Whilst February was all about choosing between ice cold adventures and winter sun, March sees the return of adventures, animal spotting and cultural activities to keep you busy. I’m off skiing today near Grenoble where I spent a year teaching English but these destinations and activities have caught my eye for the upcoming month.
Animals: Leopards, Sri Lanka
March is the best time to spot Leopards in Yala along the country’s souteast coast. Amongst the 1270sq km is a vast array of animals including one of the world’s densest leopard populations. As the end of the dry season, March is one of the best times to visit. While its still dry the leopards and other animals head towards the remianing water sources and away from the lush vegetation that hides them and makes them difficult to spot.
Hawksbill turtles, Borneo
Head to Malaysia, or Borneo to be more precise, and gawp at the hawksbill turtles climbing on shore to lay their eggs in hundreds. Sabah, a region in northern Malaysia in amongst the Himalayas and New Guinea is home to orangutans and turtles, and of course other fantastic wildlife. The females haul themselves up the beach above the high-water mark then use their real flippers to dig a chamber in which they lay their eggs. Something you’ll never forget.
Blue Whales, Chile
Om 1997 a team of marine scientists surveyed 4000km of Chilean coast and only found 40 blue whales. However, when they headed back home throug hthe Gulf of Corcovado they found 60 whales in the space of 4 hours! With this discovery they had accidentally stumbled upon a hugely important nursing space for the blue whales. In the Chilean summer the whales head to the Gulf to give birth. The calves grow at a rapid pace; putting on 90kg a day! You can imagine the quantities of shrimp needed for that sort of growth!
Culture: Auckland Festival, New Zealand
EVery two years for most the MArch the Tamaki Makaurau (the Maori name of Auckland) celebrates its cultural diversity in style. In 2013 there were over 300 events and over 1000 artists. The festival programme is diverse. Expect Maori and Pacific groups as well as the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and choirs. There’s concerts, art, drama and a festival garden where the music is free and the joy clear.
Holi is one of the most colourful festivals you’ll see. In India it is predominantly celebrated in the north of the country and is known as the Festival of Colours due to the events on the final day of Holi where children and adults take to the streets throwing powder (gulal) on each other. If you’ve ever seen pictures after the 5km Colour Run around the UK you’ll known what this looks like. Though Holi runs for three days its mostly about the final mad day. THe night before, bonfires are lit at major junctions in the towns and citiis and effigies of the demon Holika are burned to symbolise good’s triumph over evil.
St Patricks Day, Ireland
Whilst the patron Saints of England and Wales are mostly forgotten, St Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, is always remembered. Seen as an excuse to wear green, drink Guiness and make jokes about leprechauns the 17th March is the day you’ll find people taking to the streets pretty much wherever you are. In Dublin there’s a parade which begins at midday; purchase grandstand seating for the best view.
Adventure: Paragliding, South Africa
Head to South Africa’s Capetown where the winds are strong, but suitable for beginners to try your hand at paragliding adventures. As one of the top destinations for paragliders all over the world you’ll be in safe hands. March and April provide the best conditions for beginners to take a running leap of Table Mountain from where you’ll get a spectacular view over the seas and the expanse of the city.
There’s no technical climbing skills required to climb Vietnam’s highest peak Fansipan, also known as the ‘roof of Indochina’. At 3143m above sea level a guide, endurance and sense of adventure will help you reach the summit. Although the route is only 19km long the round-trip will day around 3-4 days’ worth of hiking. There are no mountain huts so you’ll have to be prepared and self-sufficient. After the first morning of hiking there’s no signs of civilisation; just forest, mountains and waterfalls. If you want to escape from it all this March, there’s no better place to be.
Sitting in an inflated tube and floating of paddling along a river may not be everyone’s idea of fun. However, if it’s your idea of fun then you should travel to Belize this March for a water adventure. In Belize there’s many gentle, not-too-cold watercourses winding their way through spectacular scenery. With no technique needed the Mopan River, near San Ignacio, proves popular. Feeling more adventurous? Then the floating in and out of caves on the Caves Branch River inside the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve will be right up your street. 2 Do you have any travel plans for March?