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Safari in January: Best African Safari Destinations to Visit

by Cris Puscas

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Most African countries enter the “Green Season” in January, while a few of them benefit from a short dry spell.

The “Green Season” is a special time that falls between or right after the annual rainfall. Knowing that water is abundant and the vegetation green, wildlife moves away from the waterholes and rivers. The movement triggers large wildebeest and zebra migrations in both Southern and Eastern Africa.

Traditionally, the “Green Season” is not an ideal time to go on a safari. This is because the animals are no longer concentrated around water sources and the lush vegetation makes them harder to spot.

With high termperatures combined with humidity, some travelers may find it to be a less than pleasant time to visit Africa.

That said, there are gems that are still perfect to visit during this time of the year! If you go to the right African destination in January, it can be the best time to go on a safari.

Here, we you’ll find a list of the  best national parks and reserves for an African safari in January.

Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Zebras in Samburu National Reserve Kenya

Photo credit Ninaa via Flickr

January in East Africa means fewer crowds than during the main dry season.

The short downpour in October & November trigger the Wildebeest Migration. Around January / February there’s a short dry spell which, although difficult to predict, can offer excellent game viewing in Samburu.

Heading to this area in January means you get to see the wildebeest and zebra foals as well as all the predators.

Samburu National Reserve is now home to some legendary game viewing in classic African landscapes. Since it’s the low season, the accommodation rates are affordable making January the best time to go on a budget safari.

» Want to visit Samburu but you are overwhelmed with planning? Read our detailed guide to visiting Samburu National Reserve.


Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Wildebeest in Serengeti, Tanzania

Photo credit: Richard Mortel via Flickr

Just like in Kenya, the Green Season in Tanzania means it’s the wildebeest calving season. As many as 8,000 wildebeest calves are born daily in Serengeti National Park.

The predators – lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, and jackals – are always present to grab the easy pretty. The game drives will put you right in the middle of the action.

Do remember that the Great Migration is trigged by the rain falls so make sure to ask your safari operator about the best time to visit if your primary goal is to see the baby animals.

» Planning to head to Serengeti this month? Read our detailed guide to visiting Serengeti National Park.


Kruger National Park, South Africa

Leopard in Kruger, South Africa

You may be delighted to hear that South Africa is charming at this time of the year.

The weather is perfect for road trips and the famous Garden Route attracts travelers from all over the world.

In the rest of Southern Africa, the big game parks in Botswana and Zambia are closed due to the heavy rains. But if you are after big game viewing, Kruger National Park is still superb in spite of rain being a possibility here, too. 

Take advantage of the season’s beauty and fly into Cape Town. Explore the Garden Route, then hop on a flight from Port Elisabeth to Kruger.

» Want to visit Kruger but don’t know where to start with the planning? Read our detailed guide to visiting Kruger National Park.


Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

gorillas in Biwindi, Uganda

Photo credit: Tashobya

There’s a short dry spell in January, which makes Bwindi Impenetrable National Park an excellent choice for a gorilla trekking safari.

With less rain around it’s easier to trek in the jungle. Nevertheless, remember to carry waterproof equipment with you all the time since you’ll be in the jungle (where the probability of rainfall is higher).

It’s also important to know that due to the limited number of permits available per day and because January is a popular time for gorilla trekking, it’s best to book the safari well in advance.

» Learn more about gorilla trekking in Uganda


Kalahari Desert, Botswana

flower in kalahari botswana

While the rainy season is in full swing in northern Botswana, the arid Kalahari Desert receives far less rain. It turns from red to green, attracting animals and birds.

The rains trigger the zebra migration in the desert through Nxai Pan National Park and Makgadikgadi Pan National Park. The commotion attracts a lot of predators, too.

January is also the prime time for birdwatching as the desert becomes home to migratory birds.

Take advantage of an area that doesn’t really get too crowded and enjoy game viewing in a spectacular landscape. You definitely won’t regret it!


Excited to explore the beauty of Africa? Book one of the migration safaris and allow the adrenaline rush to fill your body!

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