Where to go on an African Safari in January?

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January is the middle of Southern Africa’s (Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia) wet season. Despite the enormous storms and heavy afternoon downpours, the bonus of travelling at this time of year is the stunning, lush green landscapes, spectacular sunsets and quieter lodges and camps.

For a drier safari experience, Kenya and Tanzania are excellent destinations. February is when the Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration’s calving season is in full swing and all the cats are at their most active as they hunt among the large herds. It is also a good time to go Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda.

Where to go on safari in East Africa in January?

Month Rating (1 star to 5-star)TemperaturesRainfall
KenyaSeasonal Rating = 5-Stars

180C to 280C

TanzaniaSeasonal Rating = 5-Stars

180C to 280C

RwandaSeasonal Rating = 4-Stars

170C to 280C

UgandaSeasonal Rating = 5-Stars

170C to 280C



The Northern Circuit in Tanzania in is a great safari destination in January. The first herds of wildebeest and zebra have migrated back south from the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya to the Ndutu plains between the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. This is where the Mum’s prepare for the calving weeks in February.


Whilst the Great Wildebeest and Zebra migration has headed south, not all of these animals migrate. There are plenty of ‘residents’ that remain in Kenya round. Add to this Kenya’s amazing private conservancies. A safari on a conservancy in Kenya is unique because you can go off-road and experience the wildlife up close and personal, without hordes of other tourists. Unlike national parks and game reserves, the number of vehicles at a sighting on a private wildlife conservancy is strictly limited, you can drive off-road, and participate in nature walks and night game-drives.


January is a popular time to visit Rwanda and Uganda due to warm, sunny weather and mostly dry days. Being mountainous countries with rainforests, both Rwanda and Uganda receive rain year-round. Still, January is typically a time of year that receives the least, making for much more pleasant conditions when trekking the endangered mountain gorilla.

Where to go on safari in Southern Africa in January?

Month Rating (1 star to 5-star)TemperaturesRainfall
BotswanaSeasonal Rating = 2-Stars

190C to 290C

MadagascarSeasonal Rating = 3-Stars

170C to 270C

NamibiaSeasonal Rating = 2-Stars

170C to 300C

South AfricaSeasonal Rating = 3-Stars

190C to 290C

ZambiaSeasonal Rating = 2-Stars

170C to 290C

ZimbabweSeasonal Rating = 2-Stars

200C to 300C



In Botswana, for January, the Central Kalahari is the best place to be. The rain brings back water and green growth from months of no water and dust. Herds of springbok and oryx assemble to graze on new shoots as they move across flower-strewn plains.

The days are mild, with a chance of afternoon showers that may or may not stick around. Some lodges even guarantee sightings of up to 50 different species of birds before breakfast, and the region will be peaceful and quiet for your visit.


In January, Namibia is in the middle of summer. Namibia tends to be hotter and drier in the south and wetter in the north. The high-altitude capital Windhoek, in the middle of the country, has a mild climate.

Summer in Namibia is also when it rains the most. Some days can be hot and sticky, and in the late afternoons, it can rain hard. Due to the heavy rains, it can be hard to get to some parts of the country. But most places don’t get rain all day, every day, and the mornings are usually pretty clear.


The height of Zambia’s summer rainy season comes in January, and most guidebooks will advise you it’s the worst time to visit. By January, torrential rains had rendered Zambia’s dirt and gravel roads impassable, rivers had burst their banks, and several camps and lodges had closed altogether, only to reopen once the waters had receded. Across much of the country, daytime temperatures average around 30°C, with nights around 20°C.


South Africa has two climate zones. The Western Cape (Cape Town area) is in its dry season, whereas game-viewing areas such as Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves are their wet season, but still, an option to combine with Cape Town for a short add-on safari.