Monthly Archives: October 2016
The Arctic Circle sparkles at this time of year. The landscape is buried in snow and lakes are frozen. Polar night (the period of 24-hour darkness) is over, and the sun puts in ever-longer appearances. And the magical Northern Lights are quite likely to dance: according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the best time to look for aurora is February to March and September to October. This is also a great time for everyone – young, old, families, couples – to get into the great outdoors. Though still chilly, temperatures start to rise this month, and wilderness lodges offer full programs of activities: husky-sledding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing… All guaranteed to warm you up. If all else fails, a visit to a traditional Finnish sauna should do the trick.
- Trip plan: Rovaniemi and Ivalo airports offer access to Finland’s north. Spend four or more nights at a wilderness lodge to maximise chances of seeing aurora, and to pack in plenty of snowy fun.
- Need to know: Many lodges offer ‘aurora alerts’ – a wake-up call if the lights emerge.
- Other months: Dec-Apr – snow activities (Sep-Apr: aurora); May-Aug – long days, warmest; Sep-Nov – brief autumn, cooling.
Head for the hot slopes and hot springs of Wyoming, USA
When snow cloaks the cowboy state, special things happen. Skiers and boarders will love the Teton Mountains resort of Jackson Hole, nicknamed ‘The Big One’ on account of its steep, squeaky-bum terrain and great powder (driest and deepest January to February). There are some baby slopes, but this is best for intermediates and pros. Après-ski is lively too. Then, further north, quite different thrills await in Yellowstone National Park. Heaving in summer, Yellowstone empties in winter. Park roads close, and the only ways to explore are via snowcoach, snowmobile, cross-country skis or snowshoes. Geysers and hot springs steam in the icy air, and animals congregate at the thermal areas for warmth. Also, grey wolves stand out against the snow-blanketed landscapes, and their tracks are more easily followed – take a guided trip in the Lamar Valley for the chance of a sighting.
- Trip plan: Jackson Hole keeps experienced powderhounds busy for weeks (nearby Snow King resort is better for beginners). It’s a scenic drive north to Yellowstone; free ranger-led tours still run in winter, or book a wildlife or snow-sports package.
- Need to know: Jackson Hole Airport is 7 miles (12 km) north of Jackson, 56 miles (90 km) south of Yellowstone’s south gate.
- Other months: Nov-Mar – skiing, Yellowstone winter; Apr-May & Sep-Oct – mild, uncrowded; Jun-Aug – hot, busy.
This chunk of France, afloat in the Mediterranean, deserves its monicker: L’île de Beauté. The rumpled, maquis-cloaked interior – where you can easily forget the world – tumbles to perfect golden crescents, some touristy, some seemingly unfound. There’s wildness if you want it (the hiking is some of Europe’s best), but also fine food and indulgent retreats, not least Domaine de Murtoli (murtoli.com) – possibly the continent’s most romantic hideaway.
Why pick one island when you can have 30? That’s about how many specks of wonderful white sand make up this Indian Ocean archipelago. Among them is Ibo, home to the 16th-century Portuguese trading settlement of Ilha de Moçambique – a must-see. After a dose of culture here, sail between the islands – remote Vamizi, luxe Quilalea – stopping off on nameless cayes for lobster barbecues en route.
Huahine, a 40-minute flight from Tahiti, is Polynesia at its most sublime (and that’s quite a feat). Slopes of tropical abundance sink into eye-searingly blue lagoons; there’s culture aplenty, including the highest density of marae (temples) in the territory; and opportunities abound for snorkelling, horse riding, surfing or doing nothing at all.
This tiny speck of pines on Ontario’s Kawawaymog Lake can only be reached by canoe, and is ideal for two. There’s a cosy cabin with a second-floor deck and outdoor dining table ideally placed for sunset; a floating sauna bobs in the shallows. Other than that, it’s you and the wilderness.