Christmas and New Year is peak season in Southern and Eastern Africa. South Africa is in the peak of summer and very busy with domestic tourism. Kenya and Tanzania are not quite as busy but peak pricing does kick in. It really is a fantastic time of year to head to this part of the world, but do book early. One country that seems to buck the trend of hyper inflated prices over Christmas and New Year is Morocco, flight prices tend to be lower than usual for school holiday periods, there is usually reasonable availability outside of the best Marrakech riads and there is plenty of winter sunshine to warm even the coldest heart.
Temperatures in Morocco over Christmas and New Year tend to hover around 20 Celsius in Marrakech, the Sahara Desert and on the Coast and 5-10 degrees cooler in the Atlas Mountains, depending on altitude. Night time temperatures tend to cool down quickly so you will need to pack a jumper. It isn’t quite sun bathing temperature, but you would swim in a heated pool. A lovely combination for families is to take a whole riad rental for 3-4 days over Christmas, giving you the run of the place for a family house party with staff! Riad Tzarra works really well to this end. From Marrakech you can then either combine with a trip out to the Desert or to the Atlas Mountains.
South Africa, and the Cape in particular is in full summer holiday swing over Christmas and New Year. South Africans decamp en-masse to the Coast with a determined party mood. Away from the Coast, things tend to be a little saner and there is no doubt this is a wonderful time to be in South Africa, with fantastic weather, dramatic scenery and incredible wildlife.
What better way to spend Christmas than to be thoroughly spoiled in a stunning wilderness location on safari. It certainly beats another Christmas of TV, wet weather and over indulgence. We’d recommend safari in a homely owner run camp such as Laikipia Wilderness, Ekorian or El Karama followed by some much needed beach time on Zanzibar or the Kenyan Coast.
If you are looking for some sunshine in October and November, then you do need to look beyond the Med, which is more often than not subject to stormy, windy and wet spells. Instead, Morocco is the perfect answer and incredibly popular over October Half Term, you will get plenty of sunshine, warm (but not too hot) temperatures, and the opportunity to explore buzzing Marrakech, the tranquil Atlas Mountains and the magnificent Sahara Desert. Further afield, October and November are a great time to visit Southern and Eastern Africa, particularly if you can squeeze in more than a week’s holiday.
Come the end of October, the high temperatures of the summer months have subsided to something altogether more civilised with temperatures usually in the high 20s Celsius in Marrakech and the Sahara and low 20s Celsius in the Atlas Mountains. The mountains turn a beautiful orange and gold as the villagers rush to collect their walnut harvest. A relaxing two centre week combining an atmospheric small riad in Marrakech’s old Medina with a beautiful Mountain hotel with stunning views, fresh air and traditional Berber hospitality is the perfect antidote to the onset of winter at home.
October brings the onset of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. In South Africa and the Cape, temperatures are perfect for exploring and the dramatic landscapes are bursting with fresh colour, the whale watching season is usually still in full swing and it is a great time to be on safari in the Eastern Cape, Kruger or KwaZulu-Natal.
Late October brings the end of the busy summer season, the migration herd has moved on from the Mara back into Tanzania, taking with it the hordes of tourists and peak prices. November is synonymous with the short rains season in Eastern Africa, but as the name suggests, this usually means only a short rainfall each day, with plenty of sunshine to go around.
With the weather warming up, only a week’s holiday available and exam season kicking into full season, May Half Term can be a hard one to get right. This is, though, a fantastic time to be in the Mediterranean, it is quiet and the weather is barmy. For something further afield, Kenya and Tanzania can offer some superb value green season safari options at the tail end of the long rains.
The Adriatic is warming up nicely, the hordes haven’t arrived and temperatures are effortlessly civilised. This is one of our favourite times to be in Dubrovnik. A week’s break at the gorgeous Hotel Bozica or superbly equipped Sun Gardens is the perfect way to start the summer. Our family kayaking week is a fantastic option for more active families.
For similar reasons to Croatia, May is a fantastic time to visit Turkey. It isn’t quite as hot as it gets in the summer and there are less crowds. Cappadocia is a beautiful region of Turkey famous for its incredible landscapes and heritage with some fantastic walking and ancient cave monasteries to explore. Cappadocia combines perfectly with a couple of nights in Istanbul.
From May to September, temperatures in Morocco tend to be around 30 Celsius inland and closer to 20-25 Celsius in the Mountains and on the Atlantic Coast. May tends to be a lot quieter than Easter, so is a nice time to experience the Atlas Mountains and to hit the beaches. For luxury lovers, Kasbah Tamadot is hard to beat, with a stunning Mountain location, swimming pools and tennis courts, whilst at the other end of the spectrum, the new Ouirgane EcoLodge is a fantastic find, with gorgeous views, a lovely pool area and a genuinely local feel. On the Coast, you’ll need to get in early for Rebali Riads, a lovely small collection of villas near the wild beach at Sidi Kaouki, whilst Paradis Plage is a great option for a more traditional beach resort.
May Half Term usually coincides with tail end of the long rains in Kenya and Tanzania, and on the face of it, this isn’t a place we would usually recommend you visit at this time of the year. However, if you are on the lookout for a deal, we have managed to source some incredible value safaris for families in Kenya and Tanzania during the May Half Term, and the rains, although daily, tend to be short and clear up for some sunshine each day.
Easter Holidays are a great time of year to get away and with two weeks to play with, the sky is the limit. What’s more there are public holidays a plenty to save on precious days off work. Our favourite picks for Easter include South Africa, Yosemite, Morocco, Peru and Namibia.
Easter is one of our favourite times to visit South Africa. You catch the lovely early Autumn season in the Cape, and can take plenty of time to explore this magnificent country. The Kruger and KwazuluNatal are also good at this time of year with temperatures more manageable than over their summer. If you are thinking of doing Cape Town and the Garden Route, then this is the time.
Yosemite is simply out of this world, but during summer it is fair to say the Park can be a little over-run. Easter is a great time to visit, with those magnificent waterfalls thundering away with meltwater and the pick of the accommodation in the Valley usually still available. The Pacific Coast Highway comes into its element with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the high teens and early 20s Celsius, perfect weather for exploring. International flights are usually cheaper than the summer too.
Easter is peak season in Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. Balmy sunny weather is the norm, the Mountains are green and snow-capped and temperatures are warm enough to laze by the pool. Book early as flight prices for the Easter Holidays often double if you leave it too late.
With the hot season over, Easter is a great time to be in Namibia with less chance of rain and more benign temperatures. Two weeks is really a necessity for Namibia making this a perfect window to visit this magnificent country.
Another country demanding a two week trip, Peru is really only an option for families in the Summer and Easter holidays. The big advantage of Easter is that flights tend to be cheaper than August.
With Christmas past, it can be a fair old slog through January and February, so getting away somewhere warm and sunny for February Half Term is a very pleasant way to go about things. Most of us have only a week's holiday to play with, but with inset days and weekends, you can squeeze a 9 or 10 day holiday into February Half Term.
One of our favourite spots in February is Morocco (budget £500 - £1000 per family member including flights for one week) - a fantastic choice for families. Flight prices are very reasonable (usually in the £150 - £250 per person mark) and the weather is usually sunny and warm with temperatures around 20 Celsius in Marrakech and the Sahara and 15-18 Celsius in the Mountains (albeit with chilly nights). For relaxed winter sun Paradis Plage, Rebali Riads, Les Deux Tours and The Fellah Hotel all work wonderfully for families. One of our favourite holidays at this time of year is a fantastic but simple week combining a lovely atmospheric riad in Marrakech (think breakfast on the roof terrace with distant views of snow-capped mountains) with a mule supported trek in the Atlas Mountains amidst snow-capped peaks and traditional mud built Berber Villages (Family Atlas Mountain Trek & Marrakech Holiday). And of course the Sahara comes into its own with manageable temperatures, historic crumbling Kasbahs, camel rides into the sunset and camping under the stars (Luxury Family Desert Holiday).
Whilst South Africa (budget £1500 - £3000 per family member including flights for one to two weeks) easily demands 2 or more weeks of your time, Cape Town is an easy overnight flight from London if you are just looking to splurge on a wonderful February Half Term week. In addition to the cosmopolitan City there are gorgeous winelands and beaches nearby and some superb family friendly accommodation such as Hog Hollow and Grootbos.
February is peak season for safari in Kenya and Tanzania with fantastic weather and excellent wildlife (budget £1700-£3000 per family member including flights for one week). A week is more than ample for a first time or repeat safari. In Kenya, our Maasai Family Adventure fits perfectly into one week or you can combine 3 nights safari at the wonderful Laikipia Wilderness Camp with some beach & pool time on the Indian Ocean (Laikipia Wilderness Safari and Beach Holiday). On the Tanzanian Coast, spend a week at Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge which offers safari and snorkelling from an idyllic beach location.