As most of the world celebrates new beginnings with the start of the new year, we look at the best destinations for where to holiday in January – unsurprisingly a month of many festivities and, elsewhere, the perfect climatic conditions for exploring.In Africa, the Timkat festival in Ethiopia is a jubilant and soulful celebration by Orthodox Christians, and visitors to Lamu, Kenya can watch incredibly exciting dhow racing. Over in India, the colourful kite festival (Uttarayan) in Gujurat is the biggest celebration in the region each year, when innumerable kites take to the sky to rejoice the day when winter turns to summer in the Indian calendar. This is also the time for harvest festival throughout India, but it is best experienced in Kerala & Tamil Nadu where painted cattle roam free and delicious, special festival dishes are made and shared.
The best time to visit this vast, icy wilderness is between November and March. Known as the austral summer, tough sea ice begins to melt and expeditions can make their way through the icebergs and sheet ice to land. January itself features longer hours and less extreme temperatures – and, what’s more, it is the perfect time to spot baby seals and newly hatched chicks in large penguin colonies on the shore.
One of the world’s largest wildlife reserves is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, however wildlife can be tough to spot because of the generally dry and arid environment, which sees the animals scatter. Although January can be one of the warmer months, it is also a period of good rainfall – turning the valleys and pans of the Central Kalahari a lush green, bursting with nutritious grasses. With this come herds of antelope, giraffe and blue wildebeest, naturally followed by predators – cheetahs, leopards, black-backed jackals and Kalahari black-maned lions. January also spells the low season for tourists, due to heavy rain that comes in bursts during the day. But if you can cope with the rains, you will have the area – and the animals – all to yourself.
Cambodia often experiences extremely hot temperatures and high rainfall, but January is the exception and the best time to visit in regards to the climate. During this month, the weather is cooler and drier, making it the best time to head out to explore impressive temples like Angkor Wat, and enjoy relaxing boat trips along Tonle Sap Lake.