Thinking of seeing the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, sailing to the Galapagos Islands or tackling the Inca Trail?
Due to popular demand and limited capacity, experiences like these need to be booked well in advance. Here are eight amazing travel experiences you need to book early.
1. Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
It’s no surprise that hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is seriously popular, and thankfully — for those who want to gaze upon its majesty without the company of a million other people — trekking permits are limited to five hundred per day.
That might sound like a lot, but it’s not. Those permits cover around 200 guides and porters, as well as trekkers. So, if you want to walk to this Peruvian wonder — particularly during the May-September dry season, you need to book ahead.
2. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda
This is without doubt one of the world’s most amazing travel experiences, and one of the hardest to book! Visits to each of the habituated groups of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda is limited to one hour-long session per day, with a maximum of eight people. There are just seven or eight groups per country, so trying to gain a prized permit is something you need to do well in advance — particularly during the peak holiday months when demand always exceeds supply.
The system of tightly controlled visitor numbers is considered a great success on the map of wildlife tourism, so it’s actually something to be celebrated. Book early!
3. Witnessing the wildebeest migration, Tanzania & Kenya
The Great Migration is an annual pilgrimage of over two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains to Kenya’s Masai Mara, all following the rain in search of freshly nourished grass. While you can follow the herds round the vast Serengeti throughout the year, the key crossing point at the Mara River takes place from June to mid October, with the biggest crowd of tourists thronging into the compact Masai Mara to witness the river crossing in July and August.
Watching thousands of wildebeest cross the crocodile-infested waterway is one of the world’s most sought-after wildlife viewing experiences. If you book too late, you’ll miss it.
4. Exploring Europe in summer
If you are planing to visit the United Kingdom or Europe for their summer, you need to get your skates on early in the year. Flights and hotel prices start to rise significantly as summer approaches and demand increases. With the weakening of the Aussie dollar, booking well in advance will help you get the most from your holiday budget.
5. Catching Cuba before it changes forever
A visit to Cuba is one of the world’s most fascinating travel experiences, and one that should not be put off. The thawing of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the USA is paving the way for incredible change in this up-until-now reclusive Central American state. While many Cubans — particularly in the capital Havana — are celebrating the new freedoms, others are unsure of how the changes will impact on their unique culture and way of life.
If you do want to see one of the last strongholds of anti-capitalism before life there changes forever, now is the time to go.
6. Discovering the natural wonders of Galapagos
Unlike many other wildlife-viewing destinations, the animals of the Galapagos Islands can be seen all year round. That means you can pretty much take your pick of dates to visit. However, for most people this means the standard holiday months of July and August or December and January. As most tours of the Galapagos are done on small boats with limited capacity, peak periods book out very quickly. To ensure you get to waddle alongside penguins and dive with seal pups, you need to book well ahead.
7. Whale watching in Europe
Whales swim around the world all year — you just need to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time to spot them! These whale-sized windows of opportunity vary depending on the time of year and water temperature. If you’re in Europe mid-year (summer), try the gorgeous Azores Islands — a protectorate of Portugal, and one of the region’s most popular whale watching hubs. You’ll spot numerous species here, including blue whales from June to early October. However, accommodation books out fast in July and August and prices skyrocket. You have been warned.
8. Basking in the beauty of the Northern Lights
Booking a trip to see the Northern Lights is something that should be done well in advance, if only to get a good deal on your accommodation. Popular destinations include Lapland, Iceland, Northern Canada and Alaska — none of which are known for going easy on a holiday budget.
In theory, aurorae borealis appear from late August to mid April, but you’re generally more likely to see them from late September to late March, when there is less light in the night sky. Having said that though, there’s no hard and fast rule. You need to be patient, and be in the right place at the right time.
This post was provided by Responsible Travel and edited by The Big Bus tour and travel guide.