Kids love to ask questions, youths love pictures, young adults love adventure, hardworking corporate executives long for a lazy, leisurely holiday, and old people revel in history. Everyone longs for something and the yuletide is just about the right time to satisfy these yearnings. Interestingly, there are nice places in Africa that meet whatever you define as your perfect Christmas holiday. In this piece, we take you through the naturally beautiful sceneries of 10 incredible African Islands that promises paradise-like Christmas. One thing is sure, in these distinct islands, you’ll find the ideal setting for your perfect Christmas. If you’re ready, let’s go for Christmas on African Islands.
While Santa Claus is popular in Europe, in Madagascar, it is “Dadabe Noely” or “Grandfather Christmas” who dishes out hard candies to kids. Everyone announces Christmas in Madagascar with the greeting: “Tratry ny Krismasy”, that is “be caught by Christmas!” if you are in Madagascar for Christmas, this vibe will sort of sneak up and catch you. In fact, that you are “caught,” is the evidence that you are still here. The response to “Tratry ny Krismasy” is “Samy ho tratry ny ho avy isika” – “May we all be caught by the next one.”
On this Island, Christmas evening features a lot of singing; though New Year’s is the bigger party.
Anyway, Christmas is equally a big day! In Madagascar, Christmas is in summer and it affords people the opportunity to go for picnics or laze around the beach. If you are the adventurous type who is seeking the ‘manger’ experience, something like where Jesus was born, Madagascar welcomes you with open hands. The Island throbs with endemic species as eighty percent of the animals on the island are found nowhere else on earth. There are more than 70 species of lemur, from the ring-tailed lemur to the black-and-white Indri lemur. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Island of Madagascar is it for a perfect Christmas holiday.
2. Tanzania: Zanzibar
If you are looking for a perfect Christmas on a pulsating and equally relaxing island, then I have found you one in Tanzania; it is the spice island called Zanzibar! There are only a few places with pleasant Christmas rhythm as this island. Okay let me take you into town; Nungwi, a large town in Zanzibar, comes alive during Christmas. It is a very nice, lively town full of small shops, restaurants and bars, with breathtaking sunsets and access to the sea 24 hours a day! You can head to the eastern part of the island as well. It is blessed with wider and quiet beaches, sea with infinite shades of colours thanks to the phenomenon of the tides, and finally a lush natural environment. The choices are many, Matemwe, Pwani, Uroa, Bwejuu or Jambiani. Here is a secret, go with enough memory space for pictures; the island is so picturesque you’ll love to take the memories with you afterwards.
3. Mozambique: Bazaruto Archipelago
Christmas on this Island is playtime, so pack your party clothes, your inspiration and your stamina as you set off for a holiday. It’s an exclusive holiday period in Mozambique’s amazing Bazaruto Archipelago where hotels offer the best ever entertainment and luxury accommodation. Bazaruto is a jewel in the azure Indian Ocean, ideal for family holiday, especially during the long, hot Christmas holiday period. Ensure you cool off on the Island with some of its water sports especially at its top class diving sites. Most of Bazaruto is a national park and its coral reefs are pristine. The warm Indian Ocean brings whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles, mackerel, clown fish, Moorish idols, angel, parrot and butterfly fish to the area. There’s even a chance to see the elusive, almost surreal dugong. Bazaruto is close to the popular holiday spot of Vilanculos and you may extend your holiday there.
Caveat: Bazaruto is an exotic and exclusive island, so you should make adequate arrangement before travelling there.
4. Seychelles: Bird Island
Seychelles is also known as Bird Island and the birds do a lot of singing to welcome Christmas. On this island, Christmas is the time for sumptuous meal, gift sharing and hey, loads of beach parties! You can equally flavour your Christmas with sailing, diving, or fly fishing, Seychelles offers you the opportunity to actually indulge in a lot of activities while celebrating Christmas. What caps it for most people is the unbelievable Christmas discounts and deals which make shopping at Christmas cheaper and help you save more.
5. São Tomé and Príncipe
Christmas is a big festival on this island and everyone, religious or not, partakes. The island is tiny and life unfolds at a delightfully mellow pace, but its vivid natural beauty, dilapidated architectural grandeur and disarmingly friendly people are incredibly bewitching! Naturalist, botanists and chocolatiers will love it here. With over 130 species of plants and 28 species of birds that are found nowhere else, you are in for a Christmas experience in a different world. Here is a little but valuable advice, it pays to leave your watch behind and forget all sense of time. Things roll at an easy pace here, that’s why the island is a good place to relax and reflect while on holiday.
6. Lamu, Kenya
“Karibu,” meaning “come on in!” That is how Lamu welcomes you for Christmas. The Island has predominantly Muslim residents and the echoes of “Allahu akbar” will definitely waft through the seemingly labyrinth street and fill your room, but those won’t rob you of the special treats that the island holds for Christmas. Be sure to expect a joyful cry of “Happy Christmas!” when the Muslim prayers are over. Lamu has incredibly beautiful beaches, long and white! They provide perfect settings for countless Christmas activities; you can go on a boat trip, try swimming, enjoy donkey-riding, go sailing; play football on the beach, bonfires on the beach, chilling out on the floating bar and just enjoying life. It’s Christmas, just have as much fun as your heart can hold.
Caveat: In Lamu, there are only donkeys and no cars, so prepare for the Jesus’ kind of triumphant entry!
7. Sal, Cape Verde
Cape Verde is a great destination, and Sal, it’s most touristic Island, is a nice place to be at Christmas. Sal has a striking, lunar-like landscape, with colourful, cobbled towns like Santa Maria on the southern shores. There are nice surf shops, traditional restaurants and a pretty square lined with al fresco cafés, and of course beaches – which stretch along the coast for 8 kilometres. All these allow you to create the exact Christmas you’ve always longed for. Surfers will have a great time here no doubt.
8. Chief’s Island, Botswana
If you are a safari lover, then you should consider Chief’s Island for the yuletide. It’s a chance to celebrate Christmas with wildlife in full view. Popularly referred to as “Predator Capital of Africa”, Chief’s Island is one of the largest of Okavango Delta’s islands. It is an ideal site for game viewing as large herds of elephant, zebra, wildebeest, red lechwe and impala congregate here, even as crocodiles and hippos wallow in the water of the delta, there is so much creature to see, they’ll help you recreate ‘nativity’ in your imagination.
9. Île de Gorée, Senegal
Christmas is about history, the history of Christ’s birth that heralds the salvation of humanity. You’ll never appreciate salvation/freedom until you’ve once been in captivity. There is no worse captivity than slavery and this island preserves almost the vivid details of the chequered history of the transatlantic slave trade. Celebrating Christmas on this island connects you with the gist of salvation and you can make a trip to Dakar just in case you want more Christmas vibe.
10. Mumbo Island, Malawi
Mumbo is a tiny Island renowned as the unbeatable honeymoon paradise. It’s where you go if you need an island to yourself. It is as perfect for romance as it is for a special ‘private’ Christmas. If you are going there for Christmas, be sure to budget quality time swimming in Lake Malawi’s crystal waters, exploring hidden coves by kayak, diving or snorkelling around the massive boulders that surround the island. Hiking, relaxing on the beach or snoozing in the hammocks on your tent’s balcony help define this as an exclusively private Christmas.
Caveat: Mumbo Island Camp can only accommodate a total of 14 guests in its very private tents.
So, if you are ready to experience Christmas on African islands,
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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance!.