Holidays in South Africa: 10 Spots to Visit
South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere. That means that Christmas comes in the summer with lots of sun and beautiful flowers in full bloom.
The schools are closed for the Christmas holidays and some people like to go camping. Going carol singing, on Christmas Eve, is very popular in towns and cities. Carols by Candlelight services are also popular on Christmas Eve. And many people go to a Christmas morning Church Service.
Traditional 'fir' Christmas Trees are popular and children leave a stocking out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
The Christmas meal is either turkey, duck, roast beef, mince pies or suckling pig with yellow rice & raisins and vegetables, followed by Christmas Pudding or a traditional South African desert called Malva Pudding (sometimes also called Lekker Pudding) - get the recipe. People also like to pull Christmas Crackers! The meal is often eaten outside in the summer sun! If it's really hot they might even have a barbecue or 'braai'.
South Africa also has several other UK Christmas traditions, because of its history with the UK.
On Christmas day afternoon, people visit family and friends or might go for a trip into the country side to play games or have a swim.
Boxing Day is also a public holiday in South Africa and again people like to be 'out and about' having a good time!
In Afrikaans (one the languages spoken in South Africa) Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Geseënde Kersfees'; in Zulu it's 'UKhisimusi omuhle', in Sesotho it's 'Le be le keresemese e monate' and in Xhosa it's 'Krismesi emnandi'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
Santa Claus is also known as Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) & Kersvader (Father Christmas) for people who speak Afrikaans (which has a base in Dutch).
Here are top 10 spots to visit for the holidays in South Africa
Join the many South Africans who head to the Kruger National Park for the festive season, or search out a more remote game farm or nature reserve.
MCGREGOR - Spiritual Retreat
For those who wish to opt out of the Christmas rush, shopping and holiday craze, there are a number of places in the country one can retreat – the Buddhist retreat in Ixopo, Bodhi Khaya in the Overberg, Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge in Limpopo, and the Blue Butterfly Retreat Centre in the Welbedacht Nature Reserveare some of them. A great spot to get lost in, is the gardens and the meditation nooks and crannies of McGregor’s Temenos Retreat Centre.
In the center of South Africa is a vast space known as the Karoo. It has as many exponents as there are towns (and there are many towns). Long a retreat from the world by artists, poets and mystics much of the Karoo, where the towns are known as ‘dorps’, has become fashionable. Other of the towns are still remote and quiet. To take to the back roads and drive from village to village is life-changing.
SOUTH AFRICAN WILDERNESS
No other country in Africa has the variety of parks, reserves and wilderness areas that South Africa does. There are nine wilderness areas – in South Africa proclaimed wilderness areas enjoy the highest possible legal conservation status – huge tracts of land that remain as close to their natural character as possible; with no evidence of man. They include: the Cederberg Wilderness Area, Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area and Doringrivier Wilderness Area.
Numbers of visitors and activities are limited to hiking, climbing, swimming, bird watching and photography. You are not restricted to trails, there is no overnight accommodation, fires are not permitted, and all evidence that you have visited leaves with you.
BETHLEHEM, SOUTH AFRICA
Whilst there has been some contention over just which Bethlehem is the rightful birth place of Jesus – the Bethlehem in Galilee or the one near Jerusalem – the Free State’s Bethlehem does not feature in the running. Bethlehem (Beit Lahm in Hebrew) actually means ‘house of meat’ to signify a place known for sheep and cattle.
South Africa’s Bethlehem lies in a fertile valley on the Liebenbergs River on the other side of the Rooiberg Mountains. But aside from its name, and a list of museums, memorials and heritage sites, the town has little to offer those celebrating Christmas.
TIFFENDELL SKY RESORT
You have to be really intent on a ‘white Christmas’ to head to Tiffindell in December. Because, whilst snow has been recorded as late as October the country’s only ski resort, high on the slopes of Ben McDhui peak close to Rhodes in the Eastern Cape, does not produce snow-covered slopes over Christmas.
THE SUNSHINE COAST
You are more likely to enjoy your Christmas on the beach in South Africa, and the Sunshine Coast, which starts where the Garden Route ends and stretches all the way to East London, covering much of the Eastern Cape’s coastline, is as good as it gets – sunshine 320 out of 365 days of the year.
JOHANNESBURG NIGHT LIFE
When it comes to a vibrant nightlife there is nothing like a city. Pubs, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, live entertainment and house parties mean that you will never be without somewhere to celebrate the festive season.
Voted the Rough Guide’s top 2015 city (ahead of Malaga, New Orleans, and Hamburg), and second in the World’s 50 most inspiring cities index, Jo’burg more than captures the imagination of the visitor.
SOUTH AFRICA’S WILD COAST
Photo by: the Intertia
Want to celebrate Christmas far from the madding crowd in amongst the Xhosa people in their traditional home, then it does not come better than South Africa’s Wild Coast.
The birthplace of two of South African presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, the Wild Coast is a place where rivers empty into the sea, where massive cliffs loom over desolate beaches and where rocky crags overlook sandy bays.
Largely populated by rural Xhosa people who still practice customs and traditions that have fallen by the wayside in cities, you will be welcomed as a visitor.
Photo by: steemit.com
A mere drive past the Noordhoek Farm Village and the Foodbarn Deli, round the bend and through Noordhoek’s Milkwood forest to Monkey Valley’s eco-friendly resort to sip wine and sample pizzas overlooking Long Beach will reveal that Cape Town’s greenest live here.
If your idea of Christmas heaven is ‘picking your own’ in a vegetable garden whilst waiting for the sun to warm your water for your mid-morning shower, then Noordhoek Village is for you.
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