Where: Tohkum Region, Japan
Why: This remote scenic region consists of six prefectures in the north of Japan’s largest island, Honshu renown for its castles and samurai residence, picturesque countryside, mountains, lakes, hot springs, high quality rice and rough winters.
Highlights: Along with these highlights its worth bearing in mind the cherry trees blossom here a few weeks later here than they do in Tokyo and Kyoto. Mount Bandai, an active stratovolcano located to the north of Lake Inawashiro, The Three Mountains of Dewa refer to the three sacred mountains of Mount Haguro, Mount Gassan and Mount Yudono, clustered together in the ancient province of Dewa, Towada-Hachimantai National Park comprising two separate areas of Aomori, Iwate, and Akita Prefectures. The Towada-Hakkōda area encompasses Lake Towada, Mount Hakkōda, and most of the Oirase River valley. And if you can squeeze it in, a trip to Tashirojima sounds delightful! It’s a small island off the coast of Ishinomaki city populated by roughly 100 people, most of whom are over 80. The island’s main attraction is its cats, shipped in from the mainland to hunt mice that were threatening the islands silkworm industry which has long since died whilst the cats have continued to breed. There is also a camping/holiday home area of the island with cat shaped buildings all designed by famous manga authors.
When: The long winters and numerous hot springs make it the ideal place for a winter skiing trip. It’s also worth checking harvest times as Tohoku is an important fruit production area and produces most of Japan’s apples (Aomori), pears (Yamagata), cherries (Yamagata) and peaches (Fukushima). And on the subject of food, Yonezawa. Yamagata is famed for beef, and beef tongue is a specialty of Sendai. Akita is best known for kiritanpo a hot pot with pounded rice and a chicken stock. Horsemeat is commonly eaten in mountain regions of Iwate.
Why: The southernmost territory of Spanish part of the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors, a mixed race of Berbers and Arabs who crossed into Spain from Morocco and North Africa, occupied al-Andalus for over seven centuries they developed the most sophisticated civilization of the Middle Ages, centred in turn on the three major cities of Córdoba, Seville and Granada.
Highlights: Positioned at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is Granda, the shining gem in Andalucia’s crown. Visit the spectacular Alhambra palace but the city has so much more to discover. Cordoba’s exquisite mesquite is on our list as are the orange trees lined streets of Seville. Step off the tourist trail to explore the white washed hill towns around Rhonda and head down to the back to coastline to sample smokey mackerel morsels at one of the beachfront huts.
When: If you like it hot then July is your month with temperatures averaging 28°C (82°F). The coldest month is January at 11°C (51°F). Don’t let the rainy month of March stop you from visiting as regional Easter celebrations are a sight well worth dancing in the rain for.
Why: Often referred to as the pearl of the Mediterranean, Montenegro is nestled along the coast of the Adriatic Sea to the south-west, bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo to the east, and Albania to the south-east. Rugged mountains, ancient forests, medieval villages and a narrow strip of beaches run along the Adriatic coastline of this Balkan country.
Highlights: As if the crystal clear Adriatic sea was not enough – starting from the south the 13 km long beach in Ulcinj, often called a Copacabana of Europe there are many other sights and sceneries. Lake Skadar is situated on the border of Albania and Montenegro and is the largest lake in the Southern Europe. The lake’s system is a well-known hotspot of freshwater biodiversity and harbors a highly diverse mollusc fauna and is one of the largest bird reserves in Europe with 270 bird species, among which are some of the last pelicans in Europe. The Đurđevića Tara Bridge is a concrete arch bridge over the Tara River in northern Montenegro located at the crossroads between Mojkovac, Žabljak and Pljevlja, between the villages of Budečevica and Trešnjica.
When: Ski season runs from November to April, May to October are warm and sunny with July and August peak season.
Why: Leaning and discovering the rich and fascinating culture of people indigenous to Bolivia makes for a wonderful experience; artefacts, parades and crafts, also the unique species such as poisonous annellated coral snakes, or world’s rarest macaw, the bluebeard, soaring landscapes to scale, and sampling llama meat and Taija wine.
Highlights: The craggy salt plains of Salar de Uyuni, Lake Titicaca, the electrifying Yungas Road, the unique landscape of Valle de la Luna, the red lake of Laguna Hedionda and its flamingos and the Palacio Portales in Cochabamba to name but a few not forgetting the Carnaval de Oruro – a religious festival dating back more than 200 years that takes place in Oruro, Bolivia. Originally an indigenous festival, nowadays more than 48 groups of folk dancers specializing in 18 different folk dances perform a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Tunnel every Saturday of the carnival in a traditional parade.
When: Winter (invierno) runs between May and October: this is the dry season. It is also worth noting that the climate varies much more as a result of altitude and topography
Why: Situated on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, Ghana is trove of stunning and diverse wildlife, old forts and secluded beaches. Also great to check out are Ghanaian festivals are a colourful and vibrant part of the culture. Each year festivals and durbars are held in various parts of the country to celebrate the heritage of the people, you can check out a list here.
Highlights: The capital city Accra is bursting with street life, striking architecture, botanical gardens, centres and memorials to historically significant figures the W.E.B Dubois Centre,and beaches. Coastal towns Elmina and Cape Coast contain posubans (native shrines), colonial buildings and castles-turned-museums that serve as testimonials to the slave trade. North of Cape Coast, vast Kakum National Park has a treetop-canopy walkway over the rainforest.
When: October to March is the best time to visit Ghana, when the climate is marginally cooler and less humid, and you’ll miss the spring and summer rains. Harmattan – the Saharan wind – blows in from December, which causes haze, dust and very dry skin.