Departures

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The Independent Travel
Cairo earthquake

CONDITIONS in Cairo are reported to be surprisingly normal in the wake of the devastating earthquake last Monday, which is thought to have killed hundreds of people. The quake hit a residential district on the edge of Cairo, but some parts of the old city also suffered damage. No hotels or ancient sites were damaged and the Foreign Office is advising visitors that it is quite safe to go, though it warns that services in the city may be somewhat disrupted. Travellers with queries should contact their operators or the Foreign Office's travel advice unit on 071-270 4129.

Royal rest-room

THE Landmark Trust (0628 825925), which rescues buildings of historical and architectural importance and makes them pay their way as self-catering holiday accommodation, has published a winter short-break price list. Bookings are being accepted for breaks until December 1994.

The programme includes the two new Landmark properties at Hampton Court Palace, the first time that the public has been able to stay in a royal palace. A three- night weekend break at Fish Court at Hampton Court, which sleeps up to six people, costs pounds 327.

Christmas markets

GTF Tours (071-792 1260) is offering a series of packages to Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. Two-night packages to Munich cost from pounds 260; a three- night package to Stuttgart costs pounds 200; and a two-night package to the Vienna Christmas market costs pounds 240. The packages include return flights, airport transfer and bed and breakfast.

Long-haul deals

INCREASED competition among airlines on routes to Australia is resulting in lower prices. Trailfinders (071-938 3366) is offering a pounds 726 return to Australia with British Airways and Ansett Australia, which permits the itinerary: London to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Adelaide, Perth, Singapore to London.

Travel Bug (061 721 4000) has a round-the-world fare of pounds 842 with Qantas and Northwest Airlines with the itinerary: London to Boston, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo, Bangkok to London.

From 15 January next year Flightbookers (071-387 1550) is offering a return fare from London or Manchester to Bali of pounds 599, including a free stop-over in Dubai, Singapore or Jakarta. The maximum stay is 12 months.

South American trips

ON 20 November, Explore (0252 319448) is running a 20-day 'Adventures in Patagonia' package. Starting in Trelew, the tour visits the penguin colony at Punta Tombo before crossing into Chile to spend two days walking in the Paine National Park and visiting the Moreno Glacier. The holiday costs pounds 1,790, including return flights from London, and bed and breakfast in hotels and hostels.

Cox & Kings (071-834 7472) is operating a 15-day Christmas in Venezuela tour, departing London on 22 December. The holiday costs pounds 1,795 including return flights and half-board accommodation. Christmas Day is spent in the colonial town of Merida in the Andes. The tour also visits the Angel Falls and Margarita Island in the Caribbean.

Express offer

FOR pounds 880, the price of a standard one-way Orient Express ticket to Venice, Kirker Europe (071-231 3333) is including two nights' bed and breakfast at the Hotel American in Venice, and a British Airways return flight to Heathrow.

Free Oz guide

THE Australian Tourist Commission has published a new edition of its free 128-page Traveller's Guide. The guide provides information on the cost of living in Australia, main sights in each state, accommodation, and details of travelling within the country. Ring 081-780 1424 for a copy.

Top travel books

1. Lonely Planet: India (Lonely Planet, pounds 13.95)

2. The Rough Guide to Egypt (Penguin, pounds 9.99)

3. South-east Asia on a Shoestring (Lonely Planet, pounds 12.95)

4. Travellers Survival Kit: Cuba by Simon Calder (Vacation Work, pounds 7.95)

5. South American Handbook (Trade & Travel Publications, pounds 19.95)

6. Trans-Siberian Handbook by Bryn Thomas (Trailblazer, pounds 8.95)

7. The Wind in my Wheels: Travel Tales from the Saddle by Josie Dew (Little, Brown, pounds 14.99)

8. Healthy Breaks: Health Farms, Spas and Hotels in the British Isles (Discovery Books, pounds 8.99)

9. Working in Ski Resorts: Europe (Vacation Work, pounds 5.95)

10. Hearts of Darkness: The European Exploration of Africa by Frank McLynn (Hutchinson, pounds 18.99)

Information supplied by the Travellers' Bookshop, 25 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ (071-836 9132)

Last-minute flights

Unijet (0444 458181): 24 October Gatwick to Alicante, seven nights, pounds 179; 24 October Gatwick to Malaga, 14 nights, pounds 139; 24 October Gatwick to Malta, 14 nights, pounds 169; 29 October Stansted to Arrecife, 14 nights, pounds 129.

Late packages

Inspirations (0293 822244): 20 October Manchester to Crete, seven nights bed and breakfast, pounds 185; 23 October Gatwick to Asilah (Morocco), 14 nights self- catering, pounds 199; 24 October Gatwick to Rhodes, seven nights room only, pounds 204; 30 October Gatwick to Agadir, 14 nights bed and breakfast, pounds 299.

Ecotrails (081-846 9963): 23 October Gatwick to Calcutta, three- week tour visiting Oxfam-assisted development projects (Oxfam will receive pounds 100 for each tour sold), pounds 1,450 (there is no single person supplement).

Jetsave (0342 312033): 30 October Gatwick or Manchester to Orlando, 14 nights room only at the Quality Inn on International Drive, pounds 475 (child pounds 385).

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