Our Top Picks for January

Whether you are planning to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration in East Africa, experience a Big 5 safari in the Kruger National Park or spend your honeymoon in the Seychelles, timing is important. Our guidelines are based on our expert, on-the-ground knowledge of Africa’s travel seasons.

Kalahari Desert - Botswana

SeasonHigh Summer Average Temperature for January 28 Celsius 82 Fahrenheit

What

Excellent birding, game viewing and the zebra migration in the now-green Kalahari Desert.

Why

January falls within Botswana’s intense rainy season, making animals hard to find in the northern parts of the country like Chobe National Park. The Kalahari is in the south, however, and being a desert, doesn’t receive the same level of rain. But what rain it does receive transforms it from red sand to green grazing, attracting predators, prey and plenty of migrant and resident birds.

Zebra migration through Nxai and Makgadikgadi Pans.

When to book

The Kalahari is not nearly as visited as Botswana’s superstar wilderness areas, the Okavango Delta and Chobe. You should be able to get good accommodation and rates without booking too far in advance.

Good to know

Read our seasonal guide to planning your Botswana safari and our expert advice for amateur photographers on how to photograph birds on your safari.

Quirimbas Archipelago - Mozambique

SeasonHigh Summer Average Temperature for January 27 Celsius 81 Fahrenheit

What

Diving in the Quirimbas Archipelago.

Why

Near-perfect conditions with excellent visibility. The very brief rain showers cool down the heat of the long, sunny days.

When to book

Mozambique is one of Africa’s undiscovered gems but January is popular because it coincides with regional school holidays.

Good to know

How to combine Mozambique with the Kruger National Park.

Zanzibar - Tanzania

SeasonHigh Summer Average Temperature for January 27 Celsius 80 Fahrenheit

What

Diving off Zanzibar.

Why

Zanzibar is an island off the Indian Coast of Tanzania and averages only five rainy days for the month of January. The south of the main island offers the best diving conditions while the north has the best sunset views. For exceptional reef diving and snorkeling, head to the exclusive outlying islands of Pemba, Mafia and Mnemba. Zanzibar is also home to Stone Town, a World Heritage Site with plenty to see and do. A beach holiday on Zanzibar is the perfect way to relax after the early morning wake-up calls of a Southern Serengeti safari.

When to book

Because the island has almost perfect weather, it is very popular so secure the best accommodation as soon as you can. Sought-after places like Pemba and Mafia have a very amount of accommodation available – there are no large resorts here.

Good to know

Our best dive lodges.

Southern Serengeti - Tanzania

SeasonHigh Summer Average Temperature for January 17 Celsius 63 Fahrenheit

What

Calving season during the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Why

The herds mass in the Southern Serengeti at this time of year to take advantage of the excellent grazing – depending on whether good rains fell in time – that will sustain their calves. About 8 000 calves are born every day and there is plenty of predator action from lions, hyenas, leopards, wild dogs and jackals. Game drives will take you to the heart of the action.

When to book

This is considered the low or Green Season in Serengeti National Park and is much less-visited than the mid-year high season. You generally don’t need to book too far in advance to get accommodation. Bear in mind that the time around New Year will be busier as local Tanzanian families go on holiday.

Good to know

Read our expert blogs on how the Great Migration works and find out about the Top 5 things you may not realise about the Migration.

Watch our animated video of how the Migration works.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - Uganda

SeasonHigh Summer Average Temperature for January 11 Celsius 64 Fahrenheit

What

Trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Why

January generally coincides with a short dry spell, making it easier and more comfortable to trek because there is less rain and mud.

When to book

All gorilla-trekking destinations issue a limited number of permits per day and there is limited accommodation available in remote parks like Bwindi. Book as soon as you decide to go trekking to avoid disappointment – peak dry season is very popular.

Good to know

Read our expert blog on the basics of gorilla trekking.

Watch our video series on gorilla trekking, from shopping for the trip and vaccinations to the moment you spot the gorillas for the first time.

Cape Town & Garden Route

SeasonHigh Summer Average Temperature for January 20 Celsius 68 Fahrenheit

What

Self-drive road trip or private guided tour of Cape Town, the surrounding Cape Winelands and the Garden Route that runs from Cape Town and takes you to Addo Elephant National Park.

Why

Unlike the safari areas in the northern parts of South Africa – the Kruger National Park, Madikwe Private Game Reserve and Phinda Private Game Reserve - that are rainy in January, Cape Town and the Garden Route are dry.

When to book

For the first half of January and especially over New Year, as far in advance as possible. This time coincides with the South African school holidays so many local families take their annual vacation now. The local schools reopen in mid-January meaning the second-half of the month is slightly less busy.

Good to know

Read our expert blogs on Cape Town’s best beaches, best sundowner spots, best beach hotels and villas, and on the Constantia Winelands.

Watch our video on adventure activities in Cape Town like hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, kite surfing and touring on a Harley Davidson.

Download

Our complimentary Cape Town Country Guide.