August is one of the peak months for international tourism. School is out for the summer, prices rise, availability falls and crowds swell. But with a little planning, August can deliver an unforgettable trip for all the right reasons. Here are Curious Travel’s suggestions for an August adventure. Contact us for more inspiration and information.
Kenya – Scotland – Sri Lanka – Svalbard (Norway) – Borneo
Japan – Australia – Hungary – Argentina – Canada
A visit to the Maasai Mara in August puts you at the heart of the largest natural migration on the planet. Over two million wildebeest, zebra and antelope, pursued by a host of predators, cross the Mara River from the Serengeti to Kenya’s Maasai Mara, making it the perfect place to witness an epic river crossing. As herds surge across the Mara River, crocodiles’ jaws snap in a frenzied life-or-death struggle that shows nature at its rawest.
Stay in one of the Mara’s riverside lodges to get close to the action; Mara Serena has unparalleled views of a crossing point but fills up fast. Alternatively, try a traditional tented safari camp, such as Seven Elephants Camp in the quieter Northern Mara.
The Great Migration is a Bucket List event for wildlife lovers, so it will be busy, but with the right guide and planning you can avoid the crowds and enjoy incredible wildlife encounters and photography opportunities.
For trip design to visit Kenya or other areas in Africa please drop us a line.
Wildebeest crossing Mara river, Masai Mara National Park – Image by Gudov Andrey
For three weeks in August, the picturesque Scottish capital of Edinburgh bursts into life as artists and spectators from around the world congregate for the world’s largest and most inclusive arts festival. Eclectic, diverse and open-to-all, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival transforms the city into a 24-hour street party with plenty of Scottish flavour. Theatre, acrobatics, dance, street art, juggling, fire shows, comedy and bagpipes take over every street corner for an atmosphere that’s as potent as the local malt whisky.
For a change of pace, head to the scenic Highlands. Rent a canal boat at Fort William and travel the length of the Caledonian Canal, where towering mountain ranges guide you across Loch Ness and through the sweeping Great Glen. Alternatively, see the best of the Highlands, from munros to beaches, by driving the North Coast 500. (See our article on great Scotland Road Trips Here)
Festival Actors on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh – Image by Jan Kranendonk
In August, the summer monsoons take a breather, giving beach-lovers a window to enjoy blissfully unspoilt white sand beaches, such as Uppuveli and Nilavel on Sri Lanka’s east coast. For great surfing and watersports, head south to Arugum Bay.
The dry, temperate weather also makes August a great month to explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Cultural Triangle. Take a bike tour through the ancient ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruia and admire the Buddhist art of the Dambulla cave temples.
To experience Sri Lanka’s exceptional wildlife, head to Yala National Park, which is home to over 30 leopards and offers some of the best big game safari opportunities outside Africa.
Interested in Sri Lanka? Why not get in touch for more information?
Sri Lanka Beach – Image by Anton Gvozdikov
Escape the August crowds with a trip to Svalbard, Norway’s ethereal, remote northernmost point. Until the end of August, the sun never truly sets, the so-called Midnight Sun bathing the icy tundra in a pinkish glow that’s perfect for landscape photography.
The ice begins to melt in the (relatively) mild summer temperatures, allowing boats to circumnavigate the island, the best way to spot polar bears, walruses, seals, whales, arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer and a variety of arctic birds. Work up an appetite with some icy sea-kayaking, glacier hiking or dog sledding before trying local delicacies, such as cured seal and reindeer soup.
Svalbard also gets a mention in our article, 5 adventure Travel Places.
Polar Bears in Svalbard – Image by Himanshu Saraf
While the summer monsoon hits most of South-East Asia, August is one of Malaysian Borneo’s driest months, making it an ideal time for jungle trekking, beach time and wildlife encounters.
This is the best time of year to spot orangutans, as trees bear summer fruit, tempting ‘the old man of the jungle’ down from the canopy. For sightings in their natural habitat, stay at a rainforest reserve lodge, such as The Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley, or one of the many protected reserves of the Bantangan River. Here, you can also see crocodiles, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys and native hornbills.
August is also one of the few months suitable for climbing Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountains (4095m). Alternatively, if it’s tropical beaches you want, Kota Kinabalu also won’t disappoint.
Looking for a trip to Borneo and beyond? Why not get in touch for more inspiration?
Bornean Orangutan in the wild – Image by Sergey Uryadnikov
In August, the skies across Japan are ablaze with the Hanabi fireworks. Hundreds of firework festivals take place across the country as fireworks designers compete to produce the most spectacular displays. The Sumida River Firework festival in Tokyo is one of the best but getting tickets can be difficult, so grab a picnic rug and some cool drinks, find a spot on the banks of the Tama River and enjoy incendiary artistry at its finest.
One of Japan’s most important celebrations, Obon, also takes place in the middle of August. The Japanese commemorate their ancestors with floating lanterns and performances of the traditional don-bori folk dance.
Iconic Mount Fuji also open for its official climbing season. It gets buy but this is Japan and the camaraderie is all part of the experience.
Sumida River Firework festival in Tokyo – Image by Hsiun
Although August is Australia’s winter and some parts of the country can become surprisingly cold, this is a great time to visit Uluru, or Ayers Rock, ‘the heart of Australia’. The weather is cooler, although still warm, while the light cast at this time of year casts a particularly vibrant hue on the famous natural monument. There are wildlife sightings and wildflowers in abundance. Watch the sunrise over Uluru and eat dinner at an open-air restaurant under the vast starry sky.
Cairns, ‘the gateway to the great barrier reef’, is also ideal for diving at this time of year. The sea may be a little colder, but the clear visibility gives ample chance of spotting humpback and minke whales, as well as colourful corals and diverse fish species.
Although it’s peak tourist season in August, Budapest is still less crowded than the more established European holiday destinations. The summer months are perfect for unwinding at one of Budapest’s many thermal baths. The Széchenyi Baths are the largest and most popular, but there’s a spa in Budapest to suit every taste.
Take an evening stroll over the beautiful Chain Bridge and admire Budapest’s illuminated architectural splendour on a night cruise down the Danube.
Aside from the traditional cultural highlights, such as Buda Castle, a tour of Budapest’s ‘ruin bars’, the achingly hip Pop-Up bars that inhabit many of the city’s ruined or abandoned buildings, is a wonderful way to explore lesser known parts of the city while sampling local craft beer and live music.
To escape the crowds, head three hours south of Budapest to the charming city of Pecs where you can take a trip to Villány and explore the country’s wine-growing region.
Interested in Hungary, Budapest or other destinations in Europe? Why not get in touch for more information?
Budapest in Hungary – Image by TTstudio
Falling at the end of Argentina’s winter, August is cooler and crisper, making it perfect for exploring Buenos Aires’ cultural highlights, including the Plaza de Mayo, La Casa Rosada and the Recoleta Ceremony.
It’s also ‘Tango month’, as the Buenos Aires Tango Festival grips the city. Watch Argentina’s most sultry cultural export performed by the experts, or dance the night away at a Malbec-fueled milonga (tango dance party).
In August, Argentina’s incredible Iguazu Falls are at their most accessible. They look particularly striking at this time of year, as the reduction in water volume allows the dramatic rocks to poke through the deluge.
Interested in Argentina? Why not get in touch for more information?
Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil – Image by SunSinger
August is the most popular time to visit the National Parks of the Canadian Rockies. The temperature reaches a pleasant 22C and, while snow still caps the mountains, the ground is generally clear. The trails in the parks are open for hiking, canoeing and other outdoor pursuits. That does mean you will be sharing the mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, canyons and caves with tourists and tour groups.
Jasper National Park is slightly less crowded at this time of year than its more famous neighbour Banff but is equally beautiful. It’s the largest of the region’s parks, giving you more opportunities to escape the crowds. Kootenay National Park is a quieter, lesser-known option.
Start your days early or head out later (the sun doesn’t set until around 10 pm) to avoid the tour buses. You’ll find that just venturing a little further off the established tour group trails allows you relative peace to explore these magnificent natural treasures.
Moraine Lake with the Rocky Mountains – Image by R Classen
Looking for more inspiration? Why not have a read of our tips on Top 5 Family Summer Holidays?
Sam Roberts is a creative content writer, web designer and travel enthusiast currently based in Malaysia.