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Top 5 New Year’s Eve Destinations

New Year’s Eve on safari delivers a unique experience: the weather is warm and the sun bright during the southern summer. Africa’s wildlife reserves are lush and green, echoing to the call of newly born animals. On the coast, beaches bustle with holiday activity and Africa’s most-loved city – Cape Town – sizzles under dry skies.

Leopards drinking in the lush green safari season

A New Year’s Eve safari usually plays out against a green & well-watered landscape.

It is, however, a popular time of year to travel and there are two things you need to do if you’re thinking about a New Year’s Eve safari: firstly, decide and book as soon as you can: accommodation and hire cars book out quickly for the festive season. And second, bear in mind that the most popular wildlife destinations are usually very busy over New Year: it is worth going to parks and reserves a little bit out of the way or to privately-run wildlife concessions to avoid the seasonal crowds.

Suites with a view in Cape Town

Book as early as you can if you want to secure prime position in Cape Town for New Year.

Hold on, a keen researcher might say: a summer safari? Doesn’t that mean it rains?

True, but it is early in the season: in Kenya and Tanzania it is the time of the ‘short’ rains with the heavy ‘long’ rains later in the year. And in Southern Africa, most of the region’s annual rain falls from mid-January to the end of April. The net result is that you’ll be on safari in the reasonably dry, early Green Season, spot on for wildlife (many antelope give birth now, attracting predators) and ideal for bird watching (many migrant species have arrived).

New Years Eve Destinations for safaris

Vegetation at this time of year is generally not yet tall & dense enough to obscure wildlife sightings.

What about malaria?

It’s a factor you’ll have to consider. Like the rain, it is early in the season for malaria but it is present in several safari destinations, albeit at a very low risk. Consult a medical practitioner about the destinations you are thinking about or take the guesswork out of it and go on a malaria-free New Year’s Eve safari to Namibia, or in South Africa, the Madikwe Game Reserve and the Eastern Cape reserves. Each combines easily with Cape Town.

Now, what about those Top New Year’s Eve safaris?

New Year in Kenya

New Years Eve Destinations in Kenya

Kenya’s short rains have triggered green growth: good news for both grazers & their predators.

Eight nights split between Meru National Park and the Masai Mara, this is a New Year’s Eve safari that focusses on the wildlife experience. You’ll stay at a private villa in Meru, complete with a private guide and chef, and enjoy game drives in search of the park’s famous lions as well as cheetah and leopard. Then it’s a flight to a private conservancy in the Masai Mara and a classic tented safari camp. The migrating wildebeest herds have mostly left by now but that means the Masai Mara is almost yours alone to explore and it is always chock-a-block with animals.

The Kalahari & a Houseboat

New Years Eve Destinations in Botswana

New Year’s Eve on the Chobe River; the seasonal crowds have gone & the river is largely yours.

Spend half the safari on the grasslands of South Africa’s Kalahari before a study in contrast aboard a luxury houseboat on Botswana’s famous Chobe River, surrounded by the grunt of hippos. Opening in the Kalahari’s Madikwe Private Reserve with a six-sleeper exclusive-use chalet, this is a safari ideal for multi-generational families, especially as Madikwe is a reliable Big Five destination, and you can exclusively book the Houseboat too. It’s out of season for the river so you’ll have uninterrupted views and exclusive sightings – perfect for photography.

Zambia – Big Rivers, Big Game

New Years Eve Destinations in Zambia

Zambia safaris often revolve around the theme of water so you’ll always see great wildlife.

The rivers come and go in Zambia but the wildlife always remains. Spend the New Year’s Eve period beside two of Africa’s wildest rivers: the deep, permanent Zambezi, and the shallow, ephemeral Luangwa. It’s an unashamedly wildlife-heavy safari – this is serious big game country – and you’ll explore by 4X4, on foot and on the water. It’s also excellent for birding. You’ll stay in the comfort of thatched safari lodges and be guided by some of the best safari guides in the business.

New Year Beach & Bush Safari

New Years Eve Destinations in Mozambique

Enjoy a lazily-luxurious New Year’s Eve on Mozambique’s tropical coast after a classic safari.

Hmm, do you have New Year’s Eve on safari with lions roaring in the background, or on the beach, perhaps with a cocktail? That’s the only dilemma you’re likely to face with this itinerary. Starting in Tanzania with Tarangire and the Ngorongoro, you’ll also sit back to three days of the Serengeti wildebeest migration before flying to Mozambique’s Indian Ocean coast for five nights of pretty much whatever you want to do. It’s a genuine Big Five safari with amazing wildlife watching and white-sand beaches.

Cape Town & Desert Dunes

New Years Eve Destinations in Cape Town

Soak up the New Year sun from the comfort of Cape Town’s ever-elegant Ellerman House.

New Year’s Eve in Cape Town lies in the middle of the year’s driest and sunniest season; there’s an energetic, festive atmosphere to the city with many events, parties and concerts on the go. Enjoy three nights of what Cape Town has to offer – Table Mountain, the Boulders Beach penguins, Cape Point and the Winelands – from the indulgence of one its finest guesthouses before flying off to the complete opposite experience: the Namib Desert, one of the most sparsely populated places on earth. Now it’s giant sand dunes, silent starry skies and surprising wildlife – rapier-horned antelope, slinky jackals and beetles that drink the morning desert dew.

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