January is in the middle of Southern Africa’s (Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia) wet season. Despite the huge 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.
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 are preparing to get ready 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 have the opportunity to 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 are able to drive off-road, and participate in nature walks and night game-drives.
RWANDA AND UGANDA
January is a popular time to visit Rwanda and Uganda due to warm, sunny weather and mostly dry days. Being mountainous countries with rainforest, both Rwanda and Uganda receive rain year-round, but January is typically a time of year that receives the least making for much more pleasant conditions when trekking the endangered mountain gorilla.
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.
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.