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Choose a month to travel and discover the best places to visit at that time of year...
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In the UK, the bleak month of January may only be brightened by New Year celebrations, but elsewhere the weather is at its best for exploring. The harsh but dazzlingly beautiful landscapes of Antarctica are more easily accessible at this time of year, when the sea ice breaks and the sun shines near on 24 hours a day. The best time to travel to Botswana is in January and wildlife lovers should head to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Rainfall sweeps across the grasslands attracting an abundance of animals feeding on the sudden bounty of vegetation. For culture seekers, January is the month to explore the impressive temples of Angkor in Cambodia when oppressive heat and heavy rain makes way for cooler temperatures and clear skies. In January, Colombia is also in the middle of its dry season, making this the ideal time for excursions around the country’s colonial cities, pre-Columbian sites and coffee plantations.
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, with 24 hours of daylight to be expected in the first few weeks. 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.
Located so close to the equator, Colombia doesn’t experience a great deal of temperature fluctuation throughout the year, although where you are in terms of altitude will obviously play a part. However, visit during the dry season from December through to March and your holiday is less likely to be hampered by heavy rain. This is the best time to explore on foot: wander the picturesque streets of Cartagena or discover Bogotá’s hip versus historic districts; pore over local market stalls; walk among the lush plantations of the Coffee Triangle, learning about the production process from bean to table; and finish up with well-deserved relaxation time on the idyllic beaches of Colombia’s Caribbean coastline.