The 21 best places to visit in August

August is an extremely popular month to travel, especially to Europe, when temperatures soar. Prices tend to skyrocket, too, as the school holiday rush means that families nab flights to make the most of their fixed six weeks off.

Of course, there are brilliant places to visit all over the world during August. Whether you’re after a hot island holiday, a life-changing wildlife experience or an unexpected long-term adventure on the road less travelled, we’ve got you covered.

Skip ahead to your chosen travel type by clicking on one of the below, or keep scrolling for the full list:

The best August destinations for nature and ideal weather

1. Off-the-beaten-track Croatia

Sibenik, Croatia (Shutterstock)

Croatia’s hottest (and driest) month is August – with temps climbing as high as 28°C – so of course the likes of Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar and other classic destinations will be packed with visitors making the most of the sun.

If you want to enjoy the sparkling weather in Croatia without the crowds, head to the Mamma Mia island of Vis. Or for a city vibe, discover all of the amazing things to do in Sibenik, or Rovinj. But hurry, these gems are starting to be discovered.

Alternatively, why not skip Plitvice and Krka and head to one of Croatia’s six lesser-visited national parks? Kornati may be tricky to visit, but it is perfect for true explorers. Paklenica National Park is another gem, ideal for hikers unafraid of a hot, hot hike.

2. Matera, Italy

Matera, Italy (Shutterstock)

Matera is one of Basilicata’s biggest draws and was named one of two 2019 European Capitals of Culture. A few days is the perfect amount of time to delve deeper into how Matera turned its reputation around from ‘Italy’s shame’ to ‘iconic cultural hot spot’.

With highs of 29°C in August, summer is the ideal time to explore its fascinating cave districts in the sun, enjoy the natural beauty of Polino National Park, Italy’s largest, and sample the region’s authentic cuisine. For a longer trip, rent a car and head towards Pompeii, Sorrento, or in the opposite direction to coastal Bari.

3. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia (Shutterstock)

August in Colombia, weather-wise, is a bit hit and miss. Whether you’ll get sun or showers really depends on which region you’re visiting, whether you’re after a wildlife adventure in the Amazon or some time in the city.

One thing Medellin has in August that makes up for its – at times – overcast appearance? The spectacular 10-day celebration of nature, known as Feria de Flores(Festivals of the Flowers).

Every August, the city blooms with the bright colours of flowers, paraded down the streets. Hundreds of concerts, crafts sessions and floral parades take to the streets and fill the city’s best venues. It’s a must for any nature lover’s travel wish list.

4. Off-the-beaten-track Greek island hopping

Ithaca, one of our off-the-beaten-track Greek Island picks (Shutterstock)

Sunseekers won’t be surprised to see Greece on our list for August. It’s a classic summer holiday destination, whether you’ve booked with a travel agent, arranged an island-hopping boat tour or you’ve planned your trip yourself.

As with Croatia, just because it’ll be busy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the perks. After all, there’s a reason it’s so rammed.

Simply take the road (or waterway) less travelled to one of Greece’s secret islands, for an unforgettable beachside break with a difference. It’ll be incredibly warm, whichever island you choose. Average highs in August are 31°C, so make sure you’re prepared.

5. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia (Shutterstock)

When you think of Tallinn, you may find the peach-coloured Alexander Nevsky Cathedral springs to mind, surrounded by droplets of crisp white snow.

We don’t blame you. Though freezing, Estonia and its neighbours Latvia and Lithuania make fine winter breaks. But they shouldn’t be overlooked in summer.

Walking through Tallinn’s comprehensive Old Town and soaking up the atmosphere in Freedom Square is just as satisfying in the sun. With plenty of steep hills to climb, to get to the best views of the city, it’s almost easier without all the ice…

The best longer-term travel experiences to take on in August

6. Guyana & The Guianas

The rainforest of French Guiana (Shutterstock)

South America’s smallest wonders Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname are prime for visitors at the end of August. It’s the perfect time to witness the breathtaking Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, follow in Papillon’s footsteps in French Guiana, and sample Suriname’s tasty, speciality rums.

Firstly, the weather’s always warm, but it’s dry season on the Guianan coast during August, andFrench Guiana tends to be drier and warmer in August – as does Suriname.

All three countries are sandwiched between Venezuela and Brazil, so we’d say you’re best off lengthening your trip and visiting all three at once. At least you’ll have the benefit of being as far off the beaten track in South America as possible.

7. Mongolia

Mongolia (Shutterstock)

You can’t really go wrong in Mongolia at this time of year. Expect vibrant steppes rich in shades of green during August, and just-right temperatures between 20°C and 25°C.

If you head to the mountains, you’ll probably find it’s slightly colder than everywhere else – arguably better conditions for longer treks, which won’t require sweating it out in the heat. Wild camping and cycling are other must-do activities in August – as is heading to the Gobi Desert in the south.

It’s also prime time to visit Lake Khövsgöl in northern Mongolia, near the Russian border. The country’s biggest and most beautiful freshwater lake dazzles in the sunlight, and seems to stretch for miles on end.

8. Northern Kyrgyzstan

Burana Tower in Chuy Valley, northern Kyrgyzstan (Shutterstock)

August lands firmly in the middle of Kyrgyzstan’s peak season (May to October), so certain areas will be packed with visitors and locals (here’s looking at you, Lake Issyk-Kul).

However, it is a good time to take on the epic hikes that Central Tien Shan (the ‘Celestial Mountains’ in Chinese) has to offer. The highest peak reaches 7,439m, so this is no casual climb. You’ll need to be an experienced walker, with a high-level of fitness to make the most of it.

9. Jodhpur, India

Jodhpur, India (Shutterstock)

The Blue City of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is a travel photographer (and Instagram lover’s) dream come true. A seemingly endless maze of blue houses, winding alleys, and colourful doors awaits.

Of course, there’s much more to it than that. Expect history and art in the renowned, 15th century Mehrangarh Fort. Admire the ornate decoration of Jaswant Thada. Get out into nature at the impressive Mandore Sculpture Garden, get active with water activities in Lake Kaylana, or picnic at the 12th century Balsamand Lake.

Visit in August particularly for bearable heat (lows of 26°C and highs of 34°C), and the good chance that you’ll find some savvy accommodation deals. August is off-season, so though you won’t find yourself a lone visitor at any stage, it’s likely you may experience a tiny bit less of the typical bustle.

10. Langkawi, Malaysia

The stunning views of Kilim Geoforest Park in Langkawi, Malaysia (Shutterstock)

There’s so much to explore in Malaysia, it almost seems unfair to single out the archipelago of Langkawi. Though we suppose, with more time, there’s nothing to stop you heading further afield…

But with suitably warm temps (often around 28°C to 31°C), incredibly natural beauty to marvel, cable cars and boat trips galore, and unusual wildlife sightings practically guaranteed it’s an appealing all-rounder for a sunny getaway without the ‘packaged holiday’ feel.

The best August destinations for arts & culture

11. Edinburgh, Scotland

A sign for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, in 2018 (Shutterstock)

In August, you won’t struggle to find a variety of culture and entertainment festivals in most of the major British and European cities. For the best of the best in summer fun, you need to head to the Scottish capital.

Not only does the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival and its world-class comedy and theatre take over the architecturally-stunning city for the entire month of August, but you’ll also find a host of other big name festivals.

Expect arts exhibitions, orchestras and dances at the Edinburgh International Festival, performances at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival – both throughout the month. Towards the end of August, there’s a fireworks concert in the city centre, and a mix of multicultural events at the Edinburgh Mela Festival on 31 August.

12. London, England

London, England (Shutterstock)

Every month in London has something for everyone, but August really ups the ante in terms of arts and culture offerings for travellers.

As the name suggests, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival takes over south east London. Performance art takes place indoors and outdoors – expect everything from laser shows and colourful powder fights to stilt walkers and acrobats abseiling down historic buildings.

For classic music fans, BBC Proms has performances running throughout August.

As the month draws to a close, embrace the colourful madness of the iconic Notting Hill Carnival. The London Craft Beer Festival takes place in the middle of the month at Tobacco Dock, a former warehouse in Wapping.

And for those foodie travellers, the many street food markets dotted across London will delight in warmer months – go beyond Borough Market and try visiting Mercato Metropolitanoin Elephant and Castle, or Boxpark in Shorditch.

13. Papua New Guinea

Mount Hagen Cultural Show in Mount Hagen township, Papua New Guinea (Shutterstock)

The city of Mount Hagen in the western province of Papua New Guinea comes alive in the middle of August for days-long performances, feasts and musical festivities hosted by locals during the Mount Hagen Cultural Show.

Drier than June and the coolest month of the year overall, the weather also makes a compelling argument for August as the best time to explore Papua New Guinea’s exotic cities and towns.

Of course, Papua New Guinea is a challenging destination and truly off the well-trodden trail. As such, only very experienced travellers should plan to visit, keeping a close eye on the FCO’s Official Travel Advice before going, too.

14. Guča, Serbia

Guča, Serbia’s famous Trumpet Festival (Shutterstock)

The Guča Trumpet Festival, known sometimes as Dragačevski Sabo, is probably a little less well-known than the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe and Notting Hill Carnival.

Nevertheless, the small Serbian town of Guča comes alive for three days in early August for its annual festival, showcasing the best in brass music performances. Hundreds of thousands attend each year.

15. Tunisia

The Roman ruins of Dougga in Tunisia (Shutterstock)

Tunisia’s perhaps not the first place you’d think of for a short break with a focus on the arts. However, August provides a few opportunities to see a different side to this North African country.

Established in 1964, the International Festival of Carthage, is held every July and August, offering live music, theatre, opera and even a bit of ballet.

Dougga International Festival is another opportunity to experience live music – this time in the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, located in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Roman city of Dougga. The festival ends in the first week of August.

The best places to visit for wildlife watching in August

16. Discover birds and monkeys in northern Ecuador

Squirrel monkey in the Ecuadorian jungle (Shutterstock)

Ecuador is on South America’s west coast. A delightful combination of the Andes, Amazon and the Galápagos Islands (just to name a few), it’s home to many unique and colourful wildlife species. No surprise then, that it’s become one of our top August wildlife trips.

Head to the northern part of the country to give yourself the best chance of seeing the cheeky-looking squirrel monkey, a marmoset or tamarin in the wild.

Birders in Ecuador have the opportunity to see around 1,600 species in total. Undeniably, it’s one of the planet’s best birdwatching countries. Staying in the north, you’ll see rare macaws, the sleek Andean condor, hummingbirds aplenty and brightly-patterned toucans (again, to name a few). Get your binoculars ready…

17. Go polar bear watching in Arctic Canada

Polar bears in the Canadian Arctic sunset (Shutterstock)

Summers in the Canadian Arctic are, unsurprisingly, rather short. They’re also the best time to get out on the water in a Zodiac and do a bit of polar bear-spotting from your expedition boat.

As we all know, polar bears are best admired from a distance. They’re nowhere near as cuddly as as they look. But you may have a chance of getting a little closer than usual, as the Zodiacs can get quite close.

17. Whale watching in San Juan Islands, Washington State

Whale-spotting from San Juan Islands (Shutterstock)

Hop on a Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to reach four of the 172 San Juan Islands. The weather here is mild most of the year, but the sunniest time to come is during August – coincidently also the best time to see killer whales. This is one of the top places in the world to see the black and white beauties.

San Juan is the most popular islands, with its Whale Museum and plenty of outdoor activities. If you want a more peaceful, wild experience, head to lesser-visited Orcas Island and take on the 6km climb up Mount Constitution. If you’re lucky, you can spot Vancouver from the top on a clear day.

19. Watch macaws in Manu National Park, Peru

Macaws in Manu National Park, Peru (Shutterstock)

Visit the south-east region of Peru in August and you’ll find yourself stunned by the natural prowess of Manu National Park. Also classed as a Biosphere Reserve, you’ll be awed by its lush Amazonian jungle, and the striking Andean Highlands.

It’s the perfect place for the avid birdwatcher to see the wow-worthy macaw in its natural habitat. These beautiful parrots – often a mix of red, yellow, blue and green feathers – are best spotted collecting clay at ‘clay banks’ or ‘clay licks’ around the park, to feed on later. It’s quite an incredible sight.

August is typically the beginning of the season for the most sightings, with September and October also thought to be ideal months.

20. Meet orangutans in Borneo

A young orangutan in Borneo (Dreamstime)

Borneo’s orangutans basked in the spotlight when Dame Judi Dench visited an orangutan sanctuary during filming of her documentary, Wild Borneo Adventure, for ITV.

August is one of the best times for us non-knighted folk to head to this South-East Asian island paradise to try for a wild sighting.

Danum Valley in Sabah (in the northern part of the island) offers 400 sq km of rainforest reserve for wild orangutans to swing in. Travel along the Kinabatangan River, too, to try and see these magnificent creatures in their homes.

21. See grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly on the move in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA (Shutterstock)

Unlike polar bears, we think it’s fair to say that grizzlies do look a little bit mean. They’re quite elusive, too: there are only around 150 bears living within the Yellowstone Natonal Park itself, or around 700 in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

To see one roaming, you’ll need proper viewing kit. Wake before sunrise or wait until sunset and use dusk and dawn to to scour the area with your telescope and/or binoculars.

Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are two of your best sighting spots, but Dunraven Pass, Swan Lake Flats and Gardiners Hole are also good places to try.

Catch up on our Papua New Guinea event

Over 500 of you joined us for a virtual tour of Papua New Guinea and were treated to fascinating videos, an insightful talk from award-winning travel writer Mark Stratton and heaps of knowledge from our expert panel.

If you missed the event or had to leave early, you can catch up on the highlights here…

Watch the full recording

Your questions answered

Is it safe in Papua New Guinea?

Robin: Papua New Guinea is very much a destination where you play by the rules. If someone tells you not to go somewhere, you don’t go there. That said, I’ve been to Papua New Guinea so many times and I have never really experienced anything other than kindness. A lot of the trouble you hear about in Papua New Guinea is often tribal conflict in remote regions of the country. When you do hear about crimes on foreign visitors it is often petty crime such as bag snatches, cameras getting stolen etc. I can honestly say as someone who has travelled extensively around Papua New Guinea, I have never so much as had a pocket felt. Just be sensible and remember that a guide is your key to opening doors, be guided by what you are told and respect local sensibilities.

Mark: You will need to enlist a local guide to help you get around the island as the infrastructure is minimal. I personally found it very safe and I felt very welcome. There has been a few instances in recent years, particularly directed towards geologists as there is still great concern on the island about outsiders coming in and taking over the mine. Ultimately, I found it very safe.

How do you you get there?

The easiest way to get there is via Singapore and you can fly from the UK to Singapore with Singapore Airlines. From there, you can get to Papua New Guinea with Air Niugini which is the national carrier which takes around six and a half hours. The plane will arrive in Port Moresby in the early morning (around 5.30am) which means you can connect to your final destination the same day.

Do you need a visa?

Yes, you do need a visa. You can get it on arrival and it is free.

What is the weather like in Papua New Guinea?

There are two seasons in Papua New Guinea, a wet season and a dry season. The wet season is roughly from November to March and the dry season is the rest of the year. Please note that I have never been to Papua New Guinea and had it entirely dry for the whole time! As with anywhere in the world, the weather can change in a blink of an eye. If you’re in the mountains it can be quite cool but if you are on the coast it can be hot and humid so prepare for all weather.

Is Papua New Guinea a good destination for children and how old do you think children need to be to visit?

Slightly older children (around ten and older) are more suited to Papua New Guinea and you should consider the health risks such as malaria before deciding whether to take your children. Another thing to consider is that Papua New Guinea is an expensive destination. That said, there is so much to see and experience and so many wonderful places to take children to see.

What range of accommodation options are there?

There is a whole range of accommodation from very basic to relative luxury. You can see the accommodation options here.

How easy is it to see birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea?

Bret: There are key sites where you can easily see birds of paradise. Usually what you will find is that the lodges in Papua New Guinea are situated in prime cultural and wildlife areas. For example, the area around Mount Hagen up in the Highlands and Varirata National Park are both places that are brilliant for birds of paradise. Iconic ones include the raggianabird of paradise and the king of Saxony. There’s real specialist species and you can very easily see some of them displaying, particularly the raggiana which are loud and like to go up high in the trees. When I was there I saw seven different species in three days and had displaying birds only 15m from me. There is a lot of other birdlife as well as the birds of paradise to see too, and there is a high level of endemism on the island.

Can you see tree kangaroos?

PNG and Australia not only share many cultural links but ecological links as well. There is a line (the Wallace Line) in Indonesia to the west of the island of Papua which is an ecological divide. To the west of the line is one distinct group of species and to the east of it is another distinct group. Kangaroos are one of them and tree kangaroos are not just found in Papua New Guinea, they can also be found in the far north of Australia. They are quite literally a tree climbing kangaroo! Unfortunately now in Papua New Guinea they are very rare and hard to see. They have succumbed to some hunting pressures, but there are still some out there and it isn’t impossible to see them. We have had clients who have seen them on trips but they are very hard to see, so don’t go there expecting to see them, think of them as an added bonus.

Do you know which companies offer a group tour to Papua New Guinea?

Wildlife Worldwide operate a range of tours across Papua New Guinea, either small group tours, but more commonly we send people on a tailor-made basis. You can see the range of tourshere.

Is Port Moresby Nature Park worth visiting?

Port Moresby Nature Park is arguably one of the best wildlife parks of its kind and you will definitely see tree kangaroos there. They do really good conservation work both with the wildlife and with the local communities. It is definitely worth going there and you will often see wildlife that you won’t see anywhere else.

Would you recommend visiting during the festival season?

The one time when things get busy due to tourism in Papua New Guinea is during the festival season. It is important to remember that the cultural festivals are put on for the tribes people to display their finery to each other and they are not put on as a tourist attraction. You’re very welcome to visit but capacity is quite small so if you want to visit, you have to plan it a year or two in advance to get a space. While visiting during the festival period is a great experience, remember there is plenty more to see and do and I prefer going when it is a bit quieter. When you go to a remote village and they haven’t seen anyone for six months, you do feel more like an explorer!

Are there any culture tours you can do?

Any tour in Papua New Guinea includes the culture. Even if your primary focus is birdwatching, you cannot go to Papua New Guinea and ignore the culture. It is all around you no matter where you go. It is also such a fascinating culture that it cannot be overlooked. What Wildlife Worldwide can do is tailor-make your trip and organise for you to stay at lodges with local guides who can take you out and explore not just the wildlife but the local communities so you have a chance to meet tribal groups and see villages. Any tailor-made trip to Papua New Guinea will include a large proportion of culture. You can also book to walk the Kokoda Track with Walks Worldwide.

Do people mind if you take photos of them?

Like with anywhere, you need to ask permission to take photographs. If you are witnessing a Sing Sing then I think that is fine. But if you want to take a portrait of someone then always go up and ask. It is possible that they will ask for a little bit of money and it’s up to you whether you want to do that or not.

How commercialised is the Kokoda Track?

Mark: I didn’t find it too commercialised but then I never met any other walkers on the route as I was off season in the rains. It’s not exactly a great wilderness escape because there are settlements on the route. But the WWII history on route was visceral and engrossing.

If I had 10 days to tour PNG , what would be the best itinerary?

Mark: If it’s your first time I would stick to the main Guinea Island, and maybe split your time between Highlands and Sepik regions. With 10 days you’ll need to work with a tour operator as going DIY requires a lot of logistics. Maybe, if you like nature and birdwatching, try Kumul Lodge or a place like this. In Sepik, you can arrange river trips. A good lodge to base yourself in might be Karawari Lodge.

Has anyone backpacked, rather than going on an official tour? What is the infrastructure like to travel within PNG in terms of public transport and accommodation like hostels and home-stays?

Mark: I’ve done a little travel outside of assistance of a tour operator and I can say the logistics are not easy and you need time. Public transport vans (PMVs) are a genuine option but hit and miss and you’ll just need a little patience. I’ve stayed in a number of homestays over the years, particularly on the islands which are inexpensive. Remember though, the only way to travel between major regions is to fly as there is no national road network.

Are there off the beaten track eco-type lodges to stay in?

Mark: I think it is fair to say most eco-lodges in PNG are a bit off the beaten track. Ones that come to mind – yet they are a little more popular – include Ambua Lodge, Kumul Lodge, and Karawari Lodge. Ask a tour operator or check out the PNG Tourism website as my most recent trips to Trobriands and Bougainville have been to islands with very little tourism infrastructure.

What are the best dives spots in Papua New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea is in the the Coral Triangle region, and there are so many great dive spots. Walindi (Kimbe Bay), Lissenung (New Ireland), Tufi, Rabaul and Milne Bay are probably the most famous spots.

Is the diving mainly liveaboard or are there any good land based options?

There are liveaboards from Kimbe Bay, but otherwise, diving is resort based. Liveaboards certainly offer an exciting option. Resort-based diving in Papua New Guinea, unlike some other destinations, is also absolutely world-class. It is also possible to combine both!

Can you combine a diving and wildlife trip?

Absolutely! You can combine diving and wildlife in one trip. Some of our clients also plan around the festivals and combine this with the diving, but you need to plan well ahead.

What is the situation with the corals. Are the reefs dying off?

That is a problem in some parts of the world now unfortunately, but certainly not Papua New Guinea. It is blessed with an ideal combination of factors that ensure it has, quite possibly, the healthiest coral reefs in the world.

When is the best time to go diving there and are there strong currents at the dive sites?

You can dive all year in Papua New Guinea. For the most part, April to October would be considered the peak diving season, but it does depend where you go as there are some micro climates. Tufi, for example, is best from October through to March, which brings the best opportunities to visit the thrilling outer reefs.

What about snorkelling?

There is wonderful snorkelling in many areas. Walindi, Lissenung and possibly Milne Bay are all options worth looking into. Dive Worldwide cater for snorkellers as well as divers. Increasingly, there are many people looking for truly world-class marine life experiences while snorkelling.

Don’t miss our Papua New Guinea feature in the next issue of Wanderlust

Mark Stratton’s incredible article on Bougainville will be in the next issue of Wanderlust, onsale 17 June.

What do the experts recommend?

We asked the experts what their one must-visit place in Papua New Guinea was. Here is what they said…

Mark: For me, the Sepik region is the place that has entranced me the most. From having several trips down the river ranging from dugout canoes to relative luxury on a cruise boat, I have been blown away by the culture. It is just so raw and so happening. You just see everything and it is incredible. This is a river where the people are just living in a different world and I find it fascinating. The further you get a way from the main villages, the more incredible it becomes.

Brett: I loved Kokopo in East New Britain not only for the culture which is fantastic but also for the history. The World War history is remarkable. It also has active volcanoes which makes it very exciting. I also swam with some 100 spinner dolphins for over an hour and a half there, so what’s not to like about that?

Robin: During my last trip to Papua New Guinea at the end of 2019, I visited Lake Murray which is a less-visited area. I really did feel like an explorer and it was the only place I have ever seen a bird of paradise. I went from the boat, into the forest and saw a bird of paradise within ten minutes of being there so I would go back to Lake Murray in a heartbeat.

What did you have to say?

This video was incredible, It makes you want to travel to PNG to experience the culture, admire beautiful nature and learn more about the country. Simply amazing.

PNG has been on my ‘go to ‘ list for a long time and you have made me want to visit even more! thank you.

What an adventure! Sounds like a fascinating destination…

Thank you Mark for such an amazing presentation! Really inspired to travel to PNG.

Wow what an amazing place and much more aware of the cultural diversity there.

Thanks for a brilliant session, reinforced the visit that’s been on my bucket list forever!

Thanks for put up this event and make lots of people aware of this wonderful destination.

Thanks everyone for such a wonderful evening – inspirational for our post-lockdown world!

Wander Women: 13 incredible female travellers and the destinations that inspire them

Sophie Darlington on Antarctica

Sophie and Julie Monière staging a women’s march in Antarctica (Sophie Darlington)

Sophie is an award-winning wildlife cinematographer, whose job takes her all over the world

“One place in the world that is particularly important to me as a woman is Antarctica. I went there in 2017 with camerawoman and explorer, Julie Monière – who is right now crossing Lake Baikal solo. Julie and I staged our own ‘women’s march’ amongst a few 100,000 Adelie penguins.

“I’m lucky enough to be ‘godmother’ to some incredible women and girls and truly believe, as Gloria Steinem said, that ‘the best way for us to cultivate fearlessness in our daughters and other young women is by example. If they see their mothers and other women in their lives going forward despite fear, they’ll know it’s possible’.”

Alice Morrison on the Sahara Desert

Alice on her adventures in the Sahara Desert (Alice Morrison)

Alice is an adventurer, TV presenter and writer. She was also the first woman to trek Morocco’s Draa River

Walking across the Sahara (Alice Morrison)

“Some people might think that travelling as a lone, western women with three Amazigh (Berber) men – who are strict Muslims and don’t speak any English – would be difficult.

But walking across the Sahara with Lhou, Addi and Brahmin was one of the best and most fulfilling adventures of my life.

“We women can do anything we want to and the most important thing to remember is that we are all in the human family.

Thank you to all the women and men who support adventures and Happy International Women’s Day.”

Ami Vitale on Kenya

Ami Vitale stops at nothing to get her shot (c/o Ami Vitale)

Ami is an award-winning photojournalist who has travelled to over 100 countries

“The magic of travel photography really begins when you stay in a place and give yourself enough time to gain insight and understanding. One of those places is Sarara Campin the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy of northern Kenya, where Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is located.

At Reteti, community-based wildlife keepers work to rehabilitate abandoned and orphaned elephants in order to return them to the nearby wild herds. The sanctuary isn’t just about saving elephants; it’s about breaking down stereotypes and redefining wildlife management. When people realise that they can benefit from healthy elephant populations, they’re proud to take care of wildlife.

“Reteti is also empowering young Samburu women to be the first-ever women elephant keepers in all of Africa. At first, the community didn’t think there was a place for women in the workplace. Now, the success of these women elephant keepers is unlocking new possibilities and setting a powerful example for young girls hoping to pursue their dreams…

Witnessing women being given opportunities to unlock their full potential has inspired me to push through my own personal barriers and work harder to uplift others.”

Mya-Rose Craig on Bolivia

Mya-Rose during her first visit to Bolivia, when she was just nine years old (c/o Mya-Rose Craig)

Mya-Rose, also known as Birdgirl is the world’s top teen birder. Aged 16, she became the youngest person on Earth to see 5,000 birds

Mya-Rose and her trusty binoculars (c/o Mya-Rose Craig)

“When I was nine years old, my parents took me birding to South America. That’s when I first visited Bolivia, my all-time favourite destination.

We visited Sadiri Eco-lodge in Madidi National Park in the Amazon near Rurrenabaque, set up by the indigenous community of San José de Uchupiamonas. They showed their resolve by banning logging, instead investing in building a lodge.

“This is where I met Ruth Alipaz who grew up deep in the Amazon. Age 12, she visited her mother and step-father in Rurrenabaque. A woman from their community asked her to pass on a message to her mother saying that she had a baby that needed accompanying to La Paz, where the parents had moved and now settled.

Ruth returned to the woman later that day, lying and telling her that Ruth’s mother had agreed for Ruth to take the baby.

“Ruth took the baby, running away to the capital and stayed with the family for a while, before working, studying and becoming the first person from her community to finish high school, later gaining a degree and masters.

Ruth then returned to her community, persuaded them to reject a logging contract and to vote to build an eco-lodge, which the 750 inhabitants now rely on. Ruth Alipaz is one of the most inspirational people that I have met.”

Jessica Yew on The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Jessica Yew in the Congo DRC (Jessica Yew)

Jessica is the director of Sticky Rice Tours, a tour op in Sabah, Borneo. Here, she reflects on the inspirational women of the Congo DRC

“My experience of visiting Virunga National Park in the Congo DRC was one of the most astounding travel experiences I’ve ever had.

I went with the intention of seeing mountain gorillas after being inspired by the documentary Virunga but walked away with so much more. Part of this was meeting the women rangers of Virunga.

We got picked up at the border of Rwanda by Virunga National Park’s driver, accompanied by two female rangers armed with AK-47s. I later learned that since 2014, women were allowed to try for admission to be a part of the elite team of rangers who risk their lives every day to protect the park, also considered the most dangerous job in wildlife.

They can work up to 24-hour shifts escorting tourists, guarding visitors and protecting the park from poachers, illegal loggers, and anti-government rebels. Since 1996, more than 160 rangers have tragically lost their lives defending the park.

“Having always been an advocate for women’s participation in male-dominated jobs, their life stories and journeys inspired me tremendously. I applaud their resilience of having to weather negativity as a result of challenging the status quo, and their perseverance when it comes to completing the gruelling trainings.

They are basically the female ambassadors of the Congo DRC who are redefining women’s roles in our society.”

Tania Esteban on Papua New Guinea

Tania receiving a warm welcome in Papua New Guinea (c/o Tania Esteban)

Tania is a zoologist and wildlife filmmaker. Here, she shares what it’s like to go solo in Papua New Guinea

A bird of paradise found in Papua New Guinea (Shutterstock)

“One of my favourite places to visit is Papua New Guinea, one of the most biodiverse places on our planet and home to over 895 bird species including the famed birds of paradise.

Many know it to be a notoriously dangerous place for women to travel to, with rates of domestic abuse high. Sadly, this beautiful country is not on the top of many solo female travellers’ lists.

“I recently went on a shoot with a team of two to film these rare birds, and for me, getting the opportunity to visit this staggeringly beautiful country, meet its incredible people and see the remarkable wildlife was truly a blessing.

“The amazing women I met in some of the local villages were equally inspirational as we set off in search of the birds. Maia, who lives in a remote village 3,000m high in the Upper Montane forests, welcomed me to the village along with all the other women who had not seen a white European girl before.

“In a country with over 850 different languages, the only way we could communicate (apart from with my broken Pidgin English) was with the universal language of dance.

“We all partook in an enormous flash mob in the village, freestyling it with a mixture of salsa and contemporary bird courtship dance moves, which I had been studying before the shoot.

The women looked positively radiant and resplendent dressed in traditional head gear and paint, with me looking rather less appealing covered in sweat and donning my hiking gear (at this point with a thick layer of mud).

They blessed our onward journey and gave me a new nickname – ‘upisa oromo’, which translated literally means bird of paradise girl! A name and experience I shall treasure forever.”

Julie Monière on Antarctica

Julie marching with the penguins in Antarctica (Julie Monière)

Videographer, camerawoman and biologist Julie is currently attempting to cross Lake Baikal solo. Here’s how Antarctica shaped her as a woman

“Once upon a time, not that long ago, women were not allowed to step foot onto the Antarctic continent. Back in the 80’s when I was little girl, I kept dreaming about Antarctica, a fairy tale world I could only see in pictures. I made a promise to myself that one day I would go.

“In 2016, my dream came true. I was on my way to the end of the world on the Disney Nature film Penguin. The reality was more spectacular than my wildest dreams. I was literally in heaven. It was one of the most hostile yet peaceful places I have ever been to.

“During my time in Antarctica, I also met some incredibly strong and bright women who play an important part in science on this continent. I even met one of the first women scientists allowed on the continent which was a very special moment for me.

This meeting made me realise that, with time, patience and courage, everything is possible. We should never give up our dreams. One day, I hope we will have a more balanced world where men and women can live and work together in harmony.”

Shiree Francis on Bali, Indonesia

A rice terrace in Bali (Shutterstock)

Shiree is a digital nomad who founded SAF, an online company that helps digital nomads work from anywhere in the world

Shiree Francis in Bali (c/o Shiree Francis)

“Mama Bali is such a magical island. I have been living here since 2018 and Bali was the first place that fully allowed me to connect more with my feminine energy instead of against it.

“I take part in cacao ceremonies, sound healing and yoga every week, which allows me to tune into my feminine side even more.

“Also, I have had the pleasure to connect with some amazing, beautiful, conscious women from all over the world, who accept me for me no matter what.

Being in an environment where I can be myself unapologetically has made a huge difference in my life. YES to the sisterhood.”

Ness Knight on Namibia

San Buhsmen in Namibia (Shutterstock)

Explorer, conservationist and ocean advocate Ness has completed a diverse collection of global expeditions in extreme environments. Currently, she’s in Namibia

“As I sit beside a roaring fire, beneath a marula tree in the north-east of Namibia, I’m surrounded by San Bushmen and women. I’ve come here to embed with them and learn primitive survival skills from the most ancient civilisation on Earth.

Not only that, I’m a female asking to be taught how to make bows, poison arrows, assegais and a plethora of tools that all make up – what is in their culture – a thoroughly male role. But somehow, I’m accepted in without so much as a sideways glance from either the men or women.

“I ask !amace (pronounced with a click at the start, and spelt correctly!) – the old hunter teaching me – why they are so accepting. The answer is simple and comes with a broad smile. “We are all one. Men, women, black, white or San bushman.”

Here, they have no hierarchy, no weighted judgements. All are equal, they believe, because all of us have come from the same ancient Earth and will go back to that same soil when our time comes.

“Perhaps it is this humanity and togetherness that has seen them become the longest surviving people on our planet.”

Holly Budge on the Himalayas

Holly travelling through the Himalayas (Holly Budge)

Holly is a world-class adventurer, a renowned conservationist and the founder of How Many Elephants. Here, she tells us why the Himalayas hold a special place in her heart

Holly showcasing the How Many Elephants logo (c/o Holly Budge)

“I love being in the Himalayas: wandering, climbing, hiking, day-dreaming, sketching, writing and just being. Life in these mountains is not for the fainthearted though!

Every day presents new challenges. A positive mindset and an acceptance that nothing is perfect or even comfortable is essential. However, the rewards are huge.

“A stand-out memory is enjoying the summit of Mount Everest for over 30 minutes, with just myself and my climbing partner, soaking in the view and the bluebird day.

“There is a wonderful simplicity about life in the mountains. Every piece of equipment has a role, every object has a place and thoughts have purpose.

I love the local people I have met in the mountains, the culture and the energy.”

Rhiannon Bryant on Rajasthan, India

Rhiannon Bryant with women in Rajasthan (c/o Rhiannon Bryant)

Rhiannon is a trip manager at Contiki. She has led trips across many parts of the world, and is currently working in Asia

“A place which means a lot to me is the Dhonk Centre, Ranthambore, in Rajasthan. In the photo (above) on a recent trip at the Dhonk Centre, I am sitting with the inspiring ladies and laughing about them organising my Indian arranged marriage.

“Dhonk is a social enterprise supported by Contiki and Treadright, which focuses on female empowerment and tiger conservation in the national park here in Ranthambore.

“We may differ in our appearance, our culture and our language. But want we want from this world is the same: equality. These women are my sisters.”

Nastasia Yakoub on South Africa

Nastasia en route to her next destination (c/o Natasia Yakoub)

Nastasia is a photographer, travel blogger and author. Here, she tells us about the country that inspired her to set up her travel community, Dame Traveler

Natasia Yakoub

“South Africa will always be one of the most special countries to me. Eight years ago, I was knee-deep in nursing school at Loyola University and had a dream to volunteer in Africa.

Having never travelled solo before, I began searching for people and friends to join me on this trip, only to find that no one would actually commit to it, especially on short notice.

So, one day while I was sitting in Anatomy and Physiology class, I impulsively booked a flight to Cape Town, South Africa… so there was no way I could talk myself out of it!

“I hopped on a flight and joined 12 other volunteers from all over the world for three whole weeks, to give back and reconnect with myself.

“Being a sheltered girl from Michigan, moving to Chicago was a feat in and of itself, but the notion of travelling to Africa alone was just terrifying.

But I did it anyway. I cried tears full of fear on my way there, but happy tears on my way back because I was so proud of myself for pulling it off. I felt empowered and I wanted more.

“This was the very beginning of my love for solo travel and it became the inspiration for my idea to start @dametraveler. It’s crazy how one impulsive decision could drastically change one’s life.

To think that I may not be telling this story now if I didn’t impulsively book that flight in class that day is mind blowing to me. Sometimes, you just have to listen to your gut instead of other people’s opinions, you never know where it may lead you.”

The Dame Traveler community has been so successful that Nastasia now has a book out,Dame Traveler: Stories and Visuals from Women Who Live the Spirit of Adventure.

Julie Gabbott on Benin

Julie in Benin with the locals (c/o Julie Gabbott)

Julie is an award-winning guide for Dragoman, leading countless trips all over the world. Here, she shares why Benin is a special place to her

When I think of places that have particularly shaped me and inspired me as a woman, my mind goes to rural Benin.

When I met people here, I really learned that even though we may not speak the same language or dialect, as women we all connect and move to the same beat.”

More stories of incredible women in travel:

8 epic adventures led by our 2019 World Guide Awards winners

1. Go tribal in Papua New Guinea

The men of the Huli tribe in Tari area of Papua New Guinea in traditional clothes and face paint (Shutterstock)

Silver Award Winner: Nitin Dhami

Discover rich cultures, rugged mountains and birds of paradise on A Tribal Odyssey with Nitin from Eldertreks.

Visit local villages and encounter tribes, such as the Asaro Mudmen to Trobriand Islanders, before experiencing a two-day ‘singsing’ festival, where tribespeople sing and dance in traditional dress.

Then take to the waterways and canoe down the Sepik River, spying crocodile cults and clay pot makers on your way.

Who?Eldertreks (0808 234 1714)

When? August to September 2020, and August to September 2021

How long? 21 days

How much?From $11,995/around £9,731 (excluding int’l flights)

2. Find Sri Lanka’s sweet side

The channel of famous Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy, Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)

Bronze Award Winner: Indika Prasad Kumara

Discover the best of Sri Lanka with Indika on Intrepid Travel’sCircle Sri Lanka trip.

Get your historical fix by exploring Kandy’s Temple of the Sacred Tooth and the ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, before losing your breath at Sigiriya, where you’ll climb to the top of Lion Rock for panoramic vistas over central Sri Lanka.

Trek through lush tea plantations, then put your feet up and indulge in seafood feasts and beachside escapes at Mirissa. Bliss.

Who?Intrepid Travel (0808 274 5111)

When?Selected dates 2020

How long? 15 days

How much? From £1,249 (excluding int’l flights)

3. See another side to Japan

Okunoin Cemetery, Koyasan, Japan (Shutterstock)

Top Tour Leader Guide: Brett Plotz

Get an authentic peek into the Japanese way of life with Brett on Inside Japan’s Hidden Japan trip.

Rest your head at ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and a Buddhist temple on top of Mount Koya, before hopping over to Shikoku and the ‘Art Island’ Naoshima, where you can enjoy hot springs and museums that hosts everyone from Yayoi Kusama to Claude Monet.

Soak up more of the local culture with a visit to a bunraku puppet theatre, then admire the vine bridges of the lush Iya Valley with a boat ride across its rugged gorges.

Who?Inside Japan (0117 244 3380)

When?Selected dates 2020

How long? 13 days

How much? From £3,675 (excluding int’l flights)

4. Take on the bush in Africa

Buffalo in Masai Mara, Kenya (Shutterstock)

Top Safari Guide: James Nampaso

Fly in from Nairobi and soak up the wildlife at Kicheche Bush Camp on a bespoke Mara Conservancy Safari with James.

Whether you prefer to explore the open savannah at dawn or dusk, you can spy predators in their natural habitat all day long, away from the crowds of the Mara reserve, at Olare Conservancy.

Walk among the wilderness, visit a local village and get some great wildlife photos under James’s expert tutelage. Book up to a year in advance, though – James is one of the camp’s most requested guides.

When?Dates TBC

How long? Six days

How much?From $3,995/around £3,241 (excluding int’l flights)

5. Follow the path to peace in Northern Ireland

Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, UK (Shutterstock)

Top UK Guide: Paul Donnelly

Learn about Belfast’s troubled past on A History of Terror withDC Tours’ Paul. Find out how and why the Troubles started on a stroll through the city centre and Cathedral Quarter up to the banks of the River Lagan, while visiting the sites of the period’s most tragic events.

Allow Paul’s storytelling to take you back in time to when these incidents unfolded and see for yourself how the city has transformed into the vibrant place that we know today.

Who?DC Tours (07716 949460)

When?Year-round. Confirm Paul’s schedule when booking.

How long? One day

How much?£18 (excluding int’l flights)

6. Take time for tipples in France

Wine ageing in Oak Barrels in Burgundy, France (Shutterstock)

Top Specialist Guide: Tim Syrad

Follow Tim and your taste buds on a Wine Tour of Southern Burgundy. Sample fine vintages from the great wine regions of Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnais and Beaujolais, before exploring the lush valleys and vineyards where the grapes slowly ripen and mature.

Then meet family winemakers and hear the tricks of the trade, before resting your slightly tipsy head at the Hotel Panorama 360 in Mâcon, which offers views over Mont Blanc, the Rock of Solutré and the Saône.

Who?Tim Syrad Wine Tours (020 7060 4529)

When? 13 May 2020 and 10 June 2020

How long? Five days

How much?From £1,149 (excluding int’l flights)

7. Lose yourself in Italy’s ancient past

Pompeii and Vesuvius (Shutterstock)

Top History & Culture Guide: Eireann Marshall

Let Dr Marshall take you back in time on Andante Travel’sPompeii, Herculaneum & Classical Campania trip. Not only do you get exclusive access to the Theatre of Herculaneum and the Cave of Sejanus, you’ll also explore the storerooms at Paestum to see Lucanian painted tombs.

Hike Vesuvius to stare into its volcanic crater, delve into ancient Roman villas and spend a full day in Pompeii, where Eireann brings to life a whole cast of characters from slaves to senators alike.

Who?Andante Travels (01722 671085)

When? 16 March 2020

How long? 7 nights

How much? From £1,995 (including int’l flights)

8. Go wild in Costa Rica

Mangroves in Costa Rica (Shutterstock)

Top Conservation Guide: Johnny Villalobos

Trek through Costa Rica’s lush mangroves, lava fields and cloud forests with Exodus Travels’ Johnny.

Spy howler monkeys, caiman and sloths, before heading to the beaches and waterways of Tortuguero, where green turtles nest from August to October.

His 2019 dates have already sold out, so keep an eye on the website to check when he’s free.

Who?Exodus (020 3993 2997)

When?Dates TBC

How long? 16 days

How much? From £3,079 (including int’l flights)

Book a trip with one of our previous World Guide Awards winners: