Zebra on the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana's Green Season
For many travellers a safari in Botswana is a once in a lifetime experience and timing it correctly is key to its success. So when is the best time to go? Peak travel season in Botswana is from July to the end of October but that doesn’t mean that travelling at another time of the year will be less rewarding.
From November to March, the rains come and the Okavango Delta is transformed into a green and verdant land. The sky is clear, temperatures are pleasant and when it does rain, the storms are dramatic but short lived. Water breathes new life into the bush, flowers bloom everywhere, wildlife begin to calve and with all the vulnerable youngsters running around, predators are attracted to the ready supply of food. The water also gives rise to a proliferation of insect life and abundant fish which draws in colourful summer migrants, making it an ideal time for ornithologists.
Beyond the Okavango Delta, the Makgadikgadi Pans see the start of the largest zebra and wildebeest migration in southern Africa and towards the end of the green season the mega herd has worked its way around to the Central Kalahari. On top of all this, significantly lower prices make it an ideal time to visit this relatively expensive destination.
For more information on travelling to Botswana during the off season, please visit the Botswana section of our website, or speak to a Botswana specialist directly on 01993 838 530.
Large bungalow with a pluge pool in the Maldives
2: The Maldives
Despite its name, the wet season in the Maldives still offers plenty of sunshine. Between May and December evening thunderstorms can roll in but they are generally short lived and do little to disrupt the idyllic island atmosphere. Travelling off season also means better rates, making this dreamy destination a far more affordable option at this time of year.
The powder soft sands, turquoise waters and exotic marine life of the Maldives make it an alluring option. Nestled in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are made up of hundreds of tiny islands and lagoons scattered as far as the eye can see. Coral reefs glisten just below the water’s surface and the region is a haven for divers. You can take a nocturnal fishing trip on a traditional boat (a dhoni), snorkel round the reefs, indulge at an underwater spa or just sit back and relax.
A barefoot paradise, the islands offer the opportunity to escape from it all but still enjoy great cuisine and stay in some of the world’s best beach resorts. The Maldives can be enjoyed as a standalone destination or as part of a trip to India or Sri Lanka.
For more information on travelling to the Maldives during the off season, please visit the Maldives section of our website, or speak to a Maldives specialist directly on 01993 838 310.
St Petersburg, Russia
Russia is somewhere that conjures up images of snowy expanses and big fur hats. Despite this, most people choose to visit in the summer months and avoid the cold. However, if nippy temperatures don’t put you off, winter is a wonderful time to visit.
Because of the predictability of a Russian winter the whole country is geared up for sub-zero temperatures. Public transport functions perfectly, roads and pavements are cleared on a daily basis and every museum, restaurant and bar has cloakrooms to leave your coats and hats.
Although you can expect temperatures of down to minus 15 degrees, Russia looks its best in winter. The golden onion domes and church spires are resplendent with a dusting of snow, the furs come out, and you’ll see a Russia that may well come close to the country of your imagination.
In addition, world famous sites such as the Hermitage are far less busy than in summer, with hardly any of the big tour groups visiting at this time of year. Prices are also significantly lower, making it ideal for an off season trip.
For more information on travelling to Russia during the off season, please visit the Russia section of our website, or speak to a Russia specialist directly on 01993 838 230.
Sleeping koala, Cape Otway National park, Australia
Most people visit Australia during our winter, however, in places the heat is uncomfortable and a visit during the Australian winter (June to August) can have unexpected benefits.
If you are interested in Australian wildlife an off season trip to Adelaide is well worth considering. Adelaide is the gateway to Kangaroo Island, one of the best places to view Australia’s unique wildlife. Reached by a 30-minute flight, the island’s cooler temperatures mean that the resident kangaroos, echidnas and koalas can be seen throughout the day rather than just at dawn and dusk.
Follow it up with a trip to Arkaba Sheep Station, in the South Australian outback. You will find an incredible variety of birdlife here as well as numerous kangaroos and yellow-footed wallabies. Touring is much more pleasant in the cooler temperatures and you can take your pick from walking trails, scenic flights and 4x4 tours.
Finish your trip with a relaxing stay on Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s winter is the dry season here and there is excellent snorkelling and diving just a short boat ride away.
For more information on travelling to Australia during the off season, please visit the Australia section of our website, or speak to an Australia specialist directly on 01993 838 810.
Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia is as beautiful as ever but at its most peaceful in its winter. The southern hemisphere winter is from June to August, and this time of year gives ample opportunity to admire the stunning landscapes and get your adventurous fill of the great outdoors.
The Lake District regions of both Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia offer some good skiing opportunities, plus a wealth of cosy accommodation with roaring log fires, excellent wines and hearty meals with dishes typical of the region. Further south, the Perito Moreno Glacier (near to the town of El Calafate in Argentina) is another great destination to visit in the winter. You can trek on the glacier itself, and the advantage of going at this time of the year is that there is often a layer of snow on the glacier, which makes it easier to tackle with your crampons. The colours and hues of the glacier and the mini icebergs in the lake around it are also intensified by the snowy contrasts. Over into Chile, the stunning Torres del Paine National Park can get a little crowded at its key viewpoints in the peak travel season, so if you find yourself down here in the winter you will not feel like you have to share the views.
For more information on travelling to Patagonia during the off season, please visit the Patagonia section of our website, or speak to a Patagonia specialist directly on 01993 838 630.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
6: Laos & Cambodia
Laos and Cambodia have very pronounced travel seasons. Peak season runs from November to March when the temples of Angkor in Cambodia and the UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang in Laos are at their busiest. However, the monsoon or ‘green’ season from May to October brings out some of the best features of the region.
Water is the lifeblood of the area and as the rain comes down the tropical jungle vegetation becomes lush and dense. The moats surrounding the temples at Angkor, dry for much of the year, fill up, enhancing the majesty of this former empire. The Tonle Sap lake, a day trip from the temples, is at its best as stilted villages appear to hover on the water’s surface and small boats can take you deeper into these floating communities.
The Mekong River is also at its most beautiful. Waterfalls near Luang Prabang are a torrent of water and as river levels rise you can cruise easily along the Mekong from northern Thailand to Laos, an atmospheric and serene journey. Best of all, tropical downpours are usually short lived, fall in late afternoon and are considered by most a refreshing interlude from the heat.
For more information on travelling to Laos and Cambodia during the off season, please visit the Southeast Asia section of our website, or speak to a Southeast Asia specialist directly on 01993 838 160.