Volant Travel Tour Calendar
Best Places to Visit in March
- Argentina: As Patagonia shifts from summer to autumn, crowds start clearing out and wildlife get a little braver as they come out into the open. March should be pretty clear of people, except for the first week, which is the Fiesta Nacional de Trekking. You’ll see lots of bikers, hikers, and climbers, films and bands, and the Feria Gastronómica on restaurant sidewalks in El Chaltén. In Mendoza, the Grape Harvest Festival celebrates the grape harvest, complete with wine tasting and dancers in traditional costume acting out the harvest work.
- Ecuador: Semana Santa, or Holy Week (Mar 25–31), is a significant religious festival in Ecuador. Although each town has their own traditions, over 200,000 people gather in Quito to watch 800 cucuruchos in purple robes and pointed hats carry symbols of penitence to the cathedral.
- England: Go during the off-season to avoid crowds and smell the fresh spring flowers. The weather is typically “in like a lion, out like lamb,” so come prepared with outerwear.
- Galapagos Islands: March is hot with calm seas and good underwater visibility, great for snorkeling. Marine iguanas turn red to attract females on Fernandina, and the great waved albatross migrates to Espaola. You also have a chance of seeing penguins swimming alongside tropical fish off the coast of the green islands.
- Germany: Between winter and spring, lots of people are settling down with a good book: Germany’s biggest literature festival is spread throughout various locations in Cologne, from crime thrillers in a police station to poems on a ferryride, attended by renowned authors from all over the world and thousands of bookworms. And if this festival doesn’t sate your hunger, the Leipzig Book Fair features over 2,000 events at hundreds of venues.
- Nepal: The best reason to travel to Nepal in March is the Holi Festival (Mar 1), better known as the Festival of Colors. It began as a Hindu festival, but it attracts thousands of people touting bags of colored powder. If you’re in Kathmandu, Pokhara, or another major city during the festivities, you will not walk out without being covered in color, so you might as well buy a bag and join in.
- New Zealand March brings with it changing leaves but nearly just as much warmth as summer, making it a great month for hitting the beaches and exploring the countryside. March 24–25 is the Pasifika Festival in Auckland, a big celebration of the island culture, including traditional cuisine and performances from island communities.
- Portugal: Miss the hoards of summer tourists in exchange for slightly cooler weather. March 25– 31 is Holy Week, an Easter celebration.
- March 3 – 16 – NEPAL: SNOW LEOPARD SIGHTSEEING TREK – Trek through the Annapurna Wilderness in search of the elusive snow leopards with the leading National Geographic snow leopard videographer
- March 22 – April 6 – NEPAL: EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK – Kathmandu; Trek among the highest mountains in the world
Nepal: Snow Leopard Trek
Nepal: Everest Base Camp Trek
Best Places to Visit in April
- Brazil: Toward the end of April, the tropical wetland Pantanal enters its dry season, bringing to surface jaguars, tapirs, anacondas, and many more wild and rare animals.
- England: Spring is in the air, and it shows through blooming flowers and more smiles. While you can expect a few rain showers, April promises fewer crowds.
- France: Spring is the perfect time to explore over 30 themed gardens for the International Garden Festival in Château de Chaumont, Loire Valley. Also take in the sights of Paris by running alongside thousands of people for the Paris Marathon on April 8, although you might find yourself catching your breath several times at some of Paris’ most famous monuments.
- Galapagos Islands: The weather and water are warm and calm, with good underwater visibility and great for snorkeling. Rainshowers have slowed down, but the islands are still green. Sea turtle eggs start hatching on Isabela, and the waved albatross begin their courtship.
- Germany: The shoulder season is still fairly cool, but it starts off with festive easter markets and delicately painted eggs on easter trees. The Dippemess Spring Fair in Frankfurt is a two-week long carnival with rides, food, and pottery stands that hearken back to the fair’s origins in the 14th century.
- Ireland: April has few crowds and pleasant weather. If you plan on bringing a book on your travels, check out Dublin’s One City One Book (http://www.dublinonecityonebook.ie/), a program that aims for everyone in one city to read the same book and puts on dozens of free literature events.
- Italy: Easter is a significant holiday in Italy, with unique celebrations even beyond the Vatican Mass led by the Pope, like the Explosion of the Cart in Florence and the elaborate Misteri di Trapani Good Friday procession in Sicily. The Rosebud Festival in Venice (Apr 25) is in honor of Saint Mark: check out the Regata dei Traghetti gondola race, a food festival to mark the feast of St. Mark, and artistic performances and carnivals.
- Israel: Passover (Mar 30-Apr 6) commemorates the story of Exodus. Although some businesses close down, many major museums and zoos open for free.
- Jordan: April offers warm days and cool nights, and wildflowers thriving everywhere, even in the desert. Competitors for the Dead Sea Marathon (Apr 5) will be making the drastic drop from high-altitude mountains down to the Dead Sea.
- Nepal: April is part of the shoulder season, and the spring weather makes the rhododendrons bloom. April 14 is the start of the New Year in Nepal, marked by carnivals like the weeklong Bisket Jatra (Apr 11–18), when the east and west sides of town play tug-of-war between a chariot and reenact a centuries-old drama. The 5th is Ram Navami, in honor of Lord Ram, and the 15th is the tongue-boring ritual of Bode Jatra.
- Scotland: With warm weather spreading through the lowlands, spring is the best time to go bird watching. The pagan fire festival Beltane (Apr 30) marks the end of winter with a procession up Calton Hill, stage performances, and rituals.
- South Africa: This warm, green shoulder season is nice for bird watching and enjoying low prices. The 23–29 is Africa’s version of Burning Man, with massive art structures, performances, costuming, and more out near Tankwa.
- Spain: On Feria de Sevilla (Apr 17–22), celebrate with the locals in and around public caseta tents, with flamenco dancing, bullfights, fireworks, and horseback parades. Moros y Cristianos (Apr 22–24) is a three-day battle reenactment between the Moors and the Christians dressed in elaborate costumes, who put on a big enough spectacle that the restaging has become a festival.
- March 22 – April 6 – NEPAL: EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK – Kathmandu; Trek among the highest mountains in the world
Nepal: Everest Base Camp Trek
Best Places to Visit in May
- Brazil: The temperature starts cooling down a little, the weather still fair but with a drop in prices as many tourists leave Brazil. Corpus Christi (May 31) is celebrated in Brazil by decorating the streets with rugs made of materials like flowers, crushed glass, and sawdust depicting religious words and images. This is also the month of the Rio Pro Surfing Contest.
- Croatia: The weather starts warming up, but with a wind still strong enough for good sailing. In the Diocletian’s Palace in Split, florists compete during the International Flower Fair.
- England: May is a popular time to visit England for the warmer weather. Perhaps the best way to appreciate spring in London is to attend the Chelsea Flower Show (May 22–26), made up of several creative garden designs by world-renowned gardeners and landscape architects.
- France: By far the biggest event going on in May is the Cannes Film Festival, when movie stars fly in from all over the world for premiere screenings. Even if you’re not on the red carpet, there’s plenty of food and festivities, along with a beautiful beach holding free movie screenings. On May 20, if you’re up for the crowds, the Louvre, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Château de Versailles are free until 1:00 am for this night only.
- Galapagos Islands: The weather and water are warm, with good underwater visibility great for snorkeling. Sea turtles still hatch in May, along with marine iguanas on Santa Cruz. Meanwhile, the band-rumped storm petrels begin to nest and blue-footed boobies begin to court each other on Punta Suarez.
- Germany: Don’t want the cold of September but want something similar to Oktoberfest? Baumblütenfest is the biggest wine festival in Germany and takes place in Werder. May is also a good month to enjoy Germany during the warm season before crowds of tourists flock in.
- Ireland: Here are the rolling green hills and lovely, bright flowers you may dream of when you picture Ireland. It’s also very much a month for the arts: the Biggest Weekend Festival is a one-off pop music festival bringing in the biggest names in the world, while Fleadh Nua promotes traditional Irish culture and music, and Listowel Writers’ Week is Ireland’s leading literature festival.
- Israel: Shavuot (May 19–21) commemorates the gift of the Ten Commandments from God to Moses and is mostly celebrated in agricultural regions. Dairy products are popular at this time; you’ll see a lot of people eating cheesecake. Expect cow beauty pageants, tractor rides, and plenty of dancing.
- Italy: The weather is typically warm but not sweltering, the green of the Tuscan hills still vibrant after the spring rain. Check out the schedule for Giro d’Italia (May 4–27), Italy’s three-week bike race, to see if you’ll be in a city at the right time to cheer on the competitors.
- Jordan: Perfect weather and lush countryside, May is the most popular time of year to visit Jordan. The Jordan Rally (May 1) is a major motorsporting competition, cars racing by from the peaks of Amman to the waters of the Dead Sea.
- Newfoundland: By boat, kayak, or from the shore, late May is best for iceberg viewing.
- New Zealand: Celebrate the oyster harvest during the Bluff Oyster Festival and the Maori New Year during Matariki through cultural performances, workshops, feasts, storytelling, and concerts.
- South Africa: Expect fewer crowds as the evenings start getting a little chillier but still sunny, rainless days. There’s less vegetation, so you’ll have a better chance at seeing Big 5 Game. May is probably the best time to visit South Africa during the shoulder season.
- Spain: Corpus Christi (May 27–June 2) is a major holiday in Spain, when processions in major cities march over flower carpets and past buildings decorated in tapestries and hung with lanterns.
- May 16 – June 1 – BEST OF THE BALKANS: – CROATIA: Dubrovnik; Split; Pula; Plitvice Lakes National Park; Krka National Park. SLOVENIA: Bled Lake; Ljubljana Castle. MONTENEGRO: Kotor. BOSNIA, Mostar
Best of the Balkans
Best Places to Visit in June
- Africa: Tanzania, Kenya – Millions of wildebeest, zebras, and antelope gather in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania for the Great Migration. June is the start of the dry season, which makes for great trekking up Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania. At the end of June, it’s possible to spot humpback whales off the coast.
- Brazil: The Brazilians call it winter, but the high temperatures don’t make it seem so. The Festa Junina is a rural fair that attracts millions to participate in traditional festivities. They celebrate three catholic saints on the 13th, 24th, and 29th, and most of the activity takes place in Campina Grande and Caruaru. The Parintins Folklore Festival (Bumba-meu-boi) is the second biggest festival in Brazil. Two teams compete to put on the best rendition of a traditional play on the island of Tupinambarana the last three days of June.
- Croatia: The water is warm enough for swimming, but with a good wind for sailing, too. Crowds are sparse in June, so it’s generally quiet, except for during the open-air InMusic Festival (June 25–27) in Zagreb.
- France: Near the end of June, lovely spring weather accompanies masked balls, operas, and galas at the Festival of Versailles.
- Galapagos Islands: The weather and water are warm, with good underwater visibility great for snorkeling. Giant tortoises begin nesting, and you’ll see a lot of red pouch birds with bulbous throat pouches inflated to attract females. More birds stop by during their southern migration. You even have a chance of seeing humpback whales pass by as they migrate to the equator.
- Germany: Highs of 72 degrees (but make sure to bring along a raincoat or umbrella for the frequent rainshowers). June 1–3, Rock am Ring in Nürberg and Rock im Park in Nuremberg are two venues that combine to make one of the biggest music festivals in the world. For something a little softer but just as moving, head to Leipzig for the Bach Festival (June 8–17) or Halle an der Saale for the Handel Festival (June 26–11).
- Italy: If you’ve come to Italy for the beaches, June is the time to go. Several festivals blossom under the summer sun, including Republic Day, or Festa della Repubblica, in Rome (June 2), the artistic Tuscan Sun Festival in Florence (June 16–18), and the Feast Day of San Giovanni Battista (June 24). Make sure to check whether the towns you’ll be staying in will be honoring their patron saints in June.
- Newfoundland: June is a good month for iceberg viewing and is when migratory whales begin to come close to shore.
- Spain: Corpus Christi (May 27–June 2) is a major holiday in Spain, when processions in major cities march over flower carpets and past buildings decorated in tapestries and hung with lanterns. On June 29, over 10,000 people arrive in Haro wearing white shirts, but are quickly soaked in red during the Wine Battle.
Best of Norway
Best Places to Visit in July
- Africa: Tanzania, Kenya – The Great Migration reaches its peak as over a million zebras and wildebeest cluster along rivers, drawing out crocodiles, lions, and other predatory animals. Also enjoy the lush green scenery from departing rainfalls around Lake Nakuru.
- Argentina: The crisp, clear air illuminates the reaching summits of Torres Del Paine National Park. Experience the striking contrast of shadow and light on the snow and glaciers, the grandeur of Patagonian forests, and the allure of cities such as the colorful neighborhood of La Boca. You can also visit The Rural Exhibition, Buenos Aires’ annual agricultural and livestock fair.
- Brazil: Come at a time when you’re not distracted by humid 90 degree weather. Experience the cascading Iguazú Falls, explore the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, and dig your toes into the warm sand of Brazil’s beautiful beaches. July is also the start of the Paraty International Literary Festival
- Germany: During the sunny weather of July, Germany celebrates the marksmen festival Schützenfest. The celebrations, accompanied by parades, flowers, and food, can be found in even the smallest villages.
- Iceland: July is the perfect season for hikers to see explosive geysers, iconic waterfalls, massive glaciers, and flocks of birds covering green mountainsides. The water is even warm enough to scuba dive in the fissure between Europe and North America.
- Newfoundland and Nova Scotia: During this peak time, you can spot several whale species as they rise above water and crash back into its depths. July is also ideal for viewing cartoonish puffins on Newfoundland’s shores. In Nova Scotia, join thousands of people flocking to the seaside town of Canso for the Deep Roots Music Festival.
- Peru: Become an explorer in this spectacularly vibrant and culturally rich country. The dry season offers sunny views of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, along with other natural wonders.
- Scotland: July boasts many amazing Scottish festivals, including the International Film Festival in Edinburgh. The weather is also ideal for whale watching off the west coast and finding dolphins, porpoises, and orcas in the east.
- Switzerland: Conditions in July are fantastic for outdoor recreation―hikers and kayakers will love the striking beauty of the Matterhorn and Champex-Lac. Travelers will fall in love with the atmospheric architecture of cities like Lucerne.
Best of Iceland
Iceland: Laugavegur Trek
Best Places to Visit in August
- Africa: Tanzania, Kenya – Millions of wildebeest, zebras, and antelope begin to cross the Mara River from Tanzania into Kenya, making August one of the best times to see the Great Migration.
- Argentina: The crisp Buenos Aires weather is great for enjoying the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, two weeks of free events and competition. It begins with a festival celebrating tango with shows, classes, art exhibits, and films, and ends with the Tango World Championship by top-notch international performers.
- Brazil: Spring has sprung! Now’s the best time to visit the Pantanal, a tropical wetland with jaguars, tapirs, anacondas, marmosets, tropical birds, and many more wild and rare animals.
- Germany: Take a midnight stroll through Berlin during the Long Night of the Museums, when over 100 museums open from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am with nearby concerts and plays entertaining through the night.
- Iceland: Sixteen-hour summer days make for good hiking weather, and northern lights are sometimes visible in late August. After the Reykjavik Marathon, concerts, screenings, performances, and late-night museums take over the city for Reykjavik Culture Night, a celebration of Iceland.
- Newfoundland: August is the best time to see whales and puffins in Southern Labrador.
- Nova Scotia: August temperatures are ideal at about 70 degrees fahrenheit. It’s your last chance to see humpback whales off the coast and go sailing, diving, and surfing in warmer waters. You’ll want to bring your camera to capture such postcard picture-perfect heritage towns in the balmy weather.
- Scotland: August is one of the busiest and most culturally rich times in Scotland. Taking up nearly the whole month (Aug 3–27), the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, putting on performances in theatre, comedy, dance, and far more in over 300 venues across the city. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (Aug 3–25) is the main event, with international military bands performing on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. The Highland Games are full of championship competitions from dancers to pipers to tug-of-war, and the Cowal Highland Gathering (Aug 23–25) in August is the largest gathering with over 23,000 visitors. August is also an excellent period to see migrating whales and other marine life.
- Switzerland: August 1st is Swiss National Day and, depending on the community, may be accompanied by fireworks, paper lanterns, and bonfires. The Geneva Festival (Aug 4–14) takes place near Lake Geneva; the concerts, carnivals, fireworks show over the lake is a big hit among travelers. From August 11 to September 9, the summer Lucerne Festival features over a hundred classical and modern concerts.
- August 20-31 – SWITZERLAND: HAUTE ROUTE – Trekking Switzerland’s iconic backcountry trail
Switzerland: Deluxe Haute Route
Best Places to Visit in September
- Africa: Tanzania, Kenya – You’ll see a lot of arrow-shaped tails flipping above the water, as if pointing to the whale beneath. In September, southern right whales arrive on the coast of Cape Town. In Kenya and Tanzania, zebra and wildebeest cross plains and rivers on the lookout for big cats and crocodiles.
- Brazil: On September 7, you’ll be met with parades in the day and fireworks at night. Brazil celebrates Independence Day with lively carnivals, green and yellow flags flying. And since it’s the dry season, you can enjoy long hours in the sun for the festivities and all the wonderful attractions Brazil offers.
- Croatia: Locals and visitors take advantage of the summer sun before it draws back its rays. Festivals abound, including the the ten-day Food Film Festival in Zagreb. The season wraps up with the electric Outlook Music Festival.
- France: Farmers are starting to harvest their produce, so plentiful food will be showing up in markets. It’s also a great time to visit grape vineyards and go wine tasting. There are fewer crowds but sunny weather with just a hint of crisp air.
- Germany: Join in the beginning revelries of Oktoberfest, when the people of Munich are fresh and having a great time in the bright, massive Schottenhamel tent. Leaves are beginning to turn, lighting up places like the Black Forest and the hills of Bavaria.
- Iceland: Like ribbons drawn across the heavens by invisible dancers, the Northern Lights turn the night sky into a colorful spectacle. They start appearing in September before the stormy winter clouds settle in. You also might witness one of Iceland’s oldest traditions―Réttir, when farmers, family, and friends round up sheep from the mountains, followed by a night of celebrations.
- Italy: Cheer with Venetians at the boat race Regatta Storica, and feast on Italian cuisine during the Festa di San Gennaro outside of Naples Cathedral. Now is the best time to appreciate the September harvest, as Italy is famous for putting it to good use.
- Peru: Peruvian winter, driest season
- South Africa:
- Spain: You may come across a procession of animals parading down the streets of Barcelona―or rather, people dressed as animals. It is La Mercè, created in honor of its patron saint and the climax of Barcelona’s festivals.
- Switzerland: best month for high altitude hiking & other outdoor activities
- United States of America: Free of large crowds and still warm, September is a wonderful time to explore a nation as diverse as several countries combined.
- September 19-28 – MACHU PICCHU & THE SACRED VALLEY – Peru; Lima; Cusco; Machu Picchu; Sacred Valley
- September 19 – October 11 – BEST OF SOUTH AMERICA – Brazil: Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janeiro; Ecuador: Galapagos Islands; Peru: Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca; Argentina: Buenos Aires, Perito Moreno, Patagonia
Machu Picchu & The Sacred Valley
Best of South America
Best Places to Visit in October
- Africa: Tanzania, Kenya – Millions of wildebeest, zebras, and antelope cross over the Mara River back into Tanzania’s Serengeti for the Great Migration. The foliage isn’t so dense, so it’s easier to spot the animals clustered around rivers and waterholes. Birds are also migrating to East Africa from Europe, and with fewer mosquitos and clear skies, October makes for beautiful nights out.
- Brazil: It’s the dry season in southern Brazil, ranging from warm air to tropical heat. It’s one of the best times to visit the Pantanal, a tropical wetland, before the wet season sets in and the plains are flooded. Cirio de Nazare (Oct 8) means hundreds of colorful boats floating down the River Amazon through Belem, filled with dancing crowds singing of Our Lady of Nazareth.
- France: Right at the start, October 1, some of the world’s best horses and riders compete at the Prix de l’arc de Triomphe at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, Bois du Boulogne. From October 28–November 1, sample delectable chocolates, attend demonstrations, and participate in workshops during Salon du Chocolat, the biggest festival dedicated to chocolate. Between October 11–14, head to the Montmartre Wine Harvest for tastings, performances, and fireworks. On the 14th and 15th, hundreds of vintage cars parade through Paris.
- Germany: Expect comfortable jacket weather this month. October 1–3 are the tail end of Oktoberfest. It’s not all about drinking beer in giant tents (although that’s the major part of it). Oktoberfest in Munich is a folk festival with fairgrounds, parades, carnival rides, and live music. But if you miss it, the second largest beer festival comes right after: Cannstatter Wasen in Baden-Württemberg. Mid-October, the Berlin Leuchtet (Festival of Lights) makes the streets of Berlin glow with dazzlingly brilliant projected lights created by international artists.
- Iceland: Like a blade, the Northern Lights slit the full dark night, opening up sky and spilling out irridescent colors. Watching the colors swimming above is a magical experience, one that’s most active during October. And with so much space between cities in Iceland, little light pollution can filter into the sky’s most spectacular show.
- Ireland: Make it early in October for shoulder season, with fewer crowds and drastically dropped prices. And the weather is still much the same as summer. Toward the end of the month, the The Derry Halloween Festival is perhaps the best Halloween destination in the world, with parades of monsters stalking down the street, loads of frightful family-fun events, and a spectacular fireworks finale. The International Jazz Festival brings big names to venues throughout the southern capital of Cork.
- Israel: For Sukkot (Oct 4–Oct 11), the week-long Jewish festival, families build wooden Sukkah structures in their yards, museums and national parks put on special events, and major cities have big events like street parties, concerts, and the Jerusalem March. On the coast, locals flock to the beach to soak up the last of the summer sun. Also, for Houses from Within (Oct 26–28), over 100 private spaces in Jerusalem are opened up to the public to explore.
- Italy: Summer quickly gives way to autumn, turning Tuscany into a quilt of reds and oranges and yellows. With the harvest comes festivals solely dedicated to the art of Italian cooking: the Alba White Truffle World Market (Oct 7–Nov 26, weekends only) and the Eurochocolate Festival in Perugia (Oct 13–22). If you’re in Venice and up for navigating the twists and turns of the city maze, the Venice Marathon takes place on October 22. Prices also drop a little on the shoulder season.
- Jordan: Autumn temperatures alleviate the heat sizzling from the sand, so trekking and other outdoor activities should be a pleasant experience. The autumn light brings out distinct colors from the rock. Some rain showers bring the hills and valleys back to life for a couple months. Marine life off the coast of Aqaba is particularly active during October, making it a good time to hit the beaches.
- Nepal: October is peak season with clear skies, warm weather, and spectacular views. Come early in the month, and you’ll catch the end of Dashain, the longest festival in Nepal (Sep 20– Oct 5). It celebrates the goddess Durga through gatherings at river confluences and shrines, rituals, sword processions, and animal sacrifices. Dashain is followed by Tihar, or the Festival of Lights (Oct 17–21). Every home is alight in hopes that Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, will see and find her way into the home.
- South Africa: October is the best time to go whale watching as the whales come in to give birth. It’s also the last month to see flowers still in bloom, especially the vibrant Namaqualand Daisies.
- Spain: Many towns hold annual local festivals called ferias in October. Fuengirola (Oct 6–12) is one of the biggest, with fairgrounds, decorated buildings, dancing, fireworks, parades, and bulls runs. Going on in the music scene are the Barcelona Jazz Festival—lots of performances by big and new names—and the Sevilla Guitar Festival (Oct 14–21).
Best of South America
Best of New England
Best Places to Visit in November
- Brazil: On November 12, cheer with the crowd as motor cars zoom past in a dash to win the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo.
- France: Admire and shop at Fine Arts Paris, a new fine arts and antiques fair coming in November. On Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the annual “new wine” hits the shelves all over France; feel free to join the French in pulling out the corks, although you might hesitate before climbing into a wine bath. Also get a taste of early Christmas as Christmas markets pop up all over France.
- Germany: Fans of Bach and other piano composers will love Würzburg Bach Days. Those who lean toward jazz can check out the Berlin Jazzfest. And as Christmas approaches and markets appear, ice skate across the magical backdrop of Berlin’s light show in the Botanical Gardens.
- Nepal: Bala Chaturdashi (Nov 17) is a Hindu holiday that takes place in Kathmandu. Participants perform rituals and pray for ancestors to help them find a happy afterlife. Vivaha Panchami (Nov 23) is a Hindu festival that celebrates the marriage of Lord Ram and Sita. It’s held in the historical, spiritual city of Janakpur. The festivities continue for seven days inside the Janaki Temple: the temple is decorated, idols are worshiped, songs are chanted, and traditional food is served.
- November 5 – 20 – NEPAL: EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK – Kathmandu; Trek among the highest mountains in the world
Nepal: Everest Base Camp Trek
Best Places to Visit in January
- Argentina: The Gualeguaychu Carnival begins in January and takes place over nine Saturdays in Gualeguaychu’s Corosodroma stadium. Resembling Rio’s Carnaval, four samba clubs, made up of hundreds of dancers, compete for first prize with their shining, sequined costumes and floats as they parade down the aisle.
- Brazil: Saint Sebastian’s Day will be celebrated in Rio de Janeiro on January 20 with colorful processions and other festivities around the city.
- Ecuador: It’s summer in the Andes Region and sunny in the Pacific Coast Region despite occasional showers—likely the best time to head to the beaches.
- Galapagos Islands: As temperatures rise to a comfortable degree, marine iguanas turn green, red, and black to attract mates, and sea turtles lay eggs along the shore. The calmer, clearer waters are ideal for snorkeling.
- Nepal: Although colder, January is the quiet time of the year, when the trails are clearer, the nights are starrier, and the days are crisper. January 15 is Magh Sankranti, when Hindus bathe in the confluences of holy rivers to celebrate the end of the previous month of Poush.
- January 19 – February 1 – PATAGONIA TREKKING: Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile; Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre Backcountry, Argentina
- January 3 – 26 – DISCOVER NEW ZEALAND: Milford Sound, Auckland, Christchurch, Trans-Alpine Railroad, Franz Josef Glacier, Abel Tasman National Park, Bay of Islands, Mount Cook National Park
Trekking in Patagonia
Best of New Zealand
Best Places to Visit in February
- Argentina: February is sunny all throughout north, central, and south Argentina. In Patagonia, more accommodations and flights open up, and it’s warm enough to swim in rivers and lakes. Every weekend in Buenos Aires, cariocas dress up and dance during the Fiesta de las Murgas (bands of street musicians). The last week of February is Buenos Aires Fashion Week, a must-attend in the UNESCO-named City of Design.
- Brazil: The greatest party in the world begins February 9 and ends on February 14 in Rio de Janeiro. Samba music and dance fill nearly every neighborhood, and anyone can jump in on the miniature parades. It all culminates in the Sambadrome with massive, elaborate floats and dancers twirling down the aisle to the cheers of thousands. Carnaval is also celebrated on a smaller scale in many other cities, so just coming in February will practically guarantee you’ll be seeing samba dancers behind your eyelids at night—if you ever decide to go to sleep!
- Ecuador: Take advantages of lower-priced services and accommodations, as most tourists leave at the end of January. And even though Carnaval is typically associated with Brazil, Ecuador also celebrates in its own way: along with big float parades and costumes, you’ll have a blast as long as you don’t mind getting hit by a few water balloons or sprayed by foam. Water fights are big February 13.
- Galapagos Islands: As the water reaches its highest temperature, marine iguanas start nesting on Santa Cruz Island, and flamingos start nesting on Florena Island.
- Iceland: The Northern Lights are at their brightest and most frequent this month. Down below in Reykjavik, museums and galleries put on their own light show through creative illuminated exhibits during the Winter Lights Festival February 2–5.
- Nepal: On February 5, the Tamang ethnic group observes Sonam Losar, when they dance and perform rituals in Buddhist monasteries to drive away negative energy. Watch the Tamang perform on the street, competing, singing, and pounding on damfu drums. Maha Shivaratri on February 14 is one of Nepal’s biggest festivals, a time when the stars are aligned to strengthen spiritual energy. Most of the commotion happens at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to celebrate the Hindu god Shiva.