So where are you off to this year? With the start of the New Year, Webster has been wondering where to wander for the next twelve months. So here’s part one of Tim Best Direct’s perfect year of travel – what’s yours?
January: Australia – Fireworks on New Year’s Eve with the back drop of Sydney Harbour Bridge; Australia Day celebrations on 26 January; visiting one of the fabulous wine regions (Margaret River, Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley); then whizz up to one of the beautiful islands off the coast of Cairns to relax in the sun and do some snorkelling or diving – divine! www.australia.com
February: Escape the miserable European weather and head to warmer climes. We love Costa Rica at this time of year – it’s fabulously hot and dry in the Central Valley and on the Pacific beaches. If it gets too hot, just head up to he mountains around San Jose, and to the cloud forest around Monteverde. If you’re a wildlife fan, like Webster, the bird watching is second to none and if you’re lucky, you have a good chance of watching the turtles nesting around mid February. www.visitcostarica.com
March: Spring has not quite sprung in Europe, so we’re still in need of some warmth on our backs. Webster reckons the Cape in South Africa is the way to go. Get an overnight flight and arrive to the wonderful Mediterranean climate. Visit the winelands and sample some of the delicious food and wine, then walk it off with a climb up Table Mountain. Sail out to Robben Island where Mandela was held for 27 years, and then in the evening sit in the sun at a seafood restaurant, a glass of chilled white wine to hand, relax and contemplate your day. There are so many options – mix it up with a few days on safari, or a day at the races, watch a cricket match, organise a round of golf or if you’re feeling energetic, the surfing is good. www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/overview/western-cape
April: Paris – there’s nothing like a wander through the cobbled streets of the Ile St Louis and a visit to Notre Dame on a beautiful spring day. So easy to get to on the Eurostar. Take a seat in the Tuileries, and be sure to check out the new glass deck at the Eiffel Tower – makes Webster’s knees wobble just to think of it. But you can always calm your nerves at a Parisian Cafe with a glass of wine and a plate of steak frites. The Louvre, with the enigmatic Mona Lisa and the stunning Victoire de Samothrace – so much to see and do. http://en.parisinfo.com
May: Andalucia, avoiding the hordes who go to Seville during Semana Santa. A month after Easter spring has sprung. Jerez has its traditional Horse Fair, and if horses aren’t your thing, you can always sample the sherry. Then there’s the Coto Donana for nature enthusiasts; walks and riding in the hills; the cities of Seville and Cordoba to explore for some Spanish culture. Or, if you don’t want to travel too far, London’s parks really come into their own at this time of year, and there are a lot of them. Hyde Park, Kensington Park, Regent’s Park and a special favourite St James’ Park. It’s also the time of year for the Royal Horticultural Society’s famous Chelsea Flower show. The weather is usually beautiful, so get a Boris Bike and go for a spin. Take a trip down the Thames to the Cutty Sark and take a “flight” on the London Eye – day or night the views are fabulous.
June: The perfect month to visit Botswana. Home to the magnificent Okavango Delta, a UNESCO world heritage site. As a safari destination, it is difficult to beat. The unique Okavango Delta offers a watery wilderness where you can glide silently among the hippos and water lilies in your mokoro (dug out canoe). Then contrast this with a visit to the Makgadikgadi Pans or the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Veritable deserts where you can hang out with the ever popular meerkats and discover other amazing desert dwellers and find out how they survive in such harsh environment – it is surprising what you can see! If you have the time, then add on a visit to Victoria Falls – called the smoke that thunders for good reason. You can hear it well before you can see it. A stunningly impressive site that is well worth the effort. www.botswanatourism.co.bw and www.victoriafalls-guide.net/largest-waterfall.html