Three Corners of Africa for Holiday Travel
Originally published on The Adventure Collection
“Nearly every American hungers to move,” discovered John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley, during his journey across the States. He found most Americans yearning to travel like he was, to see something new, really anything new. Holiday traditions are important for most of us, but so is that desire to try something different during those precious few days off each year. Have a look at these three corners of Africa for December and January travel to celebrate with the locals.
Christmas at UNESCO-listed Lalibela in Ethiopia
Like a vision unchanged for centuries, upwards of 60,000 inhabitants in Ethiopia, wearing long white robes, travel for miles to celebrate Orthodox Christmas at Lalibela on January 7th. The festivities extend all through the night with various rituals recreating biblical settings and stories with dancing, drumming, chanting, and a candlelit procession. In the morning, they break from 40-some-day fasts. Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a mountain stronghold where eleven medieval monolithic churches stand carved from the rock, some entirely from one piece. The 13th-century site was built with the intent to become a new Jerusalem. After Lalibela, there’s so much more: imagine the Serengeti, Rwanda, and the Kalahari too.
New Years in Morocco
During the holidays, the locals of Morocco spend their time in different ways: some quietly retreat home to their families, while others celebrate with big parties and dancing.
In Marrakech, locals may take to Djemma Efna square with the tourists, enjoying the fire works, and keeping their businesses to take advantage of gift-seeking crowds. For most everyone, it’s a time for new beginnings, and resolutions feel good to make in a place so different from our own. This popular city is a wonder when it comes to smells, sights, and sounds, but there’s so much more outside.
All over Morocco, from Fès to the High Atlas, Dades Gorge, and Ouarzazate, each scene is so different from the last that we ache to photograph every bit. When we learn that many of the locals don’t appreciate their picture being taken, we decide its all the more reason feel present.
Family Vacation in South Africa
New Years and Christmas in South Africa are spent similarly to the Western way, with the exception of Day of Goodwill (or Boxing Day) on December 26th, where folks give to those less fortunate. Also, on December 16th, South Africans celebrate Day of Reconciliation, which came into effect in 1994, focusing on the end of the apartheid and rebuilding the nation.
For those simply wanting to take advantage of the change of scenery, but not stray too much from the traditions you know so well, South Africa is a warm (average temps at 77 degrees) and inviting place to bring the family. There’s something for everyone: bike riding, wildlife viewing, hiking, and wine tasting.