As the days get longer and brighter, and the morning air begins to lose its bite, we slowly start to see the first shuffling signs of life – and you know that spring is here.
The changing of the seasons may be one of nature’s most mundane miracles, but there’s something exciting about seeing the world around you change each time. More and more people are timing their escapes to see the natural world at its best, its beauty thrown into sharp relief by the time of year.
As the seasons change at home we feel inspired to see them in full flow abroad, too. And while the world is in a constant state of flux, there’s no doubt that Mother Nature has a few special tricks up her sleeve for the curious traveller.
It takes a little extra planning – knowing where to go and when. This is about timing your visit just right to see nature at full force, the precise moment the flowers spring into bloom, the exact time the mating season starts, the one month once a year the migratory species visits. The best way to do that, of course, is by talking to the locals.
Where will you find nature’s most spectacular scenic changes at their height? It’s our leaders who hold the key to unlocking the best secret spots – more than just knowing which valley is best for spring wildflowers, they’ll be able to tell you which rock to peer behind to see the rarest orchids quietly thriving. They know whereabouts the lions are most likely to be found, lying in wait for the wildebeest herds during the migration. Many things, you won’t find out until you get there.
As for timing your journey to coincide with nature’s greatest spectacles, that’s where we come in. Nobody wants that bitter sense of disappointment when you realise something amazing was happening, but you missed it by mere weeks. How do you time your escape perfectly to coincide with the exact moment a natural phenomenon takes place? It’s a balancing act, but one that pays dividends.
Here are just some of our favourite seasonal escapes, for inspiration of where to go and when.
Sakura – Japan’s world famous cherry-blossom season is well worth the hype. Head here in March or April for the iconic pink blush of the delicate blossom.
Ancient & Modern Japan. Look for “Best for cherry blossom” next to highlighted departures.
Rhododendrons – the national flower of Nepal is widespread throughout the Himalayas, but one of the most spectacular places to see them in full regalia is Sikkim. In late April the trails here come to life with the beautiful display.
Darjeeling, Sikkim & the Singalila Ridge. Look for “Best for rhododendrons” next to highlighted departures.
European flowers – if you want to see Europe’s finest flowers, there’s a wealth of possibilities. There are so many spring and summer blooms we’ve put together our Blooming Marvellous guide especially.
Migration – catch the greatest wildlife spectacle on the planet as the huge herds of the African plains thunder across the Mara in search of food. Can’t make it in summer? Try January or February to catch the Migration in the Serengeti instead.
Kenya & Tanzania Adventure. Look for “Migration season – Masai Mara” or “Migration season – Serengeti” next to highlighted departures.
Turtle nesting season – Green turtle nesting season spills over from August into October in Tortuguero National Park. Lapped by the warm waters of the Caribbean, Tortuguero Beach is famous nesting ground for these incredible creatures.
Discover Costa Rica. Look for “Green turtle nesting season” next to highlighted departures.
Harvest – the white truffle harvest in Italy is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the culinary year. Each September and October, whilst the vineyards are a hive of activity with the grape harvest, the forests fill with truffle hunting parties and their well-trained truffle dogs, who root around among the autumnal leaves.
Piedmont & Parma Food Adventure – Premium
Whale watching – if you’ve got your sights set further afield, September and October are the months that the sapphire waters off Hermanus, South Africa, come to life with the migratory passage of Southern Right Whales. You’ll need to time it just right to catch these constantly moving underwater giants and, if you’re lucky, their calves.
Cape Town & the Garden Route. Look for “Whale watching season” next to highlighted departures.
Northern lights – head to Scandinavia over the winter months for the longest nights, clearest skies and your best chances at spotting the headline-grabbing aurora borealis. See our dedicated Northern Lights holidays, which only run during peak aurora season.
Dedicated Northern Lights holidays
Galapagos wildlife – want something a touch warmer? Try the Galapagos Islands, where Land Iguanas are breeding on the island of Isabela and on neighbouring Santa Cruz, Giant tortoises are hatching.
Galapagos Islands holidays
Migration – January and February are your best bet to catch the mighty wildebeest migration as it makes its way across the Serengeti.
Kenya & Tanzania Adventure. Look for “Migration season – Serengeti” next to highlighted departures.