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Festive Season in South Africa

December 19th, 2023, by Jonathan Brannan

Escape the winter frost and dive into a sun-kissed Christmas in South Africa. Swap snowflakes for sunshine, festive traditions for summer vibes, and explore a celebration like no other beneath the African sky. Unveil a unique holiday journey, where winter coats are replaced with swimsuits, and the magic of Christmas comes alive in the warmth of the southern sun. Join us as we unwrap the secrets of celebrating Christmas and the holidays in the heart of South Africa.

The Festive Season in Summer

Step into a South African summer Christmas, where festive traditions dance to a sun-soaked beat. Bid adieu to winter norms and embrace the season in swimwear under the radiant sun. In this warm wonderland, outdoor barbecues, vibrant markets, and enchanting carolers come alive against the canvas of South Africa's beautiful summer weather. Revel in a uniquely South African holiday experience, where warmth and joy define the season.

Stretch of colourful beach huts on Muizenberg Beach
Stretch of colourful beach huts on Muizenberg Beach

Outdoor Festive Fun

Immerse yourself in the embrace of South Africa's summer, where the warm weather beckons outdoor adventures. Explore sun-drenched beaches, traverse breathtaking hiking trails, and discover the wonders of majestic mountains, lush forests, and wildlife-filled reserves. Our South Africa's Natural Wonders itinerary is crafted for those craving a blend of cityscape, coastal beauty, and encounters with both the Marine 5 and Big 5. From the vibrant streets of Cape Town to the pristine reserves of Shamwari and Grootbos, get ready for breathtaking views and exhilarating encounters with nature.


Festive Lights

Enter a luminous wonderland as Cape Town's city center illuminates with hundreds of festive lights. While the enchanting display graces the city every night during the holiday season, don't miss the grandeur of the official Festival of Lights. Witness the mayor's illumination ceremony and immerse yourself in a massive, free street party on Adderley Street. Explore stalls offering delectable treats, unique Christmas gifts, and whimsical decorations like dolphins pulling Santa’s sleigh. Let the luminous magic of the Festival of Lights become a highlight of a visit to South Africa during the holiday season.

Adderley Street Christmas Lights
Adderley Street Christmas Lights Credit:

Festive Events

Feel the festive spirit come alive as soon as December arrives in South Africa, and it really amps up in the build up to Christmas Eve. The country is infused with a magical atmosphere, with carol singing, candlelight services, and special events building up to Christmas Eve. Experience the enchantment of 'Carols by Candlelight' at the V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre or Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town. The Kirstenbosch carols, a cherished highlight of Cape Town's festive calendar, promise an unforgettable celebration amidst the beauty of nature.


Christmas Day in South Africa

On South African Christmas Day, families come together to exchange gifts and hang stockings for Santa, known as Sinterklaas or Kersvader in Afrikaans. The day unfolds with morning church services and festive meals, enjoyed outdoors in delightful weather. The traditional feast features roast turkey, duck, or beef with yellow rice, raisins, and vibrant vegetables, accompanied by delights like Christmas pudding and Malva Pudding. South Africans uniquely take their celebrations outside, firing up a braai (barbecue) with the tantalizing scent of sizzling meat. The tradition of pulling Christmas crackers, revealing paper crowns, adds a playful touch to this sun-soaked celebration.

Tweede Nuwe Jaar Cape Town
Tweede Nuwe Jaar. Credit: Cape Town Tourism

Tweede Nuwe Jaar

Experience the vibrant cultural celebration of Tweede Nuwe Jaar, also known as 'Second New Year,' in Cape Town. This event honors the city's diverse cultural heritage, blending African, European, and Asian influences. Parades, music, dancing, and a rich tapestry of food create an atmosphere of unity and celebration, bringing communities together to revel in their shared identity.

The roots of Tweede Nuwe Jaar trace back to the early 19th century when slaves in Cape Town were granted a day off on January 2nd to celebrate the new year. Today, the festivities have evolved into a dynamic expression of Cape Town's cultural diversity, enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.


How to Say Merry Christmas & Happy New Year in South Africa

South Africa, known as the "rainbow nation," is a melting pot of diverse cultures and languages, boasting 11 official languages. Extend your warm wishes in the local languages with these festive greetings:

  • Afrikaans: 'Geseënde Kersfees' (Merry Christmas) & 'Gelukkige nuwejaar / Voorspoedige nuwejaar' (Happy New Year).

  • Zulu: 'UKhisimusi omuhle' (Merry Christmas) & 'uJabulela unyaka omusha' (Happy New Year).

  • Xhosa: 'Krismesi emnandi' (Merry Christmas) & 'Nyak'omtsha' (Happy New Year).

  • Sotho: 'Le be le keresemese e monate' (Merry Christmas) & 'Mahlohonolo a selemo se secha' (Happy New Year).

Learn these expressions, and you'll have the perfect linguistic palette to spread holiday cheer across the diverse communities of South Africa. Whether you're exploring the cultural richness of Cape Town or immersing yourself in the natural wonders, celebrate the season in a truly South African style!



Call 1-800-421-8907 or fill out our questionnaire and submit it to a specialist to plan a trip.


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Our Impact Report

July 19th, 2023, by Jonathan Brannan

The Travel Corporation Releases 2022 Impact Report, highlighting advancements on climate action 

TTC’s second annual Impact Report showcases positive impacts and progress against the group’s 11 sustainability goals, anchored to the United Nations Global Goals  

The Travel Corporaton Impact Report 2022
Impact Report 2022

The Travel Corporation, (TTC,) a family of 40 award-winning travel brands, released its second annual Impact Report today, sharing progress against the group’s five-year sustainability strategy How We Tread Right (HWTR), launched in September 2020. HWTR's 11 sustainability goals are anchored to the United Nations Global Goals, in an effort to advance the shared mission to MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® by travel brands including Trafalgar, Contiki, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Insight Vacations, Red Carnation Hotels, and more. 

One of the most notable achievements since the launch of HWTR is the replacement of TTC’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2030 with the more ambitious goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050, designed to address TTC’s impact on climate. The other issues addressed by the 11 goals include food, waste, travel experiences, diversity, equity and inclusion, and wildlife. 

In 2022, TTC became the first tour operator to launch a Carbon Fund: an industry-leading fund designed to enable investment in green technologies selected for their ability to decarbonise the business. This fund was announced last year when TTC became the first global tour operator to have near-term, long-term and net zero targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. Some headway TTC has made towards decarbonization, its priority, include progress towards achieving its goal of sourcing 50% of electricity from renewable sources and reducing food waste by 50%, both by 2025. Some examples include TTC moving five additional offices and accommodations to renewable sources bringing its total to 26, and Evan Evans introducing its first zero-emission electric vehicle to its fleet. With food waste technologies implemented at 20 additional Red Carnation Hotels and Uniworld ships in 2022, the combined food waste savings last year equated to more than 284,000 meals.  

In addition to driving impact through the 11 measurable goals featured in its strategy, How We Tread Right, TTC and its family of brands also work to protect our planet, its people and wildlife, through its non-profit TreadRight Foundation. In 2022, TreadRight funded nature-based solutions GreenWave and Project Vesta for the second consecutive year, in addition to community development and wildlife conservation initiatives such as Rainbow Railroad, the Tourism Pathways Project, Lakota Youth Development, Wilderness Foundation Africa, and Wild Entrust. 

“While we’re immensely proud of the impact we achieved in 2022, we’re equally aware of the work that remains ahead of us,” says Shannon Guihan, The Travel Corporation’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of TreadRight. “TTC’s Carbon Fund, launched last year and detailed in this Impact Report, moves beyond the leadership of achieving near-term, long-term and net zero validated targets, and illustrates how we intend to make this transition, in real terms. The sector needs to avoid the many distractions that are out there towards real change and seek measurable impact, which is exactly what we are focused on.” 


Key highlights from TTC’s impacts in 2022 include: 


  • Introducing an industry-first Carbon Fund 

  • Replacing the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 with the more ambitious goal of net zero by 2050 

  • Becoming the first global tour operator with validated near-term, long-term, and net zero targets 

  • The reduction of Scope 1 emissions by 27%, Scope 2 emissions by 42% and Scope 3 emissions by 45% from 2019  

  • Sourcing 44% of total global electricity needs from renewable sources, up 20% over the previous year    

  • Moving 5 additional offices and accommodations to renewable energy, bringing the total to 26 properties     

  • Implementing food waste management systems at 20 additional hotels and ships 

  • Achieving a combined food waste reduction of 120 tonnes, equating to more than 284,000 meals  

  • Reducing printed brochures by 64% from 2019 



  • Including at least one MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience on 62% of TTC itineraries    

  • Our collection of MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences across all TTC brands reached 571   

  • Increasing TTC itineraries visiting developing regions by 50% from our 2021 baseline     

  • Establishing 5 partnerships globally to widen our hiring pool to include traditionally underrepresented people 

  • 6 brands focused on Pride and Women-only itineraries to help foster diversity, equity and inclusion 

  • 3 marketing partnerships with diversity, equity and inclusion as the main focus 

  • 19 active identity circles under TTC IDEA, TTC’s employee resource group 

  • Completing 7,471 hours in 2022, reaching a 46% completion of our goal since the launch of HWTR 



  • Ensuring 100% compliance with our animal welfare policy across all itineraries 


To read The Travel Corporation’s full Impact Report and learn more about the progress TTC and its brands have made against its How We Tread Right sustainability strategy, please visit  



For inspiration, use thissustainable travel brochure filled with MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences, itineraries, packing and travel tips to plan a safari.



Call 1-800-421-8907 or fill out our questionnaire and submit it to a specialist to plan a trip.


Safari Questionnaire

Pride is Personal

June 16th, 2023, by Jonathan Brannan

Discover expert insights about LGBTQ+ travel in Africa with our President Sherwin Banda. Appointed to Condé Nast Traveler's first-ever Global Advisory Board and recognized as one of Robb Report magazine's "16 LGBTQ+ Visionaries in Luxury You Should Know," Sherwin is very passionate about creating diverse and safe spaces for all who visit Africa. 

While misconceptions persist about the continent, Sherwin sat down for a Q&A to discuss his time growing up in South Africa, where Africa is heading, and what destinations need to be on your radar.

Sherwin and Family Enjoy A Game Drive

What do you think is one of the major misconceptions about LGBTQ+ travel in Africa?

A common misconception is Africa is not safe for travelers, and especially LGBTQ+ guests. In 1996, South Africa became the first country in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution and to protect LGBTQ+ people. Most people don’t know that South Africa legalized same sex marriage in 2006 which was years before U.S. recognized same sex marriage. There is still a long way to go to have gay marriage recognized across Africa, however LGBTQ+ people are living and thriving in the destination.

Lodges, camps, and hotels across our experiences are well-vetted to meet international service standards and the specific needs of all guests. You will come for the wildlife, but the people will steal your heart. Africans are some of the friendliest people on earth.


Why do you think this perception exists that Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of LGBTQ+ travel?

Colonization and religion have prolonged the stigma attached to homosexuality and many countries were isolated for decades. Isolation still exists for some of these countries and that is where you see the strictest laws. Digital technology and the movement of people through tourism and business is really the changemaker, connecting Africans with people and new ideas. As Africans are exposed to different cultures and the locals advocate for a change in laws, we see mindsets changing. 

Sherwin in Nelson Mandela's Cell at  Robben Island

Growing up in South Africa, how did this influence you in life and your role in the travel industry?

I grew up in South Africa during apartheid and the people who became the consciousness of our struggle for freedom were ordinary people. They were religious leaders, teachers, and our elders within the community. Our elders were the protectors of our traditions and our memories. Listening to their stories prior to apartheid cultivated a desire for change within the youth. Our religious leaders challenged us to find an alternative without compromising our traditions or sense of humanity. Those early learnings shaped my desire to live in a life of service to others and to be 100% committed to inclusivity for all.


South Africa is a popular LGBTQ+ destination, what would you recommend guests do in South Africa?

Known as the Rainbow Nation, South Africa truly offers something for everyone. It offers a diversity of activities for sightseeing and checks the boxes in terms of a varying array of accommodations. Cape Town is referred to as the "Mother City" of South Africa and is very gay friendly, with the largest LGBTQ+ community in all of Africa. There are many exciting places to see throughout the city. The pink district called De Waterkant has many LGBTQ+ friendly bars, restaurants, and nightlife.


How does African Travel ensure each guest feels safe and included?

Inclusivity matters and African Travel continues to strive to provide a safe and welcoming space for every guest. African Travel has a diversity and inclusivity training program that works with partner lodges, hotel, and local guides to train each to be sensitive to each guest’s needs before a guest visit.


What are some emerging destinations LGBTQ+ travelers should consider?

While 34 African countries, many of which are in Western African, outlaw homosexuality, the continent has made great strides in improving how they recognize the LGBTQ+ community. Where global tourism has had a positive impact on local cultures and citizens have fought for their own freedoms, we’ve seen these countries affect change first.  

It may have started in Southern Africa, but change is moving north. Botswana sets the gold standard for sustainability, and it continues to progress since it decriminalized same sex relationships in 2019. The experiences here are outstanding because the government has limited the number of camps, so you have a truly intimate experience. I would highly recommend relaxing on a beach at the end of a trip and Mozambique has some beautiful beaches. The country also decriminalized same sex relationships in 2015. Seychelles has some wonderful resorts opening this year, including the new Waldorf Astoria and the Seychelles also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.


What are you excited to develop in the next year or two for African Travel? 

Each of our safaris have meaningful immersive MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® experiences that benefit both the guests and the local communities they visit. I want each guest to have a deeper understanding of Africa’s cultural heritage and impact. We are looking at new ways to share experiences, especially for the African American and LGBTQ+ communities. Seeing the contrast of ancestral traditions and modern culture while connecting guests with these interesting locals is an exciting opportunity for us, especially where it intersects for the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride Safari Guide


For inspiration, we have a Pride Safari Guide featuring our top experiences in Africa. Our guide includes helpful tips, how to MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®, and our favorite safaris.



Call 1-800-421-8907 or fill out our questionnaire and submit it to a specialist to plan a trip.


Safari Questionnaire

CST #2071444-20