January & February are the perfect time of year for a safari drive, with some of Africa’s most impressive safari destinations just waiting to be discovered. The many migrations that are underway, coupled with the temperate weather, means that the New Year offers spectacular experiences across the continent.
With so much to see and take in, we’ve compiled a list of our top safari destinations for the start of 2017 to help you decide where your next safari holiday should be…
Africa has some of the most incredible National Parks in the world, where the varied terrain and breath-taking landscapes is home to incredible wildlife. From the magnificent inland delta of Botswana to the plains of the Serengeti and the Namib Desert, each country offers its own unique experience.
The climate in Southern and Eastern Africa during January is mostly warm and clear, with occasional rain that encourages the growth of an abundance of greenery, making it a particularly beautiful time of year to visit. Safaris at the beginning of the year are also a great time to spot plenty of big cats, as many of the great migrations are underway, whilst migrating birds fill the sky with their vibrant colours and brilliant plumage.
We’ve compiled a round-up of the best African safari destinations this January & February.
Tanzania is home to ‘The Great Migration’, offering perhaps the ultimate game experience in Africa and your best chance to see the animal kingdom; one of the most popular reasons for going on a self-drive safari.
Millions of animals make the annual migration across Tanzania towards Kenya in the east, in search of water. In January, millions of wildebeest and zebra roam through the Nogorongoro Conservation Area, attracting predators such as lions, cheetahs and leopards. Another spectacular sight is the wildebeest river crossing, where the herd traverses the Mara River, braving the raging torrents and the deadly crocodiles that lurk there.
Perhaps one of the most exciting and beautiful safari destinations, over 30% of the country is dedicated to National Parks. The Serengeti National Park is one of Africa’s most famous reserves, whilst the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the largest volcanic craters in the world and an excellent place to spot the so-called ‘Big Five’ – lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinoceros.
January is known as Tanzania’s ‘short dry season’, with dry conditions before the long rains begin in March. Private campsites located deep in the heart of the many national parks make Tanzania the perfect January destination, with pleasant weather, spectacular sights and extraordinary experiences just waiting to be discovered.
Botswana is a stunning country at any time of year but the green season is an especially beautiful time of year, particularly when visiting the national parks in Moremi and Chobe. With so much to see, a self-drive safari is the perfect way to experience this corner of African paradise, discovering vistas that will take your breath away and the wonderful array of game that roam free there.
An itinerary in Botswana will take you through the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta system, the salt pans of Makgadikgadi and the flowing currents of the Savute Channel. The Savute Channel is particularly impressive; having not flowed for more than 30 years the channel is now in full flow all year round, resulting in an abundance of wildlife and game who have returned.
The green season also brings with it new life, as the impala and wildebeest begin to calve. Whilst seeing these beautiful young animals explore their surroundings is an incredible experience, it also presents danger, attracting plenty of predators. Botswana boasts a fantastic range of wildlife, including not just the Big Five but other fascinating creatures, such as giraffes, antelopes, puku and hippopotamuses, not to mention over 150 different species of reptile.
Every destination would usually be the crowning jewel in a safari by itself but Botswana is home to all of these and more. With such a diverse range of both wildlife and scenery, all coming into their most beautiful and dynamic seasons, the start of a new year is one of the best times to experience this stunning part of Southern Africa.
South Africa is one of the best destinations for your first self-drive safari, comprising stunning landscapes, extraordinary wildlife and fantastic accommodation to make an unforgettable holiday. Because of its varying regional climates and multiple opportunities to see impressive wildlife, South Africa is a year-round destination but the cooler weather in January & February presents the best opportunities to see big game, whilst the northern rains make it a great time to travel for birding.
Cape Town itself offers a great base from which to explore this vast and majestic country, allowing you to unwind either at the beginning or end of your safari. The winelands are a particularly popular destination and whale watching offers yet another unique experience in a country full of surprises.
The Kruger and Sabi Sands offer some of the best game viewing locations in the world, with the Big Five roaming in abundance. There are many safari camps and lodges that offer unrivalled hospitality, helping to guide you through your holiday and explore the lesser-known stretches of the region.
It isn’t just about the wildlife; the Namaqualand has stunning flora on display, as well as being home to the world’s smallest tortoise, the Speckled Padloper. Also unique to South Africa is the black maned lion that roams through the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park just north of the Namaqualand.
The 300km stretch of good roads across the Garden Route make South Africa the perfect introduction to this vast and beautiful continent, offering amazing experiences through the scenic coastline along the Western Cape. If you’re looking for your first safari experience, South Africa is a destination like no other.
Another excellent destination for your first self-drive safari, Namibia has epic wildlife and landscape viewing, with excellent roads making the country as accessible as it is breath-taking. Sometimes known as ‘Africa for Beginners’, Namibia is best travelled by vehicle, traversing through the diverse regions and getting the full experience that Namibia has to offer.
The exceptional road network is in part due to Namibia’s commitment to making it the perfect destination for a safari adventure, with stunning lodges and campsites, all in one of the safest places to travel. Having embraced touring safaris, the locals are friendly, making you feel welcome during your travels, whatever kind of experience you are seeking.
In terms of sights, Namibia has plenty to offer, from the stunning desert wilderness of the Damaraland to the must see wildlife in Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s most incredible reserves. If the haunting dunes of Sossuvlei and the ship wrecks strewn across the Skeleton Coast weren’t enough, there’s also the unspoilt treasures of Kaokoland and the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere, the Fish River Canyon.
If you’re slightly nervous about embarking upon a self-drive safari, Namibia will show you the very best of Africa that, truly, can only be experienced in person. As an introduction to Africa, Namibia is for many people just the beginning of a long and enduring love affair with this stunning continent.
Regardless of when or where you chose to go, Africa is full of opportunities and safari destinations that are as vast as the land itself. There really is something for everyone.
So whether you choose to follow the Great Migration through Tanzania, opt for game spotting in South Africa or decide to photograph the beautiful sand dunes of Namibia, your safari experience will explore some of the best sights and sounds that Africa has to offer; as long as you’re able to settle on a destination, that is!
For more information on our safari drive destinations contact our expert team. We offer free consultations, and would be happy to help you create a bespoke safari of your dreams.