Peter's Post: By train across the Canadian Rockies
Our travel expert answers queries on routes and destinations around the world
We are planning to visit Canada in September and would like to do a three to five-day scenic train trip through the Canadian Rockies. Have you any suggestions as to what there is on offer and who to contact? - Flora Caveney
Look no further than the Rocky Mountaineer, which is a Canadian company that operates trains on four rail routes through British Columbia and Alberta. It has won numerous awards, including the "World's Leading Travel Experience by Train" at the World Travel Awards.
One of the trips that may suit you best is the five-day/four-night Canadian Rockies Excursion, which gives you two days on the train, two days in Banff National Park and a tour to Lake Louise. This very popular package includes breakfast and lunch on both days on the train, overnight accommodation in Vancouver, Kamloops and Banff, and an evening wildlife safari. Prices range from US$1279 (about R9900) per person to $2909 per person for the premier GoldLeaf service.
I will be in transit at Heathrow Airport on two days, April 28 and May 5, for about six hours. I will apply for a transit land visa. Is there a good four-hour tour of London? I have never been there before. - Tintswalo
If your layover is only six hours, you will not have much time for a tour of London. You need to allow 30-40 minutes to get through customs and immigration on arrival and have to be back at the airport well before your scheduled departure time. Heathrow Airport officials advise passengers departing on long-haul flights to be at the airport three hours before the departure time and those on European flights to be there two hours in advance (www.heathrowairport.com).
You can get away with less than that as you will have checked in already and won't have luggage with you, but don't cut it too fine. There are no organised tours that would suit your schedule. You can do it yourself by catching the Heathrow Express Train to Paddington (15 minutes) or the underground to central London (55 minutes), but your best bet may be to organise a private tour. London Layover Tours specialises in trips from the airport and can tell you what is feasible. They advertise a one-hour tour that gives you an overview of central London.
If you have three hours to spare, they will add a visit to one of five attractions (The British Museum, The National Art Gallery, St Paul's Cathedral, The Tower of London or Westminster Abbey). Alternatively, you could skip London and visit Oxford and Windsor Castle. The company (www.londonmagicaltours.com) will get you back to the airport two hours before a long-haul flight and 90 minutes for European routes. Prices start at around £65 (R790) per person. Find other private tours from the airport at www.londontoolkit.com.