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East Africa Safari in Winter

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As November arrives, the month brings short rains in East Africa, transforming the dry savannah landscapes into green plains bursting with flowers. Head out on safari in the Green Season (from December to March) and you’ll find Kenya and Tanzania‘s lush terrains teeming with birdlife and wildlife. Not only is the season perfect for spotting youngsters and taking advantage of the striking flower meadows in your photography, it tends to be quieter in camps and parks. This winter is a year that you’ll find this to an extreme – and you can enjoy exclusive and private safari experiences over the festive period and into the new year with hardly any other visitors in sight.

Read on for our guide to East Africa safaris in December to March, from the Big Five in the Masai Mara to the Great Migration on the plains of the Serengeti.

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About the Author

"I started travelling to Africa as a young and ambitious golfer in 2002 when I headed to South Africa’s beautiful Eastern Cape for a few months. It was there that a now 20 year (and counting) love affair with the continent began."



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Kenya in the Green Season

With the short rains usually over by mid-December, the festive season is a wonderful time to be in Kenya. The scenery is looking lush and green and the dry season is just beginning. For us, this is East Africa at its best. For excellent game viewing and spectacular landscapes, we suggest starting with the vast area and high plains of Laikipia in Central Kenya. Laikipia is made up of a number of successful conservation areas such as Lewa Downs, which is well known for its incredible conservation efforts and its high percentage of rhino population. We love sending guests to enjoy intimate experiences with a stay at one of our favourite family-run lodges, such as Lewa House. For bigger families, Laikipia is also home to some superb private homes for a true home-from-home Christmas safari with the privacy of your own space, such as Laragai House.

Of course, a visit to Kenya wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Masai Mara – the home of safari. Renowned for its exceptional Big Five game viewing, the Mara is a must-visit this December. For a more exclusive experience, we suggest staying in one of the surrounding conservancies such as Alex Walker’s Serian for great game, varied activities and fewer vehicles.

And for those hoping to experience some R&R after the fast-pace of safari, look no further than finishing with Kenya’s pristine coastline with a stay at Kinondo Kwetu in Diani. At a time when it’s easiest to stick to one country destination and avoid the logistics of multiple border crossings, Kenya has it all with a combination of both safari and beach.

Booking a Kenyan safari in December usually means planning far in advance, especially over Christmas and New Year, in order to book the best lodges. Yet this is where visitors can use the unusual circumstances of 2020 to their advantage, and enjoy this prime time to be in Kenya – often without the higher rates you’d usually find at Christmas. Speak to one of our team of Africa specialists for advice and recommendations if you’re thinking of booking a trip this green season – and plan something to look forward to this winter.

Kenya – What to Expect

  • Kenya is allowing tourists from an approved list of countries, including the UK and US, with no mandatory quarantine on arrival
  • Travellers to Kenya are required to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel
  • Kenya is still currently on the FCO list advising against all non-essential travel, requiring a 14-day quarantine on your return to the UK

Tanzania in the Green Season

December through to March is a fantastic time of year to see Tanzania‘s Northern Circuit, with the Serengeti’s Great Migration in full swing. In a normal year, Christmas and New Year is a very popular time for safari travellers in Tanzania, with Zanzibar experiencing its peak – high prices and low availability. This usually brings busy parks, many vehicles and higher rates. With fewer travellers this year, 2020’s festive season is the perfect time to tick off this unforgettable bucket list destination, and for those who have visited Tanzania before, this is your chance to return and finally explore the delights of the Serengeti without the crowds.

As the start of the emerald season, December in Tanzania brings the short rains, creating lush green landscapes, blankets of flowers and tons of birdlife, and in our opinion, the Serengeti looks its best at this time of year. We’d recommend a safari through the Northern Circuit, including the Serengeti National Park – Tanzania’s famous stomping ground of the Great Wildebeest Migration. During the month of December, the wildebeest herds will be preparing for calving season and pushing south towards the Southern Serengeti – which in turns attracts amazing predator action. The scattered rainfall can make their movements unpredictable, so we’d suggest combining two locations in the Serengeti for your best chances of witnessing this great spectacle of nature, such as a combination of Lamai Serengeti or Namiri Plains and Serengeti Safari Camp.

The Green Season in the Ngorongoro Crater brings a photographer’s dream – with dramatic skies as sunlight bursts through the clouds and carpets of flowers and lush grass lining the crater. Wildlife is in abundance and it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise with the flocks of migratory birds. Combine your stay in the Serengeti with a few nights staying in Entamanu, on top of the Ngorongoro Crater, to experience the magnitude and wonder of this inactive crater now filled with wildlife. Or enjoy the views from your dome in a remote location nearby at The Highlands. If you have longer than ten nights to get away for, finish with a few nights on the dazzling white sand beaches of Zanzibar, staying in Zuri Zanzibar for the perfect relaxing end to your trip.

Tanzania – What to Expect

  • Tanzania is allowing tourists to enter the country with no quarantine or negative PCR test required
  • Tanzania is still currently on the FCO list advising against all non-essential travel, requiring a 14-day quarantine on your return to the UK

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