With Christmas mere weeks away, we thought it high time to put together our favourite list of the year – our African Christmas Gift Guide for 2018! From conservation-themed gifts of goodness, to sparkly trinkets and treats (of both the edible and home-themed variety) made on the continent itself, there’s something to delight every Africa-aficionado out there – and perhaps something for yourself too.
1. For the jewellery magpies
Just about everyone loves something shiny over the festive season and if it’s from Anna Rosholt, there’s even more reason to smile! Every piece of Anna’s beautiful jewellery collection is handmade in Cape Town and inspired by treasures of Africa and the bush, from plump, beetle-shaped earrings to bumble-bee necklaces, delicately carved out of 9 carat gold. It’s the rhino range that really tickles our fancy, not least because every piece is adorned by a teeny-tiny rhino or horn, but 10% of all proceeds are donated to the Black Mambas, the first all-female anti-poaching unit in Africa – currently based in the Olifants Reserve of the Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa.
2. For the wildlife-lovers
2018 will go down as the year that we all became a little bit more aware of the world around us and what we can do to protect our beautiful planet and all its inhabitants. Extend your environmentally-sound promise to Christmas by fostering an elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi. Its Elephant Nursery is dedicated to caring for orphaned baby ellies from all over Kenya but rearing the orphans and nursing them back to health can be a costly process – which is exactly where you come in. 100% of your donation as a foster parent goes towards the care of your teeny-tiny baby, from the milk formula to the team of trained carers that work around the clock in the nursery. You will, quite literally, be enabling the survival of a species!
3. For the food & drink fiends
Put down your Chenin and pick up a G&T instead. South Africa is currently enjoying something of a gin-volution, with Cape Town well and truly leading the charge. We’re not just talking about standard Gordon’s either; how about A Mari, the only gin in the world distilled by Atlantic seawater and flavoured with coastal botanicals? Or The Woodstock Gin Company’s Inception, a blend brewed in the heart of the city and flavoured with the fynbos of the Cape? Travel a little further to the Karoo and you’ll find one of our favourites, the vibrant blue Six Dogs, blended with the leaves of the Blue pea flower to give it its unique colour. Because let’s be honest, what’s Christmas without a little G&T here and there?
4. For the fashionistas
Any fashion-conscious safari traveller will tell you that the key to staying stylish in the bush is with items that are both pretty and practical. Enter, then, the trusty African kikoy, an item that’s seen us through many a trip – and many a sticky situation! The brightly-coloured, woven fabrics hail from Kenya and were originally worn by Arab traders in the tropical climes of the coast. Today, they are very much a part of East African culture and as well as a rather stylish shawl or beach sarong, we’ve seen them used as picnic blankets, towels, tablecloths, baby slings, wall hangings and even impromptu curtains. We can feel a me-to-me gift coming on…
5. For the eco-conscious chicks
Designed in New York and made in Africa, Indego Africa’s products are a lesson in sustainability and empowerment. The company partners with women in Rwanda and Ghana to create their range of handcrafted products, providing the ladies with the training they need to build and sustain independent livelihoods. There’s not a sewing machine in sight either for each piece is produced using time-honoured techniques and genuine skill! It would be rude not to find a place under the Christmas tree for one of these beautiful baskets or a pretty vase from Rwanda…
6. For the bookworms
There’s always one member of the family that has his or her nose stuck in a book on Christmas Day – and if it was a copy of Patrick Bentley’s Timeless, we’d be right there with them! A fine art photographer born and bred in Zambia, his passion is wildlife and the pages of Timeless are jam-packed with iconic images of the animals in the South Luangwa. It’s a place that’s close to Bentley’s heart and a flick through the pages of the glossy tome will have you racing to plan a trip to Zambia. Even better, $20 from every book sold will go to Conservation South Luangwa, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of the Luangwa’s wildlife.
7. For the décor aficionados
Home bunnies and crafty cooks will fall head over heels for this beautiful WonkiWare pottery, handmade in a small factory in George on South Africa’s Garden Route. There are currently around 70 people employed at the factory, all from the local communities, and every piece is given the utmost care and attention, passing through a staggering 14 pairs of hands before it’s ready for sale. So, what can you buy? You’ll find everything from plates and bowls to mini condiment dishes and spectacular platters, and the colourways are all inspired by Africa, be it the sunset over the ocean or the cracked earth of the desert. Your Brussels sprouts will never have looked so good!
8. For the eco-warriors
With HRH Prince Harry as their president, NGO African Parks is big in the world of conservation – and so it should be. The organisation currently protects 15 national parks (which equals a staggering 10.5 million hectares of land!) in nine countries across Africa, including far-flung and distinctly un-travelled areas like Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. Their goal is clear: to protect Africa’s wild landscapes and secure a future for her wildlife. This year, help them achieve their aim with a donation; 100% of your contribution will go towards anti-poaching strategies, development, education and wildlife conservation on the ground – and there’s no better feeling than that.