It’s that time of the year when the winter can’t seem to go by fast enough. There’s an uncomfortable chill in the air, the nights are drawing in and we’re all dreaming of next year’s summer holiday. With that in mind, here are some ideas to keep up your spirits.
Owing to its long, thin shape, Chile is an interesting destination with big extremes in climate and landscape. To the north, the Atacama Desert provides a multitude of incredible experiences, from sand boarding to hot air balloon rides. Watch the sun set in the spectacular valley of the moon with a pisco sour in hand, gaze at the stars, or rise early to see the geysers erupting before taking a dip in a natural hot spring. Further south, the capital of Santiago is rich in culture, and the nearby city of Valparaiso is well worth a visit for its colourful urban paintings. The striated marble caves are famously picturesque. Still further south are a plethora of challenging volcano climbs and, in the very south is arguably the best multi-day hike on Earth: the W Trek in Patagonia.
Mexico is a fantastic country filled with unforgettable experiences. Ancient civilisations have left behind some incredible feats of architecture and you can lose yourself for hours among the ruins. Cool off from the heat with a dip in a cenote, or explore deeper with a scuba tank and discover a world of reflections, rock formations, sulphur clouds and haloclines. The beaches along the Riviera Maya are second to none, and if you venture out by boat you might have the chance to swim alongside a manta ray or whale shark. Inland, you can spot crocodiles as you tour the kilometre-deep Sumidero Canyon, witness ancient ceremonies and browse trinkets in the many souvenir markets. Mezcal tasting tours are a fun way to see the area and learn the methods behind its production, while Laguna Bacalar is a little-known lakeside paradise. What’s more, you can currently save up to 55% off the price of accommodation in some of Mexico’s most sought-after locations if you make the most of a Black Friday travel offer.
Singapore has long been a place people stop in for the night to break up a long journey. Its airport is incredibly handy for transits between the hemispheres. Take some time to explore, though, and you’ll realise it’s a charming modern country with more than enough to keep you entertained for a week or more. Everything is pristine and built to excess, from the towering enclosures and lit-up trees at the Gardens by the Bay to the ridiculously indulgent infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. If you have a little more time on your hands, there’s a huge theme park, an incredible zoo, a cityscape boardwalk and a very unusual virtually abandoned park filled with creepy figurines. It’s also a great opportunity to experience some of Asia’s truly quirky offerings, such as cat cafes and capsule hotels. With a Chinatown, a Little India and the increasing influence of Western architecture, it’s a mixed pot of cultures that will keep the surprises coming.
If you’re in need of some sun but don’t want to break the bank, the Canary Islands have a pleasant climate all year round. They’re a fantastic destination if you like to party, but they’ve made much more of a name for themselves recently as an attractive adventure sports destination. The volcanic landscape is perfect for cycle training and hiking; the windy coastline provides unparalleled conditions for wind and kite surfing; and divers can explore impressive shipwrecks. Clear skies also make Tenerife one of the best locations in the world for star gazing, making the quieter towns ideal for a romantic getaway.
New Zealand is a very easy country to visit (if you can stomach the journey there and back!). The people are friendly, the food and language familiar, and it’s very easy to book transport or hire a van. If you’re looking to relax, the scenery is an ideal backdrop for craft beer and wine tasting, and there are innumerous sandy beaches, forest footpaths and mountain tracks to lose yourself on for days. If you enjoy a faster pace of life, you never have to look far for a unique experience to get the adrenaline pumping. Bungy jumps, scenic flights, skydiving, jetboating, canyoning, white water rafting and caving are just a few of the exciting activities on offer, and Kiwi tour operators always go the extra mile to keep you entertained throughout. Best of all, if you visit New Zealand just as the Northern Hemisphere becomes unbearably cold, you’ll land smack bang in the middle of their summer.