Travelling in August brings new meaning to the idea of joining the herd: one of the natural world's greatest dramas unfolds in Africa at this time of year, as huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra undertake a life-or-death journey from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. With visitor numbers to Kenya down, it's a great time to see the show. For a quieter natural landscape, the steppe of Kazakhstan is carpeted in green, which makes this a perfect time to explore the country's mountains and canyons.
A spectacle of another kind awaits in Singapore, where a hat-trick of festivals and events ensures a lively month for visitors. Ditto Ljubljana, the tongue-twisting capital of Slovenia, which is primed to celebrate its Roman roots. Spanish cities, meanwhile, become ghost towns as the heat of summer sends the populace to the coast. Follow the exodus for chilled out days, serious siestas, and sandy beaches. The beaches are busy in Maine, too, as the state's famous lobster festival gets underway.
Work up an appetite for adventure in August with Lonely Planet's destination experts.
Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya
August is the prime time to witness what is arguably the most impressive wildlife spectacle on earth – the Great Migration. It’s at this point in the yearly cycle when the mass movement of more than a million wildebeest and zebra reaches its apex, with herds congregating in Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve after their long journey through the Serengeti in northern Tanzania.
Those that survive the crossings of the crocodile-infested Mara and Talek rivers replenish their reserves for their eventual passage south by feeding on the savannah’s long grasses. The abundance of these animals also ensures it is feeding time for the reserve’s ultra-predators: lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. It is an incredibly dramatic time to be in the reserve.
Although safely located hundreds of miles away from the isolated areas where the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advisories are in place, visitor numbers are down in the reserve, which makes this year an ideal time to take in this astounding natural phenomenon.
Matt Phillips - Destination Editor for sub-Saharan Africa. Follow his tweets @Go2MattPhillips.
Spain’s Costa de la Luz
The Spanish know how to deal with heat, rising early, avoiding the mid-afternoon sun and then partying in the cooler night. In August the cities are just too hot for locals, so most urbanites decamp to the coast. Join the Sevillanos on the Costa de la Luz, the relatively undeveloped coastline that curves round the southern base of Andalucía. Here even the Spanish slow down, with long three-hour lunches in chiringuitos (beach bars) serving seafood straight from the sea and evening meals that start at 11pm and go on into the early hours.
Characterised by long beaches of golden sand, the coast is known for its cooling wind, which draws kitesurfers from around the world. Tarifa is the place to go for an action-packed weekend of kite and windsurfing. The stretch of coast around the small town of Zahara de los Atunes has apartments to rent for a beach break, plus some great eating options.
The pretty hilltop village of Vejer de la Frontera is well worth a diversion from the coast, and should you crave something slightly more ‘city’, the museums and bars of Cádiz are within easy reach.
Jo Cooke – Destination Editor for Iberian Europe and Turkey. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaCooke1.
Singapore loves to celebrate and August provides the perfect opportunity to get a well-rounded taste of the city-state’s rich cultural heritage while joining the party over a single long weekend.
Coinciding with the end of Ramadan, the month begins on a festive note leading up to the main event on 9 August – Singapore’s National Day – a public holiday typically celebrated in a patriotic flurry of military parades, extravagant civilian processions, air force fly-bys and fireworks displays. If you miss out on tickets (eballot.ndp.org.sg) to the main ceremony on Friday, head down to the newly opened Marina Barrage with a picnic basket for a great view of the pyrotechnics across the bay.
The festivities don’t end there, with Hungry Ghost Day – during which Singapore’s Chinese community appease the souls of the dead with offerings and street performances – observed the very next day. The Hungry Ghost Festival technically runs for a month, however, so there’s plenty of time to check out the colourful altars around Chinatown.
Following a day of rest on Sunday, the Singapore International Festival of Arts (sifa.sg) rolls out its six-week program of artistic offerings – from disabled theatre to performance art – on Monday 12 August.
Sarah Reid - Destination Editor for Southeast Asia. Follow her tweets @sarahtrvls.
Roman history in Ljubljana, Slovenia
This August Slovenia’s pretty capital Ljubljana is celebrating the 2000th anniversary of its foundation (as the Roman settlement of Emona) with gusto. The main event is ‘Ave, Emona’ from 22-24 August, when the lovely green Kongresni trg square will be sent back in time to the Roman era, with costumed performers representing soldiers, gladiators and citizens. Visitors will be able get a first-hand taste of the Roman city by watching gladiator battles, military parades, craft demonstrations and Roman dancing, as well as try some Roman food and drink bought at the marketplace.
For those who want to delve deeper into the history of Ljubljana, costumed guides will lead tours of the Roman parts of the city, including the city walls and three archaeological parks, and there's a new 'Time Machine' tour at Ljubljana Castle, where visitors meet performers in costume from six significant periods in the city’s history. There are also special exhibitions about the Roman city at the City Museum and the National Museum of Slovenia. Visit the Slovenian Tourist Board website (slovenia.info) for more details.
Anna Tyler - Destination Editor for Southern Europe. Follow her tweets @go_AnnaT.
Coastal Maine, USA
The sea is never far away in Maine and those looking for classic salt-tanged summer fun will be rewarded with mile after mile of sandy beaches, lively waterfront towns, and enough lobster shacks and lighthouses to keep the grumpiest of sea cap'ns happy. Crucially, the variety and scale of the coast here means you’ll always find breathing space amid the August crowds.
The Maine Lobster Festival (30 July-3 August) in Rockland sees 20,000 lbs of the state’s famous red crustacean steamed, cracked and served up to bib-wearing festival-goers. The event culminates in a wacky crate race when participants sprint across lobster crates that are tied together and floating in the water.
Beyond the beach, Portland offers hip galleries and upscale restaurants to rival Boston and from Bar Harbor nature lovers can take a whale watching trip before plunging into the glories of Acadia National Park with its towering sea cliffs and undulating mountain paths.
Dora Whitaker - Destination Editor for Eastern USA. Follow her tweets @dorawhit.
High and dry Kazakhstan is at its best in summer, when the sun is overhead and temperatures approach 30C. In August, grass on the steppe is at its most verdant, and the country's mountains, such as the Altai, are at their most hospitable and visually stunning for trekkers. Campers will find they can pitch a tent just about anywhere they like, and natural monuments like Charyn Canyon - sometimes called the 'Grand Canyon's little brother' - are in peak condition for hiking.
Meanwhile, cafes burst on to pavements in the leafy ancient capital of Almaty, where the long evenings are perfect for sipping coffee or a refreshing locally produced dessert wine.
In the north, the new capital city Astana has finally thawed from its long winter, its shiny futuristic skyline gleaming in the August sunshine. Or those with a penchant for truly off-the-beaten-path beaches might want to lay their towels alongside the turquoise waters of the Caspian Sea in the far west outpost of Aktau.
Megan Eaves - Destination Editor for North Asia. Follow her tweets @megoizzy.
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