Jan 7, 2011 12:07:51 PM
How to beat the winter blues
New Year’s Eve has been and gone and it doesn’t seem like there’s much to look forward to. Right?
Wrong. There are loads of destination-based activities that are perfect to explore at this time of year and they’re sure to help wash away those winter blues.
Wildlife watching in Antarctica
January and February are the perfect months to visit Antarctica. The continent is experiencing summertime, though don’t be fooled into thinking it will be warm – it won’t, Antarctica never is. But it is at least light.
January is the height of the austral summer, bringing warmer temperatures and up to 20 hours of sunlight every day, penguins are hatching eggs and chicks are feeding. In the late summer months of February and March, whale-watching is at its best, penguin chicks are beginning to fledge and adult penguins are ashore molting.
Soaking up the sun in Miami
The beginning of a new year is the height of the tourist season in Miami. Expect fair weather, crowds of visitors, higher prices than usual and a slew of special events including the Art Deco weekend. February is the last hurrah for northern US residents needing to escape the harsh winter. It brings arts festivals and street parties such as South Beach Wine and Food festival, as well as warm days and cool nights.
Adventure sports in Peru
Cuzco’s human history is Peru’s biggest tourism drawcard, but there’s more on offer. Locals and visitors alike are waking up to the adventure-sport possibilities of a region perched on the eastern edge of the Andes, where you can drop from breathtaking snowy altitudes to the suffocating heat of the Amazon jungle at dizzying speed. While Cuzco’s trekking opportunities are already well known, its biking and rafting routes are now gaining the recognition they deserve. There are extreme sportspeople who have been to Cuzco more than once and never visited Machu Picchu: they’re too busy biking, hiking, running rivers and climbing.
Partying in Taiwan
Shang Yuan, or Taiwan’s lantern festival, is well worth planning your trip around. In 2011 the event falls on 17 January to celebrate the last night of Chinese New Year and it’s full moon.
Celebrations begin with participants releasing lanterns into the night sky. In the capital Taipei, Shang Yuan-related activities include a 15-day festival in Wenxin Forest Park – where giant floats depicting the Chinese New Year animal and other effegies are lit up from within. (Read more about this in January’s Lonely Planet magazine.)
Safari in Namibia
With only a car window separating you from the surrounding white plains, a thermos of early-morning coffee and cameras ready, there are few places that can match the wildlife prospects of dawn in Etosha National Park. Just one day of wildlife watching at a single waterhole can produce literally thousands of sightings, which has justifiably earned Etosha the reputation as one of the best wildlife reserves in the world.
If you have the time to spare, don’t overlook northern Namibia’s other highlights, which run the gamut from lofty plateaus and art-laden caves to hulking meteorites and dinosaur footprints.
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