As optimistic as we intend to be about the New Year and the idea of a clean slate, January is all too often spent fighting off the blues. Festivities are replaced with sobriety, the pub by the gym, and on top of it all the pressure of sticking to those New Year’s resolutions.
One way to break free of the New-Year gloom is to prepare for the year ahead by booking a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here, Culture Trip has identified five that will get you excited – and through the first month of the year.
The Northern Lights are notoriously hard to come by and seeing them requires patience and dedication. You could be waiting a long time, and rather than standing around freezing, why not pop on a drysuit and float on a lake? You’ll be surrounded by icebergs and, hopefully, you’ll catch sight of the aurora borealis. Pickup and drop-offs are included at selected Rovaniemi hotels, which are close to the lake.
The area of Monteverde in the volcanic Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range is best known for its rare cloud-forest ecosystem, which means the region is consistently covered in clouds, and biodiversity thrives as a byproduct. See this first-hand on a hike with a private guide, who will help you spot its residents, which include birds, sloths and monkeys. Choose from trails which snake along the Santa Elena Reserve, Monteverde Reserve, Aguti Reserve, Curi Cancha Reserve or SkyWalk bridges. There are options for those who use wheelchairs, too.
Classed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its expansive red sand, mountains and rock formations, there’s no place on earth quite like Jordan’s ancient desert of Wadi Rum. Immerse yourself in this landscape on a day-long jeep tour, where climbing on rocks, rolling down sand dunes and dancing around the desert is strongly encouraged. You’ll also have the opportunity to drink tea with Bedouins, known as desert dwellers or nomadic Arabs, who have long inhabited Wadi Rum. The day wraps up with tales from the tribe around a campfire.
With snow coming down for around 125 days a year, Japan’s fifth-largest city of Sapporo is the place to go if cold climes and snow-based activities pique your interest. Chitose North Snow Land, just fifteen minutes from New Chitose Airport, is your port of call for a day of fun on the slopes. Among your options are cross-country skiing, tube sledding, snow rafting, horseback riding and taking to the snow on a quad bike. Cram as much as you can into a day, but make sure you round it off with shabu-shabu, a warming Japanese hotpot of vegetables and meat – essential after a day out in the cold.
South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the few reserves where you can get up close and personal with the ‘big five’ – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. You’ll see most (if not all) of them during your three day safari, along with plenty of other wildlife. All this will be done under the expert guidance of an experienced game ranger in an open safari vehicle. Hotel pickup and drop-offs are included, and so are all your meals.