Hot springs in Yellowstone NP (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 05 August 2019

13 of the best off-season trips

Off-season doesn’t necessarily mean bad season. Sometimes, it's worth putting up with less-than-perfect weather for low prices, unbelievable wildlife encounters and incredible natural phenomena...

1. Northern Lights in warmer weather

Watching the Northern Lights in autumn (Shutterstock)

Watching the Northern Lights in autumn (Shutterstock)

The Aurora Zone’s Autumn Auroras in Lapland in Torassieppi may seem off-peak, but there are bonuses to travelling during the ruska. The lack of snow means darker skies – all the better for aurora, which you might see reflected in the unfrozen lakes. 

Warmer climes make the journey more comfortable, but also means the local wildlife is more active. There’s also lots of daylight for hikes in Pallas National Park.

Trip: Torassieppi - Autumn Auroras in Lapland

Who: The Aurora Zone

Type: Small group

When: Oct & Nov

How long: Three nights

How much: From £985

2. Traverse Myanmar's Golden Land

Balloons over Bagan, Burma (Shutterstock)

Balloons over Bagan, Burma (Shutterstock)

Experience the lush-green of Myanmar’s wet season on TransIndus’s Essential Myanmar tour. October to December is the perfect time for photographs, as the rains are irregular and you can still balloon over Bagan, explore the sites around Mandalay, and visit the floating villages of Inle Lake. 

Visits to sights such as Shwedagon Pagoda and the iconic U Bein Bridge will be timed to avoid the crowds, and supplemented by offbeat walks.

Trip: Essential Myanmar

Who: TransIndus

Type: Small group

When: Oct to Dec

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,495 (exc. flights)

3. Journey to Bolivia's salt plains

Walking on the mirrored salt flats (Audley)

Walking on the mirrored salt flats (Audley)

Watch one of the world’s natural wonders turn into a giant mirror. During the rainy season, Bolivia’s famous salt flats are submerged in a layer of water – and the reflections make for great photos. 

Audley’s Classic Bolivia tour will further cover a sizeable chunk of the country, driving through the high plains of Uyuni, catching flamingos, lagoons and rock formations at Villa Mar and San Cristobal. Other ports of call are the former capital, Sucre, the mining city of Potosi and the current capital, La Paz.

Trip: Classic Bolivia

Who: Audley

Type: Small group

When: Nov to Mar

How long: 12 days

How much: From £5,260 (inc. flights)

4. Flora and fauna in Costa Rica

A sea turtle in Tortuguero National Park (Shutterstock)

A sea turtle in Tortuguero National Park (Shutterstock)

There's a wealth of jungle wildlife on Tucan Travel’s Costa Rica Encompassed tour. Go during rainy season for the incredible opportunity to get close to the nesting green sea turtles, in Tortuguero National Park. 

You'll also enjoy a visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and hike to the Arenal Volcano. After all that activity, you'll enjoy some downtime and relaxation on the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park and Cahuita National Park.

Trip: Costa Rica Encompassed

Who: Tucan Travel

Type: Small group

When: July to Oct

How long: 14 days

How much: From £961 (exc. flights)

5. Dive with dolphins in the Maldives

Wild dolphins in the Maldives (Shutterstock)

Wild dolphins in the Maldives (Shutterstock)

Travel during the wet season to go diving with sharks, rays, and dolphins – minus the crowds. Dive Worldwide’s Dive Baa Atoll trip lets you choose from over 35 dive sites. You'll be surrounded by uninhabited islands - but few other divers.

Rainfall is heavy but often short and predictable – so during sunny spells you can relax on sandy beaches amid tropical vegetation and turquoise lagoons.

Trip: Dive Baa Atoll

Who: Dive Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: May to Oct

How long: 10 days

How much: £2,475 (exc. flights)

6. Take in Russia's snow-covered sights

St Petersburg, Russia, in winter (Regent Holidays)

St Petersburg, Russia, in winter (Regent Holidays)

See St Petersburg at its sparkliest on Regent Holidays’ St Petersburg Short Break in winter. The city never looks picture-postcard prettier than under a dusting of snow. 

Wrap up warm to revel in St Petersburg's wintery charm. Visit the Hermitage Museum, the palaces of Tsarskoe Selo and other historic gems. Bonus? Winter's the cheapest time to visit, too...

Trip: St Petersburg Short Break

Who: Regent Holidays

Type: Tailor-made

When: Dec to Mar

How long: Six days

How much: From £930 (exc. flights)

7. Gawp at gorillas in East Africa

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda (Shutterstock)

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda (Shutterstock)

Travel on Oasis Overland’s Gorillas and Gameparks tour in April or May and save some serious cash. In these off-peak months, a gorilla-trekking permit is £225 cheaper! 

This particular trip starts and ends in Nairobi, and travels through Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Over 19 busy days, you'll tick off East African game parks, Nile cruising, white water rafting and, of course, close-up gorilla encounters.

Trip: Gorillas and Gameparks

Who: Oasis Overland

Type: Small group

When: Apr & May

How long: 19 days

How much: From £695 (exc. flights)

8. Try another route to Machu Picchu

Meeting the locals in Machu Picchu (Dragoman)

Meeting the locals in Machu Picchu (Dragoman)

Even though the classic Inca Trail is closed in February, you can still experience Machu Picchu in all its glory on Dragoman’s Inca Heartland tour. You'll take an alternative route up to this classic travel icon. 

If you’re hungry for more relics of ancient civilisation, the trip also visits the Inca city of Cusco and the pre-Inca Sillustani ruins, as well as the floating villages of Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

Trip: The Inca Heartland

Who: Dragoman

Type: Small group

When: Feb

How long: 12 days

How much: From £628 (exc. flights)

9. Spy hippos and leopards in Zambia

Hippos in Zambia (Wildlife Worldwide)

Hippos in Zambia (Wildlife Worldwide)

Wildlife Worldwide’s Rivers & Rainbows tour operates just at the end of the rains, when the Luangwa River is high. This is the only time boat safaris run. 

The river is bursting with life, while leopard, elephants and other game thrive on its banks, as do 450 species of birds. Night drives and treks are available, too.

Trip: Rivers & Rainbows

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Jan to Apr

How long: Nine days

How much: From £3,375 (exc. flights)

10. Walk on Chile's wild side

Guanaco in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (Shutterstock)

Guanaco in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (Shutterstock)

Spotting one of nature’s most impressive big cats, the puma, will be easier thanks to Journey Latin America’s Trek in Torres del Paine tour.

In these cooler climes, you will seldom see other travellers in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, meaning the mammal is less likely to hide in the undergrowth. 

It’s not just pumas: geese, guanaco and condors will all be more frequent, while the autumn colours or snow – depending when you go – is great news for photographers.

Trip: Active Chile: Trek In Torres Del Paine

Who: Journey Latin America

Type: Small group

When: Jul to Oct

How long: 13 days

How much: From £4,061 (exc. flights)

11. Serengeti safari in rainy season

Lionesses in the rain, Serengeti (Shutterstock)

Lionesses in the rain, Serengeti (Shutterstock)

Flock to Tanzania during the off-season to see more than 500 species of migratory birds, including the great white pelican, Caribbean flamingo and lesser spotted eagle. The rainy season is the only time of year to see them. 

The quieter period during Intrepid’s Serengeti Trail tour means navigating parks such as Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park will be easier. You'll also have an easier time spotting the Big Five. 

Trip: Serengeti Trail

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Mar to Apr

How long: Eight days

How much: From £996 (exc. flights)

12. See Yellowstone in wondrous white

Grand Prismatic Spring with snow-covered hills, Yellowstone (Shutterstock)

Grand Prismatic Spring with snow-covered hills, Yellowstone (Shutterstock)

Take in the snow-dusted peaks of two of the USA’s superlative national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, with Wildlife Worldwide's Ultimate Yellowstone Winter Wolf & Wildlife Safari tour.

Spotting wolves, bears and bison will be easier against the snow. Prepare to don your snowshoes for an epic hike through Grand Teton, and enjoy a night under the stars with an evening of astronomy at Spring Creek Ranch.

Trip: Yellowstone Ultimate Wolf & Wildlife Safari

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

Type: Small group

When: Jan to Feb

How long: Seven days

How much: From £4,895 (exc. flights)

13. Visit Angkor Wat without the crowds

Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

Think Cambodia’s rainy season is all relentless monsoons and unbearable heat? Think again. The rainy season in Cambodia is actually short and sharp.

The temple of Angkor Wat and the streets of Phnom Penh glisten after their hose down – and you'll see it all on All Points East's Cambodia Overland tour. 

Explore the lush scenery with a forest hike up Bakheng Hill to visit the Phnom Bakheng Temple and the jungle ruins of Preah Khan. Take advantage of the flooded forests for a boat tour to the floating villages of Battambang, before clambering aboard its famous bamboo train.

Trip: Cambodia Overland

Who: All Points East

Type: Small group

When: Sep to Mar

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,200 (exc. flights)

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