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Vacate for Valentine's Day

25th January 2011 Print

As Valentine’s Day gets more commercial each year, those without that special someone in their life are probably starting to feel that Iran have got it spot on by banning the whole day altogether.

Why not use it as the perfect opportunity to escape red hearts, soppy cards and puppy eyed couples, and head off on holiday where you’re guaranteed to fall in love… with your destination and the local people that you visit.

Whilst many people are threatening to get as far away from it all as possible, if you’re not quite ready to turn your back on love, and want to look for it instead, you may find just what you’re looking for too!

Holidays to fall in love with…

Head to the heart of the Himalaya: Annapurna Sanctuary (Nepal)
For an inspiring escape into the heart of the Himalaya, this 17-day trip is hard to beat. The trekking presents no major difficulties so can be undertaken by enthusiastic hill walkers, while the balance of both city and rural life in Nepal provides an unforgettable overview of this wonderfully welcoming country. The trip culminates with a night in each of Machhapuchare and Annapurna Base Camps which, surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring mountain scenery on earth, is sure to blow away any cobwebs, leaving you ready to take on the world.
4 February departure (with more than 3 solo travellers on it) from £1299 including international and domestic flights, accommodation, some meals and a local group leader. The Adventure Company -

Hook a Cowboy… or girl: Wild West
What could be more perfect than watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon on Valentine’s Day? Whether you’re a couple or a single this trip will sweep you off your feet. With 10 days packed full of escapades and exploration you’ll go from LA and San Diego to the awe-inspiring Death Valley, Senora Desert and of course, the Grand Canyon, with a Cowboy Camp thrown in to the mix and the bright lights of Vegas to look forward to towards the end. Now that’s got to beat some Thorntons Chocolate, a Clintons Cards and a meal for two.
Prices start from £609 land only, departing on the 11th February for ten days, including 5 nights accommodation, internal transfers, Las Vegas city tour and tour guide. For more information -

Monkey love in South Africa: South Africa Monkey Rehabilitation
Head off to South Africa this February and find yourself monkeying around with some new furry friends! Get up close to the mischievous Vervet monkeys and help with their daily care and the conservation of these furry critters! South Africa continues to be an extremely popular destination for those travellers seeking adventure and a chance to get away from it all (especially for Valentine’s Day). Seize the opportunity of gaining a life enhancing experience with this conservation project. Get hands on experience feeding, interacting and caring for orphaned babies. You’ll also have time away from the project to explore this vibrant location, visiting the stunning Kruger National Park and Debengeni Waterfalls for a trekking treat.
Prices start from £899 land only departing on the 7th or 21st February for two weeks, staying in a mix of lodges and a rustic wooden cabin at the conservation, most meals included, country orientation and arrival transfers. For further information -

Find Love on a Felucca: Felucca Safari (Egypt)
Leaving thoughts of Egyptian cotton sheets behind, there’s no better way to feel the pulse of Egypt than drifting lazily along the Nile in a traditional sailing boat and this 11-day trip takes in all the key sites along the way. Having explored Cairo’s great pyramids and Sphinx you’ll head south to Aswan and visit the incredible temples at Abu Simbel, built as an act of ego, pride and love by Ramses II. Having boarded the traditional felucca you’ll sail with the warm winds that sweep in from the Western Desert, spending 3 nights on board with plenty of time to kick back, relax and observe life along the banks. Highlights include a visit to the romantic Temple of Sobek at Komombo, with its wonderful promontory position and Nile views, plus the Temple of Horus at Edfu.
6 February departures from £480pp land only including transport (including a 3 night felucca sail and donkeys into the Valley of the Kings), activities, accommodation, most meals (10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners) plus a local tour leader. Flights available with Imaginative Traveller from £316pp. Imaginative Traveller -

Get a Brazilian: Best of Brazil
This trip might just capture your breath… and you’re heart this Valentine’s Day. You’ll enjoy three days exploring the surrounding wilderness of Iguacu and its spectacular Falls, before flying to the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro with plenty of time to experience all that this city has to offer. The iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, the beaches of Copacabana and the tropical rainforest of Tijuca National Park will keep you busy, before departing for the island paradise of Ilha Grande, a largely undeveloped island renowned for its beautiful beaches and pristine rainforest.
Prices start from £999 for 10 days land only departing on the 6th February or 10th April including accommodation, all internal transfers and your tour guide. For more information -

Swap Heartache for Hill Tripes: Siam Encounter (Thailand)
This 10 day adventure takes in many of Central and Northern Thailand’s most memorable experiences. From Bangkok you travel to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai for a glimpse into Thailand’s wartime past. The next stop is the wonderful temples of the ancient Siamese capital of Ayuthay before heading north to Chiang Mai where you’ll trek and visit some of the local hill tribes. Spending a night in their simple abode may be the reality check you need before washing away any lingering worries bamboo rafting and elephant riding.
5 February departure from £445pp land only including transport, accommodation, sightseeing, some meals (3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner) plus a local tour leader. Flights available with Imaginative Traveller. Imaginative Traveller -

Find your King of the Jungle: Wildlife research with Lions in South Africa
Set in over 30,000 hectares of African wilderness this trip will delight wildlife lovers with the chance to get up close with rhinos, elephants and leopards (but hopefully not too close!). Lions will be the primary focus here and you’ll have the opportunity to work these magnificent creatures and actively monitor a lion pride, getting up close and personal to these amazing animals. Recently the research has expanded to include Rhinos and Elephants and these studies are combined with the focus on the Lions in the reserve, making for an even richer experience. Helping at this Wildlife research will give you far better memories than a meal for two, and that will last long after you return home.
Prices start from £1055 land only for two weeks in February including food, accommodation and arrival airport transfers. For further information visit -

Get an Aussi Mate: Australia Learn to Surf
Heading down under is the perfect antidote for anyone looking to get as far away from Valentine’s Day as possible. As you travel the east coast of Australia, learning to ride the waves and living the surfing lifestyle, you’ll soon forget about dreary England.
With Real Gap Experience you’ll spend 5 days learning to surf in Sydney to Byron Bay, stopping at one of the country’s most beautiful and unspoilt beaches. You’ll be shown the best waves for progressing your surfing from beginner to advanced level. And in between all your splashing about you’ll enjoy parties, barbies and relaxing by the beach, Aussie style. Who knows, you may even find an Aussie mate.
Prices start from £409 this February including accommodation, internal transfers, 4 day surf course and 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners. For further information contact Real Gap Experience -

Get Lucky in Serendipitous Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Discovery
You never know who you might meet on holiday and the beautiful island of Sri Lanka – once known as Serendip - provides an idyllic backdrop to any chance encounter. On this 16-day trip you’ll interact with the country’s fascinating culture, varied landscapes and abundant wildlife, making this the perfect trip for those wanting to take in the best that this tropical paradise has to offer, with the opportunity to relax on its palm-fringed beaches at the end.
12 February departure (with more than 3 solo travellers on it) from £1779 including flights, transport (including bicycle), B&B accommodation and a local group leader. The Adventure Company -