Where To Go On Safari In January

Our Recommendation For The Best Holiday Destinations In January:

Countries to visit in January: Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda

In East and Southern Africa, January is generally known as the ‘Green Season’, varying from country to country depending when the rains come. Green season refers to the time of year after the rains, between the rains or during the rains, when the bush turns lush and water sources are flowing. Animals are on the move, spreading out across the bush in search of fresh browsing and grazing as well as calving in some areas. There will be plenty of topped up waterholes in the deep bush so there could be less concentration of animals at the major ones. It’s a great time to go deeper into the bush surrounded by the noise of birds and insects and the colours of wild flowers and trees in bloom.

If you want to see big game then it is best to head to Tanzania and Kenya, where its the dry season between the short and long rains; Botswana is in the middle of the rains in January but it’s a great time for birding and incredible scenery, while Rwanda and Uganda are hot and dry, so a gorilla trek is perfect at this time of year as well as the tropical jungle having cooler weather.

Here are some of the popular January safari spots across Africa.


January (and February) are the wettest months in Botswana. The rains bring lush vegetation, which the animals use to their advantage, giving birth to their young. During calving season predator activity is high with endless photographic opportunities against a background of bright green foliage and dramatic, giant clouds and blue skies.

The Central Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans host the second largest migration of zebras after the Great Migration in Tanzania and Kenya. The rains fill up vast sections of the giant pan where you can also see one of the largest flamingo migrations in Africa. The pans are an important breeding site for both greater and lesser flamingos. January is an all round good month for birders with 255 species of birds recorded throughout the Makgadikgadi Pans area.

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January in Ethiopia brings cool dry weather, with temperatures varying depending on the region, for example in the highlands the nights are particularly cold in January. With untamed landscapes and incredible wildlife, January to March are the best months for wildlife viewing in Ethiopia.  One must-visit safari gem is the Simien Mountains National Park, where endemic species like the Walia Ibex and Ethiopian wolf roam freely. January is an ideal time for trekking enthusiasts to conquer the peaks of the Simien Mountains or the rugged landscapes of the Danakil Depression when temperatures are cooler.

Head to Bale Mountains National Park, where you can see the rare Ethiopian mountain nyala and countless bird species. For a unique experience, explore the Omo Valley’s cultural riches alongside diverse wildlife, January is a great time to visit Omo Valley, when the road conditions are favourable.

In addition to thrilling safaris, Ethiopia offers a myriad of activities in January. Start your year with a bang by joining the colourful celebration of Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox Epiphany. This vibrant festival takes place on January 19th and features processions, music, and ceremonial baptismal reenactment. You can also explore the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and experience the architectural marvels carved out of solid rock.

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Tanzania is great to visit in January, particularly mid to end of January once the festive period is over. It’s a quieter time of year, often with much more reasonable  prices than the high season (July to October). It’s the hottest time of year, with around 10 hours of sunshine a day, and is between the short rains (October) and the long rains (March). The short rains will have turned the bush into more lush vegetation so the wildlife becomes more widespread. Head to the southeast part of the Serengeti National Park to witness the Great Migration herds, which should be in the Ndutu area by this time for the calving season. Both wildebeest and zebra will give birth within 2-3 weeks of each other.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home of the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is teeming with diverse wildlife in January,  including the rare black rhino and the other big five species as well as a wide variety of other wildlife and birds.

Once you have explored the Serengeti and Ngorongoro region, you can head over to Tarangire National Park, where  you’ll get the chance to see large elephant herds and very old baobab trees.  Neighbouring Tarangire is Lake Manyara National Park, famous for its tree-climbing lions and prolific birdlife.

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January is one of the hottest months of the year, so head to higher altitudes for cooler weather. This makes Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to the majestic mountain gorillas, one of the best places to visit at this time of year. However, the dry conditions also mean that it’s become a popular time to visit Bwindi so prices will be high.   For more primates, drive west from Entebbe to Kibale Forest National Park, home to 13 species of primate, where you can go r chimpanzee trekking and watch them playing in the trees.

Murchison Falls National Park should be next on your list of best holiday destinations in January. During the dry season it’s easier to see the wildlife. The park is known for its breathtaking waterfall and diverse wildlife, which includes elephants, giraffes, and Nile crocodiles, while bird lovers should plan a trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park, a paradise home to over 600 species, including rare birds such as African Skimmer, Martial Eagle, White-tailed Lark, and Papyrus Gonole.

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South Africa

In the middle of the summer season (Dec-Feb) January is the hottest month in South Africa with summer rainfall, which cools temperatures down. It’s the high season, so advance booking is essential particularly during the school holidays. For an unforgettable South African safari in January, plan a trip to the renowned Kruger National Park where you can look for the big five and explore its vast landscapes.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers stunning landscape views where the majestic Kalahari Desert meets the red dunes while those interested in seeing elephant herds in South Africa should plan a trip to the Addo Elephant National Park, home to over 600 elephants.

In January, you can also head over to the Highly recommended coastal attractions, including iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Cape Peninsula. These destinations offer a chance to see the impressive marine life and enjoy stunning views.

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In Kenya there is a short, dry spell in January. It’s the hottest month and one of the best times for wildlife viewing, with animals spending time near waterholes. The landscape is lush after the short rains in November and December. Plan a trip to the iconic Maasai Mara National Reserve, teeming with year-round wildlife, including predators such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards. You can also spot the resident herbivores, which include elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, impalas, and zebras. Maasai Mara’s sweeping grasslands, dotted with acacia trees and the meandering Mara River, offer stunning vistas and photographic opportunities.

Head to Amboseli National Park, where you can see the stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro and large herds of elephants as well as migratory birds in January Tsavo National Park, 2-hours drive from Amboseli, is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, to see lions, rhinos, and giraffes.

January is also the best time to visit Lake Nakuru National Park, to see its famous pink flamingos and diverse birdlife. On the Kenya coast the days are hot and sunny and it’s the best time for diving and snorkelling with the sea at its clearest. January to March is the best time to spot whale sharks.

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January in Rwanda is the short dry season and a great time to visit. There is often light cloud cover, which moderates the temperature, but can also bring light rain showers. Head to the famed Volcanoes National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorillas, where you can trek through the misty forests to witness these remarkable primates. Nyungwe Forest National Park, south of Volcanoes National Park, is famous for its primate population, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys.

Don’t forget to add Akagera National Park to your travel itinerary for the best place to holiday in January. Located along the border with Tanzania, Akagera is known for its stunning savannah, montane and swamp habitats. It’s the largest protected wetland in Eastern-Central Africa and is a  great place to see the big five, since the re-introduction of rhino and lion within the last 10 years.

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