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Thu Oct 02 06:22:32 SAST 2014

In Transit

Sunday Times | 22 May, 2011 00:000 Comments
LATIN FLAVOUR: Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Tips and hints to help your travel planning

1.Contiki heads for South America

TOUR operator Contiki is launching into South America with six tours spanning three of the most popular destinations - Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

This follows the success of its first tours to Asia in 2008. Contiki has adapted tours to fit the destination and aims to give travellers a local taste of every place visited. The average size of each group will be 20.

Accommodation will include three-star hotels and "special stays", such as an eco-lodge in the Amazon rainforest, while transport is a mix of bicycles, motorised canoes, trains, cable cars and triciclos . All trips will be supported by Contiki tour managers and experienced local guides.

The first tours set off in November 2011, starting with an eight-day Andes & Amazon Highlights and a 24-day The Adventurer that will explore all three countries.

See www.contiki.com or call 011 280 8400 for more information.

2. Kenya's Karura Forest open for visitors

KENYA'S magnificent Karura Forest is now open for visitors, thwarting earlier plans to develop it for residential and commercial use.

Attractions in the 2 500ha urban forest, which will be managed by the Kenya Tourist Board and the country's Forest Service, include Mau Mau caves, waterfalls and a bamboo forest, which are linked by hiking trails.

Wildlife includes monkeys, bush babies, bush pigs, porcupines, duikers, genets and African civet. Just north of the capital, Nairobi, Karura is the largest of three gazetted forests in the city.

That it has escaped the clutches of developers is partly thanks to campaigns from conservationists such as 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Wangari Maathai.

The struggle dates back to 2003, when Minister of Environment Newton Kulundu denied a US investor a permit to build a hotel in the forest. The move led to other potential developers relinquishing their properties.

3. Second vessel sinks off Vietnam

A SECOND tourist boat has sunk in Ha Long Bay, raising fears about the safety of Vietnam's tourist boats, according to a report on travel website TTR Weekly.

No-one was hurt in the incident, which occurred when a tour boat carrying 28 French nationals and a Vietnamese guide collided with a supplies boat near Ti Top Island. On February 16 this year 12 people drowned when their boat sank shortly before dawn.

According to TTR Weekly there are 475 tourist boats - 151 of which are overnight-sleeper vessels - that offer tourist trips around Ha Long Bay, one of the country's most popular travel destinations.

In 2010, about 2.7 million tourist visited Ha Long Bay. The boat is to be salvaged as part of an investigation into the accident.

5.Ireland cuts tourist taxes

THE Irish government has cut VAT on tourism-related services to 9% from 13.5%.

The cuts were made in an attempt to save jobs in Ireland's embattled economy and will apply to hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and sporting facilities, according to The Times of London.

4. MTN goes travelling

CELLPHONE company MTN has joined up with online travel agent Hotels.com to offer hotel, car hire and ticketing services.

MTN Traveller, a partnership between MTN, MobiRes and Hotels.com, offers SA users access to 132 000 accommodation choices in 213 countries around the world, via cellphone.

It is not specific to any network and after registering, users can search for, reserve and pay for travel anywhere in the world.

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