As the year 2020 peeks its head over the horizon, 366 days of epic adventures, cultural experiences, foodie forays and wondrous wildlife encounters stretch out before you. But it can be hard to know where to start.
Here is the pick of the perfect passport-fillers for January.
Where are the best places to visit in January for wildlife and nature?
To some, Africa may represent the heart of the animal kingdom, with opportunities to spot incredible wildlife all year round. But January presents particularly optimal conditions to venture deep into the Ugandan rainforest in search of the country’s endangered mountain gorilla. Limited permits are available each year so be sure to plan ahead. On the vast plains of the Serengeti, meanwhile, you’ll find thousands of grazing wildebeest loading up on calories before calving season at the end of the month and their mind-blowing migration across crocodile-infested waters in April.
A world away in Poland’s wintry wildernesses, it’s time to put down the smartphone and tap into your primal intuition on an expedition tracking wolves, bison and elk footprints through the snow. At the end of the world in Antarctica temperatures “soar” to freezing point (or a little above) and near-permanent daylight mean endless, warm days (well, it’s all relative) for catching sight of the sprawling penguin colonies with their newly-hatched chicks, seal pups and whales as well as sailing between gargantuan icebergs twinkling in the sunlight.
Where are the best places to visit in January for culture?
The year may have only just got underway but the world’s cultural offerings are already in full swing. Keep the seasonal celebrations going by donning your fanciest frocks to waltz your way around Vienna’s glamorous winter balls, rubbing shoulders with the city’s rich and famous. Away from the opulence of Austria’s opera houses, Ethiopia’s most ancient sites begin their Christmas (or Leddet or Gena) celebrations, which start here on 7 January, followed by Timkat, a celebration commemorating Jesus’ baptism that prompts impassioned overnight vigils and large-scale ceremonial baptisms.
For an alternative to the seasonal celebrations, head to Australia’s largest city for the Sydney Festival, an eclectic three-week showcase of burlesque acts, circus and dance performances, art installations and family activities. If you’re looking to gently cruise into the new year, take the pace down a notch or two in Myanmar as you drift serenely along the Ayeyarwady River on a boat tour or watch the sun set beyond the ethereal spires of Bagan’s temples.