From the cute and cuddly to the downright breathtaking, March brings with it a flock of epic animal encounters and natural wonders.
Visit thundering waterfalls in South America or spot kaleidoscopic birdlife in the Caribbean; try your luck tracking Shere Khan through the Indian jungle; or coo over baby Pandas and admire the spring blossoms in China.
Spot dazzling birdlife and watch nesting sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago
This emerald isle afloat off the coast of South America is everything you’d expect from a Caribbean paradise – palm-fringed beaches, relaxed pace of life, sunshine – and plenty you might not expect. Rather than big cruise ships and package tourists, little Tobago attracts nature-lovers, snorkelers and divers.
March has the fine weather you’d want on a beach holiday, but also brings nesting sea turtles – green, leatherback and hawksbill – who return to the patches of sand from which they hatched to lay their own eggs. Watch – with care – as the lumbering females haul themselves ashore, or join monitoring and conservation programs to help these threatened beauties. Sprawling across the eastern end of the island, Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve is bustling with birdlife – more than 200 species call the island home, including dazzling hummingbirds – and spectacular snorkelling can be enjoyed at various points around the coast.
- Trip plan: Tobago’s international airport is at its far western tip, and most beaches and resorts are along the southwest coast, though the natural attractions lie at the opposite (eastern) end of the island.
- Need to know: All three species of sea turtle found on and around Tobago are in trouble – hawksbill turtles are critically endangered. Be careful not to harm or disturb nesting turtles.
- Other months: Jan-May – warm, dry; Jun-Dec – heavy but usually short downpours.
Gawp at Brazil’s mighty Iguazú Falls in full flow
A spectacle with a split personality – is it Iguazú or Iguaçu? – these hundreds of mighty cataracts arcing nearly 2 miles (3 km) thunder 269 ft (82m) down into a gorge dividing southern Brazil from a slender finger of Argentina. While January and February are hottest and most humid, they also bring most visitors from those two countries. By March, crowds have thinned, the weather is becoming more temperate and less damp, but the falls are still dramatically powerful.
This isn’t a point, shoot and leave kind of spot: the falls are surrounded by luxuriant rainforest, a national park with several excellent (and easy) walking trails bustling with wildlife and providing various views of the cataracts, most famously the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat), into which half the flow plunges.
- Trip planner: Beyond the falls themselves, there’s plenty to see on both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the national park, and a trip south alongside the Paraná River reveals the fascinating remains of 18th-century Jesuit missions. Cross the river to visit Paraguay and complete a week-long tri-country adventure.
- Need to know: There are international airports on both the Argentine and Brazilian sides of the falls.
- Other months: Jan-Feb – busiest, prices high; Mar-May & Sep-Oct – driest; Jun-Aug & Nov-Feb – wet.
Head to Sìchuān, China, to meet pandas and admire spring blooms
Spanning the Tibetan Plateau and the subtropical climes of the east, Sìchuān is a big province with diverse cultures and experiences. Early spring is the ideal time to take a vertical slice through the middle, with blooming flowers and blossoming pear trees.
Capital Chéngdū has its share of temples and parks, but the panda has the strongest pull – specifically the giant panda, of which a chunk of the surviving population of around 1600 live in Sìchuān or the Qinling Mountains just to the north in Shaanxi province. Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base 6 miles (10 km) north of Chéngdū for an introduction, or head to Bifengxia Panda Reserve, which hosts 80 of the monochrome mammals in a larger area. Further north, Jiǔzhàigōu National Park may also harbour giant pandas, though you’d be lucky to spot one – you might, though, see golden monkeys as you walk among the forests, waterfalls and 114 turquoise lakes.
- Trip plan: Fly to Chéngdū and visit Bifengxia to the southwest before making a loop north via historic Lángzhōng to Jiǔzhàigōu.
- Need to know: It’s possible to meet pandas on a volunteer placement at Bifengxia.
- Other months: Nov-Mar – very cold at altitude; Apr-Jun – most pleasant; Jul-Aug – very hot and humid; Sep-Oct – autumn.
For the best chance of spotting Shere Khan visit Madhya Pradesh, India
If you want to encounter the world’s biggest big cat, Panthera tigris, central India’s the place to come – and March is the time, when the dry season has taken its toll on grasses, visibility is better and wildlife gathers at waterholes. Perhaps only 3000 (or even fewer) of these endangered carnivores survive across the 13 tiger range countries, of which two-thirds are in India.
Take a few jeep safaris in the cluster of tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh for a fighting chance of earning your stripes with a sighting. Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Tadoba-Andhari and Pench – reputedly the patch that inspired Kipling’s Jungle Book – all harbour (relatively) healthy tiger populations, as well as species such as leopards, sloth bears, monkeys and profuse birdlife. Though tiger sightings are less reliable at Satpura, it’s possible to walk and even kayak in this reserve – both electrifying experiences.
- Trip plan: The most convenient airport is Nagpur. It’s fairly easy to combine safaris in two or more of the reserves, and add on visits to the temples of Khajuraho (famed for erotic carvings) or even the palaces of Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal.
- Need to know: Most tiger reserves, except Tadoba-Andhari, close to tourists during the monsoon, from mid-June to September.
- Other months: Oct-Jan – dry, thick vegetation; Feb-May – dry, warming; Jun-Sep – monsoon.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our book Where To Go When for 360 ultimate escapes from family-friendly adventures to animal encounters and relaxing retreats.