Ruven Afanador for EW
Lynette Rice
September 13, 2017 AT 01:32 PM EDT

For a guy who just traveled 8,600-plus miles to shoot his next batch of episodes for Outlander, Sam Heughan is looking ­surprisingly at peace.

“It’s so strange,” he tells EW from the production offices of the ­drama’s South African set earlier this year. “This is the most relaxed I think I’ve ever been on the job. It’s just so gorgeous here.”

World travel can definitely have its perks. The third season spirits Heughan and his fellow actors to new, previously unseen ­corners of Scotland, like the emerald moors of Crieff and a neoclassical mansion in East Lothian, where Jamie (Heughan) encounters a hellion named Geneva (Hannah James, see below). And the second half of the year deserves its own travel special due to its exotic settings. As depicted in Voyager, the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling Outlander series, Jamie and his time-traveling wife, Claire (Caitriona Balfe), reunite in 18th-­century Scotland before setting sail on a dangerous rescue mission that requires them to visit the tropical locale of Jamaica.

Aimee Spinks/Starz

In South Africa, the jungle backlot of Cape Town Film Studios doubled as the Caribbean, while the gardens of the nearby Rustenberg Estate were the site for a lavish ball that Claire and Jamie attend later in the season. (And talk about a shindig: It’s at this reception that Claire meets a very important man from Jamie’s past.)

“It’s a nice change from freezing in Scotland!” quips Balfe.

Watch our full Outlander season 3 premiere Q&A:

Want more scoop about season 3? Pick up EW’s annual Fall TV Preview, on new stands Friday.

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