Vineyards beneath Simonsberg Mountain, Stellenbosch, South Africa

December

A guide to where to go on holiday in December for wildlife, culture and adventure in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Latin America.

Vineyards beneath Simonsberg Mountain, Stellenbosch, South Africa

© jbor,Shutterstock

Where to go on holiday in December

Do you want to get away on holiday in December? Perhaps for Christmas and New Year? Or do you need a break before the festivities so you're ready to cope when the Christmas holidays land on us? If you travel before about the 15th December, flights and prices tend not to be too bad but bear in mind that availability can be hard to find and prices are higher in the latter half of December up to about the 9th January. Book early to get the best possible deals.

We have tried time and time again to think of the best moment of our South Africa trip but we simply can't! Every experience was amazing!

tracy
Tracy Edwards - Travel Consultant

Travel is in Tracy's blood. It's her escape and her passion - especially Africa. Tracy is good fun as well as being a stickler for detail.

Call:  01473 890499

Vineyards beneath Simonsberg Mountain, Stellenbosch, South Africa
© jbor,Shutterstock

Best places to go in December

Africa

Highlights of where to go on holiday in December in Africa:

  • It’s rainy season in Botswana and Zimbabwe, though this doesn’t mean you can’t get some great wildlife viewing, and you can get some very good prices! The zebra migration is in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans, the fresh grasses in the Kalahari has attracted lots of wildlife, and birding is excellent in December.
  • In Kenya and Tanzania, the short rains have hopefully stopped so it’s a good time to visit. The drier areas of Laikipia, Samburu and Meru up in northern Kenya are lovely at this time, but most of the major reserves in both countries are good now until the rain begins again in about mid-march/April.
  • In South Africa, Kruger, the north and east will be a bit rainy, but wildlife can still be reasonable. Try game viewing in the Eastern Cape which is dry at this time, so reserves such as Shamwari, Addo, Kariega and Kwandwe are all good in December. The Cape region has lovely Mediterranean summer weather at this time.
  • The rains have started in Zambia but this is one of the best months for visiting the remote Liuwa Plains as the wildebeest migration is here in December. The bat migration is in Kasanka until roughly mid-month.
  • Tropical storms can begin in Mauritius by mid-month, but December is still a very popular time to visit.

Indian Subcontinent

Highlights of where to go on holiday in December in India, Nepal or Bhutan:

  • It’s a good month for travel throughout India. Wildlife viewing in December is good in India. From November until about April/May the reserves are open and can offer some superb wildlife sights, especially later in the season. Gir National Park in Gujarat is particularly good in December. The beaches at Kerala are hot and a great place to chill out at this time of year.
  • It’s a great month to explore Nepal and Bhutan as long as you don’t mind the cold, especially in the higher reaches. December is a good month for wildlife in Nepal and daytime temperatures are not too cold in the lowland parks of Chitwan and Bardia.

Latin America

Highlights of where to go on holiday in December in Latin America:

  • Costa Rica has excellent birdlife and wildlife sightings in the gorgeous forests and parks in December. There are some lovely beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean coasts.
  • The Galapagos Islands offer a year-round wildlife spectacle that is hard to beat. Giant tortoise eggs hatch from now until about April. The breeding season starts and ends this month for many species.
  • Ecuador is good all year. Visit Indian markets and colonial cities such as Cuenca, or hike in the Andes or take in the Galapagos.
  •  December is a good time to go to Rio and the Costa Verde in Brazil for relaxation and beaches.
  • The Antarctic becomes accessible to travellers from late October. Book well ahead for a cruise ship to take you on an incredible adventure.
  • December is peak season in Argentina and Chile so it’s a fabulous time to travel here but there are more people.

Africa

Above are the events and reasons to travel that are specific to DECEMBER, and below we give you an overview of when to travel in African countries, with links to pages that have more details to help you.

Jeffrey's Bay beach, Eastern Cape, South Africa © MD,Shutterstock

Where to go in Africa

When to go to Botswana

Botswana is about wilderness and wildlife in the Okavango Delta, Chobe, the Kalahari Desert . . . Take mokoro safaris, meet San Bushmen, hang out with meerkats and elephants, search for wild dogs.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Botswana page.

When to go to Kenya

If you want to take breakfast with a giraffe, walk with Maasai, see wildebeest (hopefully) escape the jaws of crocodiles in the Masai Mara, and chill out on the beach by the Indian Ocean, Kenya is for you.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Kenya page.

When to go to Madagascar

Head for Madagascar if you yearn to meet a lemur, want to see weird but wonderful baobab trees, are keen to learn about the ‘turning of the bones’ ceremony, or fancy escaping to stunning tropical beaches.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Madagascar page.

When to go to Malawi

This little country known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’ has a superb combination of lake activities and beaches, excellent wildlife viewing and bird watching, varied hiking opportunities, and fascinating culture.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Malawi page.

When to go to Mauritius

Mauritius is the place to come if escaping to the beach is your main priority. Hit the beach, enjoy watersports, explore some of the nature reserves or try out the restaurants and bars in the main towns.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Mauritius page.

When to go to Mozambique

Mozambique has miles and miles of Indian Ocean coastline and beautiful tropical islands. Fancy somewhere different for your beach holiday? You’ve just found it!

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Mozambique page.

When to go to Namibia

Impressive sand dunes, the Skeleton Coast, ancient rock art, tribal culture of the Himba, incredible wildlife, exciting activities . . . the huge arid country of Namibia attracts visitors for many good reasons.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Namibia page.

When to go to Rwanda

You should definitely come to Rwanda to see mountain gorillas, but also chimps, golden monkeys and other wildlife, as well as truly breathtaking scenery and fascinating culture.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Rwanda page.

When to go to South Africa

The diversity of experiences you can enjoy here is huge. From incredible wildlife in Kruger and many other parks, to fabulous beaches, impressive mountains, and cosmopolitan cities, South Africa never fails.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to South Africa page.

When to go to Tanzania

Fly over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon, follow the wildebeest migration, climb Kilimanjaro, learn from Maasai, go chimp trekking, relax on Zanzibar Island . . . Tanzania is unbeatable.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Tanzania page.

When to go to Uganda

Mountain gorillas are the highlight of Uganda for some but for others, it’s the incredible birdlife. Whether it’s the wildlife, the culture, or incredible landscapes such as Murchison Falls, it will not disappoint.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Uganda page

When to go to Zambia

Walking safaris were born here and it is home to Victoria Falls. Canoe on the Zambezi; visit the ‘lost world’ of Liuwa Plains; experience the photo hides in South Luangwa . . . We adore Zambia.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Zambia page.

When to go to Zimbabwe

Superb safaris, Victoria Falls, cruises on Lake Kariba, canoe trips at Mana Pools, rock paintings at Matobo Hills and the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Diversity, adventure and luxury combined.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Zimbabwe page.

Watching lions on a walking safari with Letaka, Botswana
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A high-quality, fully-serviced mobile Botswana safari including Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe National Park.

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Indian Subcontinent

Above are the events and reasons to travel that are specific to DECEMBER, and below we give you an overview of when to travel in India, Nepal and Bhutan, with links to pages that have more details to help you.

Palolem Beach, Kerala, India © Shutterstock

Where to go in Indian Subcontinent

When to go to India

Palaces and forts vie for your attention alongside tigers and rhinos, while spiritualism and sightseeing can combine with Himalayan mountains and Keralan beaches for a uniquely Indian experience.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to India page.

When to go to Nepal

Nepal is an incredible country where you can see Everest in the north, tigers in the south, and the stunning cities of the Kathmandu Valley with the stupas and temples. Adventure, wildlife and spiritualism.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Nepal page.

When to go to Bhutan

The Land of the Thunder Dragon is a Buddhist kingdom where you can enjoy visiting temples, discovering a unique culture, and hiking in stunning scenery.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Bhutan page.

Rhino viewing in Chitwan
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The varied wildlife of Nepal from Koshi Tappu in the east, via Chitwan to Bardia in the west.

    • Diverse wildlife of Chitwan, Bardia and Koshi Tappu
    • Beautiful scenery, with the lowland jungle backed by the towering Himalayas
    • Explore the rich culture of the Terai
    • Visit the many sights in and around Kathmandu
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Latin America

Above are the events and reasons to travel that are specific to JANUARY, and below we give you an overview of when to travel in Latin American countries, with links to pages that have more details to help you.

Sloth, Costa Rica © PCook

Where to go in Latin America

When to go to the Antarctic

Go and explore one of the most untouched places on Earth, Antarctic, land of snow and ice, penguins and elephant seals, albatrosses and orcas.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Antarctic page.

When to go to Argentina

Tangos, red wine and steak, gauchos in the Pampas; glaciers in Patagonia; Iguazu Falls; wetlands, winelands, lake districts . . . Argentina is a feast of experiences just waiting to be explored.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Argentina page.

When to go to Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the generally lesser-known countries in South America, but its Amazon rainforest, Andean mountains, salt flats, Lake Titicaca and fascinating history shouldn’t be missed.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Bolivia page.

When to go to Brazil

From the Amazon to the Pantanal, from Iguazu Falls to the Costa Verde, and from Rio de Janeiro to the Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador, Brazil is huge, diverse and unmissable.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Brazil page.

When to go to Chile

The landscapes of this long thin country vary from the Atacama Desert in the north, to the lakes districts and winelands in the centre, down to Patagonia in the south and Easter Island offshore.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Chile page.

When to go to Costa Rica

Discover sloths and spider monkeys, walk on hanging bridges, explore volcanoes, try zip-lining, dip your toes in the Caribbean and/or the Pacific. It’s a tiny country but it’s packed with adventures.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Costa Rica page.

When to go to Ecuador

The highlights of Ecuador are the Andean mountains, the Amazon rainforest, the beautiful cloud forest, the Galapagos Islands, and the Ecuadorian people.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Ecuador page.

When to go to the Galapagos Islands

A nature lover’s paradise where wildlife has no fear of mankind and you can swim with curious seals or see pelicans in the fish market. Unique wildlife, volcanic habitats and nature cruises.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Galapagos Islands page.

When to go to Peru

Peru is synonymous with the Incas and Machu Picchu, but it also has Amazon rainforest, cloud forest, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, Arequipa . . . Peru is uniquely and diversely fascinating.

For more detail, read our Best Times to go to Peru page.

Hike to Mojanda Lake
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    • Trekking in the rural Andean highlands
    • Visit local communities
    • Bird watching in the cloudforest
    • Characterful accommodation
    • three full days in the Amazon
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