Christmas is a special time of the year, whether it be a spiritual affair, family connection or simply an excuse to travel. This particular time of year holds an atmosphere of reflection and renewal, returning to our roots or discovering unknown lands. It seems to simultaneously be a season of the familiar, as well as a season of change. The last two years have reminded us of the importance of being with those we love, as well as connecting to nature and being outdoors. Christmas in Africa offers the opportunity for both, quality time spent in exclusive and wild locations; the perfect combination to reconnect.
In Africa, the festive season starts long before December. When the October heat starts to rise, so does our hope for rain. The earth is thirsty and the bush is bare, ready to soak up water to nourish the land. Rain brings new life – in the form of foliage, as well as wildlife as it is the season where many animals drop their young. We know that the breaking of the heat comes with the first thunderstorms, a cause for celebration and festivity. In learning to observe and read the wild, you start noticing signs that we are heading towards the rainy season, meaning we are heading towards Christmas.
Bright splashes of pink and turquoise decorate our river banks; African tinsel.
One of the first signs begin in August, when colourful carmine bee eaters return to our shores. Bright splashes of pinks and turquoise decorate our river banks; African tinsel. Following a yearly migration route, they grace us with their presence from August to November, welcoming in the year end with explosions of colour. A carmine bee eater sighting always feels like a gift from the wilderness, a rare and spectacular performance to witness.
The next piece of evidence arrives in the blooming of the fireball lily, an indication that rain is on its way. These flowers are scattered throughout the rainforest in Victoria Falls, lining the world wonder in splashes of bright red.They are followed by the delicate flame lily, the national flower of Zimbabwe, the flora blossoming in joy of rain. Contrasting dark thunder clouds gather in the distance. An African thunderstorm is truly marvellous to experience, its build up and release a sensory journey. One can smell the rain hours before it arrives, the air dense with the aroma of anticipation.
It’s as if the rain gods are announcing their arrival to the beat of a thousand djembe drums.
Heavy rumbles of thunder roll out over the landscape, a sound fitting to the size and shape of the clouds. It’s as if the rain gods are announcing their arrival to the beat of a thousand djembe drums. Lightning fills the sky in response to their rhythm, lighting up the stage for the main act. Fat drops of warm rain hit the soil with intent, quenching its thirst. Wildlife and plants rejoice, impalas ‘pronking’ with their white tails on display, literally leaping in joy, while trees and bushes almost turn green overnight. It’s a natural phenomenon to witness the wild respond to the first rains, its rejuvenation immediate, sprouting in celebration.
Lush bush leads us into December, its character bright and bold and full of life. The green season is a lovely time to visit Africa. The flora blossoms with colour, its bright flowers attracting insects, therefore attracting a wealth of birdlife. The bush is alive with life. New born babies join the herd, tiny impala, elephants and warthogs keeping close to their mothers side, simultaneously melting our hearts! It is truly the season for family, as the family of the wild grows in number. New energy partners with the new life forms, young learning how to use their legs and trunks, running playfully between their peers. Newborns bring hope and health to an ecosystem, a sign of survival of species for another year to come.
Spending a Christmas season with Hideaways at Elephant’s Eye, Hwange is the perfect gift to give yourself and your family. Your present from us arrives in the form of presence in nature; soaking up the smell of the soil after the rains, witnessing the rebirth of our wild spaces, appreciating the splashes of colour from plants and birdlife. Celebrate this sensory space with us, from the sound of the cicada beetles singing in the season to the lush green bush wrapped in quality time with those you love.