We all crave that sweet serendipity of being in the right place at the right time: When the Northern Lights are most likely to dance; when that sleepy scruff-bucket town transforms for its once-a-year fabulous fiesta; or when a mass mob of whales gathers at the nearby reef. That’s why our book, The Best Place to be Today, exists – to help zoom in on precise dates or periods to ensure the very best experiences, be they wildlife migrations, active escapades, raucous festivals or cultural showstoppers. Each month we’ll pick two of these timely experiences right from the book and share them here.
If you want to find out the best place to be on any day of the year – today, tomorrow, your birthday or wedding anniversary – check out our interactive calendar.
Wade into the Pantanal
Explore the World Heritage-listed wetlands during one of its two dry seasons
April to May
The Amazon may attract more fame and glory, but the vast Pantanal wetlands in the center of South America are a better place to see wildlife. They contain the greatest concentration of fauna in the New World, and while the Amazon’s dense foliage hides its animals, the Pantanal’s open spaces make the wildlife visible to the most casual observer.
The Pantanal is more than half the size of France. It has few people and no towns. Distances are so great and ground transport so poor that people get around in small airplanes and motorboats. The only road that runs deep into the Pantanal is the Transpantaneira. This raised dirt road was supposed to stretch to the Bolivian border but two-thirds of the intended route has been left incomplete for lack of funds.
April and May form one of the Pantanal‘s two dry seasons. The area floods in wet season (October to March). The waters teem with fish, and the ponds provide excellent niches for animals and plants. Later in the dry season, the water recedes, lagoons and marshes dry out and fresh grasses emerge. —www.pantanal.org
Wake up and smell the tulips
To see and sniff millions and millions of bulbs a-bloom
Keukenhof, southern Holland
Mid-March to mid-May
Imagine: A sea of seven million cheery tulips nodding their heads in the warming Dutch breeze…
That’s the sight that greets visitors to Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden, when it opens for its annual spring season. From around 20 March until late May, flora-fanciers can wander the garden’s themed displays and buy bulbs to take home. The blooms tends to be at their best in mid-April.
Keukenhof – ‘kitchen courtyard’ in Dutch – was once a 15th-century hunting estate, where game was tracked and wild food foraged for the nearby castle. Now it is a floral fantasy, a cluster of perfectly tended and presented areas ranging from the Bee Happy Garden, where insects are encouraged, to the Dutch Cow Garden, where the black-and-white colour scheme mimics the famed Friesian cow.
For more tips on how to experience springtime in The Netherlands, read:
Tiptoe through the tulips: how to experience Amsterdam in bloom
Excerpted from The Best Place to be Today, 365 things to do and the perfect day to do them.
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