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As most of the world celebrates new year, we suss out the best destinations. Unsurprisingly a month of festivities, many countries offer the perfect conditions for exploring. In Africa, the Timkat festival in Ethiopia is a jubilant and soulful celebration by Orthodox Christians and visitors to Lamu in Kenya can watch the exciting dhow racing. India’s colourful kite festival (Uttarayan) in Gujurat is the biggest celebration in the region each year. Innumerable kites take to the sky to rejoice the day when winter turns to summer. Also in India is the harvest festival, which is best experienced in Kerala and Tamil Nadu where painted cattle roam free and delicious 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 between icebergs and sheet ice to land. Although you may not see as many spectacular ice formations due to the warmth, visitors often get the chance to see the Scott and Shackleton exhibition huts that are usually covered. January has less extreme temperatures and longer hours, the first two weeks tend to see 24 hours of daylight. It is the perfect time to spot baby seals and newly hatched chicks in large penguin colonies on the shore.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the world’s largest wildlife reserves. However, wildlife can be tough to spot because of the generally dry and arid environment that sees 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 bursts of heavy rain. If you can cope with rain, you will have the area and 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. Popular between November and April, January is the driest month and tends to be cooler. The clear blue skies make it the best time to head out to explore impressive temples like Angkor Wat, enjoy relaxing boat trips along the Tonle Sap lake seeing Cambodia’s floating villages and relax on the beaches of the southern coast.