No sooner than the Christmas-New Year celebrations are over, than one begins to dread the prospect of going back to work and a life of monotony. However if you wish to keep up the spirit of celebration, how about taking off on a vacation in January? Here are some great destinations, varying from winter-sports venues to tropical beaches where you can escape all that sleet and snow.
- Swiss Alps
The alps in Switzerland have always featured as among the topmost destinations for ski lovers. And if you are a winter-sports fan, head to the Swiss Alpine slopes in January. Engelberg-Titlis is the largest skiing and snowboard destination in Central Switzerland with 82 km of slopes, five cross-country ski runs, a 3.5 km long sledge ride, snow shoe trails and winter hiking possibilities. The longest downhill is over 12 km with a vertical drop of 2'000 m. Here apart from skiing and snowboarding, there are also other recreational options like sledding, snow-tubing, snow-shoeing and even winter hiking. Lodging is available at Trubsee Alpine Lodge or Hotel Terrace or you could also explore accommodation down in the valley at Engelberg.
- Addo National Park, South Africa
South Africa is a great option for a January vacation not only for the fact that it lies near the equator and is thus bound to have great weather but also because of its famed game reserves. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, head for The Addo Elephant National Park which is unique in Africa, if not in the world for the co-existence of terrestrial and marine wildlife habitat. The park is home to African lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalos, thus completing the Big Five of Africa’s terrestrial wildlife. The elephant population in the Addo National Park is one of the densest in the world today. The Addo Elephant National Park is also famous for its marine section which houses great white sharks as well as southern right whales. Then there is the Bird Island in the park where rare species like the roseate tern and Siberian falcons come to breed.
- Cusco, Peru
While January brings freezing temperatures in North America, in the southern half things are much more pleasant. Lovers of history can head during this time of the year to Cusco in Peru. Cusco is the seat of Peru’s many archeological treasures which indicate the past glory of the ancient Inca civilizations. Among the sites that are open to tourists now are temples, ‘intihuatanas’, platforms, water supplies as well as rock carvings. The temple known as ‘Korikancha’ is one of the most famous which was used by the Incans to worship their gods with offerings of gold and silver. Another place of great archeological value is Sacsaywaman or the Sun House. Among other ancient sites are Quenko which was used as a ceremonial center and has an amphitheatre, Pukapukara which is a fortress-like structure and Tambomachay or the “Bath of the Nusta” whose two aqueducts have fresh running water through the year.
- Caymans Islands
Cayman Islands in the west Caribbean Sea have long been known for their sun-kissed beaches and calm turquoise waters, all of which make this tiny British Overseas Territory a tourist’s delight in January when temperatures are freezing elsewhere. This little bit of coastal paradise is made up of just three islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. While the golden beaches and water sports of Grand Cayman beaches especially the Seven Mile Beach make it more popular with the general run of tourists, the landscape of Cayman Brac has much more variety to offer. The most dramatic feature of this island is a limestone ridge which rises gradually from the west to 140 feet at the eastern tip after which it plunges in a sheer drop to the blue waters below. It is also home to amazing rock formations like caves and islets carved out from the ridge.
- Pangor Island, Malaysia
South east Asia is another great region to visit during January when the weather is not so hot and humid. If you love beaches, how about checking out Pangkor Island located off the coast of Perak in north-west peninsular Malaysia. Tourists have to take a ferry either from Lumut or from Sitiawan to reach Pangkor. The island is surrounded by pristine blue waters and lovely beaches; in fact the sands of Pasir Bogak beach are reputed to be of a far better quality than the more-frequented beaches of the country. In Pangkor the Teluk Nipah and the Coral Bay are especially popular with tourists from European countries. History buffs can take a look at an old Dutch fort which goes back to the 17th century.
- The Dead Sea
Ring in the new year by floating on the Dead Sea. At 400 meters below the sea level, it is the lowest body of water on Earth while its high saline content makes swimming in the Dead Sea a unique experience. Besides it high saline content, the Dead Sea is also rich in certain minerals which are used for agricultural as well as therapeutic purposes. The famous black mud packs of Dead Sea are used by the nearby spas for the treatment of a variety of skin conditions along with other kinds of therapies based on highly oxygen-rich air and filtered sunrays. Visitors to the Dead Sea can stay on the eastern Jordanian side and can fly to Amman from any part of the world.
- Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an island state lying at the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent. This tear drop shaped nation is famous for its tea gardens and the Ceylon tea which is exported to many countries While there are six major tea growing regions in Sri Lanka, the plantations of Nuwara Eliya in the north-central part of the country are reputed to produce the finest teas. Located at an average height of 6000 feet, the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya are surrounded by breathtaking valleys and misty mountain peaks. Moreover the town of Nuwara Eliya still possess much of the charm of old colonial British culture since it used to be the holiday resort of former British planters.
- The Blue Hole, Belize
Kickstart the New Year by indulging in some high-wire adventure sports. The small Central American country of Belize is an adventure lover’s dream and the most famous destination here is the Blue Hole Natural Monument. Located in the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the Blue Hole is actually a circular limestone sinkhole measuring 126 meters deep and 395 meters across. Designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the site gets its name from the amazing vivid blue color of the water which is caused by the depth of the hole. The Blue Hole is one of the most astounding diving sites in the world and the spectacular limestone formations found nearby heighten the attraction of the place. Scuba-diving and snorkeling are some of the other popular water sports that tourists enjoy here.
- Kumarakom, Kerala
January is the best time to visit India before it gets hot and humid. And what better way to begin a brand new year than to take in a rejuvenating ayurvedic spa? One of the most reputed spa resorts in Kerala is the Kumarakom Lake Resort in the northern part of the state. Located on the shores of the Lake Vembanad is the village of Kumarakom from which the Resort gets its name. Surrounded by lazy backwaters, green mangrove forests and swaying coconut palms, the resort acts like a haven for all visitors looking for a restful stay.
- Ibiza, Spain
If you just don’t want to let go of all the New Year partying, simply head to Ibiza which has a long history of having one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes on the continent. Here a wide-ranging cosmopolitan crowd comes together with enthusiastic locals to provide patronage to some of the hottest music bands and DJs of Europe. Among the most popular of Ibiza’s nightclubs are Space, Pacha, Amnesia, DC10, Café del Mar and of course, Privilege which is reputed to be the largest nightclub on the planet with a capacity of 10,000 guests. Other than several internationally famous nightclubs, Ibiza is also home to the West End party scene of San Antoni which is a must-visit for the most ardent nightclub hoppers in Europe.