Around the world, July is a month of jaw-dropping animal migration, all-night parties and historic festivals. So if you can escape the office for a week or two, why not take the opportunity to explore some of the natural or man-made wonders the month has to offer?
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Here are our eight top travel destinations for July:
The Great Migration, Kenya
Every year an estimated 1.5 million wildebeest begin the world’s largest animal migration, together with hundreds of thousands of giraffes, antelope and kopi. Driven by the rain, the animals flock from the plains of Tanzania’s southern Serengeti to the grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara. It is a hazardous pilgrimage, spanning over 800 kilometres. The beasts must cross raging rivers, deadly lakes, and encounter lions and crocodiles.
Arguably the most spectacular moment of the migration is the River Crossings – the final, and deadliest obstacle of the journey. Every year swarms of wildebeest take on the crocodile-infested waters of the Mara River. Some of the biggest crossings occur where the river flows past the Mara Serena Safari Lodge. There are also excellent views of the crossings from the Magali Mzuri safari camp, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Collection.
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The Salmon Run, Alaska
For a rather different, but equally incredible, migration, why not head to Alaska for the famous Salmon Run?
Having left the ocean, the salmon swim to the upper reaches of rivers where they then spawn. The run may be centred around the salmon, but the stars of the show are the predators who sit and wait for the shoals of fish.
Over 98% of America’s brown bear population can be found in Alaska, as well as black bears, grizzlies, and bald eagles, all of whom congregate by streams and rivers waiting for the salmon. One of the best places to view the brown bears is the remote Katmai National Park. Head to Brooks Falls, and stand on viewing platforms above the bears, watching as they pluck salmon from the seemingly endless flow of leaping fish.
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Independence Day, Washington DC
July 4th is the annual celebration of America’s independence from the British Empire, dating back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, exactly 240 years ago. The date is celebrated across the country, but if you want to celebrate Independence Day stateside, then the place to do that is the nation’s capital.
First off, pay a visit to the National Archives, where the Declaration of Independence is displayed. Next, head to Constitution Avenue and 7th Street to watch the National Independence Day Parade. It kicks off just before midday.
After lunch take in some of the city’s most impressive monuments on a Potomac River cruise. Finally, enjoy dinner at the Washington Harbour in Georgetown, before watching the fireworks display from the riverfront.
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Bastille Day, Paris
On July 14th it’s time for the French to be patriotic, as they commemorate the 1789 storming of the Bastille – an act that sparked the beginning of the French Revolution. Firework displays, open-air balls, huge picnics and free concerts take place across the country, however Paris remains the hub of official ceremony. Visit one of the local fire stations between 9pm and 4am on the 13th or 14th for a free Fireman’s Ball. Watch the military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, and enjoy a fireworks display launched from the Eiffel Tower.
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If you’d rather spend July on a beach, Fiji is the place to go. It’s dry season and the water is at its clearest. Surrounded by beautifully preserved coral reefs, the archipelago offers some of the best diving in the world. However, if you’d rather party in paradise, the islands are also host to a vibrant nightlife, you just have to know where to go. Take a boat out to Cloud 9 – a floating, open-aired platform above the Ro-Ro Reef off Malolo Island. With 360-degree views of the horizon, you will quite literally feel like you’re floating on cloud nine.
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Queenstown, New Zealand
If you’re a snow bunny rather than a sun-seeker, then head to Queenstown. Nestled between four separate ski fields, the town is New Zealand’s adventure sports hub in both summer and winter. Explore Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona. Or travel further afield to Treble Cone – the largest ski area on South Island, and one of the most popular locations for European ski race teams to train during summer. Queenstown is also the birthplace of the bungy jump. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to visit Wanaka – a small nearby town, home to one of the most incredible, unique cinemas in the world.
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Nestled between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania on the coast of the Adriatic Sea is Montenegro. One of the jewels of the country’s coastline is the party town of Budva, and July is its busiest month. With cobbled lanes and traditional walls surrounding the Citadel, Budva is no ordinary beach town, and this year between July 15th and 17th it is host to the Sea Dance Festival, a new after-party following Serbia’s popular Exit festival.
If you’re still standing after all the partying, why not spend a day white-water rafting through the canyon walls of the Tara River?
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Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
For the hottest party in July, head to Cuba for the carnival of Santiago de Cuba. It’s the largest, most famous and most traditional carnival in all of Cuba. An explosion of colour, drumming and dance, the Cuban community gather together to remember and celebrate their history.
Street performances known as comparsas play a large role in the festival. There are two types of comparsa – paseos and congas. Traditionally congas are composed mainly of lower class citizens, while the paseos are more lavish. Both involve groups of musicians and choreographed dancing.
Officially the celebrations run from 18th to 27th July, however festivities normally begin the week before, seizing the town in a frenzy of rum-fuelled parties and infectious Afro-Caribbean beats.
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