. One site not to be missed on the island is the Fort Sao Sebatian, it is the oldest landmark of its kind in the Southern part of Africa and its unique architecture makes for an immense and awe-inspiring sight.
Maputo is the capital of Mozambique and also the most developed city in the country, it has an almost European ambiance with its main attractions being the modern architecture found around the city and the bustling centrally located Mesquita da Baixa (the downtown mosque). There is a Municipal Market where you will find a large variety of spices, vegetables and produce on display, the Maputo Train Station which is a major landmark and an incredible feat in terms of its architecture and the Natural History Museum, which was founded more than one hundred years ago. The Natural History Museumfeatures Manueline architecture and is surrounded by luscious gardens and then filled with an endless number of exhibitions, from elephant foetuses to local art paintings, ancient fossils and quaint ethnography exhibits.
Bazaruto National Park
Located in the south of Bazaruto Island you will find the well-known Two-Mile Reef, it is a protected area of the Bazaruto National Park and promises unrivalled visibility underwater with wonderful seclusion, as fewer tourists are allowed to visit this area over a certain period of time. On the island itself, relaxing on the beach requires no effort at all since there are several local restaurants serving delicious local dishes, which are often included in mostholiday packages, should you choose one and depending on the season or the weather, you might be able to spot sea turtles and stingrays close to the shoreline.
Located on the Qurimbas Archipelago and with white powdery beaches that are in immaculate condition, the flight to Vamizi island is a hundred percent worth both the cost and the effort. The island is just devastatingly gorgeous. Vamizi Island is considered to be one of the best fishing spots found in East Africa with a catch pretty much guaranteed every time and no end to which species might be on the end of your line, from tuna to kingfish, wahoo and job fish to even barracuda. Other water activities such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking or dinghy and dhow sailing are available and of course endless opportunities to go snorkelling or scuba-diving in one of the many beautiful spots of crystal-clear water that surround the island.
The Gorongosa National Park
The Gorongosa National Park is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in Africa with miles upon miles of Savannah, mountains and waterfalls combined. Located in the Great Rift Valley of central Mozambique the park is home to a number of exotic animals such as elephant, lion, crocodile, antelope and hippo. There is also a huge presence of bird species such as the African skimmer, Goliath heron, Grey crowned crane and many more. Sunrise is the best time for viewing wildlife and the entire experience is a suitable compliment to what is already a captivating country to visit.
Mauritius or officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the south-east coast of the African continent. Mauritius recognises English as their official language, however most the locals speak French, there should not be any language barriers though since most of the resorts and hotels cater to English speaking guests.
December is summertime in Mauritius and it also marks the start of their rainy season, but since it is just the start, you can expect a few cooling mid-day showers after a long sun filled morning on the beach. December can get a little busy in Mauritius with Christmas and New Year accommodation being booked up for the festive, season so it is advised that you plan your holiday well in advance. The reason people flock to Mauritius during this time is because it offers the best snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities, the waters of the Indian ocean are at their warmest with life teeming below the surface.
Attractions and things to do in Mauritius
Ile Aux Cerfs
Located on the east coast, this island definitely has it all to make your holiday a truly memorable one, it is one of the most popular destinations in Mauritius and is visited by several thousand tourists every year for good reason. With pristine white sandy beaches and the still blue lagoon that surrounds the island, it makes for a perfect beach paradise get away. You can enjoy a variety of cuisines served at the three restaurants located here, there is also a golf club, two bars, and of course, diving and snorkelling opportunities which make it a complete package for everyone who wish to visithere.
Amid the wide variety of treasures that can be found on this island, local culture is certainly the most valuable and the city of Port Louis stands as a truly perfect example of the multiculturalism that this country has to offer. Among the stunning architecture found in the capital you will spot multiple religious monuments, some statues of the founders, racetrack of Champ de Mars, Citadel and the Aapravasi Ghat, a site classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. Port Louis is most popular for its colourful street markets that are also known as a Bazaar, because of the active atmosphere that sizzles in the air here, the market is a place not to be missed in Mauritius. It sells everything; from exotic fruits to the best souvenirs on the island, traditional Mauritian clothing and its delicious famous street food like Dholl Puri and Gateau Piment.
Black River Gorges National Park
The Black River Gorges National Park covers an area of 6574 hectares and is locatedin the hilly south-western part of Mauritius. This park protects most of the islands remaining rain forest and is home to many rare bird species like the Mauritian flying fox, Mauritian kestrel, pink pigeon, Mauritian parakeet, Mauritian cuckoo-shrike, Mauritian bulbul, Mauritian olive white-eye, Mauritian grey white-eye and the Mauritian fody. The park offers its visitors beautiful picnic areas among the lush vegetation and 60 kilometres of hiking trails, some which will lead you up to the highest point of the island, which is the Black River Peak. For conservation purposes and respect to the surrounding indigenous forest, you may only enter the park on foot, where you will enjoy the many natural wonders it has to offer. There are over 300 species of plants and shrubs with trails passing by gorges, mountain peaks and glimmering waterfalls.
Ile aux Aigrettes
Ile aux Aigrettes is a tiny coral island with a land mass of only 25 hectares, located just off the coast of the town of Mahebourg. Since being declared a nature conservation site, the island is now being preserved by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, thanks to the remarkable work done by the foundation, the island has since become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species.The island is home to a few of the world’s rarest animal and bird species, including the kestrel, Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise. Some of the plants found growing in Ile aux Aigrettes can be found nowhere else in the world and they form the last remnant of a coastal forest that once surrounded much of Mauritius, in fact eighteen Mauritian plant species which grow on the island are classified as endangered or extremely rare.
Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao, is a lake and a holy place that is situated in a secluded mountain area in the district of Savanne, deep in the heart of Mauritius. It is also about 600 meters above sea level. The lake is considered holy to those of the Hindu faith, the Mauritian people believe that the water inside the lake communicates with the waters of the holy Ganges of India. The Hindu community performs a yearly pilgrimage to the lake on the Maha Sivaratri/ “Siva’s Great Night” in honour of their Lord Siva. A temple dedicated to Siva and other gods including Hanuman and Lakshmi are also located next to the lake with a statue of Mangal Mahadev overlooking its still waters, the statue is 33 metres tall making it the highest statue in all of Mauritius.
Namibia, or officially the Republic of Namibia is a country in Southern Africa, its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east, it is also the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa. The official language recognised by Namibia is English so there should be very few language barriers when travelling through this beautiful country.
December in Namibia kicks off their summer months and temperatures are still on the increase; It can be a great month for seeing wildlife in Etosha National Park and travelling in the summer has its rewards like excellent bird watching opportunities throughout the national parks. Usually the mornings in December will have blue cloudless skies, then as the afternoon draws in so do the clouds. Rain fall does often follow, clearing the skies again for the early evening. This means you’ll get some wonderfully clear nights, which are perfect for stargazing, but other evenings may be cloudy. There is no light drizzle in Namibia. When the rain does fall, it is usually localised and heavy, often accompanied by dramatic thunder and lightning, sofor those who don’t mind heat and a few thunderstorms, December is a great time to visit Namibia.
Attractions and things to do in Namibia
Sossusvlei is the endless sea of rust-red dunes, a bleached white pan and its gnarled ancient trees which is located in the Namib Desert. The Tsauchab River flows through the desert, and its rare flooding, waters the vegetation that survives in the clay soil. During the hours of sunrise and sunset, the colours of the sand dunes change, providing a great opportunity for photographers. The severe desert winds continually alter the shape and texture of the dunes, providing an ever-changing desert landscape. A trip to Namibia is simply incomplete without making the long trek into Sossusvlei, climbing Big Daddy and sitting atop the world’s tallest dune looking out over a sea of russet coloured dunes disappearing into the western horizon. Hot air ballooning is available to those who wish to experience the majesty of Sossusvlei and the Namibian desert from high above.
Etosha National Park
The Etosha National Park is centered around the vast Etosha salt pan, the pan is usually dry during the winter months and fills with water briefly during the summer. The park is one of Africa’s greatest game reserves in Africa and offers a safari experience that is second to none, with a full quota of wildlife that include elephant, lion, leopard, black and white rhino, cheetah, caracal, brown and spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra and many different antelope, the mammal count is remarkable – 114 to be exact. Birdlife in the park is equally as impressive with about 340 species on record including a high number of raptors. You can stay in one of the many luxury lodges that are close by, take a guided safari or self-drivethrough the park or just relax ata waterhole with some snacks and your binoculars, whichever you decide, Etosha offers a genuine African safari experience.
Located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia, where in the past, dense fogs mighty storms and violent surf caused many ships to run aground along what is now called the Skeleton Coast, and so the desolate coastline hassince become the world’s largest ship graveyard. Those poor souls who were shipwrecked and actually managed to swim through the heavy waves and reach the coast, still had to face the arid, hostile coastal desert. Today it is a cheerier tourist attraction that offers fun activities such as desert tours, sea kayaking, scenic flights, quad biking, paragliding, sandboarding and skydiving.
The Caprivi Strip is a narrow strip of land that is located between Botswana in the south, Angola and Zambia to the north, and Namibia’s Okavango Region to the west. It is the wettest region in Namibia thanks toits large amount of rainfall and number of major rivers that include the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi.This abundance of water here sustains a large variety of wildlife such as wild dog, hippos, lion and a great population of elephants and antelope. The wildlife is being protected in four different reserves, with there being no fences, the animals are able to roam freely across the borders of each of the neighbouring countries. You can stay in one of the many luxury safari lodges located inside the Caprivi strip, they offer an experience of the African bush that one could only dream of.
Fish River Canyon
Located in the south of Namibia this immense, breath taking canyon is second only in grandeur to the Grand Canyon found in Arizona. Fish River Canyon features an enormous ravine which is in total about 160km (100 miles) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep. Because the Fish River is being dammed it only contains a small amount of running water.Above ground, quiver trees and odd cacti dot the stony plains and there are just miles and miles of unspoilt beauty completely undisturbed by humans.
Cape Verde or officially the Republic of Cabo Verde is an island country in the central Atlantic Ocean. The country is made up of ten volcanic islands in its archipelago and have a combined land area of about 4,033 square kilometres. The capital Praia, on the southern coast of Santiago island, is located approximately 650 kilometres west of Dakar, Senegal on the Cape Verde Peninsula, the westernmost point of continental Africa. The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, so learning a few phrases or hiring a guide would be greatly beneficial while traveling around these beautiful islands.
The average temperature in December is a balmy 26⁰C, making Cape Verde ideal for winter sun. The temperature doesn’t drop at night either so you won’t need to pack any warm clothing for the evenings, although picking a resort or hotel with air conditioning will be a good idea. The ocean temperature averages a perfectly warm 25⁰C with low humidity and very little rain fall. If you are looking for a tropical Christmas destination than Cape Verde is the ideal spot, specially with its region being nicknamed the Caribbean of Africa, Cape Verde will not disappoint.
Attractions and things to do in Cape Verde
Praia de Santa Maria
Sal Island, along with Boa Vista, houses the majority of the archipelago’s beach resorts. Located on the islands South Coast, Santa Maria offers travellers the most amazing soft blonde beach sand with turquoise sea water and clear blue skies, the warm air and sea temperatures make for a gorgeous relaxing paradise. The island offers fun activities like snorkelling, diving, surfing and fishing, you can even stay directly on the island at a number of luxury resorts and hotels.
Praia de Chaves
The island of Boa Vista offers 55 kilometres of white-sandy beaches and small coves where you have the opportunity to see turtles and whales. Chaves also has some of the islands most stunning beaches with white powdery sand, swaying palms and azure blue water, it is the perfect place for a romantic stroll, leisure time on a hammock or an afternoon tanning on the beach. The stronger winds here provide the perfect conditions for windsurfing; however, the seas might get a little rough for swimming. There is not much accommodation offered on the island so Chaves beach is a great place if you are in search of a nice quiet tranquil place to unwind.
Pedra do Lume Salt Crater
Pedra do Lume is an old salt minethat is actually located inside a volcanic crater and is one of Sal’s most popular tourist attractions. The mine boasts incredible views and there is a natural Salt Lake that is very fun to swim in, because of the waters extremely high salt content it causes you to float with doggy paddle being the only effective way of swimming around the lake. Admission will cost you about 5 euro and for an extra 1 euro you will be able to take a freshwater bath after swimming in the salty water. There is also a spa offering different massage treatments using salt.
Buracona / Blue Eye
Blue Eye is another wonderful attraction on Sal Island. It is a natural pool with turquoise waters and an amazing underwater cave that is several metres deep, the result from the numerous waves that crash against the volcanic rock. There are numerous hiking trails that lead you to Buracona through beautiful island wilderness, so be sure to pack some comfortable trekking shoes. There is also a cute little café on site, as well as a shop to pick up a souvenir or two.
Located on the Island of Santiago, Cape Verde’s largest island, Cidade Velha is the archipelago’s ancient capital. It was founded all the way back in 1462 and from its magnificent past remains a most valuable architectural heritage. It was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 and includes Rua da Banana, the very first cobbled street that was built in Africa. There are two churches, the fort of São Filipe, and Pelourinho, a small yet important pillory from the 16th century, a symbol of royal power, and the place where fugitive slaves were punished. There are plenty of quant little restaurants in the area that sell freshly caught fish and seafood – Tereru di Kultura being one of the most popular.
Egypt or officially the Arab Republic of Egypt is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. It is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. The official language recognised by Egypt is modern standard Arabic but most of the resorts and hotels speak English.
December is one of the best times of the year to visit Egypt, the temperature is the coldest it gets year-round, and when it comes to the usual heat that bakes the dunes of the Egyptian desert, “cold” is a relative term and a welcome reprieve. You might just need a light jacket for the evenings. Since it is the festive season, the country comes alive with special events and is a lot more crowded than usual; however, the extra tourists also bring an exciting, fun filled atmosphere with crowded markets and exciting nightlife.
Attractions and things to do in Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza
A staple on many people’s bucket list and one of the last remaining survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza are known throughout the world simply by their shape. They have stood for a remarkable 4000 years, even as weather, wars, and mass migrations have changed and shaped all of the surrounding civilizations, these majestic tombs to ancient pharaohs are a pure demonstration of the remarkable society that ruled this land so long ago. Unfortunately, as it is one of the most famous tourist attractions, in not just Egypt but the entire planet, you can expect avery long line to go on and have your tour, so pack some comfortable shoes and a snack because the wait may be long, but it is totally worth it.
Valley of the Kings
Located on the west bank of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings has been a site of royal burials since 2100 BC, making it another location that has stood the test of time for nearly four thousand years. It is an expanse of breath-taking views, ruins, and even names – from the mountain peak that overshadows it (Al Qurn), to the former names that have graced it, including the Great Necropolis of Millions of Years of Pharaoh, to the simpler but still powerful Place of Truth. The valley includes 63 different royal tombs, all of which are incredible, although some have been plagued by vandals and even fallen victim to erosion caused by the sweat from the thousands of visitors that pass by each year. Photography is not allowed inside the tombs which makes the experience even more special as you are forced to live in the moment and not look at it through the lens of your camera.
Coming from Cairo and other tourist centres, Abu Simbel is quite a hike away, don’t let this deter you though, the temple complex is another extremely impressive creation of the ancient Egyptians. It was originally constructed under the reign of Ramesses II, dating all the way back to the 14th century BC. The most famous image from Abu Simbel are the enormous statues of Rameses carved directly into the cliffs, once you get inside though, the interior proves to be equally as remarkable. Shots from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark were shot here so that is where you may recall seeing the huge statues of Ramses.
Although it has been badly ruined, there are few sites in Egypt that are more impressive than Karnak. It is actually the largest ancient religious site that has ever been built and represents the combined achievement of countless generations of Egyptian builders. The Temple of Karnak comprises of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about 2.5 kilometres north of Luxor. The most famous structure of Karnak happens to be the Hypostyle Hall, an area of 5000 square meters with gigantic columns that are arranged in 16 rows.
The River Nile
The Nile River has been the source of life in Egypt since the ancient times and a cruise on its waters has become an increasingly popular way to explore upper Egypt.Almost all of the Egyptian cruise ships travel the Luxor-Aswan route which is safe, scenic and docks at two of Egypt’s most important towns. You also have the option of taking a Felucca, it is a sailboat that was designed thousands of years ago and used on the Nile since antiquity.