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BEST COUNTRIES FOR SUMMER TRAVEL
by Ted Cookson
Published in May 2006
Reunion Island volcano, 38-second video clip
Is your family thinking of taking a summer holiday this year? The summer season is the best time to visit eighteen different countries - eight in Africa and the Indian Ocean, four in Europe and three each in Asia and the Near East.
EIGHT DESTINATIONS IN AFRICA AND THE INDIAN OCEAN:
BOTSWANA: The dry season for viewing game stretches from April to October, with September being the very best month. Botswana's gem is the game-rich Okavango Delta, one of the world's largest inland oases. This country is often combined with visits to Zambia to see Victoria Falls and/or to South Africa to visit Cape Town.
KENYA: Kenya's two best game-viewing seasons are between July and October and between December and March. However, the best time to see the wildebeeste migration in Kenya's Masai Mara is from July to September. As the cats follow the wildebeeste, the annual Serengeti migration can be a very exciting phenomenon to witness.
REUNION ISLAND: The best season for a visit to this remote but beautiful island lying to the east of Madagascar is between May and November. Volcanic in origin, Reunion is nearly devoid of sandy beaches. Tourists can explore the island's volcanic craters and even drive into cirques, large craters whose walls have eroded, leaving a path to the sea.
RWANDA: Prime time for visiting this central African country is from June to September. Rwanda is best known for its mountain gorillas. Tourists take short treks through the rain forest to view these magnificent creatures. Visits are limited to less than one hour in order to ensure that the mountain gorillas do not become habituated to humans.
SEYCHELLES: Best visited from May to October, this island republic lying off the coast of Kenya contains some of the world's most beautiful beaches. In the Seychelles large granite boulders form a unique, picturesque backdrop to the pristine white sand, creating images worthy of posters which could be displayed in any travel agency window.
SOUTH AFRICA: In general, the best time to visit this vast country is from July through mid-October. South Africa's Kruger Park is one of the world's largest. Cape Town, situated under Table Mountain near the southernmost point in Africa, is another big tourist draw.
TANZANIA: The best months for game viewing in northern Tanzania are from June to October and also during January and February. Tanzania's Serengeti Park hosts the wildebeeste herds during most of the year, except for the period from July to September when the animals migrate over the border into Kenya's Masai Mara Park.
ZAMBIA: As is the case for Botswana, the dry season for game viewing is from April to October. In addition to its large game reserves of Luangwa and Kafue, Zambia also boasts world-famous Victoria Falls, called "mosi-oa'tunya" in the local language, "the smoke that thunders." The reference is to the clouds of mist given off by these world-class falls which were discovered by David Livingstone.
FOUR DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE:
CYPRUS: Best visited from May to September, Cyprus makes for a lovely long weekend getaway from Egypt. Most tourists elect to stay at one of the resorts in the South such as Limassol. But a pleasant day trip can also be taken to the North. There one can see St. Hilarion's Castle, Bellepais Abbey and the picturesque seaport of Kyrenia.
GREECE: The prime season for visiting Greece is from mid-May to mid-October. In the capital one finds the Parthenon and some excellent museums. Beyond Athens, Greece boasts many Classical antiquities. Delphi is perhaps the most popular day trip from Athens. In addition, the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Rhodes are popular with tourists.
ITALY: With its best weather from May to mid-October, Italy has much to offer on a cultural level. Rome, Florence and Venice are all world-class tourist destinations. South of Naples, the ruins of Pompeii are another highlight.
RUSSIA: The best time to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg is from May to September. Austrian Airlines operates flights via Vienna which allow tourists to fly into Moscow and out of St. Petersburg, or vice-versa. Moscow's tourist highlights are the Kremlin and Red Square while St. Petersburg boasts the world-renowned Hermitage Museum, housed in the czars' former winter palace. If flying Aeroflot nonstop from Cairo, Moscow is only two hours' flying time due north!
THREE DESTINATIONS IN ASIA:
INDONESIA: This country is best visited between May and October. Bali is an oasis of Hindu culture in this huge island nation which is otherwise overwhelmingly Muslim. Long a draw for tourists, Bali offers excellent beaches and wonderful art and handicrafts as well as opportunities for adventure travel.
MALAYSIA: Best visited from March to September, Malaysia's tourist highlights include shopping in the very modern Kuala Lumpur, beach resorts on such islands as Langkawi and the remnants of British colonial architecture in Penang. The Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo afford an opportunity for adventure- and nature-related travel.
SINGAPORE: The best season to visit this efficient mini-state is from April to August. So clean, organized and convenient, Singapore is a tourist mecca because of its shopping and excellent entertainment. In addition to the recreation offered on Sentosa Island just offshore, Singapore's museums are first-rate; and one should not miss the night safari at the Singapore Zoo!
THREE DESTINATIONS IN THE NEAR EAST:
IRAN: Best visited from May to September, Iran is a treasure trove of Islamic art and architecture. In order to secure a visa for Iran, travelers' accommodation and sightseeing must be pre-arranged and prepaid. But, for students of Islamic art, the architectural wonders of Isfahan and Shiraz and the museums of Tehran make it well worth the effort.
ISRAEL: The period from April to October is the best time to visit Israel. For most tourists the many Biblical sites in and around Jerusalem and Bethlehem are the highlights of a visit to this country. However, a day trip to the Dead Sea and Masada can also be an interesting and moving experience.
LEBANON: Lebanon's prime tourist season extends from June through August. The reconstruction of Beirut is fascinating to witness, and several lovely day trips can be made using Beirut as a base. Baalbek, the compact but world-class Roman-era ruin in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley can be seen on a day trip. Similarly, a day trip can be taken to the north to see The Cedars. En route tourists can visit Byblos, Lebanon's oldest continuously-inhabited site.
ABOUT TED COOKSON: Egypt's most widely-traveled travel agent, Ted has been
to every country in the world! He has also visited 307 of the 315 destinations
on the list of the Travelers' Century Club (visit
www.eptours.com and refer to World Travel Club). A travel agent in Cairo
since 1986, Ted manages EGYPT PANORAMA TOURS, a full-service travel agency, at 4
Road 79 (between Roads 9 and 10, near the "El Maadi" metro station) in Maadi.
Contact Egypt Panorama Tours (open 7 days a week 9 AM-5 PM) at: Tels. 2359-0200,
2358-5880, 2359-1301. Fax 2359-1199. E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site:
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