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4 Destinations With Secretly Awesome Off Seasons

4 Destinations With Secretly Awesome Off Seasons

A country might have a perceived travel window, but the destination often times proves to be more versatile during the shoulder season. Audley Travel, the luxury travel company that specializes in tailor-made vacations and private tours for discerning travelers seeking authentic experiences, has compiled a list of destinations that their country specialists say have secretly awesome “off-seasons.”

Okavango Delta, Botswana (January-April)

For this landlocked country in southern Africa, the months following the rainy season fill the land with luscious greenery and wildlife. The plethora of food creates an ideal climate for mammals, such as impala, big cats and hyenas, to begin their birthing season. Little tsessebe, a subspecies of antelope, stretch their long legs and hop around their mothers while lionesses groom young cubs. This is an ideal time of year for photographers as migratory birds, like the southern carmine bee-eaters and African skimmers, are also flocking to the fruitful delta. Whether a photographer or not, game drives are the best way to explore the abundance of wildlife in the bush this time of year. In some places, boat safaris or mokoro (a traditional canoe) excursions are still possible following the rainy season. Beyond wildlife, money goes further in Botswana this time of year, thanks to fewer visitors. That also means more availability for camps & lodges.

Japan (February)

Kyoto sees thousands of visitors in March as tourists come to view the cherry blossoms blooming but come a month earlier and skip the crowds to experience the plum trees blooming. The plum tree’s white and pink star-shaped flowers could easily be mistaken for cherry blossoms, as they’re almost identical. February is also the best season to visit the snow monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park as they enjoy the spa-like hot springs while snow falls around them, covering the surrounding rocks. Although these monkeys are named for the snowy season, it only snows for a short period — so experts recommend coming earlier in the day to see the hundreds of snow monkeys bathing in the springs. Enjoy the snow even more with the Sapporo Snow Festival and see themed snow sculptures spanning a mile along the city’s square.

New Zealand (May-September)

Most travelers think of hiking New Zealand in the summer. However, the trails are less crowded in the cooler months. Also, boutique hotels have more availability. Walk through the wondrous nature trails in solitude and have your pick of bed & breakfasts. Plus, your dollar goes further this time of year. For convenience and mobility, base yourself in activity filled areas. The lakeside town of Rotorua on the Northern Island features geysers, fumaroles, mud pools and cultural tours. Experience Maori culture firsthand with a private tour from a Maroi elder. The elder will take you into meeting houses and show you how to make poi balls. These are used in the traditional dances. If weather permits, you'll learn how to paddle a waka (a traditional Maori canoe). Surrounding Rotorua are a multitude of well-marked hiking trails. On the Redwoods Treewalk, you'll walk among these giants by suspension bridge. If hiking isn’t your thing, Rotorua also has hot springs, geothermal spas and even multiple wineries.

Patagonia (October)

With Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, Patagonia is on almost every climber and hiker’s bucket list. These trails have the most foot traffic in the South American summer (November-March). But October is the prelude to the high season and when lodges start to reopen. So, there’s a lot of availability for places that are usually packed. Despite most visitors coming in summer, the weather in Patagonia is unpredictable at all times of the year. One season isn’t better than another. The end of winter makes it easier to spot the black wingspan of condors, the national bird of Chile. Hike through the open, treeless plains of northern Patagonia. Here, you'll see the land transition into fjords and islands as you head to the southern tip of the continent.

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