Our advice for the adventurous hoping to travel in November: aim high. From the ‘Roof of Africa’ to a Nicaraguan volcano, Thailand’s lofty rice paddies to Oregon’s snow-capped Mt Hood, you’ll find your kicks when you see, scale and ski down these mountains.
Head for the hills and find unforgettable thrills with these travel suggestions from our experts.
Explore Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains for a unique high
Ethiopia is known as the ‘Roof of Africa’ – it has more mountains than any other country on the continent. Its highest peak, 15,157ft (4620m) Ras Dashen, sits within Ethiopia’s most striking landscape, the Simien range. Geologically speaking, there’s nowhere else like this extraordinary swath of basaltic peaks, pinnacles, gullies and escarpments, which have been eroded over millions of years. It’s prime trekking terrain, with options ranging from day hikes along ancient paths to a two-week traverse. All routes reveal jaw-dropping views, tiny time-warp villages and, with luck, endemic wildlife – from walia ibex to gelada monkeys. Dry November, when the countryside is still lush from the rains, is an ideal month.
- Trip plan: From capital Addis Ababa, travel north via Gondar’s castles and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela to Debark (the Simiens’ hub). Here, arrange a multi-day hike; for example, spend five to 10 days hiking from Sankaber to Ras Dashen via the Geech Abyss and the breathtaking Imet Gogo lookout.
- Need to know: Altitude sickness is common in Ethiopia – even Addis Ababa is at 7726 ft (2355m). Stay well-hydrated and acclimatise before strenuous activity.
- Other months: Nov-Feb – dry, cool; Mar-Apr – warming; May-Jun – warmer, some rain; Jul-Oct – rainy (Jul-Aug: wettest).
Oregon has early ski fun, with a macabre edge
Mt Hood, a 11,250ft (3429m) stratovolcano amid the Cascade Range, has North America’s longest ski season. You can swoosh down the glaciers here in mid-June. However, the winter season usually starts early November, as the snow begins to dump and the full range of pistes becomes runnable. Mt Hood’s Timberline ski area has 41 runs (25% beginner, 50% intermediate, 25% advanced), plus the Pacific Northwest’s longest vertical drop. It also has characterful old Timberline Lodge, built in 1937 as part of a public works program during the Great Depression, and now designated a National Historic Landmark. It’s the state’s only ski-in hotel, and even played a role in The Shining movie. It’s an atmospheric place to stay whether you’re a powder hound or not.
- Trip plan: Bar-hop in Portland before heading to Timberline. Group and private ski/snowboard lessons are available. The lodge has a sauna, hot tub and heated outdoor pool (open year-round).
- Need to know: Timberline is 62 miles (100km) east of Portland; Mount Hood Express buses run from Sandy (east of Portland) to the lodge.
- Other months: Nov-May – snow; Jun-Aug – summer skiing; Sep-Oct – possible skiing, dependent on conditions.
Escape to the hills in Northern Thailand
They call north Thailand Lanna – ‘the land of a million rice fields’. Indeed, this cool, mountainous realm is terraced with paddies, abundant in fruit trees and filled-in with rampant jungle. It’s an ideal retreat in November: the rains have just ended, leaving everything green, yet temperatures are still warm (23-26°C; 73-79°F); from December to February, nights are pretty chilly. Laid-back Chiang Mai is the main hub – book a cookery course, haggle at the markets and arrange forays into the hills. Head to Mae Sariang (near the Burmese border) or the Golden Triangle (north of Chiang Rai) to trek among waterfalls and hill tribes. Staying with families in their bamboo stilthouses gives greater insight; witness their distinctive dress, and help with cooking or tea picking. While in the north, you can also cycle amid paddies and ruins, and admire the old teak houses of Lampang and Phrae.
- Trip plan: Fly (70 minutes) or take the train (13 hours) from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Allow three/four days for hill-tribe treks; allow seven/10 days for more exploration. Phuket is lovely in November, if you want to add on beach time.
- Need to know: Loi Krathong festival, when candlelit baskets are floated downriver, usually falls in November. It’s best seen in the north.
- Other months: Nov-Feb – cool, dry; MarMay – hot; Jun-Oct – wet.
Head to Nicaragua for active volcanoes and activities galore
Things are a-bubbling in Nicaragua – and we’re not talking about its many active volcanoes. There’s a sense that this previously troubled nation is on the cusp of becoming Central America’s Next Big Thing. It has all the attractions – colonial towns, beaches, wildlife, adventures – but few tourists. It’s a particularly good choice for families, thanks to a wealth of available activities (zip lining, river kayaking, volcano boarding), a relaxed vibe and a population that adores children. November is a great month, with the countryside fresh from recent rains yet the weather dry and warm (20-28°C; 68-82°F). You might even see olive ridley turtles nesting at Isla Juan Venado (they visit August to December).
- Trip plan: From capital Managua head to colonial León. From here, visit Isla Juan Venado and climb the active slopes of Cerro Negro volcano. Veer south for surf lessons at Pacific-coast Playa los Cardones. Stop at a cacao plantation en route to Lake Nicaragua and volcanic Ometepe Island. Then delve into cloud forest for zip lining and monkeys, take carriage rides around elegant Granada and take a short flight to the Corn Islands, for Caribbean snorkelling and relaxation.
- Need to know: Nicaraguan currency is the córdoba; many places accept US dollars.
- Other months: Nov-Apr – dry, warm; MayJun – hot, rains start; Jul-Oct – wettest (Sep-Oct: worst).
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.