Written by Jenny McWhirter on 22 / 03 / 2016
Gap Year Advice
Spring has sprung, the end of the grey weather is upon us, and many of you will be thinking about starting your gap year travels this April...
There’s no better time to head out to catch some early summer sunshine, miss the crowds and enjoy some great festivals before the summer festival rush.
When you’re thinking where you should begin your gap year travelling it’s always good to know when different countries are at their best. So I’ve started by compiling the best gap year locations for April.
The following four countries have all made the list due to April being the best time to catch some rays without shrivelling to a crisp.
Travel Indonesia from Kevlevitate on Vimeo
April in Indonesia straddles the end of the monsoon season and sits on the cusp of summer. This makes the ideal time to visit this stunning part of the world.
Glorious and comfortable temperatures (check out Indonesia's average weather here) will allow you to sunbathe comfortably whilst also explore the local sights without sweltering the summer heat highs. You’ll enjoy average temperatures of 27°C (81°F), an average of 8 hours of sunshine a day and just a 20% chance of rain.
If that’s not enough April brings ideal conditions to dive and snorkel. Indonesia is home to Raja Ampat which boasts ten times more hard coral species than the Caribbean.
If you’re a keen diver, or you just love to imagine yourself as part of the cast of “Finding Nemo”, Indonesia should be top on your April destination list.
Cuba from Paul Clements on Vimeo
Whilst much of South East Asia witnesses its single hottest month during April,often leaving backpackers in need of buckets of sun cream and craving air conditioning, Latin America offers a respite for the traveller.
Cuba is ideally located in April to provide warm weather and offer that early summer without it becoming unbearable. This will allow you to bask on the beach in the day time, before heading out in the balmy evening. Cuba certainly has some stunning beaches that are worth a visit, as well as fantastic nightlife spots to explore.
It’s a must for this April to allow you to visit before it becomes invaded by Burger King, McDonalds and the like.
When you picture South Africa what comes to mind? Hot plains stretching into the distance, mirages and wildlife galore…
However, the temperatures can reach up to 45°C (113°F) and that certainly isn’t too conducive to a spot of sightseeing. April on the other hand will give you a daily average of around 24°C (75°F) – a much more manageable level of heat!
It’s great to capture the sweet spot between the high temperatures and the wetter days. April will keep the temperatures down but will keep those skies dry.
With Kruger National Park, Table Mountain and amazing cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, this is certainly a destination not to be missed and you’ll find that many of the stunning sights are captured in a particularly beautiful light this time of year.
Remember that blog last month about the many hidden gems that Namibia holds? Well, due to the country’s location, before April it’s not particularly advisable to go exploring unless you love the challenge of coping with extreme temperatures.
Namibia starts to enter the dry season and this brings cooler weather, but don’t fear there is still plenty of sunshine to go around.
As well as the weather becoming more tolerable, it is still the low season so this will mean that you avoid the swarming crowds of summer and can stand in awe of mother nature’s beauty and the rest of the world won’t appear in your photos.
There’s nothing worse than wandering the streets of Marrakech or trying to explore Uluru along with the rest of the world.
These next two countries are great this time of year, you’ll still get to see them in all their beauty but with fewer people and that means it will be cheaper!
One of the best experiences in Morocco is heading into the Jemaa el Fna in Marrakesh. As dusk falls the square begins to simmer with life. You’ll find an eclectic cast of musicians, story-tellers, fortune-tellers, henna painters, acrobats, medicine men and snake charmers.
Wandering the square in April will give you the chance to peruse what is on offer without the constant bashing of others' bags, arms and the like. It will also allow a great trip to the desert and mountainous areas, where you can ride a camel and star-gaze the night away.
The temperature is warm, but not as scorching as it becomes in the following months, so it is definitely the best time to visit this fantastic country.
Australia, home to the true beach-bum, surfer enthusiast and lover of eternal sunshine. However, there is nothing worse than heading down late to the beach and not being able to find a spot.
Or trying to take in the majestic Uluru (see the video below) learn about Aboriginal culture along with every other backpacker in the whole world and sweating away barely able to breathe.
This is exactly why now is a great time to head Down Under. It truly is at it’s best this time of year. You’ve missed the extreme heat and the mad crowds and are left with a comfortable warmth, blue oceans and slightly fewer tourists.
In these beautiful and less manic climes you can adventure up the East Coast for 5 weeks, hitting all the major sites and some amazing hidden treasures too.
Whilst in the UK festival season has not hit yet, this doesn’t mean that April has to be festival-free. We previously looked at Unique Festivals to Liven Up Your Gap Year, but spring is where is all begins. Head over to these places for some incredible live music.
You’ve probably all heard of Easter and when you hear those lovely words you most likely think of stuffing your face with endless chocolate. This is a great way to spend a day but if you're exploring on your Gap Year, why not get into a cultural festival?
The Spanish know how to celebrate Easter in style – they have been celebrating a holy week, known as Semana Santa at Easter for the past 500 years! All over the country, you’ll be able to witness processions through the streets that will continue on into the city’s bars and restaurants.
Take a look at this great Guide to Semana Santa which explains the history of the festival, as well as the best places to see the parades.
As well as catching this amazing festival, April will allow you to take advantage of that early summer sun.
Coachella is a large festival held in Indio, California in April. It features a huge range of music and art. What more could you want to start, or continue, your gap year in style?
Indio is well situated to include on a West Coast Road trip – a great route would see you drive from San Diego up to San Francisco and then if you can brave the distance head out to Vegas. Here's an American Road Trip Planner to help you on your way!
April is perfect road trip weather and again allows you to explore this stunning coastline without the mad crowds of summer. There’s no reason not to head over to California this April.
Catch the festival - Coachella
Who doesn’t love a good street party, finger food, drinks, community atmosphere and a good load of bunting. Well Amsterdam has their very own take on the street party and it is one of the biggest around.
On the 27th April they have King's Day, a whole day dedicated to celebrating the monarchy. In order to ensure it’s a truly royal affair the city bursts into street parties and makes for an unmissable event.
Alongside the amazing street party on the 27th, April also sees the start of the Tulip season, these beautiful flowers cover the city and make for a truly beautiful stroll down any side street. Alternatively, just one hour from Amsterdam, you can visit the flower fields in Keukenhof which boast over 800 varieties of tulip.
If you’re heading abroad to check out some wildlife, or you just love a good safari or nature park, then it’s really important you go there at the best time to see the country in all it’s beauty. These are some great places to explore…
Nepal rhino meets drone from Charles Onians on Vimeo.
When you think of Nepal rhinos aren’t necessarily what spring to mind. However, Terai the southern plains of Nepal are home to two beautiful national parks – Chitwan (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Bardia.
Both these parks are home to the endangered one-horned rhino (see the video above of one of these rare creatures getting to know a drone!) as well as other wildlife such as tigers and elephants. If you don’t want to be disappointed, we suggest you head to Terai during spring.
Why not explore Terai after a trip to base camp? Spend four weeks in Nepal to explore national parks, go white water rafting, trek to Everest Base Camp, teach local schoolchildren and live alongside some of the world’s most remote communities.
Cherry Blossom Season from Lauren Astir on Vimeo
If you’re thinking of spending part of your gap year in East Asia, Tokyo must not be missed. Sakura (cherry blossom) is at its best in April, and you can see some of the most beautiful flowers. Check out the bloom forecast for 2016 before you go.
Stroll around the gorgeous parks and snap those cover-photo-worthy images. Even join in the hanami parties that will be taking place in the local parks. For those of you wondering what hanami is, it is a traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers.
In particular, the cherry blossom becomes the focus of this custom. The custom then involves having parties under the magnificent sakura tree both during the day and night. It is a tradition certainly not to be missed.
Baby Born Seal - Galapagos Islands from Movingframes on Vimeo
Finally, the Galapagos offers fantastic wildlife pretty much all year round but in April it’s an especially amazing time. This time of year, you’ll see new-born seal pups round every corner, wild flowers galore and calm seas.
The wildlife on the Galapagos have never seen humans as predators so the baby seal pups, their mums and all other wildlife will happily just hang out with you.
If you’re going to spend the money visiting these islands you might as well go at the best time of the year. Spend 5 weeks in Ecuador living and contributing in remote communities in the Andes, jungle and on the Galapagos.
Over To You
There we have it, travellers! The low down of the best places to satisfy your travelling needs this April.
on 22 / 03 / 2016