The Best February Travel Experiences

For all other months, go here: The Best Travel Experiences

February can be the best month to take a once in a lifetime trip.  Airline volume slows to its lowest point in the year, meaning you can scoop up the best airfare deals and find deep hotel discounts at the world’s most exotic destinations while enjoying them blissfully devoid of the tourist hoards.

 

February is the coolest and driest month to visit the tropical regions of Central America, The Middle East and much of Southeast Asia.  It is the warmest and most predictable month to explore the far southern regions of Patagonia, Cape Town, Tasmania and Southern New Zealand.  The spectacular temples and ruins of the most famous ancient civilizations of the Maya, Nabbatean, Burmese and Khmer Kingdoms enjoy the best weather of the year.

Travel Map for the Best February Travel Experiences.  Highlighted countries enjoy the best weather in February

Travel Map for the Best February Travel Experiences. Highlighted countries enjoy the best weather in February

Wonders of the Ancient World

  • Saudi Arabia – Madain Saleh: discover Petra’s forgotten twin city.  Blissfully free of tourists because it is supposedly cursed by the Quran.  Without rain, most these rock-hewn temples are as crisp as they were 2000 years ago. Hitchhiking to Madain Saleh
  • Bagan, Myanmar- Temples of Bagan: Marco Polo called Bagan “one of the finest sites in the world,” and this capital city of the ancient Burmese kingdom is surreal.  Discover over 4000 Burmese temples scattered across the flat plain as far as you can see in every direction. 5 Secret Sunrise Temples in Bagan
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia – Angkor Wat: The Khmer ruins of Angkor are perhaps the most dramatic and detailed temples of any ancient civilization.  It is easy to get lost in daydreams as you climb through doors and pillars strangled by the twisting roots of trees.  Experience Angkor Wat More Deeply
  • Tikal, Guatemala- Tikal at Sunrise: Climb the iconic temples towering above the canopy before sunrise and bask in the sights, sounds and smells of jungle awakening ritual
  • Colombia – Find The Lost City: In what’s called “The New Machu Picchu,” find the fabled Lost City of Gold hidden in the jungles of Colombia where priests live most of their childhood in caves. 600 years before Machu Picchu, The Tayronas built a network of settlements through out the Sierra with the Lost City at the heart. The Lost City is made up of hundreds of terraces made of stone around a Central Axis with expansive views of the lush Sierra mountains. The trek follows the Buritaca River through isolated indigenous villages practicing ancient rituals and an advanced philosophical worldview similar to Hindu and Taoist principles. You should experience this before this way of life is gone forever. Hiking Ciudad Perdida: The Lost City

Ciudad Perdida Trek Colombia

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

The 2014 season will see the brightest Northern Lights in a decade.  Here are some great places to see these wonders that also have great travel experiences.  How to get the Best Photos of the Northern Lights

  • Kiruna, Sweden – Ice Hotel: Stay in the Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland at the peak time for the northern lights. It is completely rebuilt each year by the world’s best ice architects who compete to push the boundaries of ice construction to make each suite the most unique and extravagant.
  • Tromso, Norway – The Reindeer Racing World Championships (Feb 9): Tromso is known for being remarkably accessible for the extreme northerly location, making it one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.
  • Kiruna, Sweden – Reindeer Expedition in Swedish Lapland: Discover the reality behind the lore of Santa Clause. Ride a reindeer sleigh on an expedition through the winter forest while basking under the glow of the Aurora Borealis. Native Saami guides will teach you the ropes as you stay in tepees and see how the locals live.
  • Reykjavik, Iceland – Northern Lights: Iceland is perhaps the most accessible location to watch the Northern Lights, and Iceland Air offers free layovers on flights between Europe and North America.  While you’re there, bar hop with hearty locals, swim the thermal pools of the blue lagoon and try hakarl, the most disgusting food I’ve ever eaten.

Unique Winter Sports

  • Antarctica – Kite Ski to the South Pole: To ski to the bottom of the world, first take a ski plane then kite ski or cross-country ski the remaining 67 miles to the south pole (weber arctic)
  • Manali, India – Yak Skiing: If you are looking for the most unusual extreme sport, look no further than Yak Skiing in Manali, the honeymoon capital of India.  Shake the bucket of nuts and hold on for dear life. Peter Dorjee, the most extreme of the local guides can get setup this trip as well other ridiculous activities like the vertical mountain biking plunge and motorcycle trips to Leh.
  • Tampere, Finland – Sauna and Ice Swimming: If you are looking to the ultimate shock to the system that actually feels extremely invigorating, try heating up in a sauna then swimming in a frozen lake.  See if you can break the record!  Here’s how to do it: Sauna and Ice Swimming in Finland.

 

Nile River at Jinja, Uganda: One of the only places you can surf down Class V Rapids on a foam boogie board

Nile River at Jinja, Uganda: One of the only places you can surf down Class V Rapids on a foam boogie board

Extreme Sports

  • Jinja, Uganda – Boogie Board Class 5 Rapids on the Nile: These rapids are so fierce here that rafts capsize more that they stay upright. But if you’re looking for something more challenging, guides can teach you how to surf down the most difficult class of rapids on a foam boogie board.
  • Yucutan, Mexico – Rappel the Cave of Swallows:  Rappel or BASE jump if you dare into one of the largest cenotes in the world, a round crater sunken 400m into the jungle floor.  The Gran Cenote is another great sinkhole where you can swim and dive into clear pools of water.
  • New Zealand – Even More Extreme Sports: Every sport here strives to be bigger and badder than anything else. Try heli-biking, blackwater rafting through caves of glow worms, free dive from the country’s tallest building or heli-hike the Franz Josef glacier.
  • Cerro Blanco, Peru – Sandboard the World’s Tallest Sand Dune: At 1176M, Cerro Blanco is the world’s tallest san dune.  Strap on a board and ride down the steep face surrounded by some amazing scenery.
One of the most Epic Hikes: Torres del Paine in Patagonia.  Photo by: /a

One of the most Epic Hikes: Torres del Paine in Patagonia. Photo by: Beyond Blighty

Outdoor Adventures

  • Hot Water Beach, New Zealand – Dig Your Own Hot Tub: This unique beach in New Zealand has hot geothermic water bubbling up from under the sand.  Grab a shovel, dig your own hot tub in the sand, grab a beer and relax the afternoon away in paradise.  New Zealand’s Hot Water Beach.
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s Highest Peak:  the dry, warm season and the February lull in travel make this the best time to climb the mountain.  You better do this before climate change melts the snow cap, as all water comes from snow-melt. Your children will never be able to stand on the roof of Africa.
  • Patagonia, Chile – Hike the Torres del Paine: Trek the “W” circuit through vistas and alongside luminescent glacial lakes in the shadow of spectacular granite spires of the Cordillera del Paine peaks that highlight this park. Tips on Hiking Torres del Paine
  • Vang Vieng, Laos – Bar Hop in an Inner Tube:  For those more keen to exercise their liver, a tube ride down the Nam Song river in tractor tire inner tubes framed with jungle-clad spires is a staple on the banana pancake trail through Southeast Asia.  Bars line the river eager to cater to floating travelers.
  • Quang Binh, Vietnam – Discover the Son Doong Cave:Discovered in 2009, one of the world’s largest cave systems is now open for tourism. Although the cave can be visited anytime, February through April are the coolest and driest months to enjoy the surroundings.
  • Belize – Bike Temple to Temple:Bike through the heart of the Mayan empire visiting the ruins of ancient cities on your way from Tikal to the beaches of Belize. Temple to Temple bike Trip.
Kayak Halong Bay, Vietnam: Float past jungle-shrouded limestone pillars and into caves.  This entire bay is considered a UNESCO site due to it's powerful and unique beauty.

Kayak Halong Bay, Vietnam: Float past jungle-shrouded limestone pillars and into caves. This entire bay is considered a UNESCO site due to it’s powerful and unique beauty.

Unreal Places to Stay

  • Cape Town, South Africa – Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park:  The trendy Grand Daddy Hotel has painstakingly restored 7 classic Airstreams and perched them on the rooftop, rockabilly-style overlooking one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Each boutique suite is decked out in its own unique theme. Top Highlights Around Cape Town
  • Cocoa Island, Maldives – Boat Hotel: Snuggle into overwater suites made from curved wooden Dhoni Boats, the traditional fishing boat of the area
  • Panama, Bocas Del Toro – Overwater Bungalows: Traditional wooden huts hover above the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Hundreds of pristine islands with white sand beaches dot this coastline – It’s just like Tahiti at a fraction of the cost. This secret is bound to get out.
  • Panama – Lost and Found Eco Hostel: A fully functioning jungle lodge in the cloud forest is the perfect resort hostel. Tucked into a private reserve, this Eco lodge offers hotsprings, jungle hikes, night safaris, beach tours and even a secret waterfall.
  • Kerala, India – Stay in a Treehouse:  This boutique Eco lodge in the Green Magic Nature Resort near Kerala offers eco-friendly cabins perched 3 stories high in the trees and require a bamboo lift to get to your room.

 

Upon seeing the Iguazu Falls, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed "Poor Niagara!"  The power of these falls in the wet season is humbling.

Upon seeing the Iguazu Falls, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed “Poor Niagara!” The power of these falls in the wet season is humbling. Photo by: Bespoke Brazil

Most Unique Wildlife Experiences

  • Channel Islands, California, USA – When Orcas Attack: Great sea migrations collide off the coast of California as 5 types of whales migrate through the Channel Islands making it one of the best Marine parks in the world to see raw nature.  When Orcas Attack
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands – March of a Hundred Thousand Penguins: See the largest colonies of penguins as they migrate to this Island. Hundreds of thousands of king penguins pack these islands at this time each year along with carnivorous mammals stocking up on penguin meat before the long winter.
  • Isla Del Coco, Costa Rica – Visit Costa Rica’s Galapagos: These under-visited islands are Costa Rica’s version of the Galápagos Islands without the crowds. It is where the flyovers for the movie Jurassic Park were filmed and is absolutely pristine.  February is the best time to dive for hammerhead sharks.
  • Barrier Islands, Belize – snorkel with sharks stingrays:  These huge creatures have been trained to congregate here after years of enjoying the scraps of fisherman. They take you out on a boat, chum the water to stir the sharks into a feverish eating frenzy, then tell you to jump in.  You should see the look on everyone’s face at that point. Don’t worry, nurse sharks lack teeth. Shark Ray Alley If you want to dive deep, The Blue Hole is near here as well.
March of a Hundred Thousand Penguins

March of a Hundred Thousand Penguins. (via)

  • Similan Islands, Thailand – Track Whale Sharks: Aid conservation efforts by “tagging” whale sharks, entering it into a database and tracking your whale’s progress throughout the world.  Majestic manta rays migrate through this area in great abundance at this time of year
  • Donsol, Philippines – Snorkel with the whale sharks: Between February and May, these gentle creatures migrate through these islands creating an excellent opportunity to get up close without the heavy equipment.
  • Yudanaka, Japan – Swim with Snow Monkeys: Soak in natural hot springs alongside lazy snow-covered monkeys relaxing in the mineral water of the Jigokudani Onsen
  • Iguacu Falls, Brazil/Argentina – Iguacu Falls in the off season:  The rainy season brings the highest water flow over these extraordinary falls featured in several parts of the most recent Indiana Jones movie.  Be humbled by the power of nature as you stand on a platform just above the center point of the waterfalls, aptly named the devil’s throat. Which side of Iguacu Falls is Best?

 

When Orcas Attack: See Great Sea Migrations Collide off the Coast of California (photo credit: Ordinary Traveler)

When Orcas Attack: See Great Sea Migrations Collide off the Coast of California Photo by: Ordinary Traveler

 

Epic Competitions

  • New York,NY, USA – Run up the Empire State Building: (Feb 6) Race up 1,576 ominous steps to the 86th floor.  The winners can do it in 10 minutes! Sign up here.
  • New Zealand – Coast-to-Coast Competition: (Feb 14)Run, Bike and Kayak 150 miles from the West coast to the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island sponsored by New Zealand’s finest beer.
  • Fairbanks, Alaska, USA – Yukon Quest: (Feb 1) 1000 mile dogsled race across Alaska and the Canadian Yukon in the dead of winter when the weather is the harshest and most unpredictable. Sign up here.
  • Lake Mälaren, Sweden – Nordic Skating Championships: (Feb 16) Join the world’s largest skating race, the vikingarännet (Viking Run) on a 50-mile path between Uppsala and Stockholm on frozen lakes and rivers surrounded by a winter wonderland forest. This historic path follows ancient routs used by the Vikings for over 3000 years. Sign up here.
  • Namibia – Race Across The World: Adventure race 150 miles across the scorching Namib Desert over some of the steepest sand dunes in the world.
  • New Zealand – The Avalanche Peak Challenge: (Feb 22)Race from the 1833m Avalanche Peak through Arthur’s Pass through razor-backed ridges, snow-capped peaks and amazing high mountain bush tracks. Sign up here.
  • Egypt – Ocean Floor Race: 160-mile ultramarathon in one the driest places on earth through the surreal landscape of the Egyptian desert. Sign up here.
  • Australia, New Zealand – Cricket World Cup (2015):

 

Rio Carnival: Get an inside look at the "World's Biggest Party" by joining a top Samba school and dancing in the parade.

Rio Carnival: Get an inside look at the “World’s Biggest Party” by joining a top Samba school and dancing in the parade. Photo by: Bespoke Brazil

Carnivals Around the World

(culminating on the weekend of March 1, 2014)

  • Rio de Janeiro – Carnival:The world’s biggest party. The biggest floats you’ve ever seen and armies of dancers parade through the Sambadrome only to burn them on the other side because they are too big to transport. Street parties are less formal and parade decked-out school busses through many sections of the city. Travelers can get an inside view by joining a top samba school and training to dance in the parade.
  • Salvador da Bahia, Brazil – Carnival:This is the more traditional Brazilian Carnival, unspoiled by tourist capitalism. Known for its music, Salvador impresses with a great variety of music and top Brazilian musicians.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, USA – Mardi Gras:Extreme people watching at its best. Watch people do ridiculous things for plastic beads. Parades are enormous and run by long-standing societies. The party moves to the historic French Quarter at night, once the capital of sin and seediness in the Prohibition Era
  • Trinidad: A Caribbean vibe abounds in this carnival historically held by slaves to mock the wealthy. Strong traditional abounds complete with steel drums and costume contests
  • Aruba:Each village on this island competes to have to have the most outlandish street parades doused by copious amounts of alcohol. Parades run on the weekends, culminating in the dual grand finale in the split city.
  • Ivrea, Italy – Battle of the Oranges:  (February 5-10, 2016) A true food fight.  Join in the crowd as over 500,000 kilograms of oranges are tossed throughout the streets of Ivrea to coincide with Carnival.

 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia: It is hard not to feel like Indiana Jones while climbing through these tree-strangled temples.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia: It is hard not to feel like Indiana Jones while climbing through these tree-strangled temples.

Quirky Festivals

  • Okayama, Japan – Naked Man Festival: Join thousands of scantily clad party goers at the naked festival near Saidaiji Temple in Okayama where men receive a purification by water that is said to bring prosperity and fertility for the coming year.
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – The Janadriyah Festival: See the king’s extravagant cultural festival highlighted by the largest camel race in the world.  2000 camels compete in 10 races with the winners driving off in a fleet of new luxury cars.
  • Punxsutawney, PA USA: Groundhog Day: (Feb 2)Join the celebration as “Phil” the Nostradamus groundhog emerges from his hole at sunrise to predict the weather of the coming season. If he sees his shadow, the winter will be longer than expected.
  • Taiwan – Lantern Festival: (Feb 14) Celebrating the first month of the Chinese New Year, the sky is lit up with thousands of candle-powered lanterns ascending to the heavens.
The Lantern Festival: One of the most hypnotic festivals in Asia

The Lantern Festival: One of the most hypnotic festivals in Asia (via)

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Angkor Wat

Festes De La Patrona – Held on Feb 5th http://www.emiliaromagnaturismo.com/en/events/bologna/pianura-bolognese/festa-della-patrona

 

About the author: Brad Bernard

 

Brad Bernard has traveled through 92 countries to find off-the-map experiences and authentic adventure travel. He pushes his own personal boundaries by travelling experimentally. Brad’s personal quest to find the most extreme and unique in travel has bred misadventures and moments of enlightenment alike. You can read his craziest stories on his adventure travel blog

Website: https://plus.google.com/+BradBernard340/