Safari and beach
If you get bored of non-stop animal action in the Maasai Mara, switch up the bush for the serious beaches of the Seychelles.
Kenya: Where do we start with this East African country? Home to some of the world’s best safari (and of course the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino), some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever lay your beadies on and a rich African culture. Kenya is a jaw-dropper. And all that animal spotting gets exhausting after a while, right?
Seychelles: We could call the Seychelles, a collection of more than 100 islands in the Indian Ocean, paradise – but we’d be selling it short. It’s not just white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons (although let’s be honest, it does these better than most): some of the islands are ringed by coral reef, which means loads of good opportunities to strap on your scuba gear or snorkel. But if you don’t fancy getting up close and personal with the marine life, try a glass-bottomed boat instead.
City and beach
The best way to recover from New York overkill is a trip to the Caribbean – luckily the golden beaches, laidback atmosphere and rum cocktails of Barbados are just a short flight away.
New York: So good, they named it twice. We know why – the trendy east coast US metropolis never sleeps, which means there’s a constant stream of hot bars and restaurants to see and be seen in all night long, as well as all the classic sights. Head to the Top of the Rock for an unparalleled view over the city, explore hipster Brooklyn or run amok in Central Park after an afternoon wandering around the Met and the Museum of Modern Art. And don’t even get us started on the shopping – warn your bank manager…
Barbados: Barbados couldn’t be more of a contrast to New York and its fast-paced life. With local Bajan culture everywhere you turn (not to mention rum cocktails, palm trees, coconuts and gentle lilts of calypso and Rihanna), Barbados does picture-postcard pure white sand beaches and azure seas like they’re going out of fashion. There’s plenty of opportunity for wildlife spotting, too: the Caribbean island is home to many turtles, too. And yes, you can pretend that you’re in the Bounty advert if you really must.
Wildlife and glitz
They’re both major cities, but Abu Dhabi and Cape Town couldn’t be more different – that’s the fun of a stopover…
Abu Dhabi: The UAE capital has the best of both worlds: 249 miles of pristine beaches backed by the Arabian Sea, and a rich culture, too. The huge Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can hold up to 40,000 worshippers, and the city’s man-made Yas Island is home to its world-famous Formula 1 circuit. Plus, it’s scorchingly hot all year around.
Cape Town: The Mother City needs no introduction: whether you come for the street food, the imposing Table Mountain or just the miles of rugged coastline and penguin colonies, Cape Town has something for everybody. There’s a burgeoning food and drink scene – in the bars and restaurants of the city’s buzzy Long Street, as well as in Cape Town’s sprawling suburbs and townships – and the widlife ranges from humpback whales to mongooses atop Table Mountain. And that’s without even mentioning wine – the winelands to the north of the city are bursting with boutique grape growers.
City and snow
Amp up your apres-ski by finishing off a ski trip to California’s Lake Tahoe with a few nights in hip city San Francisco.
Lake Tahoe: Trade Alpine ski resorts for the fresh powder in the US. Lake Tahoe has the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America, meaning there’s a huge range of resorts and runs for all abilities. The resorts are arranged around the eponymous lake, which means you’ll be crushing the pistes with incredible views of both the lake and the pine trees that flank it. Plus, in typical Californian fashion there’s more than 300 days of sunshine a year up here, so it’s a true year-round playground, even when the snow’s melted.
San Francisco: Thanks to the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is recognisable anywhere – and is just a short drive from Lake Tahoe. We’re not saying that the apres-ski on the mountains isn’t good (it’s great), but when you’ve got the buzz of this vibrant Californian harbour city on your doorstep, a couple of days retoxing among the steep hills – try hiking yoga overlooking the Bay, which does exactly what it says on the tin – dynamic architecture and street markets could be just what’s needed to rest your aching body.