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Winter sun on your gap year

Christmastime, to some, is the only instance when it is acceptable for it to be cold. You can sit by a roaring fire with some mulled wine and fill your hours with plenty of merriment.

However, what many fail to realise is that across the world various countries enjoy the season in the heat of the sun. But apart from being really hot, there are loads of great things to do in hot getaway, far from the bite of Jack Frost. Here are just a few:

Animal watching in Madagascar

It is estimated that 90% of the animals that dwell on the African island of Madagascar are only found on the country. As such, it makes it one of the most unique places in the world in terms of wildlife, and many are incredible specimens. For instance, the flat-tailed gecko has the ability to totally change its appearance in accordance with its surroundings, making it virtually invisible to a predator.

Fossas, too, are a native creature that look like a dog crossed with a weasel. Their unique body shape allows for flexibility and nimbleness - perfect for hunting down prey (lemurs). Speaking of which, the Isalo National Park is perfect for those visiting the island to get a taste of the varied wildlife on offer, boasting six types of lemur as well as many other types of mammal and other animal groups.

Brown Lemur (Eulemur fulvus fulvus)

Cruising around the Caribbean

There are many travel packages during Christmas that include a trip around the various islands of the Caribbean, and this is because it is a wonderful part of the world any time of year. From Jamaica to St Lucia, you will be greeted with amazing seafood, clear waters, white sand and a friendly welcome.

Barbados' Accra beach, for instance, feels like a piece of paradise, and includes a charming boardwalk that one can take an enjoyable stroll down, bars for refreshment and restaurants that serve the freshest cuisine from the sea.

Caribbean sea

Getting reflective in Bali

Bali is known as an area of the world that is astonishingly beautiful, and its economy is held up largely due to the flocks of tourists that head over to the Indonesian province to see it firsthand. The Tirtha Empul Temple is a hotspot for those who wish to enjoy a tranquil moment and was created in 962 AD to celebrate the Hindu deity Vishnu. It is a place where people come to wash themselves in the holy pond.

For those seeking a less spiritual but water-based and relaxing experience, the Gitgit Waterfall near Lovina is a spectacular natural spectacle. Once you're done there, you can also head to the area's beach - a perfect coastal area to enjoy during sunset.

Pura Ulun Danu Temple

Going scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, located in the state of Queensland, brings in billions of dollars of revenue every year because it needs to be seen to be believed. As well as the impressive vibrant colours of the various types of coral itself, there is a large amount of sea life that one can look at in its natural surroundings. This includes turtles, molluscs, crustaceans and many beautifully colourful fish like anemones (clown fish) and Angelfish.

When you're done, you can also head to North Stradbroke Island, located 30km southeast of the region's capital, Brisbane. It has five main beaches - ideal for a lovely Christmas barbecue.

Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Christmas needn't be cold and frosty, so why not head somewhere sunny this winter on your gap year? Just remember to bring your seasonal cheer and festive hat, but you probably can leave your Christmas jumper at home.