Category : Two-for-one trips
Say goodbye to indecision. If you’re stuck between travel daydreams of markets or mountainscapes, spine-tingling safaris or the siren song of the sea, don’t fear. Fitting two types of trips into one might seem arduous to organise, but with the right timing, transport and planning, it’s easily achievable.
The choice of destination is key: you need somewhere that packs diverse experiences into a region that can be explored in a typical vacation period. Finding places that offer double the fun can make for an even more challenging and rewarding journey to boot. Here are some suggestions on how to have the best of both worlds in one trip.
Morocco: exploring the souqs of Marrakesh to windswept surf haven Essaouira
Essaouira is your antidote to Marrakesh. And thankfully, superb transport links ensure a comfortable three-hour drive between the two, most of which tracks the sweeping sandy coastline of Morocco. You only need a few days in the country’s most colourful city, delving into the myriad souqs and tasting the mint tea and tagines in the carnival atmosphere of Djemaa El Fna. Then pack away your trinkets and treasures and hit the road to Essaouira.
You’ll trade the rhythmic music and souq traders cries for that of the seagulls’ calls, the wind against your shutters and the waves crashing against the old city walls. Here, all you have to do is breathe in the salty air and allow yourself to get caught up in the town’s laid-back charm. Where Marrakesh is steeped in tradition, Essaouira draws bohemian types and has a fantastic art scene. Grab a board and learn to surf along one of the most liberating shorelines in the world, or familiarise yourself with the Old Town’s French-come-Berber fusion cuisine in crepes, soups and fresh local fish.
Montenegro: rafting amid the mountains of the north to seafood and Med climes in Kotor
In Montenegro, rafting is synonymous with the turquoise Tara River. Arrive at Durmitor National Park and glimpse the winding river through the mountains and you’ll see why. The Black Lake by Žabljak is both dramatic and serene, as are the forests of Biogradska Gora National Park near Kolašin. Exploring both the towns and national parks over a few days is all you need before taking to the water. Most rafting takes place in Durmitor, and you’ll get the most dramatic view of the Tara Canyon’s imposing 1300m high walls from your raft.
Then, make your way down the country over a few hours; the best way to experience the changing scenery is to hire a car, but it can also be done by bus. Along the way you’ll notice how the patterns of snow, A-framed farmhouses and green hills will disappear as terracotta-tiled stone buildings and shimmering deep-blue water come into view. Spend a couple of nights in Kotor’s Old Town. Climb the 1300-plus steps to the top of the fortifications, meet the town’s feline population and sample grilled squid, seafood risotto and other Mediterranean culinary delights. You’ll easily be able to fit in exploring the charming villages dotted along the Bay of Kotor, Perast, Prčanj and the outskirts of Dobrota.
Kenya: safaris around Nairobi to lodges in the Aberdare Mountain Range
Whether it’s golden grassland safaris or serene mountain lodges in Kenya, one thing’s for certain: the reason you’re going is to spot magnificent wildlife. Where to start? Around Nairobi you’re spoiled for choice, from learning old traditions to witnessing the famous migration in the Maasai Mara to a sea of pastel-pink flamingos lining waterholes in Lake Nakuru National Park. Find wild cats and more in Samburu National Reserve, spot the rare black rhino at Nairobi National Park or seek out the home of the world’s largest population of Grevy’s zebra at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. There are also fantastic conservation centres, such as the Giraffe Centre and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Given the profile of the sprawling savannas, Kenya’s mountains are often overlooked. But this is the place for those who want more than just a safari. With altitudes ranging from 7000 to 14,000 feet above sea level, in Aberdare National Park you can find black rhinos, bush pigs and rare black leopards. All this among windswept moors, thick rainforests and hills dotted with waterfalls. The illustrious Ark lodge and hotel sits by a waterhole in the mountains frequented by a range of wildlife; watch it from the four viewing platforms and a lounge overlooking a waterfall.
USA: Hispanic history in San Francisco to wine tasting in the Napa and Sonoma Valley
The Golden State’s landscape changes minute-by-minute in Northern California alone. Spend a few days to a week in San Francisco. Once you’ve finished the highlights, from The Marina and Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, step into San Fran’s first ever neighbourhood, The Mission, for a taste of Mexico. Visit Mission Dolores, founded in 1776, San Francisco’s oldest building and the oldest intact Mission in California. Don’t miss The Murals, street art by female artists and activists of Hispanic origin; San Francisco has one of the highest concentrations of street art of any neighbourhood in the world. Discover a range of Latin American ancient collections at the de Young Museum, and an extensive array of pre-historic and contemporary art at the Mexican Museum. And finally, arrive with an empty stomach to finish your time in the district devouring tacos, tortillas and salsa at some of its local restaurants.
Then take a tour or drive into the Napa or Sonoma Valley, just an hour away from California’s foggy city. Here you can sit back, sup and relax, or wind through fruit-filled and tree-shaded vineyards and orchards, farms and wineries. These are some of the earliest vineyards and wineries, including Roche Winery, originally established by Franciscan friars and Tres Sabores, which offers no-frills tasting and a gorgeous setting. And the Oxbow Public Market is worth a visit to sample a variety of wines along with other picnic-perfect nibbles.
Australia: the tropics of Darwin to the desert heat of Uluru
Exploring Australia’s vastness is no mean feat to tackle over a typical vacation period. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path but also discover things intrinsic to Australia’s cultural identity, look no further than Darwin’s tropical delights and the Red Centre’s highlight, Uluru. Darwin is nearer and in many ways more akin to Southeast Asia, a city of art, markets, steamy humidity and fresh, multicultural food. In the city you can get lost in indigenous history at the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Then chill out at Mindil Beach Sunset Market, the perfect place to sample a Malaysian laksa and tropical juices and catch live music along the white-sand beaches. In Nitmilk National Park you can swim and hike through gorge country.
It’s a fair journey down the Northern Territory, via a six-hour flight or by making the 22-hour drive over a few days. Arriving in the Red Centre at the famous rock, you can join walking tracks around Uluru, and ranger-led walks explain the area’s plants, wildlife, geology and cultural significance. There are fine examples of rock art on the one-hour Mala Walk, or for something longer, try the 10.5km Base Walk, which circumnavigates the rock and passes caves, paintings and sandstone folds.
Thanks to: Christina Webb
Lonely Planet Writer