With the peak summer season passed, tailormade tour operator Audley Travel is sharing its recommendations for the ideal winter sun trip for a range of wish lists.
Winter sun for foodies
Audley’s Africa specialists recommend an 11-day trip ‘The Grape Escape: Cape Town and the Winelands self-drive tour’, allowing clients to indulge in fine food and fantastic wines. Clients spend four nights in the gourmet capital of South Africa, The Winelands, enjoying some of the best restaurants in the country, as well as small delis, charming cafés and bistros. Audley can make recommendations and book tables before a client travels or arrange for them to join a guided food tour. Audley’s recommendations for touring the wine estates include cycling or boarding the Franschhoek Wine Tram for its circular route.
The itinerary also includes four nights in Cape Town with a tour of Table Mountain, Robben Island (to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during apartheid), Cape Point and Peninsula as well as seeing the penguin colony on Boulders Beach.
An 11-day tailor-made trip costs £2,550 per person (based on two travelling) and includes flights, transfers, a fully insured hire car and excursions. 01993 838550 / www.audleytravel.com/south-africa
Audley’s tips – Early December is still quiet before the rush of school holidays. January sees hot and dry weather in the Cape, making it an excellent time of year for trips to Cape Town.
Winter sun for the family
Thailand is a fantastic choice for a family trip. Families can explore Bangkok by the Skytrain as well as traditional tuk-tuk – both memorable experiences for younger travellers. They encounter elephants at a sanctuary regularly audited for its animal welfare standards and stay in a unique floating hotel on the River Kwai or a safari-style camp on its banks. In Chiang Mai, clients meet a local family and take part in a Pad Thai cooking contest. Audley recommends families end their trip with time relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Koh Samui.
A 15-day family adventure in Thailand costs from £3,610 per person (based on four travelling) and includes flights, accommodation, transfers and excursions. 01993 838115 / www.audleytravel.com/thailand
Audley’s tips – Temperatures will be in the high 20s and low 30swith low rain (apart from Koh Samui). We recommend timing a trip to avoid Koh Samui over Christmas, as the hotels are expensive during the festive period. Visitors to Chiang Mai during the first weekend in February will see the three-day flower festival featuring a parade and colourful displays of chrysanthemums and the Damask Rose (a variety only found in Chiang Mai).
Luxury winter sun
For clients looking for something extra special for their winter sun trip, Audley’s specialists recommend a Luxury Cairo and the treasures of the Nile itinerary. Clients see the pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Dahshur on a full-day tour, with a second day exploring Cairo itself with a private guide and driver. In Luxor, they board a luxury river cruise ship for a four-night cruise to Aswan. Excursions from the ship include the Valley of the Kings, and the Temple of Horus in Edfu as well as lesser-known temples of Sobek and Haoeris, Ptolemaic in Kom Ombo.
A 10-day trip costs from £5,995 per person (based on two travelling) and includes flights, transfers, accommodation, a four-night cruise on a full board basis and excursions. 01993 838 410 / www.audleytravel.com/egypt
Audley’s tips: January through to March is usually sunny and warm, with occasional rain. Hotels, cruises and sites can get very busy; particularly around the new year period so our specialists recommend booking ahead to secure our favourite properties.
Winter sun on the beach
For clients who want to relax on the beach, Audley’s specialists recommend an island-hopping trip to the Caribbean to compare the characters and landscapes of three different islands.
Clients spend three nights in Barbados, sampling the bright lights and glamour and then move to the spice island of Grenada to see the volcanic terrain and enjoy excellent diving and snorkelling, with colourful wrecks and reefs as well as an underwater sculpture park to explore. They then move on to Bequia for seven nights, enjoying the sleepy beaches on one of the region’s most undeveloped islands.
A 14-day trip Bequia Beach Hotel, Barbados and Grenada costs £3,790 per person (based on two travelling) and includes flights, transfers and accommodation (B&B in Bequia and room-only elsewhere). 01993 838 275 / www.audleytravel.com/the-caribbean
Audley’s tips: Although rainfall can be high in November, the showers are generally short and blue skies return quickly and hotel deals can make this a good value time to visit. December sees the start of the dry season with bookings for Christmas made a year or more in advance and early booking is recommended through January and February too. Clients visiting Grenada in late January will see international yacht racing with the Grenada Sailing Festival and a visit to the north of the island towards the end of February can be rewarded with the sight of turtles nesting on the beaches.
Winter sun on safari
Audley’s Africa specialists recommend Botswana’s Okavango Delta & Victoria Falls safari.
Clients spend six nights on safari staying in two locations within Botswana’s Okavango Delta and three nights at Victoria Falls. Starting in the Khwai Concession clients enjoy game drives, guided bush walks and traditional mokoro excursions. Moving on by light aircraft to Gunn’s Concession, clients explore on and near the water, focusing on motorboat excursions, mokoro canoe trips, guided nature walks, and game drives. In Zambia, clients stay at Waterberry Lodge with included activities featuring guided trips to Victoria Falls, visits to markets and museums, morning and sunset boat cruises, guided bird walks and picnics on an island in the river.
The 12-day trip costs from £7,355 per person (based on two travelling) and includes international flights, local transfers and domestic flights, accommodation on a fully inclusive basis as well as safari activities and excursions. 01993 838 530 / www.audleytravel.com/botswana
Audley’s tips: November to February falls in Botswana’s green season (November to April) and is a great time to travel for clients who don’t mind the odd shower. Visitor numbers and prices are lower, the scenery is filled with green foliage, and animals give birth to their young. Temperatures will be in the low to mid-30s with rainfall lowest in November.