After All the Wedding Madness
The Energetic Adventure
When to Go: Nov.–Feb.
Hours From NYC: 16
Avoid the crowds in trendy South Africa in favor of trekking through tiny villages to the west.
Where to stay: True adventurers eager to immerse themselves in Malian culture should seize the opportunity to hike from village to village, camping out on the roofs of the mud-brick dwellings of chiefs in Dogon country (twelve-day packages start at $6,000; book at absolutetravel.com). While most of the area’s actual hotels are more rustic than ritzy, La Maison in Timbuktu (standard rooms start at $200/night) is a cozy boutique property with a lovely rooftop lounge.
What to eat: Much of Malian cuisine is simply variations on chicken and rice; for some of the best local fare, try Teriya in San and Bar Boxo in the port of Mopti. Heat seekers should sample the national specialty, La Capitaine Sangha: perch with a hot chile sauce that’s served with fried bananas and rice. Wash it down with fresh tamarind juice or Malian tea, meant to be drunk in three stages: strong and bitter, slightly sweetened, and virtually saturated with sugar.
To do, by day: In Segou, catch a traditional Dogon mask dance by the locals. “Don’t miss the massive market in Djenne on Mondays, or the nearby mud mosque,” says Brooke Garnett of Absolute Travel. “Pick up some kola nuts in town to give to elderly people you encounter as a sign of respect.” Travel to Mopti by boat for a close look at fishing villages untainted by tourism; you’ll likely encounter lots of hippos, as well. In Timbuktu, ride a camel into the Sahara to reach a small Tuareg encampment and check out a drum circle (book at absolutetravel.com).
In the evening: Bamako has a lively music scene; on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, many of the restaurants host live concerts featuring local bands.
How to get there: Air France offers nonstop flights from Paris.
When to Go: Nov.–Apr.
Hours From NYC: 20
Explore South America’s most extreme mountain range in what is one of the world’s least populated corners.
Where to stay: Explora Patagonia’s Hotel Salto Chico—located in the shadow of snowcapped mountains on the banks of the Salto Chico waterfall—offers heated indoor pools and horse stables, and there’s not a TV in sight (from $2,660 for four nights).
What to eat: Traditional cuisine, like spit-roasted lamb, empanadas, and locally sourced vegetables, is served at the all-inclusive resorts. Pair it with wines from the resort owner’s personal vineyards; all vino is on the house.
To do, by day: Just outside your door lies Torres del Paine National Park, one of Chile’s greatest natural treasures. Choose your hiking adventure, whether it’s a leisurely stroll around the park’s numerous waterfalls and glaciers or an intense trek up the eponymous Torres. Take a boat ride to Glaciar Grey and keep your eyes peeled for condors (book through Protravel International).
In the evening: Unwind with a Pisco sour and a dip in the lodge’s heated pool.
How to get there: American Airlines flies to Santiago; take a connecting LAN flight to Punta Arenas airport.
When to Go:Apr.–Nov.
Hours From NYC: 6
Hopscotch among the glaciers and fjords by day, then check out Reykjavik’s notoriously fun nightlife.
Where to stay: Urban dwellers will feel at home at 101 Hotel, a cozy Design Property in downtown Reykjavik with minimalist décor and heated oak floors (from $358/night).
What to eat: Head to Hornid for bistro fare, or Vox to try fillet of lamb (Iceland’s most popular meat). Food geeks should make the pilgrimage to Hotel Budir, two hours outside the capital on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, for salt-fish brandade and beet-root flan.
To do, by day: Take a day trip to Geysir, a geothermal field with bubbling, multicolored mud pools and steam vents, then travel to the spectacular Golden Falls nearby. “Watching the white water thunder down a 105-foot drop into a narrow canyon is one of the biggest thrills,” says Pallavi Shah of Our Personal Guest. Fish for salmon on the Tungufjot River; have a cookout lunch on-site. Go dogsledding or ice-golfing on the Myrdalsjokull Glacier, or take a snowmobile ride to the Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Thorsmörk canyon, and Gigjokull glacial lagoon (book any outing at ourpersonalguest.com). Finally, relax with a swim or enjoy a personal massage, followed by a Champagne cocktail, in the warm waters of the famous Blue Lagoon ($90 for a one-hour massage; general admission is $30).
In the evening: Peruse the cluster of art galleries (standouts are Kling & Bang, 101 Gallery, and Bad Taste) downtown or go club-hopping on Laugavegur street (Austur and B5 are local favorites).
How to get there: IcelandAir has direct flights from JFK.
From the Summer 2010 New York Wedding Guide