Every month, Kiwi.com is going to bring you a few ideas for things to do, places to go and things to see in the coming month. So if you want to know the best places to visit in November, here are our suggestions…
The call of the wild – Patagonia, South America
In a world that seems ever-decreasing in size, where every area seems to have been explored, and where there are hordes of tourists ready to hike to the top of a Norwegian rock in their thousands just to take a selfie, Patagonia seems like one of the planet’s last real wildernesses. Sprawling across the southern parts of Argentina and Chile, it’s one of the most sparsely populated places on earth, with an average of just two people per square kilometre.
November marks the beginning of the main tourist season, but everything’s relative; with decent planning, it’s still easily possible to get away from everyone else. Tourism is established in the northern part, the areas of lakes and the national parks of Los Glaciares in Argentina, and Torres del Paine in Chile. Just glancing at a map of any other region will show swathes of untouched landscape.
At the beginning of November the end of winter is just about in sight, and when spring starts to bloom by the end of the month, the temperatures creep into double figures and millions of wild flowers tentatively push their heads above ground, a delicately beautiful sight.
Crossing the landscape can be done in a number of ways: hiking is popular, as is off-roading, but there’s always the option of being a true gaucho and exploring by horse.
It’s also a matter of precisely what you want to see. The Andes mountains? The boundless plains and steppe? Whales and penguins off the coast? You’d need months to even touch on the variety of environments on offer. Why not start now?
Arid art – Phoenix, USA
“Arizona needs its own architecture… after its long, low, sweeping lines, uptilting planes. Surface patterned after such abstraction in line and color to find ‘realism’ in the patterns of the rattlesnake, the Gila monster, the chameleon, and the saguaro, cholla or staghorn… are inspiration enough,” wrote the architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Over the course of the last century, Phoenix has changed from being seen as a speck of civilization in the middle of an endless, dusty blank, to a laid-back focal point for a cool, edgy arts scene. Lloyd Wright made his home in Scottsdale, just outside Phoenix, and his former home and studio, Taliesin West, has now become an art museum and school of architecture.
Downtown Phoenix is today a mixture of newly repurposed spaces showcasing local art and artists – a combination of cool and culture in the scorching desert – and a reminder of times past. A former car dealership (named DeSoto, after its erstwhile product) is now the sort of place you can get brunch, and some of the fabulously art deco cocktail bars and hotel restaurants are still going strong.
November is also the perfect time to get out of the city and into the desert as the temperatures have lost their summer violence and are dipping into the pleasant mid-20s. The Phoenix Mountains Park, Camelback Mountain, and the Hole in the Rock cave formations are all places that reward the curious and outdoorsy.
Cherry picked – Ficksburg, South Africa
This year, it’s 15 to 17 November when the town of Ficksburg comes into its own as the focus of the country shifts to what is sometimes called Cherry Town. The oldest crop festival in the country, it’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It also contains other events for those of you who might find the pull of a load of cherries not quite enough.
Choose one or more from a half marathon, golf tournaments, vintage and veteran car displays, horse riding, a food and wine fiesta, live music, craft workshops, a beer festival, and cooking courses in which you can learn to make food – from cherries, naturally – but also watch the making of cherry mampoer, a South African version of moonshine. Oh, and there’s a cherry pip spitting contest as well, in case it all gets a bit highbrow.
The music and other entertainment is provided by almost exclusively South African artists, many of whom are local, and the whole thing is often compèred by a celebrity. On top of all the events going on at the festival itself, the town of Ficksburg is known as The Gateway to Lesotho, situated as it is on the northern border of that enclave. Tick another country off your bucket list and pop over the border; you may be able to simply get a visa at the border or, if not, their new eVisa means you can apply for and get one in under 72 hours.
Sun and civility – Andalusia, Spain
While much of Europe is back to the rain and grey it experiences a lot of the time – up to 11 months and three weeks if you live in the UK – the southern tips of the continent are still fairly balmy, the southern part of Spain most of all. Andalusia is the part of the country that almost touches Morocco, and its climate (as well as a lot of its history and architecture) reflects that.
Even though it may very well be t-shirt weather, going to the beach might still be pushing it. Just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean the water will be particularly warm, especially on the Atlantic coast. Best then to stick to the towns and cities of the region. Lucky that, because you’re rather spoilt for choice.
Seville, the capital of the region, can lay claim to the world’s largest cathedral (if you calculate by volume, which is an odd choice of measurement, but hey). It contains over 80 separate chapels and is, deservedly, a World Heritage site. The 14th century Alcázar Palace and the colossal Plaza de España (dating from as recently as 1929, curiously) are equally magnificent, but the one thing you can’t afford to miss is seeing flamenco. Andalusia claims the origins of the dance for its own (as do Murcia and Extremadura), and going to a tablao will combine a dance show with live musicians with a bar and either a full meal or a choice of tapas.
Beyond Seville, Cádiz is a town of bleached white buildings and winding streets almost toppling into the sea on the very edge of the country, and Málaga is changing its reputation from that of a place beloved of beery oiks to one of a more sophisticated bent. Home to a branch of Paris’ Pompidou Museum as well as a number of contemporary art galleries and, like much else in the region, it combines the architectural delights of Roman, Muslim, Jewish and Christian style to produce a pleasing mish-mash covering centuries of people coming and going.
The wind and the waves – Essaouira, Morocco
A ragged, tumbledown place frequented by the likes of Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix in the 60s, Essaouira is still a bit of a mecca for the free-spirited, but they’re more likely to be sarong-wearing 30-somethings that take their toddlers to Glastonbury than ravaged dropouts. That’s because today, it’s dotted with tiny galleries, boutiques and places to eat and drink, with the Jewish Quarter now the epicentre of this, its shaded squares home to a number of pretty little cafes.
For something equally local and equally delicious, head down to the seafront where the catch of the day is brought in and either sold by stallholders, or cooked there and then for a succulent meal of squid or fish roasted over a grill of white-hot coals. Sit and watch the little boats bob up and down in the harbour, or the windsurfers braving the ocean even at this time of the year, before heading back into the Medina – the Old Town – to browse the markets, or simply to surround yourself with the bustle of Moroccan life.
Be warned, mind you: Essaouira is known as the Wind City of Africa, and for good reason. For a lot of the time, the wind is so strong that lying on the beach is not the most serene experience. No matter though, as once you’re in the city, the fortifications and walls will protect you from the worst. On top of that, the breeze is all the better to waft the scents of cooking and spices through the lanes for a mouth-watering accompaniment to wherever you decide to wander.
Raise the Jolly Roger – Cayman Islands
Over 40,000 Jack Sparrow wannabes descend on the Caymans for the Pirates Week Festival, an event that boasts of bringing “an onslaught of scallywags and rapscallions” in an eleven-day-long celebration of adventure on the high seas. Everyone gets dressed up in their seafaring finery and participates in parades, dances, sporting contests, food and drink events and more, stretching across all three islands.
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Many evenings there are also fabulous firework displays, particularly on the first night, which ends with the traditional crowning of this year’s Pirate Queen. There are also events catered specifically to teenagers, with some (fully-supervised!) parades, dances and workshops open to teens only. There’s even a chance for animals to get involved, with the Pirate Pooch Parade meaning you can dress up your dog as a pirate and help raise money for the islands’ Humane Society.
The main event is a simulated pirate invasion of George Town in which three ships laden with scurvy buccaneers land in the harbour, run amok through the town and kidnap the Governor! Shiver me timbers!