February 2017: The latest trips from Insight Guides

February – a month for love and pancakes – can still be disappointing as temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere plummet and grey skies loom. Raise your spirits by booking onto an Insight Guides trip and exploring an exotic destination like Thailand with your valentine, or taking the family to Oman during half term for the adventure of a lifetime
Garachico in Tenerife island
Garachico in Tenerife island. Photo: Shutterstock

Garachico in Tenerife island is included on our latest trip launches. Photo: Shutterstock

1. Spain and the Canaries

What? A thrilling road trip through the romantic region of Andalusia in Southern Spain
Which trip? Andalusian Road Trip

This trip begins in the historic Andalusian capital, Seville. Learn about the theatrical flamenco dance and soak up the city's alluring atmosphere. Next, collect your hire car and head for Cadiz, where you'll take in captivating sights from the Eternal Cathedral to La Caleta Beach. From here, it is on to Vejer de la Frontera, a beautiful white-washed town that enjoys a slow pace of life. Sleep here before heading to the coast at Tarifa. Either try out the resort's famous wind sports, or – if that's not your thing – visit the impressive archaeological site of Baelo Claudia. Drive from here to El Colmenar, another sleepy settlement, close to Malaga. Relax for two nights, enjoying your hotel's spa facilities, before driving to dramatic Ronda, where you'll spend a night. Ronda enjoys a spectacular location, perched high above perilous cliffs and waterfalls and divided by a mighty gorge, linked by a 15th-century stone bridge. You'll find the Plaza de Toros – Spain's oldest bullring – situated here. In the morning, head for Grenada, the final leg of your tour. Once here, explore the arresting Alhambra Palace, a Moorish palace-fort complex. On your last evening, watch a final flamenco performance and soak up the city's feisty vibe. 

What? Hiking and relaxing in equal measure in Tenerife
Which trip? Tenerife Explored 

Arrive at Tenerife South Airport and collect your hire car. Continue to Mount Tiede, Spain's tallest peak, with stunning views and landscapes. Your accommodation is the perfect base from which to embark on a splendid hike through the Mount Teide National Park, enjoying some truly dramatic vistas. Next stop is the coast, to the charming seaside town of Santiago Del Teide – your home for the next few nights, during which time you'll take the opportunity to visit several beautiful, sweeping beaches and some small and colourful local villages. La Orotava is next on the itinerary. Travel further east on to the delightful town of Tejina, your final base. Here, you can choose between two lovely hikes in the surrounding countryside, as well as taking in La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and arguably the most beautiful town on Tenerife.  

Mountain landscape near Jebel Shams, Sultanate of Oman. Photo: ShutterstockMountain landscape near Jebel Shams, Sultanate of Oman. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Oman

What? Exploring magical Oman and its beguiling sights by road
Which trip? Omani Road Trip

This drive through the Arabian Peninsula begins with a tour of Muscat. The buzzing Omani capital has many treasures to discover: you'll visit the Grand Mosque, try out your haggling skills at the sprawling Muttrah Souk, and take in the Old City. the next morning you depart for Barka, your next overnight destination, with stop offs at Rustaq and Nakhl, both with impressive, sandy, picture-book forts – Nakhl is the highest in Oman, 350 years old and set in a dramatic mountain valley. The following day, a beautiful, winding mountain road – with some spectacular mountain scenery – leads to the natural springs at Al Thowara Oasis and the revitalising waters at Wadi Abhyad and Wadi Bani (perfect for a dip). 

Continue on to Nizwa, from where, in the morning, you'll visit the towns of Al Halma and Misfah located amid the mountain date plantations. On your second day in Nizwa, you'll enjoy a guided tour of the magical Nizwa Fort and Jabreen Castle; both are imposing and atmospheric. Next is a trip to Ras Al Jinz and to the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, a memorable insight into the lives of these fascinating creatures. From here, start the drive back to Muscat, stopping off at Wadi Shab and the ever-changing dune formations at Wahiba Sands along the way. 

What? Taking in Oman's unique natural beauty and wildlife
Which trip? Nature Lover's Oman

Starting at Muscat, you'll take to the waters for a dolphin-watching boat trip and three-hour snorkelling experience. The waters of the Gulf of Oman are calm and warm – perfect conditions for spotting marine life. Next, a city tour of Muscat will introduce you to its impressive sights, including the opulent Grand Mosque and its bustling souks. Then you're invited to choose between hiking to Wadi Dayqah and Wadi Arbaeen, both beautiful spots. 

Next, it's onto Tiwi, a charming fishing village, where you'll spend the night. From here, the next stop is at the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, a nesting site for green turtles – your night tour will allow you to see this spectacular phenomenon. The following day you head for Wahiba Sands, a beautiful area of golden sand dunes; completing the desert experience is a camel ride and a night spent out under the stars at a luxury desert camp. From here you'll travel to Al Hamra and the Bair Al Safah Living Museum, before a short hike around Jebel Shams, Oman's highest mountain. Expect panoramic views across the mars-like landscape. Finally, it's time to end the adventure and return to Muscat.  

Poon Hill view point in Ghorepani, Nepal. Photo: ShutterstockPoon Hill view point in Ghorepani, Nepal. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Nepal

What? A moderate 12-day trek in the dramatic Himalayas
What trip? A Taste of Annapurna

This trip is a fantastic introduction to the Nepalese outdoors – expect spectacular scenery and cultural insights. You'll spend your first night in Nepal in the vibrant capital, Kathmandu. The next day, a flight will land you in Pokhara, where your accommodation for the night is a luxurious 4-star lakeside hotel, complete with a spa. From here, you will begin your once-in-a-lifetime trek, which takes you out into the Modi Khola Valley and the Kali Gandaki Valley. Terrain varies between verdant oak forests (marvel at the abundant rhododendrons if you book for April), stunning rocky snow-capped Himalayan peaks, bamboo forests and cultivated fields. Spectacular vistas look out to Annapurna, Hiunchuli and Macchapuchare (Fish Tail). The scenery is quite simply breathtaking. You'll also experience traditional ways of Nepalese life at villages such as Ghorepani and Landruk. Near the end of the trek, you'll visit the hot springs at Tatopani – what better way to soothe your aching limbs! Return to Pokhara and on to Kathmandu, enjoying a bit of leisure time along the way.

Thai Train on River Kwai Bridge of Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Thailand

What? Luxury glamping in Thailand with plenty of culture
What trip? Thailand Luxury Camping

Hintok River Camp makes a marvellous base, set amid lush vegetation on an enormous cliff overlooking the River Kwai. Numerous cultural attractions and museums are situated nearby, as is a colourful local village, several temples, and some lovely areas for trekking. 

You'll be collected from your hotel in Bangkok, and on the first day you'll visit the infamous Thailand–Burma Railway Museum, the war cemetery and the Bridge over the River Kwai, before checking in at camp. The railway in question was built by Asian labourers and Allied Prisoners of War in WW2 under the Japanese. After lunch, you'll visit the Hellfire Pass Memorial and hike along the old railway embankment. Afterwards, expect a lighter outing – rent a bicycle to ride into a local village, where you'll be able to see bamboo baskets being weaved.

The next day you'll take a boat trip to charming Sai Yok Yai Waterfall – perfect for a refreshing swim. In the afternoon you'll explore Lawa Cave with its stalagmites, stalactites and Buddha statues. On your final day, you'll visit the atmospheric local temple, before taking a boat to the Mon Village at Jungle Rafts, giving you the chance to meet some of the community and gain an insight into their unique local culture. Take a ride on the ill-famed 'Death Railway' before being driven back to Bangkok. 

What? Stunning nature and important history in Thailand
What trip? River Kwai Discovery

This trip makes an excellent add-on to any existing holiday to Thailand. After being collected from your Bangkok hotel, you'll visit the 200-year-old Wat Bang Kung, a small chapel nestled between the roots of a banyan tree. Next stop is Baan Benjarong, where you can watch artisans painting intricate chinaware with enamel overglaze, as well as paying a visit to a private museum dedicated to Benjarong's history. In the afternoon, hop in a long-tailed boat for a tour of the canals, through villages, fruit and coconut plantations and traditional houses on stilts along their banks. Either relax for the afternoon at your resort – a peaceful retreat on the Mae Klong River – or opt for a boat trip to take in the beautiful Amphawa fireflies by night. This spectacle is sure to stick in your memory, and it is one not to be missed. 

The next day, take a taxi-boat to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, where hundreds of boats paddle back and forth with vendors selling fresh produce, foodstuffs, and souvenirs. After checking into your luxury tented accommodation (your home for the next two nights), you'll head to the Hellfire Pass Memorial – a monument to the Allied Prisoners of War and Asian labourers who lived and died in atrocious conditions during the building of the Burma–Thailand Railway in WW2. Then hike along the old railway embankment, imagining what life would have been like for the unlucky people who were part of the construction effort. Next, bike into the neighbouring village to see locals at work, weaving bamboo baskets, before returning to camp. 

On your final day, you'll cycle to a nearby temple and enjoy a canoe trip down the Kwai Noi River. Switch your canoe for a motorised long-tailed boat to reach Resotel Pier for lunch. In the afternoon, board the infamous 'Death Railway' to the Bridge over the River Kwai and the war cemetery, your final sights on the trip. From here it's back to Bangkok, or straight to Suvarnabhumi Airport for an additional charge. 

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