10 must-do winter activities in southern Africa

Posted by Anita Froneman on 12 July 2022

It’s incredible how sceptical people can be whether it ever gets cold in southern Africa. In a land famous for sundowners, deserts and lions lounging in the sunshine, it’s no wonder that the narrative always focuses on soaring temperatures.

By Kim Barnett 

READ: 5 essentials to pack for a 4×4 trip in Kruger

However, we know that chilly winter months in Africa’s Eden provide opportunities for fantastic game viewing, snuggling under plush duvets and giant mugs of hot chocolate around a roaring campfire. So, check out our top ten must-do winter activities and start planning your next getaway.

Hiking the Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Explore the northern section of Africa’s largest canyon on a fabulous adventure that is only permitted in the winter months from April to September. For the rest of the year, hiking is strictly prohibited due to the extreme heat.

Set out to discover the magnificence of the world’s second-largest canyon, exquisitely carved by the hands of time. All your luggage is moved from one camp to the next so you can hike with minimal equipment. Skip stones, splash in the river, or follow animal tracks in the sand – and when night falls, sit around the fire under a dome of endless stars – relishing wilderness.

Gondwana Collection Slackpacking itineraries start from N$ 1 707.00 for 2 persons sharing.

“Giraffing” At Thamo Telele, Botswana

The giraffe experience at Thamo Telele is a must. The lodge has a resident herd of twenty giraffes, which can be observed while on horseback. Get up close and personal in the morning and evening while the giraffes feed at the waterhole. Naturalists are always on hand to offer more information about these mesmerising creatures. Learn each giraffe’s Setswana name and how to identify them by their unique spots. Then, put on your walking shoes or jump on a horse and come and hang with the giraffe. This is an incredible adventure and one that we at Thamo Telele are particularly excited about!

Rates at Thamo Telele are from $355 per person per night.

Zambezi River Dinner Cruise, Zimbabwe

The Wild Horizons Dinner Cruise Winter Menu features gourmet versions of some favourite comfort foods, including vegetarian lasagne with layers of winter veg and homemade pasta sheets, basil & tomato concasse topped with béchamel sauce. They’ve even crafted a new dessert – the winter flavours of banoffee – a decadent sticky date pudding with caramelised banana & whipped cream. The Malachite dinner cruise is an all-inclusive feast for the senses – a must-do activity for the whole family when you’re in Victoria Falls!

Wild Horizons Malachite Dinner Cruise is $86 per adult plus park fees. 

Sunrise Cruise on the Zambezi River, Zambia

While nights on the Zambezi are undoubtedly special, the mornings provide an ethereal and mesmerising solitude. While in Zambia, you can enjoy a quick cuppa and chocolate crepe before heading off on an early winter’s morning adventure at Chundukwa River Lodge! The serene ambience that plays out on the Zambezi River in the early morning hours is magical, and their sunrise cruise is an incredible photographic opportunity for happy snappers and particularly rewarding for bird enthusiasts.

Chundukwa River Lodge rates start from US$ 140 per person per night sharing on a B&B basis.

Sleep Under the Stars on a Horse Safari, Zambia

Experience the romance of winter in Africa under a blanket of stars in the Simalaha Wildlife Conservancy at Zambian Horseback Safaris- a remote yet safe star-bed experience far from Wi-Fi and artificial light. Entirely off the grid, this evening on a bed roll promises one of Zambia’s most exclusive wilderness experiences. All the comforts and bedding is set up especially for riders requesting a sleep-out with beds surrounded by a mosquito net. However, you are otherwise open to the beautiful Southern skies, home to mesmerising celestial sights.

Zambian Horseback Safaris from US$ 690 per person sharing on a Full Board Basis for a 3 Night Horse Safari

River Lunch at Kapamba Bushcamp, Zambia

Game viewing in South Luangwa National Park is amongst the best on the planet. However, as your morning game drive continues and the sun rises higher in the sky, the first feelings of hunger begin to creep in. Luckily, at Kapamba Bushcamp, your guide knows more than where to find the best leopard viewing spots. In the chillier months, they will spoil you with tasty winter treats. Waffles are made right in the fire and offered up with your choice of homemade ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Fully inclusive stays at Kapamba Bushcamp start at $630 per person per night.

Enjoying an Evening of Bush TV, Zambia

The cooler months provide excellent game viewing opportunities in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. Still, Flatdogs Camp understands that extended time with family and friends is what makes our hearts happy. Nothing epitomises winter nights in the wild like staring at the campfire (bush TV) and chatting about the day. Holidays offer unforgettable moments with family, friends and loved ones, and winter is the ideal time for cosy retreat and hibernation.

Rates at Flatdogs Camp are from $275 per person per night, including meals, airport transfers and two activities per day

Canoeing in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Silently cutting through the water in a canoe in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park is a magical game viewing activity ideal during the cooler winter months. You’ll rise in the early morning to a steaming mug of fresh coffee and be greeted by the sounds of hippos honking in the distance. For over 25 years, River Horse Safaris has specialised in several different Lower Zambezi canoeing experiences, offering various levels of comfort, differing points of interest, youth participation programs, and community support visits. As a result, canoeists experience one of the wildest remaining stretches of water on the Zambezi River.

Canoeing with River Horse Safaris starts at $510 per person for a 3day/2night trip

Firing Up with a Wood-Fired Pizza by the Zambezi, Zambia

Homemade wood-fired pizzas next to the Zambezi leave little to be desired! Toppings from local flair to inspired Italian classics; are you brave enough to try a Crocodile Pizza? A festive bar and spectacular river views add to the experience. Even in winter, nothing pairs better with your pizza than an ice-cold local Mosi Beer from Zambia. The Victoria Falls Waterfront in Livingstone is open daily every evening from 17h30 and for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Keeping it local this winter, next to the mighty Zambezi.

Sundowners inside the Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

The famous Horseshoe Lagoon in northern Namibia, with its vast herds of elephants, is the most sought-after spot for a sundowner and fresh homemade healthy snacks after an afternoon’s game drive. The evening’s warm starter is served whilst sitting barefoot in the sand, soaking up the breathtaking sunsets together with hippos and large herds of elephants silhouetted over the water. Then, while viewing the nocturnal wildlife, an exclusive night drive takes you back to Nambwa Tented Lodge, where a delicious meal awaits.

Rates at Nambwa Tented Lodge are from N$ 5040 DBB pppn sharing or N$ 6965 Fully Inclusive pppn sharing.

Pictures: Supplied

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