Zanzibar in January

A view of Prison Island

January marks the start of the short dry season in Zanzibar, a period of relatively hot, humid weather that builds gradually from late December and runs through to the beginning of March. Average temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, but January is one of the hotter months, with daytime highs regularly up to 35°C (95°F). Although generally sunny, there may still be the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. These clear quickly however, and won’t disrupt your beach time too much. With sea temperatures of up to 30°C (86°F), they’re unlikely to put you off swimming either, but expect a few blustery days as the north-eastern ‘kaskazi’ wind blows.

The north-eastern kaskasi is a major factor in choosing where to holiday in January. Beaches along Zanzibar’s north and east coasts bear the brunt of the wind – a steady, stiff breeze that’s usually between 20 and 30 km/h (11-17 knots). Wind and waves can also wash seaweed onto the eastern beaches although many resorts make a point of clearing the bathing areas in front of their properties. If you’re a kite surfer all this is great, of course, and the stable, moderate winds are also ideal for beginners. Paje in particular is very popular at this time of year, as is Kiwengwa, although it’s a bit more low-key. If you’re looking for a something more sheltered, then try Kendwa or Ras Kizimkazi. Day trips to the west coast atolls of Chumbe and Prison Island are also ideal at this time of year.

Travel tips

  • January is mango season across Zanzibar and the markets are full of fresh, ripe fruit. It also marks the end of the clove harvest in Pemba, with fragrant piles of the islands’ main export drying in the sun. January is prime time for swimming with whale sharks off Mafia Island and the visibility is at its best over the coral gardens of Chole Bay.

  • Kitesurfing aside, January’s only real disadvantage is the kaskasi wind, which although rarely so strong as to be unpleasant, can nevertheless blow seaweed onto the eastern beaches and erode the sand along the north-eastern coast. The seas may also be too rough for some off-shore dive sites, but there are always other options along the more sheltered west.


Our Recommended Itinerary

The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 1

Nairobi, your arrival
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 2

Early flight into Amboseli
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 3

Amboseli elephant and views of Kilimanjaro
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 4

Into the Masai Mara
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 5

The Mara confluence and paradise plains
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 6

Find the migration

Jun

Jul

Western corridor and Grumeti River

Jul

Oct

Kogatende and the Mara River


day 7

and stay with them

Jun

Jul

Western corridor and Grumeti River

Jul

Oct

Kogatende and the Mara River


day 8

Dunia's big cats
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 9

Make sure you find leopard
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 10

Hot air ballooning and your flight to Rwanda
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 11

Genocide memorial and onwards to Volcanoes
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 12

Your time with the Gorillas
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)
  • The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

day 13

Fly home

View Full Itinerary

You might also like

Matemwe

Matemwe, and neighbouring Kigomani, are the northern-most villages on Zanzibar’s east coast. A quiet fishing community under gently swaying palms, Matemwe village lies half concealed behind a modest line of beachfront resorts, which range from simple cottages to plush private villas. An excellent beach spills into a narrow, sheltered lagoon where dhows and outriggers rest on the tide.…

Bwejuu, Paje & Jambiani

The 10km beach between Bwejuu and Jambiani Village starts relaxed and low key north of Bwejuu, swells with backpackers and kite surfers in Paje, then tapers off gradually into equally understated Jambiani. There’s plenty of excellent midrange and budget accommodation available, though only a handful of resorts that would qualify as exclusive. This stretch of coastline attracts…

Zanzibar in March

Credit: Matemwe Lodge Zanzibar’s main rainy season begins in March, but the first heavy downpours may only arrive mid-month. Until they do, the archipelago remains at its hottest and most humid as the summer winds subside and the beaches bake in the sun. Daily highs reach over 35°C (95°F) before the monsoon hits and brings some relief. Early March is prime beach time across the…

Zanzibar in September

If August is a great time to be on Zanzibar, then September just gets better. It’s one of the sunniest, driest months across the islands, with average daytime temperatures gradually climbing over 30°C (86°F). The southern ‘kusi’ wind has blown steadily since May, but now eases back to a cooling breeze. In Paje some kitesurfing is still possible until October, but the season is…

Ras Kizimkazi

A rarely visited corner of southwestern Zanzibar, Ras Kizimkazi offers a handful of quiet, laid-back lodges, plus a pinch of the ultra-exclusive. The region’s two small villages lie a few kilometres apart, Kizimkazi Dimbani is on the southernmost tip of the island and the busier Kizimkazi Mkunguni is up the coast to the northwest. Most of the region’s tourism revolves around dolphin…

Pemba Island

Credit: alchetron.com About 50km northeast of Zanzibar Island (more accurately, ‘Unguja’) lies the archipelago’s second largest landmass, Pemba. Pemba has forever been Zanzibar’s most green and fertile isle, and most of the cloves for which Zanzibar is famous are grown here. The annual harvest runs from July to January when the scent of drying cloves lingers on every passing…

Popular Zanzibar Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Tropical Zanzibar Island Escape (8 days)

Tropical Zanzibar Island Escape (8 days)

Your dream beach holiday awaits. Explore the coastline of Zanzibar's famed Kendwa beach paradise on this ultra-luxe tour...

 | Tanzania couples safari

Tanzania couples safari

Enjoy the wildlife of Tanzania as well as the paradise of Zanzibar...

Sea view | Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

Tropical African Island Holiday (11 days)

This island getaway to Mafia, Pemba and Zanzibar is ideal for honeymoon couples or anyone looking for white beaches and lots of diving, snorkeling and other ocean activities...

 | Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

This blockbuster Tanzania safari will show you the best of the country's outstanding wildlife and the beach paradise of Zanzibar...

Ready to start your adventure?

Get a free, no-obligation quote from a travel expert

Let's talk about your trip

How can we get hold of you?


Discover Africa needs the contact information you provide, to us to contact you. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime.

Submitting your inquiry

Thank you, your enquiry has been received

Thank you, your enquiry has been received

Reference:

 +27 21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    8AM - 5PM GMT+2