In Cape Town right now the weather is idyllic, there’s a breeze coming off the ocean and evening walks hug the shoreline and are enjoyed with toes in the sand. But for those starting the new year in the cooler northern hemisphere, these winter destinations are perfect for the snow seeker.
Bernina Express, Switzerland to Italy
There’s no shortage of spectacular scenery year-round in this tiny, beautiful country, and the Graubünden canton, with St Moritz in its backyard, certainly cuts a memorable picture. But the rail route through the Engadin Alps from Poschiavo in Switzerland, and to Tirano in Italy offers such breathtaking beauty that the line was declared a World Heritage Site: a four-hour journey across 196 bridges, through 55 tunnels and the dizzying 65-metre Landwasser Viaduct, all seen from the hushed warmth of a carriage. Top tip: The area’s cuisine reflects its Italian, German and French influences but has a character of its own. They suggest trying the nusstorte, a nut tart made with walnuts and honey.
Getting there: fly with Qatar Airways to Geneva or Zürich via Doha.
Dogsledding in Sweden
Whether or not you’re a ‘dog person’ the thrill of charging through snow-decked countryside behind a team of up to 18 Siberian or Alaskan huskies will stay with you for life. The dogs live to run and can effortlessly cover up to 40kms a day. You’ll be travelling in the Arctic Circle, so are quite likely to see the Northern Lights, an experience of a lifetime in itself. Top tip: Being in the cold burns a lot of energy, so tuck into the local cuisine, like the smörgåstårta or sandwich cake, a rib-sticking, multilayered meal-in-one with a variety of fillings: shrimp, meats, cheeses and dried fruit.
Getting there: fly with Qatar Airways to Stockholm via Doha.
Watching snow-monkeys in Japan
While it might not immediately spring to mind as a destination for snow lovers, Japan’s Yamanouchi district is a haven for winter sports, but is also home to the famed Japanese macaque monkeys, which spend winters basking in the steaming hot springs of the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Images of the blissed-out, warm-as-toast primates are famous, but that’s not the only reason to visit the area. Shibu Onsen is a picturesque old resort town centred on its hot springs that have been used for hundreds of years and counts samurai, poets, priests and countless ordinary citizens among its patrons. Guests at the ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) are invited to don yakuta robes and geta sandals and stroll to nearby bathhouses.
Getting there: fly with Qatar Airways to Haneda via Doha
Serving more than 160 destinations around the world from their Doha hub, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways’ crew fly to lots of places, often. These are some views of their favourite snowscapes.
Hiking the Cascade Mountains, Washington
A magnet for serious hikers, the mountains are a short drive from Seattle but are rugged enough to feel remote, and the area known as The Enchantments feels downright primal. The Qatar Airways crew’s tip: Complete a through-hike that works up an appetite and a thirst, and head for the village of Leavenworth, modelled on a Bavarian village, to sample bratwurst, beer, spätzle and other German specialities. Kitsch? Yes, but that’s part of the fun.
Getting there: fly with Qatar Airways to Seattle via Doha.
** This article is published in partnership with Qatar Airlines. Pics are sourced.