Round and Round You Go: Taking a Trip Around the World
|Getting into a staring contest with the South African locals (Corbis)|
July to August: Central Africa
Fly out of Bangkok into Africa -- July is smack-dab in the middle of the shoulder season in both Kenya and Tanzania, meaning fewer crowds and more comfortable weather. While in Kenya, spend some time in Nairobi, hang with the elephant herds in Ambroseli National Park, and watch for lions and the other Big Five safari animals by penetrating the western edges of Masai Mara National Reserve. Tanzania, meanwhile, has the world's largest wildlife population, including monkeys, wildebeests, elephants, antelopes, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles, gazelles, and flamingos.
August to September: South Africa, Namibia, and Egypt
Return to your urban roots in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the continent's most affluent cities. Climb Table Mountain to take in the expansive views, then plot your next stop, whether it's a hiking safari in Imfolozi National Park or trekking the Wild Coast. Then trade the bush for the surreal sand lands of Namibia before jumping up to Egypt for the must-have photo of the pyramids.
September to October: Western Europe
Had enough of roughing it? Fly from Cairo to Paris and enjoy the dearth of fellow backpackers as Western Europe falls upon its shoulder season. Trains make for an easy, inexpensive way to traverse the entire region, so choose the countries that call out -- the pubs of Ireland, the coastal walks of England, the art (cuisine and otherwise) of Italy, the sinful and artistic allures of the Netherlands, the epic scenery of Switzerland -- and plan accordingly. When the money starts to thin out, head east.
October to November: Central and Eastern Europe
Welcome to Europe on the cheap. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary alone could swallow an entire month, but low crowds and lower prices dictate that you expand your exploration. Why not start by taking a train from Berlin into Prague, then spiral out -- Prague to Poland, Poland to Hungary, Hungary to Slovenia -- and end with the inexpensive, undiscovered attractions of Croatia before heading to London for your next cross-continental jaunt.
November to December: Argentina
As with most every other locale on this list, you could lose six months in South America. We suggest focusing in on one country for one full month. After all, you can always come back. Argentina's economic woes make it an attractive proposition, and November means the temperatures are fantastic for Patagonia. Start off in Buenos Aires -- the most European of all South American cities -- then fly to Bariloche and work your way south down the rugged spine of Patagonia (edging into Chile, should you desire to cross another border), ending at Perito Moreno Glacier at the southernmost tip of the continent before tracing back to Buenos Aires (or fly out of Santiago, Chile).
December to January: Central America
Forget the Caribbean -- by now the place is a zoo, and the prices are just as bad. Instead, head to Honduras, where you get the best of both worlds: tropical jungles, inexpensive scuba and snorkeling trips, and some of the Caribbean's least-trammeled beaches. From here you can weave your way through the neighboring countries of Guatemala and Belize or just find your slice of sand and forget about the fact that this nine-month tour is nearing an end.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication