Travel Bargains10 Best Off-Season Adventures 10.20.13Travel Bargains10 Best Off-Season Adventures Avoid the crowds and bag a bargain by travelling to the world’s best bits when everyone else isn’t. Check out the 10 life-changing adventures to book during their quiet season. 10.20.13 1:00 AM ETBen Cranke/Getty‘Green Season’ Safari, BotswanaBotswana is not a cheap safari option—many of its luxury lodges cost up to $1000 per person per night. Gulp. But travelers willing to endure the odd downpour can nab a bargain when the tourist hordes have headed home. November to April is euphemistically dubbed ‘green season’—rain is frequent and the resultant thick vegetation can make wildlife harder to spot—but it’s also when lodges offer significant discounts and landscapes are lushest, attracting myriad birds. Many animals give birth at this time of year too, and a good guide will point out plenty of healthy young babies, plus the predators inevitably skulking nearby, looking for an easy lunch. Reproduced with permission from 1000 Ultimate Adventures © 2013 Lonely Planet. Rebecca R Jackrel/GettyWinter Wolf-Tracking, Yellowstone National Park, USADuring the summer more than three million people pile into Yellowstone National Park; just 140,000 visit in winter. Sure, some of the roads close from December to March, ranger-led activities fizzle out and temperatures plunge to -20°C. But the pros are manifold: not only are the highlights blissfully tourist-free but the wildlife-watching is superb. Resident species such as elk, bison and bighorn sheep overwinter at lower elevations and stand out a mile against the ice-cloaked land. Plus you can enlist a naturalist guide to tramp through the sparkling landscape, following the footprints of the elusive grey wolf, easily visible in the virgin snow. GettyMonsoon Trekking Western Ghats, IndiaMumbai during monsoon? You must be mad! Granted, the Indian metropolis isn’t much fun from June to September, when heavy rains flood roads and breed disease. But venture 100km inland to the Sahyadri Mountains and you’ve got the ideal wet-weather playground. These hills—part of the larger Western Ghats—come to life. Rivers and seasonal waterfalls are in full flow (perfect for rappelling and rafting) while the countryside glows vibrant green. Plus the rains keep temperatures cool for hikes that take in ancient paths, ruined forts and secluded homestays. Bruno Morandi/GettyLake Baikal, RussiaLake Baikal is in Siberia—a word to make even the well-fleeced shiver. No surprise, then, that most visitors to this fathomless expanse of blue come in summer. And yet...Baikal in winter, when the mercury plummets to -20°C, is far more fun. The mighty puddle freezes over; you can walk out onto its translucent, creaking surface, the ice 2m thick but so clear you can see kelp forests swaying beneath. Negotiate this crystallized world by husky-sled, skis or snowmobile—or take to an ice-hovercraft, leaping over waves frozen like skate-ramps – then warm up in a banya (steam sauna), Russian-style. Urca Humaita/AFP/GettyRainy Season, Iguaçu Falls, Brazil/Argentina‘Iguaçu’ is a Guaraní Indian word, combining y (meaning ‘water’) and ûasú (‘big’). Big water—yes. But bigger at some times than at others. Brazil and Argentina share this border-straddling cascade—a 3km-wide, 80m-high spillage of 275 separate falls, gushing through the jungle. At its annual peak, 6500 cubic metres of water a second are tumbling down this cataract. Trouble is, in peak visitor period (the dry months of April to July) this can shrink to a trickle. To see the falls in their full, forceful splendour, come during the December to February wet season. Just bring a waterproof jacket. Michele Crossera/ReutersWinter in Venice, ItalyLow mist wisping off the canals, empty alleys of glistening cobbles, St Mark’s Square without the tourists: Venice in winter can be cold and damp and even a complete washout (they call this the acqua alta, flooding season), but the chance to wander without the crowds is worth donning a pair of wellies for. Wrap up warm and get lost; at some point you’ll hopefully find yourself by big-hitters like the Rialto Bridge and awesome Gallerie dell’Accademia but the fun’s in the atmospheric back streets – and the warming cafes where, of course, you’ll always get a seat. Michael Runkel/GettyHurricane Season in Aruba, Bonaire & CuraçaoHurricane season is a serious issue in the otherwise idyllic Caribbean. The warm waters so beloved by tourists can draw in storms from June to November. Though there are no guarantees, it’s usual for any given island to experience at least one wild-weather alert a year and take a direct hit every five to 10. But not all outcrops are made equal and those in the southern Caribbean, sitting outside ‘hurricane alley’, seldom see storms at all. Which makes Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao—home to colourful colonial architecture, gorgeous sands and great diving—excellent summer choices. David Tipling/GettyWinter Birdwatching, Brighton, EnglandBrighton: the British seaside town of chips-in-newspaper helter-skelter fun, the pebble beach Londoners flock to in good weather, the ideal boutique, boho-chic summer city break. But in December to February? It’s low season and things are a bit quieter – unless, that is, you’re a bird. As tourists desert Brighton’s famous pier in winter, starlings from across the South Downs move in. At dusk they amass in their hundreds of thousands, performing dazzlingly balletic murmurations, rippling like water in the sky, then, as if on unseen cue from Mother Nature, they pour beneath the pier to roost in one great swooshing torrent. Waterfall William/Getty‘Low Season’ Bargain-Hunting, Hawai’i, USAThere are two high seasons on the isles of Hawaii: firstly, deep winter, when travellers want to escape cold weather elsewhere. The second is high summer, when vacationing families descend. Both these periods see price hikes—but neither is actually the best time to visit. In truth, no time is awful here: these volcanic outcrops are balmy year-round, with averages only fluctuating from 25°C to 30°C. But April to June is not only the start of the drier season, it’s outside the more hurricane-prone July to November period, plus humpbacks—which amass off Maui from December—stay around until May. Rafael Marchante/ReutersWinter Surfing, PortugalMainland Portugal has almost 950km of coast and much of it is ideal for summer holidaying: there’s a classy, quiet, golfy or gaudy resort to suit most tastes. But for surfers, winter’s the time to be there, when the Atlantic swells are biggest and most consistent, and when beaches are free from other people. And it’s not even that cold – though you’ll want a decent wetsuit (sea temperatures average 17°C). The southern Algarve is mildest – find laid-back surf spots between Lagos and Sagres. But the gnarliest waves hit further north: brave the breaks around Porto and the Costa Verde if you dare.