October is a great time of year to plan an escape. Many of our favourite destinations are looking their beautiful best after getting a good rinse in the rainy season, autumn festivals are in full swing, and there are some seriously special natural wonders taking place, from marine migrations to technicolor transformations as the autumn leaves burst into their scarlet song. We’ve picked our top ten highlights for the month – take a look here.
VIETNAM & LAOS: FOR A CULTURAL ESCAPE WITHOUT THE CROWDS
October sees the rains hitting Vietnam’s central coast, but there are plenty of silver linings among the gathering clouds: conditions in the north involve blue skies, comfortable temperatures and cool breezes – perfect for some mountain trekking in Sapa or Ha Giang, and bring out the best in Ha Long Bay too. The domestic tourist season is all but over by now, so it’s a good chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City and other inland destinations in some relative peace and quiet. Rainfall in the south is also on the decline as the days move towards the dry season, so there’s a good chance of glorious sunshine on Phu Quoc.
Laos is looking lush at this time of year: the dry season officially starts in November, but October sees increasingly warm, sunny days and fresh green landscapes left by the previous rains. Tourist numbers have dropped significantly, so the tranquil Luang Prabang is all the more laid-back; this beautiful Buddhist town dotted with French colonial legacy is at the top of our Laotian list.
MOZAMBIQUE: FOR A BEACH ESCAPE
Put simply, October is one of the best times of the year to visit Mozambique. The peak tourist season is over by September and the dry season continues until November, so you can enjoy often perfect tropical conditions – clear skies, cool nights, and brilliant sunshine – without the summer crowds. This is the best time for wildlife viewing on and offshore; safari game viewing is at its best in the reserves, but the seas off the coast steal the show, as hundreds of humpback whales make their annual migration to warmer waters to mate and give birth, making for some spectacular sights as these surprisingly acrobatic gentle giants breach the surface.
Conditions are equally ideal for you to get into the water yourself: clear and calm waters allow for some excellent diving opportunities. Some stunning marine life – think manta rays, turtles and countless tropical fish – can be spotted in the rich coral reefs lining the coast. If you’d rather stay above the water, it’s a good season for game fishing – the Marlin season runs from October to January. Find out more about Mozambique here.
MOROCCO: FOR A CITY BREAK
Marrakech is looking magnificent in October; the sizzling summer heat is dying down, so conditions are much more comfortable for exploring the cultural delights of the ‘red city’: think souks, snake charmers and some great shopping. The banana trees and bamboo groves in the Majorelle Gardens are looking their beautiful best, and a visit to the Koutoubia Mosque – the biggest in Marrekech – is a must.
Outside the city, conditions along the Atlantic Coast are great. It’s a good time to get some last-minute mountain hiking done before the freezing winter conditions set in. Several secular festivals also take place in October which are worth a visit: from the Tissa Horse Festival showcasing skills of horse and rider, to the Erfoud Date Festival, held when the date crop is harvested in early October. Read more about our ultimate way to explore Morocco here.
JAPAN: FOR KOYO IN KYOTO
As far as foliage is concerned, Japan’s cherry blossom season in spring might take centre stage, but we think the changing autumn leaves are equally beautiful, as the trees erupt in spectacular scarlets and golds. October is generally seen as an ideal time to visit, as temperatures have dropped after their summer peak, and finding a quiet spot to absorb the scenery, a dazzling contrast of colour is simply blissful. While unsurprisingly a popular time for tourists, their numbers peak in November, so October is a good time to beat the bulk of the crowds.
The koyo (‘colourful leaves’) are best in Kyoto from mid-October; this charming historical city, a living throwback to Imperial Japan, is home to countless traditional temples and shrines dotted amongst the trees. The Kyoto Gyoen (Imperial Palace Park) is a top spot to take in the scenery; it is simply so vast that no matter how many tourists turn up, it won’t feel too crowded. A few hours north, the autumn Takayama Festival is considered to be one of the country’s most beautiful events. Captivated by koyo? Find out more about experiencing Japan in the autumn here.
ARGENTINA: FOR WHALE WATCHING IN PATAGONIA
It’s prime time in Patagonia for whale watching. Southern right whales and orcas, the main attraction, come to mate and breed off the coast off Peninsula Valdes in their hundreds. The whales start to arrive in May, but the spectacle reaches its peak in October: numbers are at their highest, many newborn calves can be seen swimming alongside their mothers, while the males vie for the attention of the remaining females yet to give birth with dramatic displays of courtship, breaching the surface and slapping their tales. Southern right whales are curious and are known to approach boats to get a better look, and bottlenose dolphins can often be seen joining the party, jumping and frolicking alongside boats.
Nearer to shore, orcas demonstrate their clever and coordinated hunting techniques, as they beach themselves to reach sea lion and seal pups. Penguins and elephant seals can also be spotted along the Peninsula coast, while colonies of cormorants are nesting in the cliffs. Read more about a Patagonia adventure here.
INDIA: FOR CELEBRATING WITH THE LOCALS
Rajasthan is never far from our “most beautiful” list at any time of year, but October casts this stunning state in a different light entirely – quite literally. This year, Diwali – the Festival of Lights – is celebrated over five days at the end of the month and into early November; millions of candles and lanterns are lit and firework displays are in full swing, and families and friends meet to exchange gifts to bring luck. The festival is the biggest in the Hindu calendar and is dedicated to the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It is celebrated with great devotion and generosity; light a candle with the locals and embrace their charming enthusiasm and hospitality.
Temperatures in October are pleasant, with bright sunny days, so it’s a good time to explore the many historic sites at Jaipur and Udaipur – the fairy-tale Amer Fort is one of our favourites. Inspired by India? Find out more about the enchanting lands of Rajasthan here.
JORDAN: FOR DIVING THE RED SEA
Jordan is a dream diving destination in October: the waters off Aqaba are a balmy 26 degrees, conditions and visibility are great, and there is plenty to keep divers of all abilities interested in the 25 dive sites, one for every kilometre of shoreline. From abundant marine life – think turtles, eagle rays and moray eels – to stunning, colourful coral formations, sunken wrecks, even an American army tank on the seabed, this is an underwater photographer’s paradise.
Back onshore, conditions are equally pleasant: daytime temperatures have cooled from the extreme summer highs, and occasional rains make the landscape blossom again after the parching summer months. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or advanced open water diver, Jordan is just the ticket for some seriously good scuba diving. Check out this north-south itinerary for more inspiration.
NEPAL: FOR WHITE WATER RAFTING
Nepal emerges blinking into the October sun as the monsoon dissipates in September, leaving clear skies and incredible, clear views of the lush landscape left by the rains – an ideal time for keen photographers. Nepal looks its very best after the heavy showers, and conditions are perfect – this is the peak season for mountain climbers, as the trails are packed with travellers and trekkers taking in the dramatic Himalayan landscape.
We recommend you pass on the paths and take to the water instead: October is optimal time for white-water rafting down the rivers and rapids, which are challenging but manageable after the monsoons. A variety of trips and excursions is available for all abilities: we can arrange day-trips as well as week-long adventures. It’s an exhilarating experience, and a great way to take in the scenery from a different angle.
Feeling adventurous? Our expedition-led Epic Tomato team have put together an intrepid itinerary – read more here.
CHILE: FOR THE DESIERTO FLORIDO
The Atacama Desert is officially the driest desert in the world – some areas have never even recorded rain. However, when unusual amounts of rain do reach parts of the plains, a stunning transformation takes place – the desierto florido (‘flowering desert’). Over 200 species of dormant bulbs burst into bloom by the thousands, carpeting the desert in brilliant colours – blues, yellows and pinks provide a dramatic, barely believable contrast to the usually arid, rocky landscape. Fauna follows flora, as the local lizards, birds and other animals flock to the now food-rich fields.
Check out this desert itinerary for some inspiration for your Atacama adventure.
UNITED KINGDOM: FOR WORLD CLASS ART
In early October, London hosts one of the most influential contemporary art fairs in the world; The Frieze Art Festival. Featuring 160 galleries and over 1,000 artists, curators to critics and everyone in-between. London continues to build a reputation at the forefront of the global modern art scene, and this event – held in the regal Regent’s Park in the heart of the city – cements its status on the international circuit. The set-up and structure of the fair allow for live performance and participation features, as well as debates, screenings, and lectures. Focusing on emerging talent as much as iconic artists, this is a must-visit for any art-lover.