African Delights: Unveiling Warm Places to Vacation in January

Jabulile Ngwenya in a red hat
Curated By

Jabulile B. Ngwenya

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  • Tanzania

  • Seychelles

  • South Africa

  • Namibia

  • Botswana

  • Morocco

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Local Culture

  • Multi-Country

  • Architecture

African Delights: Unveiling Warm Places to Vacation in January
Curator’s statement

As the northern hemisphere shivers in winter's grip, my heart is drawn south, where Africa basks in the glory of summer, making it one of the best warm places to vacation in January.

January here is a celebration of warmth, vibrant colors and the joyous rhythm of life. The allure lies in sun-drenched landscapes, the soothing sound of waves, and the lively bush teeming with new life. In the Southern Hemisphere, Africa rings in the new year with musical festivities and a kaleidoscope of hues. Join me on a journey to the warm embrace of the African sun, where summer dresses, ice cream strolls and nature's symphony await. Let's turn the page on winter and step into the warmth of an African January.

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Where to stay

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Supreme comfort deep in the Serengeti, with uninterrupted views of the savannah and elevated rooms designed to connect you with nature.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

Zuri Zanzibar

A luxury beachfront resort in Zanzibar offering a blend of tropical serenity and exotic Swahili design, set against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean.

Fora Perks
  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles

Serene hilltop Four Seasons retreat perched in Seychelles offering world-class service, local experiences and yacht services.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

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Sun-Kissed January Escape: Why Tanzania is Your Perfect Warm-Weather Refuge

The average temperature range in January is approximately 19°C to 31°C (66°F to 88°F).

In the embrace of Tanzania's January warmth, a journey unfolds, painting the Serengeti in hues of gold and green. Here, nature orchestrates the wildebeest calving miracle—a spectacle under the warm sun, an antidote to winter's bleakness. As the Serengeti awakens, January reveals hidden treasures—the elusive leopards, playful meerkats and graceful gazelles. Continuing to the Ngorongoro Crater, January transforms this Eden into a lush paradise, unburdened by crowds. A private audience with majestic elephants and prowling lions awaits, whether hiking the golden-rimmed crater or descending into its verdant depths.

After days of being in the bush, take a short charter to Zanzibar, awarded Africa’s leading beach destination in 2021 and 2022 at the World Travel Awards. In Zanzibar, the sun paints the ocean in a thousand shades of blue and it's just so peaceful. Vibrant coral reefs beckon for snorkeling, traditional dhows await for sailing, winds whistle for gleeful parasailing, and powdery white sand invites moments of pure bliss—an antidote to winter's chill.

Mafia Island, a secluded gem, whispers secrets of paradise in gentle January breezes. Kayak through mangrove forests, sunbathe on untouched beaches or dive into the vibrant underwater world.

The journey concludes with the Wanyambo Festival—a four-day celebration of music, dance, art, and costumes. Immerse yourself in Tanzanian culture, where welcoming smiles dispel any lingering winter blues. Tanzania in January is an unforgettable embrace of life's vibrant tapestry, a symphony of warmth amid nature's wonders.

Where to stay:
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
Perks: Daily full breakfast; hotel credit up to US$200 to be used for spa, dining or recreation, room upgrade

Zuri Zanzibar
Perks: VIP Status, Welcome note, daily breakfast, room upgrade, a special amenity or local experience

Seychelles: Honeymoon Bliss - Where Paradise Meets Romance

The Seychelles enjoys pleasantly warm weather, with the average temperature hovering around 27°C (81°F).

In Seychelles, January unfurls a canvas of romance, beckoning you into a world where love intertwines with nature's grandeur. Imagine strolling hand-in-hand with your love on Anse Soleil, Mahé, where the warm sand cradles your feet and and sun-kissed waves whisper serenades.

Escape the bustling crowds and discover your private Eden. Snorkel the coral reefs of Curieuse Marine National Park with only colorful fish as your companions or hike through the lush Vallée de Mai on Praslin, home to the iconic Coco de Mer palms.

Seychelles extends beyond just beaches—though they're exquisite! Spent from love-making why don’t you kayak through La Digue's mangrove forests, spotting exotic birds and feeling the interconnectedness of nature. Or perhaps hike to the breathtaking view atop Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé, observing the world unfold beneath you.

With 115 islands Seychelles is the perfect place for an island-hopping adventure, sailing between idyllic islands like Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette. Secluded beaches such as Anse Lazio on Praslin beckon with powdery white sand and turquoise waters. Picture sharing a private catamaran, wind in your hair, island-hopping through paradise, pausing for champagne picnics on deserted coves.

As the sun sets on La Digue's Anse Source d'Argent, renowned for pink granite boulders and crystal-clear waters, envision strolling hand-in-hand along the pristine beach. The setting sun paints the sky in hues of orange and pink, your love story unfolding in this idyllic setting.

Conclude your romantic sojourn with spa indulgence for two at Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Silhouette Island. Rejuvenate and reconnect with opulent spa treatments designed for couples—soothing massages overlooking the ocean, aromatic baths in private gardens, and pampering rituals that leave you feeling more loved up than ever. In Seychelles, love is not merely a sentiment; it's an enchanting odyssey through paradise.

Where to stay:
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
Perks: Daily full breakfast for two people per bedroom; Hotel/Resort Credit to be used for spa and dining to recreation; room upgrade if available; welcome note at check-in

Raffles Seychelles
Perks: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability; Daily Buffet Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom; $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay; Early Check-In / Late Check-Out; Complimentary Wi-Fi

South Africa: Vibrant Cities, Breathtaking Beauty, and a Sip of Sauvignon

The average temperature in South Africa in January ranges from 15°C to 32°C (59°F to 89°F) as the country boasts diverse landscapes and climates.

Embark on an enchanting journey through the heart of South Africa, where every moment is a brushstroke of adventure, natural splendor and culinary delights. The exploration begins in the creative buzz of Maboneng Precinct, where trendy art galleries, hip cafes and vibrant nightlife create an electric atmosphere so typical of Johannesburg, one of my favourite cities. Admire street art masterpieces, shop for unique souvenirs, and soak up the city's creative energy which will always lift your mood. The next days, you must delve into South Africa's poignant history at the Apartheid Museum, a powerful testament to the nation's journey towards freedom.

In Johannesburg, you can also experience an authentic gold mine at Gold Reef City, delight in thrilling rollercoasters, and experience live shows of theatre, song, dance and comedy. After this immersive journey go deeper into the cultural tapestry by exploring Soweto, where history and vibrant local life intertwine. I love the iconic Vilakazi Street, home to both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and feel the pulse of this historic township.

Your onward journey takes you to Cape Town with the iconic Table Mountain, a majestic backdrop to Cape Town's allure, offering panoramic views of the city and coastline, whether ascending by a scenic cable car or indulging in an invigorating hike. Discover Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, a floral paradise nestled in the embrace of natural beauty.

Venture to Boulders Beach and witness the whimsical waddle of African penguins or kayak alongside playful seals in Hout Bay. Cape Town beckons food enthusiasts with diverse offerings, from bustling street markets to Michelin-starred gems. Savor contemporary French cuisine at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, enjoying breathtaking views of Camps Bay and Chef Margot Janse's culinary creations.

Explore Michelin-starred La Colombe, offering an innovative tasting menu in a sophisticated setting. Restaurant Mosaic at The Conservatory, nestled in Kirstenbosch, serves globally inspired dishes with panoramic garden views. In buzzing Kloof Street, The Foodbarn offers contemporary European dishes in a lively atmosphere.

Experience the farm-to-table delights of Oranjezicht City Farm, featuring fresh, seasonal dishes in a rustic setting. Head to The Gin Bar for a trendy and delicious experience with over 500 gins, expertly crafted cocktails, and a tapas-style menu.

Then, escape to the Winelands, where Stellenbosch and Franschhoek's rolling vineyards invite you to sip and savor amid picturesque landscapes. Complete your South African odyssey with a scenic drive along the Garden Route, where quaint coastal towns like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, lush forests, and the majestic coastline create a perfect backdrop for an unforgettable adventure. South Africa unfolds as a tapestry of flavors, landscapes, and memories waiting to be discovered.

Where to stay:
Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa
Perks:Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability; Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom; Complimentary 50 minute massage for up to two people, per room, once during stay; Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, Complimentary Wi-Fi

One & Only Cape Town
Perks: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability; Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom; Beverage credit to be utilized during stay; Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability; Complimentary Wi-Fi

Namibia's Desert Magic: Where Sand Meets Sea

Namibia, like South Africa, offers diverse landscapes and climates, leading to varied average temperatures in January - 20°C to 35°C (68°F to 95°F).

Embark on a January journey through Namibia's warm places to vacation in January, where golden hues paint the landscape, offering a symphony of unique experiences for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Begin your exploration in Sossusvlei, where soaring red dunes stand as sentinels over the surreal spectacle of Deadvlei. Skeleton trees frozen in time create a mesmerizing contrast against the towering dunes. Climb Big Daddy, the highest dune, for panoramic views that will render you speechless.

Next, dive into the quirky charm of Swakopmund, a historic seaside town blending German colonial architecture with vibrant adventure. Here you can go sandboarding down the dunes, experiencing the thrill of skydiving or exploring quirky museums and cafes.

In Damaraland, a land of ancient wonders, desert-adapted elephants roam, black rhinos tread lightly, and the iconic Spitzkoppe rock formation captivates. Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, adorned with ancient rock paintings.

Venture to the Skeleton Coast, where dramatic landscapes unfold with shipwrecks whispering tales of past adventures, the most famous shipwreck being Eduard Bohlen from 1909. Watch playful seals bask on the beaches, embracing the rugged beauty of this coastal marvel.

Cruise the turquoise waters of Walvis Bay, witnessing dolphins frolicking alongside your boat. Kayak through mangrove forests teeming with birdlife or seek thrill in sandboarding on dunes overlooking the lagoon.

Conclude your journey at Sandwich Harbor, where giant sand dunes meet the ocean. Spot pelicans and flamingos, embark on a thrilling 4x4 drive through the dunes, or simply revel in the serenity of this unique meeting point of two worlds.

Where to stay:
Our Habitas Namibia
Perks: Complimentary upgrades and early check-in (subject to availability); Complimentary daily breakfast

Zannier Hotels Sonop
Perks: Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability; Guaranteed 2pm late check-out; Welcome treat in room on arrival; 25 USD hotel credit per room, per stay (valid towards incidentals)

Unleash Your Cultural Odyssey in Senegal, the Gateway to Africa

In Senegal, January falls within the dry season with temperatures ranging from 24°C to 28°C (75°F to 82°F).

In January, Senegal beckons with a vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and natural wonders, promising an immersive journey that awakens the senses and captures the heart.

In the ancient city of Saint-Louis, let griots enchant you with captivating tales, preserving oral history through their mesmerizing performances. Learn the basics of Wolof, the most spoken language, and connect with locals using simple yet profound phrases like "Salam aleikum" (peace be upon you).

Embark on a historical odyssey with a visit to Goree Island, exploring the House of Slaves Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that reflects on Senegal's complex role in the slave trade. Wander through Dakar's vibrant streets, adorned with French colonial architecture, including the Grande Mosquée and the Palais Présidentiel.

Discover the historical charm of Casamance, where ancient stone circles and traditional villages like Ziguinchor echo tales of colonial times through Portuguese forts. Then, find serenity in the stark beauty of the Lompoul Desert, where towering sand dunes create a mesmerizing landscape. Traverse the Sahara on a camel ride under the starlit sky, letting the vastness of the desert seep into your soul.

Explore the Niokhor Wildlife Reserve, a lush haven where chimpanzees, monkeys, and exotic birds thrive. Cruise the Saloum River, witnessing the vibrant tapestry of life in this protected ecosystem. Finally, paddle through the mangroves of the Sine-Saloum Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, encountering pelicans, flamingos, and playful dolphins in a captivating dance of nature. And then in the evening shop for local beautifully crafted souvenirs before filling yourself with delicious Senegalese cuisine like "mafé" (peanut stew) and fresh seafood like thieboudienne (rice and fish).

Where to stay:
Pullman Dakar Teranga

Embrace the Untamed Paradise of São Tomé & Príncipe: Where Nature Reigns Supreme

In São Tomé & Príncipe, January marks the tail end of the "Gravanito" period, a short break within the rainy season - 22°C to 30°C (72°F to 86°F).

In January, São Tomé & Príncipe emerges as one of the warm places to vacation, presenting a vibrant canvas of adventure and untouched beauty, beckoning intrepid travelers to uncover its hidden gems away from the crowds.

Embark on island-hopping adventures, beginning with São Tomé's volcanic delights. Hike the lush slopes of Pico do Príncipe, an extinct volcano draped in rainforests, and explore Boca de Inferno, where waves crash into a volcanic crater, creating a natural wonder.

Unleash your inner explorer in Príncipe, where untouched beauty reigns supreme. Paddle through sun-dappled mangroves in the UNESCO-crowned Island of Príncipe Biosphere Reserve, a haven for vibrant ecosystems. For divers, a tapestry of underwater wonders awaits at Focinho do Cão, Boné de Jóquei, and beyond. Among the kaleidoscope of marine life, encounter playful sharks, graceful turtles, and a dazzling chorus of exotic fish.

Discover secluded beaches like Praia Grande on São Tomé or Anã Chaves on Príncipe, where paradise becomes your own. Relax under swaying palm trees, swim in turquoise waters, and soak up the tranquil ambiance of these warm places to vacation in January.

Nature's enchanting embrace unfolds in lush rainforests, guiding you through guided treks to encounter endemic birds, playful monkeys, and hidden waterfalls like Cascada de Água Izé on São Tomé. Explore the island's rich history of cocoa production by visiting defunct chocolate and coffee plantations such as Roça Agostinho Neto.

Dive into ocean adventures, from deep-sea fishing to paddleboarding along scenic coastlines. Try surfing at Ribeira Funda on São Tomé, embracing the thrill of the open ocean and its diverse marine life.

Immerse yourself in unique island cultures, exploring traditional villages like Santo António on Príncipe with its brightly painted houses and Portuguese colonial architecture. Feel the infectious rhythms of "tchibolo" music and witness colorful "capoeira" dance performances.

Savor culinary delights with fresh seafood dishes, exotic fruits, and local specialties like "calulu" stew. Experience the fusion of African, Portuguese, and Brazilian influences in the island's cuisine, creating a sensory journey that mirrors the diverse allure of São Tomé & Príncipe in January. I bet you none of your friends will have the photos that you will have.

Botswana's Wild Wonders Await: Unforgettable Safaris

Botswana experiences its highest temperatures in January: 20°C to 40°C (68°F to 104°F).

In January, Botswana unveils its wild wonders, painting the landscape in lush emerald hues during the enchanting "green season," a paradise for safari enthusiasts.

Embrace the abundance of wildlife as massive elephant herds gather at watering holes, graceful giraffes browse leaves from verdant trees, and prides of lions find shade beneath the flourishing vegetation. Listen to the melodious symphony of bird calls, featuring species like lilac-breasted rollers, trumpeter hornbills, and migratory European bee-eaters.

As you take in the drama of thunderstorms sweeping across the sky, you’ll marvel at what they leave behind: a vibrant, refreshed landscape. The green season transforms Botswana, offering a unique canvas for unforgettable safari experiences.

Glide through the channels of the Okavango Delta in a traditional mokoro, spotting hippos and crocodiles. Explore the vast Makgadikgadi Pans, where parts transform into temporary lakes, attracting migratory birds and creating a surreal landscape.

In Chobe National Park, witness the incredible concentration of elephants, estimated at around 50,000, as they bathe in the Chobe River and graze on the lush vegetation.

Beyond the wildlife, delve into the rich culture of the San people who have inhabited the Kalahari Desert for millennia. Visit cultural villages, listen to their stories, and gain insights into their harmonious relationship with nature. It’s a one-in-a-million beauty to witness their spiritual practices of blending the unseen and the seen.

Conclude your adventure with a stargazing extravaganza under Botswana's dark skies, marveling at the Milky Way and spotting constellations and shooting stars.

Where to stay:
Xigera Safari Lodge
Perks: Personalised welcome card from the General Manager; Welcome drink on arrival; English Breakfast for two daily; $100 USD Dinning credit per room, per stay; One way transfer from or to LHR for Suite bookings or for Residences; Early check-in & late check-out; Upgrade to the next room category

Sable Alley
Perks: Complimentary Air & Concierge Services

Morocco's Enchanting Charm: Delightful Discoveries

The average temperature in Morocco in January varies depending on the specific location: 5-28°C (41-82°F).

In the heart of January, Morocco unfurls its vibrant tapestry, a captivating blend of bustling cities, majestic mountains, and sun-drenched deserts, inviting every adventurer to partake in a delightful Moroccan odyssey. Morocco stands tall among warm places to vacation in January.

Kick off your journey by immersing yourself in the maze-like alleys of Marrakech's medina. Engage in the vibrant hustle and bustle of colorful souks, negotiating for treasures, and relish mint tea on rooftop cafes, offering panoramic vistas of the iconic Koutoubia Mosque.

Feel the ancient soul of Fes, Morocco's oldest imperial city, as you wander through labyrinthine medinas, explore the renowned Chouara Tannery, and delve into traditional crafts like leatherwork and tile-making.

Casablanca awaits with its Art Deco elegance—stroll along its boulevards, marvel at the grandeur of the Hassan II Mosque, and immerse yourself in the city's contemporary art scene.

Nature's wonders unfold in the High Atlas Mountains, where you can hike or ski amid rugged beauty, explore charming Berber villages, and savor breathtaking panoramic views.

Embark on a Sahara Desert adventure, camel trekking through golden dunes, stargazing under the Milky Way, and embracing the nomadic lifestyle in desert camps.

Discover the coastal charm of Essaouira, renowned for its windswept allure, water sports, and historic medina. Indulge in fresh seafood by the harbor and meander through ancient ramparts.

Bask on the sun-drenched sands of Agadir, a beachfront haven. Experience the thrill of paragliding over the dramatic coastline, explore the Kasbah ruins, and partake in water sports in the turquoise waters.

Wander through the narrow alleys of Chefchaouen, the "Blue Pearl," where every house is adorned in a mesmerizing shade of blue. Absorb the unique atmosphere and uncover hidden artisan shops in this picturesque Moroccan haven. Morocco in January is an enchanting mosaic, a kaleidoscope of experiences waiting to be discovered, making it one of the warm places to vacation in January.

Need to Know

There's so much to experience in each destination and it's easy to get overwhelmed but I do recommend that you ensure you give yourself at least one week to explore one area or region. Safaris are suitable for solo travellers, family members travelling together or large groups. City visits are best if you want to explore the culture of a place intricately, but I suggest beach trips for families with younger children. Reach out and let me plan your idea African vacation!

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Africa. In need of further inspiration? Check out Anny Chen’s trip report, Best Warm Vacation Destinations in January.

Jabulile Ngwenya in a red hat

Travel Advisor

Jabulile B. Ngwenya

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