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Tis The Season To Be Merry

Coming from the Northern Hemisphere, Shannon Davis was used to a colder kind of Christmas yet over the years has warmed to the Kenyan spirit of family, friends and feasting as well as the elegant yet understated way of celebrating the season at Angama Mara
Christmas dinner with a beautiful Mara view

It’s beginning to feel like Christmas…. 

Except here in the African wilderness, it isn’t. At least, not in the sense of how I grew up with giant candy canes and lollipops lining the driveway, Santa and his reindeer flying from our roof, Christmas music blasting from all radio stations, and brain numbing ads for the latest Hot Wheels or the new Barbie dolls. The consumerism surrounding Christmas in the United States has spun out of control. I feel that no longer is (American) Thanksgiving given the respect to be about family and feasting. I’m not even sure it marks the beginning of the shopping season. Is that now the day after Halloween?

Even just thinking about it all is enough to make my head spin and my stomach churn just a little. I much prefer to feel the warmth of Christmas (literally and figuratively) that endures here in Kenya. This celebratory holiday remains true to its values of family, friends, and feasting. The Santa Claus culture doesn’t readily exist (though I’ve heard the rumor that the wildebeest take over for the reindeer around these parts). The closest to a pine tree is an acacia but watch out for thorns. However, the spirit of Christmas is in the air and at Angama, we indulge in a few elegant, joyful touches but not so much that it is in your face. Just enough to make you smile and feel that warm glow inside. No Christmas tree lights flashing a beat to Jingle Bells, I am afraid. 

Festive season fun

The wildlife and safaris, of course, remain the highlight of the day, but the evenings of both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day offer our guests the chance to experience Christmas in Africa.  Our tree (made in our workshop, naturally) stands tall in its secret place just visible when you turn a corner. The menus feature festive favourites from home like roasted duck, turkey with homemade cranberry sauce, eggnog ice cream, and a brandy infused Christmas pudding. Tables adorned with Christmas crackers (filled with Angama surprises) waiting to be pulled, and within minutes, our guests become kings and queens of their own tables. Chocolate truffles and French champagne are happily consumed, and the warm glow of an open fire adds ambiance. In the spirit of Christmas, gifts of appreciation sit wrapped in the tents thanking our guests for spending this special time with us. I dare say it is an elegant, yet understated, way of celebrating the season. We are always mindful of those guests who do not celebrate Christmas but ensure they are thoroughly spoiled all the same. 

Elegant Christmas touches adorn the lodge

The louder, more extrovert cousin, New Year’s Eve, waits around the corner for her moment to shine. Without a doubt, this 2021 new year is a welcome start to go ‘out with the old, and in with the new’.  With flaming torches, beaded jewelry, and bright swathes of red and blue shukas, the night of the 31st of December is celebrated with great enthusiasm with singing, dancing, and jumping performed by 30 Maasai warriors with our guests soon joining in. The evening progresses as guests partake at their own pace our champagne cocktail party followed by a slow festive dinner feast rolling from one course to the next until either sleep comes or the final minutes of the year tick past...

New Years Eve festivities at Angama Mara

...and indeed it did. Goodbye 2020 (and, dare I add, good riddance). Here we sit, with promise and hope all around, a new day, a new year. From our Angama Family to yours, we wish you all the very best for 2021!

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Mara , Christmas , Festive Season , Maasai Mara , Safari

About: Shannon Davis

Shannon was one half of the Regional Director team that started the lodge (Tyler was the other). Shan has not, as far as is known, acquired a taste for chai, mbuzi or ugali but probably misses it in America nevertheless. Her addiction for Kenyan coffee still has no bounds.

Browse all articles by Shannon Davis Meet the angama team

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Join the Conversation (5 comments)

Comments (5):

Bunny and Peter Farnell-Watson

6 January 2021

Lovely article, Shannon! Would so LOVE to be at Angama over Christmas and the New Year. How you spoil the guests! Happy New Year to you all. Bunny and Peter

    Kate Fitzgerald Boyd

    6 January 2021

    We are waiting to welcome you with festive arms open wide!

Kristina Trowbridge

6 January 2021

Love you Shannon!

Francis Bagbey

5 January 2021

Excellent message, Ms Davis. Wish we had been there and not hunkered down in North Carolina. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and successful New Year!

    Kate Fitzgerald Boyd

    6 January 2021

    Thank you so much Francis, please come and visit us at Angama soon. Wishing you all the very best for 2021.

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