October travel ideas

the great migration makes Tanzania a great destination for October travelFor some, the beginning of September is about back-to-school. In my case, it’s time to start thinking about planning new trips for the season ahead. Here are some places around the world that would be great for October travel.

Africa & Asia

Tanzania

We saw spectacular wildlife in the Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater and Tarangire National Park. Elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, lions, monkeys, warthogs, vultures, flamingoes, buffalo and even elusive rhinos and leopards. It’s breathtaking to see them roaming free and magnificent.

October is the final month of both the dry season and the great migration in Tanzania. It’s easy to spot the massive herds of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles traveling in search of water. My safari in Tanzania was just after this time, and even then we saw huge numbers of animals.

 

lioness and cheetas in the grass

We added a beach break to our safari by hopped a ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar. Before making our way to sandy shores, we explored the island’s capital of Stonetown. It was a maze of narrow alleys and mysteriously ornate doors – perfect for getting lost, whether on purpose or not. For more detail on these and other spots in Tanzania, see my safari planning article.

sandy beach on Zanzibar and carved wooden door in Stonetown

India

India is the most soul-changing place I’ve ever visited. Much has been written by others more eloquent than I about both the delights and challenges of this complex country. It seems like a lot of hyperbole, until you experience the place for yourself.

a group of women and girls in colorful saris in rural Rajasthan

By October, the monsoon rains have subsided and temperatures have cooled to tolerable levels. Depending on the year, the ancient Hindu festival of Diwali may fall in October. It celebrates the victory of good over evil and light over dark. All across the country, candles are lit in front of practically every home and temple, making the evening streets a beautiful sight.

If you want a chance to spot a tiger in the wild, India’s national parks reopen in October. The forests are lush and green at this time, making a beautiful backdrop for photography. In Ranthambore there are regal Bengal tigers, wild boar, deer, mongoose, langur monkeys and sloth bears along with peacocks, herons, kingfishers and many other birds.

deer in Ranthambore Park, India

Europe

Munich

I’ve been on a road trip through parts of Germany, but I hope to go back for Oktoberfest in Munich. It starts in late September and runs through early October. The beer tents are the main attraction, but the festival also includes live music, parades, and other entertainment.

Aside from the fest, Munich has palaces, museums, churches and grand boulevards to explore. You can see even more romantic castles in the surrounding countryside, and only 90 minutes away by train lies the city of Salzburg, Austria.

Neuschwanstein Castle, easily seen on a side trip from Munich, Germany

Andalusia, Spain

By October, the summer holiday crowds have gone from southern Spain, but the weather is still warm enough for t-shirts much of the time. The region is rich with sights – I spent two weeks exploring Andalusia with a friend, and we ran out of time.

We avoided the over-priced, overbuilt Costa del Sol and based ourselves in one of the white villages in the hills – Frigiliana. From there we took day trips to Gibraltar, dramatically located Ronda, Cordoba and Granada with its stunning Alhambra. If we hadn’t run out of time, we would have visited Seville and the sherry region around Jerez.

hill town of Ronda in the Andalusia region of Spain

Turkey

If you love Greco-Roman history, Turkey offers a treasure trove of classical ruins. Ephesus is the largest and most complete, and therefore the most visited. The summer crowds are gone by fall, even though the weather is still lovely. And the smaller ruins elsewhere are practically deserted.

Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities and a natural place to start and end your journey. It’s both European and Asian, western and eastern. The emperors and sultans left a legacy of opulent palaces, stunning mosques and a delicious cuisine. The Grand Bazaar is a swirl of shopping delights and the Bosphorus offers cool breezes and a chance to see the city from the water.

marble columns at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey

Don’t miss taking a classic Blue Voyage on a wooden gulet yacht. My friend and I spent four days exploring the harbours, ruins, tombs and quiet beaches along the stunning Turquoise Coast.

Word of warning: the experience varies depending on your shipmates. We shared our boat with 18 boisterous Germans. It made for lively mealtimes and cocktail hours. It also made us appreciate our peaceful walks onshore that much more, as they stayed behind to bask topless in the sun.

view of the turquoise Agean Sea from bow of a gulet on a Blue Voyage in Turkey

North America – Palm Springs

If you want to extend your summer with a dose of palm trees, dessert scenery, 50’s-era glamour and retro kitsch, Palm Springs is the place for you. It has good shopping, eclectic galleries, excellent spas and surprisingly good dining too. Nearby Joshua Tree National Park is a great place to hike, and the aerial tramway takes you up to the mountain for amazing views.

Temperatures during the day will be warm to hottish, but not sweltering. Finding a pool for a cool dip is never a problem. Many shops, bars and restaurants have strategically placed misters that pump out refreshing cool micro-droplets – ahh.

giant Marilyn Monroe sculpture in downtown Palm Springs and nearby dessert scenery

A colourful autumn, wherever you spend it,

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