TRAVEL: Going for broke
If pounds 1,000 doesn't take you far enough, perhaps pounds 10,000 woul d? Simon Calder gets you there
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 13 January 1996
Climb a couple of equatorial mountains and travel by camel in between. Fly to Arusha, Tanzania, from any UK airport; stay in the Momella Lodge (location for the film Harare, starring John Wayne), then ascend Mounts Meru and Kilimanjaro and take a three-day camel trek (your choice of walking or riding the beast from one to the other). On last year's jaunt, says the company, everyone reached the top - and the camels behaved.
Total pounds 1,950
Gane & Marshall 0181-441 9592
Forget Florida: this fly-drive holiday will take you deep into virgin territory in Central America's safest country. Fly to San Jose, take a one-week tour of Costa Rica, then pick up a Suzuki Sidekick for a trip into the Monteverde cloud forest.
Package pounds 2,235
Lunches and dinners (even for the most extravagant/greedy) pounds 250
Fuel (Costa Rica is a small country) pounds 50
Total pounds 2,535
Sunvil 0181-568 8330
Rent out a posh house in New England. You could compare and contrast a week on Cape Cod with seven days in each of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont or, for example, fly from London to Boston, pick up a rental car and head out to Cape Cod for a month on the country at the Laurel - a clapperboard house in the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Total pounds 3,916 per person
New England Country Homes 01328-856666
Buy a fortnight on the Costa Brava for 50 people or for the same price treat yourself to the most expensive package holiday in the Thomson holiday programme: 19 nights half-board at Le Saint Geran Hotel, Mauritius, including flights from Heathrow. Price includes free windsurfing, water-skiing or sailing; green fees on the hotel's own 9-hole golf course; interchange of rooms and dining with the nearby Le Tousserok Hotel.
Package pounds 4,065
Single supplement pounds 912
Total pounds 4,987
Thomson 0171-707 9000
The Cunard long weekend in New York - with attitude. Take the Orient- Express from London to Southampton, a top-grade cabin aboard the QE2 to New York, three nights at the Waldorf Astoria and Concorde home. Champagne is included on the train and Concorde.
Total pounds 5,440
Cunard reservations 01703-634166
Rail buffs argue about the most luxurious train in the world, but the South Africa-based Pride of Africa is a strong contender. This follows the line of the "Cape to Cairo" railway, which never quite made it. Flight to Cape Town, then a 3,800 mile-journey aboard an Edwardian train to Dar Es Salaam with night stops in several luxury hotels on route before flight home.
Total pounds 6,995
Goodwood Travel: 01227-763336
Take the ultimate weekend in Paris. Flying first class to the French capital is almost impossible these days - British Airways and Air France long ago abandoned the service, and even Aerolineas Argentinas ended its link last September. So burrow under the Channel. But even the cost of a Eurostar return from London to Paris is mere monnaie compared with the cost of a deluxe suite at the Hotel de Crillon. Owned by the Taittinger family, it is smaller, more exclusive and better located (overlooking the Place de la Concorde) than the better-known George V. Note, however, that given the parlous state of sterling you must downgrade after one night from the presidential suite. Throw in a good dinner and an escorted tour of Versailles, and you will have just enough for a couple of decent breakfasts (not included in the room rate).
London-Paris on Eurostar (0345 881881), first class pounds 220
One night in the presidential suite of the Hotel de Crillon (00 33 1 44 71 15 00) pounds 4,400
"Prestige" dinner at the Moulin Rouge pounds 140
Escorted trip to Versailles pounds 180
Total pounds 7,940
Note that these prices apply if you book direct; a specialist agent such as Kirker Holidays (0171-231 3333) can offer a first-class weekend for two at the Crillon for pounds 634 each - and throw in a "meeter and greeter", a Seine boat trip and a bottle of Taittinger champagne.
Other wine makers will argue until the kangaroos come home, but the finest New World wines originate from South Australia, most neglected mainland state.
First-class return from London to Adelaide pounds 6,543
Tax pounds 25
Ten-night wine tour of South Australia with full board pounds 1,790
Single supplement pounds 345
Total pounds 8,703
Qantas 0345-747767, Winetrails 01306-712111
A fortnight in one of London's most exclusive hotels, Blake's Hotel in Kensington, with jaunts in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes to Brighton, Bath, Oxford and York, and a night at the Royal Opera House. Each of the rooms at Blake's Hotel is individually designed, with antique furniture, and one of the two most luxurious suites has a four-poster bed. Your room rate includes breakfast only, but you should be able to stretch the change to cover the rest - the nearest McDonald's is in South Kensington. Executive Cars (0171-704 1880) charge pounds 1.20 per mile for its Mercedes limousines, with pounds 15 per hour waiting time. The highest ticket price at the Royal Opera House (0171-304 4000) is for the Grand Tier for Aida or La Traviata.
A fortnight in the four-poster suite at Blake's Hotel pounds 8,400
Day trips pounds 1,008
Opera pounds 140
Total pounds 9,548
Blake's Hotel 0171-370 6701
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