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Early Christmas cheer with Sanctuary Retreats

Yes it’s only September, but Christmas will be here before you know it, and the savvier amongst us are already starting to think about presents. And if you are stuck for ideas on what to give that special someone, then look no further. Sanctuary Retreats suggests coming to the rescue with the gift of travel for that special someone this Yuletide.

According to Michael McCall, Sanctuary Retreats’ Director of Sales Australia, NZ & Asia – and a firm fan of Christmas travel – Christmas is the perfect time to travel and a great opportunity to take a much-needed vacation. Here are his favourite ideas for making this Yuletide an unforgettable one.

Wildlife encounters

Says McCall, “The Christmas period is a great time to discover Africa’s rich tapestry of wildlife on an epic safari. Options include sharing Christmas lunch with a couple of elephants at Sanctuary Stanely’s Camp in Botswana, or check out cheetah in one of the last few remaining natural ecosystems where cheetah exist in viable numbers at Sanctuary Kusini in Tanzania. Alternatively head out on a Kenya safari to catch the Great Migration, including many newborn animals and exciting kills. Or for something truly unique, an once-in-a-lifetime mountain gorilla trekking experience in Uganda is simply unmissable.”

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp
Sanctuary Kusini
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp

African romanticism

The allure of an African vacation doesn’t just stop at the wildlife. According to McCall, many of Sanctuary Retreats’ safari lodges and camps also see the festive season as a chance to show off their romantic side, decorating the ground with flickering fairy lights, lanterns and candles. “This is the perfect opportunity to try out Sanctuary Baines’ Camp’s  sumptuous star bath or star bed in Botswana. Or for the more adventurous, try waking up on Christmas morning surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the South African bush after spending the night on Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge’s secluded sleepout hide.”

Sanctuary Baines’ Camp
Sanctuary Makanyane – Malaria free Safari South Africa

Unique experiences

If you find yourself bored to tears by the usual festivities, Christmas can be a chance to savour the unexpected. Like exchanging sighting stories around a bush campfire with a G&T in hand, instead of waiting for Santa to slip down the chimney. Or cruising along China’s mighty Yangtze River through spectacular scenery and passing many key sites of China’s history. Or a boat safari along the Zambezi River. “And if just you yearn for a twist on the traditional Christmas”, McCall says, “how about singing Christmas carols with the locals in Zambia’s Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma Lodge at Victoria Falls?”

Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma
Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Home away from home

The key point according to McCall is that Sanctuary Retreats’ staff have years of experience making guests feel at home, no matter what the time of year. “Expect them to treat you like family from the moment you step into a Sanctuary Retreats property or ship. While we can all suffer a little home-sickness at Christmas, our staff will do their very best to keep it from dampening your mood too much. Whether that means treating you to a Christmas dinner your grandmother would be proud of, or leaving thoughtful gifts for you in the morning, expect to finish your stay with us feeling as though you’re part of the Sanctuary Retreats family.”

Gaining new perspectives

Most importantly, says McCall, spending Christmas abroad gives you an opportunity to explore new and exciting parts of the world, while also offering up a chance to gain new perspectives. His suggestions? “Visit the rural village of Sin Kyun in Myanmar or swap presents with the local Batwa people in Uganda to get a taste of our philanthropic activities. Alternatively, join our staff at Sussi & Chuma and their families to sing Christmas carols by candlelight on Christmas Eve. There is no better way to discover the kindness of a new culture than during the Christmas period.”

Sanctuary Ananda