The (Biased) List of Best Places to Travel This Summer

Summer travel: the lure of the open road, the opportunity to jet off to a far-off country. Summer camping trip with my family when I was young introduced me to traveling many years ago, and though I do most of my own big trips in the fall and winter (it’s when I have time off), I still equate summer with travels.

So for each summer month, here is one place I’ve been I’d recommend you going to too. (Each of these destinations is also featured in my upcoming book Make Sure You Have a Map (and Other Bits of Travel Advice I’m Glad I Ignored) out, of course, this summer.)

Summer vacation is calling…

 

June: Tanzania

 

The rains come to much of Tanzania between November and May, so June can be a great time to travel. The wildebeest migration can be seen during these months in the Serengeti and other nature reserves and animals concentrate around waterholes, making them easier to spot. June also brings fewer mosquitoes!

Don’t forget that the hot, sunny weather almost means you can enjoy Tanzania’s beaches along the coast and on the islands of Zanzibar. Later in the summer, crowds at some of the more popular national parks and sights can get busy.

African elephant in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.
African elephant in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.
Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.
Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.
Traditional dhow fishing boat in the waters of Zanzibar.
Traditional dhow fishing boat in the waters of Zanzibar.

Also make note, that in 2016, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will be throughout much of June (around 30% of Tanzanians are Muslim). Many restaurants and food stalls could be closed during daylight hours especially on Zanzibar during the day fast. Take snacks to discreetly eat out of sight if you run into this “problem” and embrace the cultural difference by feasting at night at places like the Forodhani Gardens night market in Stone Town, Zanzibar!

 

July: San Juan Islands, Washington State

 

July is a fantastic time to explore the San Juan Island, about a two-hour drive and hour and a half ferry ride north of Seattle. Weather in July is usually in the 70s F (low to mid 20s C) with little rain, meaning calm and clear weather for hiking, sightseeing, and boating.

Orcas off San Juan Island.
Orcas off San Juan Island.

 

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island.
Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island.

July is also a prime time to see many of the pods of orca whales who frequent the waters of the Puget Sound around the islands. Take a whale-watching tour or bring binoculars and spot them from the shore at many of the cliffs on the islands.

Go on July 4 to enjoy Independence Day festivities (including parade, picnic, and fireworks) in small town America as well! More at http://www.visitsanjuans.com/

 

August: The Amazon

 

While there is no actual “dry” time to visit the Amazon Rainforest, there are some months that are drier than others. August (along with June and July) are slightly drier than other parts of the year which can make sightseeing and jungle trekking a little easier. Besides the fact you may actually get to experience the forest in sunlight, during the wet season some areas and parks are closed because of flooding.

Village of Santa Clarita, Colombia at sunset.
Village of Santa Clarita, Colombia at sunset.
Leticia Colombia Amazona, Amazon River
Main docks on the Amazon River, Leticia.

Places like Iquitos, Peru or Leticia, Colombia offer great bases for a sample of Amazon life or longer treks into the forest to try to spot animals like toucans, tapirs, and monkeys.

 

September: Alaska

 

September is my favorite month in Alaska for a number of reasons. The mosquitoes and other biting insects have abated for the summer. Berries are ripe and there for your picking. September night skies gets dark enough at night to have a chance to see the northern lights (though sunset in much of Alaska in September is still around 8 to 9 pm, giving you plenty of time for sightseeing).

Northern Lights, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Northern Lights, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Fresh-picked wild blueberries, Denali National Park, Alaska.
Fresh-picked wild blueberries, Denali National Park, Alaska.

And in Katmai National Park, in southwest Alaska, the grizzly bears are pigging out on all the spawned out, red salmon. The bears are giant this time of year as they eat as much as possible before going into winter hibernation and it is a great time to view them in Katmai—with fewer tourist crowds to boot. Seeing the bright red sockeye salmon, with their large green heads, spawn in the park’s rivers and streams is also a unique experience.

Two brown bears play fight in the Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska.
Two brown bears play fight in the Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska.
A brown bear sits in the in the Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Check out it's bulk under the water!
A brown bear sits in the in the Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Check out it’s bulk under the water!

Throw in the fact that higher mountain peaks can be dusted with fresh snow and both forests and tundra turn red, orange, and yellow, and September is prime time to be in Alaska.

If you travel in mid to late September, take note that some lodges, hotels, and sights close for winter; check dates ahead of time.


So figure out when and where you want to go and book that summer vacation trip. The world is waiting!

 

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