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How are you spending your summer? Get inspired by our guide to top tropical adventures, African odysseys and European tours

 

Got two weeks off? A month? Summer’s the time to think big, leave your normal life far behind and get out there into the farthest reaches of the globe to see all those placesyou’ve always wanted to. Whether you like to pack in as much action as you can, reach new heights of decadent partying or kick back and relax in beautiful scenery, there’s a destination out there with your name on it. So have a read of some of our dream trips here, and see if any, or all of them, take your fancy.

Interrailing, Europe

They might have worn neon legwarmers, listened to Wham! and done terrible, terrible things with their hair, but the Eighties backpacker generation certainly knew how to travel. Take a leaf out of their book and spend the summer interrailing. It’s still a relatively cheap way to travel, and better still, is incredibly flexible. You can start your trip planning to hit every gallery and art museum on the continent, with Paris at the top of your list. Then maybe you’ll get sidetracked, and decide it’s epic monuments you want to see, and visit Berlin to see the Brandenburg Gate. Craving some ancient history? On to Rome to visit the Colosseum then. After all that culture, you might decide to get outdoorsy, and squeeze in some surfing in Portugal or hikes in Switzerland’s mountains.



Don’t forget about the Netherlands, where you can spend time in cool microbreweries, or hanging out in the cafes that line the historic canals. Perhaps you’d prefer to head east, and enjoya week partying hard in the hedonistic cities of Belgrade and Prague. And just keep going and going until your money or annual leave runs out – whichever happens first. We reckon the best way to do it is to divide your time between must-see places, cultural events and music festivals, and leave at least a week for just seeing where the journey takes you.

Make it happen: The Interrail Global Pass is valid in 30 countries, including Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey among others. Prices start from £159 for five day’s worth of travel (to be taken within 10 days). If you can spare the time though, the one-month continuous pass at £382 is thebest value. Tickets vary depending on whether you’re an EU resident or not. interrail.eu

Island hopping, Croatia 

Been working your butt off this year? Maybe you just want to spend your holidays chilling out then. How does letting someone else drive the yacht, pour the drinks and cook thedinner sound, while you lie on various decks and beaches in Croatia?

The easiest way to do it is just plonk your cash down for an everything-taken-care-of package which will include little sightseeing, a lot of island hopping and as much seaand sun as you can take. Don’t miss out on the lush Rab island, where the endless green woods have plenty of pretty bike and trekking trails, while those who enjoy a bit ofdiving can make the most of the clear waters, with wrecks and marine life to goggle at.For good old-fashioned sightseeing, leave yourself a day or two in Dubrovnik, where you can stroll the historic medieval walls, and check out the almost-too-perfectly restored old city, such as the Town Hall (now the Rector’s Palace), dating from the 11th century and the 14th-century Franciscan Monastery. For mesmerising views over the orange roofs and blue Adriatic Sea, take a ride on the cable car, which brings you to over 400m high.

Finally, for a cheeky bit of nightlife, visit the island of Pag, which has such a raucous scene it’s been dubbed the “Croatian Ibiza.” Let off some steam drinking and dancing on the sand here. Alternatively get your partying done at Hvar, a riot of bars, terraces and clubs, and conveniently, where many cruises start or finish.

Make it happen: Lots of tour operators offer all-inclusive packages for one- or two-week cruises. Check for which meals are included (some have all-you-can-drink offers) as well as any extra charges for excursions and activities. 
 

More: Fly from London to Split (the nearest airport to Hvar) with easyJet from £106 return. easyjet.com

Gorilla safari, Uganda

It’s the wildlife trip on everyone’s lips at the moment – an expedition to see the rare and endangered mountain gorilla. These are among 11 different primates you can visit in the tropical rainforests of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda (you’re likely to also encounter chimps, baboons, and a variety of monkeys).

Over half of the world’s remaining 800-odd mountain gorillas live in in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda – none live in captivity as they can’t survive in detention. On a gorilla tracking trip in Bwindi, you’ll stay in one ofthe National Park’s lodges, where you’ll be put into a small group and allocated a gorilla family to track. Then there’s a big hike through the Impenetrable Forest to find the hairy creatures, which could take between two and eight hours, depending on where they’ve got to.

But while it’s a tough trek, covering hills and rough terrain, you’ll be able to see all sorts of other wildlife (think exotic plants and animals). When you finally track the mountain gorillas down, you’ll be able to watch them playing, feeding, snoozing and ambling around from as close as 5m away – by all accounts a truly incredible experience.

Make it happen: You need to be in reasonable shape for almost all gorilla tracking, so make sure you’re up to an eight-hour hike or you’ll run into difficulties. Then choosean environmentally conscious company. New Uganda (newuganda.com) has a number of recommended tour operators which offer gorilla tracking and other activities.

More: Fly from London Heathrow to Entebbe airport from £902 return with British Airways. ba.com 

Mayan ruins, Mexico

Make South America your playground this summer, with an adventure that’ll take you through a series of mystical ancient ruins. In Mexico, you can visit Tulum, originally known as ‘City of Dawn’ because it faces the sunrise. This is the site of a Pre-Colombian Maya walled city, with three famous ruins, El Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God and possibly the most interesting – the two-storey Temple of the Frescoes, which is thought to have been used by the ancient Mayans as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun.

Next you’ll want to head deep into the jungle to find what’s left of the 1500-year-old city of Coba, which was once home to 50,000 inhabitants. Here you’ll get to see NohochMul, which is the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán peninsula. Finally, no journey to Mexico would be complete without setting eyes on Chichen Itza, one of the most famous Mayan ruins and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The complex includes the famous Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo, a pyramid with 365 steps which was built to be used as a colossal stone calendar. 

Make it happen: This is an easy trip to organise yourself, and you’ll fi nd hundreds of backpackers on a similar route this summer. Check visitmexico.com for more information.

More: Fly from London to Mexico City from £736 return with British Airways. ba.com

 

Jungle trekking, Thailand 

Jungle trekking in Northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai is always mired in controversy – tourism is a huge source of income for the region, which has had both positive and negative knockon effects. Hordes of tourists crashing through the jungle on treks does nothing for the local wildlife, while streams of visitors to hill tribe villages is a big intrusion on their way of life. So when you’re booking a Thailand trek, make sure you do it with a reputable company, and ask questions about sustainable practices they follow. 

Eco-concerns out of the way, a trek in Northern Thailand can be a sensational experience. The region is used to catering for visitors, so there’s a huge variety of treks on offer, ranging from cheap to pricey and easy-peasy to gruelling. Yours could include an elephant ride through the jungle, bamboo river rafting along the Mai Tang river, hiking through the Doi Chiangdao mountain range or learning about the lifestyle of the Hmong hill tribe.

Make it happen: Tiger Trail Outdoor Adventures are a responsible travel company that offer well-considered hilltribe treks (tigertrailthailand.com).

More: Fly from London Heathrow to Gatwick from £887 return with BritishAirways. ba.com %u275A