Our January Safari Forecast
In the African bush, January continues a season of rejoicing. The rains have set in and the wilderness is now green, thick, lush, and adorned with flowers, migratory birds, and baby animals. The crisp, clean air is filled with the sounds of birdsong. For many seasoned safari-goers, this season of plenty is their favorite time to visit the bush.
In Botswana, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is Africa at its most isolated and mystical; a massive desert interrupted by big open grasslands and the geological remains of ancient, now dry riverbeds. January brings heavy summer rains to the Central Kalahari, transforming the harsh, dry landscape into a flourishing paradise. Game densities skyrocket and vast herds of oryx and springbok emerge. The iconic black-maned lions, cheetahs, and even elusive leopards follow the prey.
In Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park features the most diverse fauna of any of the country’s parks. There are grassland savannas, woodlands, wetlands, and lakes among the habitats. This supports a diverse spectrum of big animals and primates. It has one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any nature preserve in the world. This includes an incredible 612 bird species. Wildlife viewing is at its best in the short dry season from January to February.
Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago has a tropical climate, with year-round warm temperatures, but January is warmer than average, making it the ideal time to be oceanside. You can also enjoy ideal scuba diving conditions, catch the tail end of the whale shark migration, and this is the best time of year to try your hand at marlin fishing.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the world’s second-largest reserve and the most isolated in southern Africa. The best time to visit is from January through April, after the rains. The plains are softened by new grass, attracting wildlife in huge numbers, but surprisingly few tourists. Thousands of springboks and gemsbok flock to the beautiful open grasslands, which grow thick with greenery while flowers of all colors, including yellows, blues, and pinks, bloom.
There are also ostriches and giraffes, herds of wildebeest, cheetah, and, of course, the Kalahari’s iconic black-maned lions. Leopards and brown hyenas are common but may prove harder to spot.
The reserve offers an extraordinary contrast to the modern world, with very few camps. Tourists may have the opportunity to learn about the Khoi-San who have lived in this harsh environment for centuries. Witnessing their culture and survival skills, from finding water and making shelters to hunting their prey, is an unmissable experience you won’t soon forget.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is renowned for its tree-climbing lions but has plenty more to offer. The weather in the park is dry in January, making wildlife easier to detect as vegetation thins and animals congregate around water sources.
Amid the jungle-filled Kyambura Gorge, a stunning slice of green in the savanna, drier trails make chimpanzee trekking easier. Tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha region; watching hundreds, if not thousands, of Ugandan kob in the northern Kasenyi Plains; and taking boat cruises along the wildlife-rich Kazinga Channel are among the park’s other unique experiences. The breathtaking scenery, which includes wide plains studded with crater lakes and a distant vista of the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains, is worth seeing in and of itself.
Mozambique: Bazaruto Island.
The six-island Bazaruto Archipelago, off the coastal town of Vilankulo, is home to gorgeous white-sand beaches framed by swaying palms and world-class coral reefs. The archipelago is great in January since it is hot and sunny, though there is a potential for afternoon rain showers.
The amazing underwater world is the centerpiece of the activities here. It is one of the best spots on the African coast to watch whale sharks and manta rays, especially in January. Those who prefer snorkeling and diving will have plenty of options. Surfing, bodyboarding, and swimming are popular, or you can simply relax and enjoy the lovely beaches and hotel pools. In January, there’s a decent chance of sighting nesting turtles along the coast.
Welcoming people and delectable cuisine, top off an ideal vacation. Imagine biting into juicy prawns, spicy chicken, soft Portuguese rolls, and fresh cashew nuts and fruit plucked from the trees.