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Safari in January

A safari is an invigorating experience that gets you up close and personal with diverse wildlife that you won’t find back home. Whether you are admiring iridescent turtles in the Galapagos Islands or searching for the Big Five in January, there are many wonders awaiting you as we discover the best safari destinations and tours in January.


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Best safaris in January

Africa in January: What to expect

  • Weather & climate

    With many regions in their seasonal finery and an average temperature of 17°C (62°F), January is optimal for gorilla trekking or searching for the Big Five. With increased rainfall, the wet season in Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya, sees animals flock to waterholes allowing for premium game viewing opportunities. In contrast, the dry season in Uganda and Rwanda presents ideal conditions for gorilla trekking as the rainforest pathways are lit up by the glistening sunlight.

    Dry season: Uganda, Rwanda 
    Wet season: Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya
  • Wildlife

    When the rains start to pour, the Serengeti becomes the finest place in Africa to view the Big Five. The calving season of the Great Migration attracts mass concentrations of predators on the open plains for a breathtaking sight. Watch as the emerald-green colours emerge in the Kalahari along with an abundance of unmatched birdlife, or embark on a bucket-list experience and gaze into the eyes of gorillas and chimpanzees in the warm, tropical forests of Uganda and Rwanda.

    Big Five: Serengeti
    Great Migration: Serengeti
    Bird watching: Kalahari
    Gorillas & Chimpanzees: Uganda & Rwanda
  • Peak season

    If a face-to-face encounter with primates or seeing Mother Nature at her finest is on your to-do list, then planning a trip to Uganda, Rwanda or Kenya in January is a must. Although more crowded, January is optimal for nature lovers and photographers as wildlife flourish in this peak season. Alternatively, if you prefer to have less competition for the best seat in the house then witnessing flocks of migratory birds and baby animals in Botswana and Tanzania during January's low season could be for you. 

    Peak season: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda
    Low season: Tanzania, Botswana

Where to go on a safari in January

Whether you grew up singing along to the Lion King or watching the latest documentaries by Sir David Attenborough, it's hard not to be captivated by Africa and the predators that parade around the vast wilderness. Tracking down the right safari may seem as tough as spotting a leopard lounging, but our guide pushes back the branches and focuses your lens on the best places to see wildlife in January.  

Our top picks:

  1. Tanzania: Southern Serengeti
  2. Uganda
  3. Kenya: Masai Mara
  4. Rwanda
  5. Botswana: Kalahari
  6. Galapagos islands

Do the endless plains of the Serengeti or the hidden waterways of the Okavango Delta suit your style, or would you rather enjoy the spectacle of wildebeest herds during the Great Migration? Maybe the thrill of photographing the Big Five in the Masai Mara is on your bucket list, or gazing into the eyes of gentle giants in Rwanda? Without a doubt, the best places to visit Africa in January purely depend on your safari style and what animals you wish to see.

With a multitude of game reserves and national parks, it may seem easiest to just throw a dart at a map of Africa. But a closer look reveals that there are many countries rich with unique wildlife. The Galapagos Islands is home to an unmatched abundance of wildlife where sea lions laze on golden beaches, iguanas scatter beneath your feet and emerald-green turtles swimming beside you. Whilst each destination has fascinating wildlife and a wealth of things to do in January, the grandeur of the tropical islands or the African savannahs are bound to blow you away.

Best safari destinations in January

Tanzania: Southern Serengeti

The Serengeti is the reserve you have always dreamt of, an untouched landscape of swaying grasslands, sprinkled with acacia trees and great herds. Remarkable predator sightings here make this place a necessity.

Why in January?
The green season converts the dusty plains into a nutrient-rich haven for the wildlife. With so many resources, animals are spread across the plains making game viewing a highlight. 

What to see?
Plains dotted with emerald-green nutrients allure the migratory herds of wildebeest and zebras and provide the perfect landscape for the birthing season. With many young calves taking their first steps and predators keeping a keen eye out, this season is perfect for witnessing the circle of life in action on the African plains.

Pro tip
Combine your safari with a visit to Ngorongoro Crater. The only place on earth where mankind and wild animals co-exist in harmony. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles with its magical setting and high animal density.
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Whether you have your heart set on coming face-to-face with wild silverback gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or searching for the infamous tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda's diverse national parks offers adventurous itineraries to suit every safari style.

Why in January?
As rains become sparse and vegetation thins, wildlife gather around waterholes making game viewing simpler and the abundant wildlife an unmissable spectacle of natural wonder. The dry trails create ideal conditions for gorilla trekking as rainforest pathways are lit up by the glittering sunlight.

What to see?
The wildlife is not migratory in Uganda, so you can expect to see an abundance of game in national parks all year round. From tree-climbing lions to sun-bathing hippos, and foraging elephants to humanlike gorillas, wildlife encounters are a true highlight in this country.

Pro tip:
Combine your safari with gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. No other wildlife encounter in East Africa matches the experience of spending time face-to-face with wild silverback gorillas. Enhance your wildlife encounters by trekking through the tropical jungle to search for these primates for the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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Kenya: Masai Mara

Exploring the Masai Mara will accomplish that quest for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, gratifying childhood dreams of seeing African wildlife up close and appreciating the magic of an unfamiliar culture.

Why in January?
With green grass and succulent trees, the plains are picture-perfect and wildlife are in awe. With little showers and the grandeur of the pristine wilderness, an overland adventure of this game reserve is the quintessential African safari.

What to see?
Lush acacia trees dotted across the plains allure herds of zebras and wildebeest and creates the perfect habitat for the birthing season. With many young calves taking their first steps and predators scouring the plains, this season is perfect for witnessing Mother Nature at her best.

Pro tip:
Try your hand at camping. The warm evenings create the perfect ambience for relaxing at your enchanting safari campsite and sharing the day's adventures around a sparkling campfire.
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Rwanda, home to Volcanoes National Park and its many rare and endangered primates, is popular with many gorilla trekking companies. With just a permit and a flight to this pocket of East Africa, you could be spending time face-to-face with wild gorillas for an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Why in January?
As December marks the end of the wet season, January brings very little rain making the landscape perfect for gorilla trekking. The rainforest pathways are lit up by the glittering sunlight and the canopy provides shade from the heat of the day.

What to see?
Don't miss out on the unique wildlife. Other than the mighty gorillas, golden monkeys, elephants and buffalos also call Rwanda their home. Migratory birds also flock to the national parks and present a colourful performance.

Pro tip:
Although Volcanoes National Park is the prime destination for safari-goers, a visit to Akagera National Park should not be missed. Come face-to-face with the Big Five as they gather around waterholes making game viewing simpler and the rich wildlife an unforgettable experience.
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Botswana: Kalahari

There's more to the Kalahari than just a red desert, with flooded plains and rolling grasslands, the landscape is pristine. As the second largest game reserve in the world and home to the remarkable black-maned lion, this game reserve is a must-do for safari-goers.

Why in January?
The wet season sweeps the plains of the desert and the rain transforms the red sand to green grazing fields that allure predators and creates a playground for migratory birds. With less competition for the best seat in the house, January is a great month to experience the serene natural beauty of the remote African plains.

What to see?
A highlight of this season is the migration of zebras, elephants and buffalo. The trampling herds create an out-of-this-world spectacle and with many young calves stretching their legs, this season is perfect for witnessing the circle of life in action.

Pro tip:
Look up! The birdlife is like no other in this reserve. With resident and migratory birds dancing through the skies, bird-lovers can expect to fix their binoculars on eagles, pelicans, flamingos and giant eagle owls.
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Galapagos islands

The volcanic archipelago shelters a wide range of species of plants and animals, making it one of the most appealing destinations for wildlife-lovers. Make the most of your safari by gliding through the islands and discovering the hidden treasures of this tropical paradise.

Why in January?
As a peak season, life in the Galapagos Islands is full of colour and radiance. The sprinkles of rain and moderate temperatures create stunning tropical vistas and an ideal landscape for the wildlife birthing season.

What to see?
With brightly-coloured iguanas scattering at your feet, giant turtles laying their eggs and unique birdlife exhibiting their natural beauty, this tiny pocket of paradise is a trending destination for wildlife-lovers.

Pro tip:
The crystal-clear waters make January the ideal month to go snorkelling. Explore the magical underwater world with rainbow-coloured fish, clusters of sharks and unparalleled flowing fauna. 
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