During my time living and working at safari lodges in Botswana and Kenya, I celebrated four Christmases in the bush. As a UK citizen, it isn't my idea of a conventional Christmas – the weather is warm and wet in December (ok, the wet part is conventional!), there’s no snow, no frantic last-minute Christmas shopping, no classic Christmas tunes playing in every public space! But Christmas on safari is magical – you won’t ‘miss out’ on Christmas if you choose to travel over the festive period. Most travellers are from the UK or US and most lodge managers are spending the holiday away from home and family, so they make a real effort to make it festive and fun.
Is there a Christmas tree?
When I was a lodge manager, we always had a Christmas tree in the main area – not a traditional spruce, but an endemic Acacia tree, carefully chosen from tens of different shapes and sizes and transported back to the lodge on top of a safari-vehicle by a gaggle of excited lodge staff. It was decorated with twinkling lights, a dash of metallic spray paint, homemade gingerbread decorations and baubles and always looked fantastic by lantern-light in the evenings.
Is there a traditional Christmas feast?
The amazing chefs always produced an enormous Christmas feast, even in the middle of nowhere – turkey with all the trimmings, but also a choice of other meats, mince pies, plum pudding, sherry trifle, even a handmade gingerbread house one year. One memorable year, the oven broke on Christmas Eve! This is a disaster in the bush – no electricians to call out or neighbours’ kitchens to borrow. Somehow they still produced the same amazing spread – we still don’t know how they did it!
Does Santa visit the Children?
Another year we had a large family group of 4 generations who booked out the entire camp for Christmas. The children spent the first three days of their trip worrying how Santa would find them and were delighted when on Christmas Eve, after they had returned from their evening game drive, their guide found muddy reindeer footprints on the decking, leading to a pile of gifts.
What happens on Boxing Day?
On Boxing Day, in additional to the usual game drives, we hosted surprise picnics in the bush, complete with the obligatory turkey curry and cold turkey salad, guest vs staff volley ball matches and surprise candle-lit bush dinners.
I must admit I really miss those magical Safari Christmases. Lucky you if you are planning on booking one! If are looking to spend Christmas on safari and want more information feel free to contact us on 020 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected]