I hate Christmas - get me out of here

Can't bear the idea of another year eating rubbish and watching repeats? Then plan your escape, says Bernice Davison. But don't take too long, they're selling out fast

Given the choice, where would you rather be this Christmas - in your own kitchen with your hand shoved up a turkey's bottom, or somewhere as far away from tinsel, turkey and tree as possible? The classic Great Christmas Escape is simply to tell everyone you're going away, buy a skipload of TV dinners and DVDs, take the phone off the hook, close the curtains ... and wake up on 27 December. You could rent a remote hovel on a blasted moor and read long serious novels while kippering yourself trying to keep the smoking fire alight. You could pack your PJs and check into a hyper-cool city-centre hotel, order the un-Christmas room service menu and watch satellite telly. Or you could make the most of the long holiday and book a serious escape. Here are some options for this Christmas.

Given the choice, where would you rather be this Christmas - in your own kitchen with your hand shoved up a turkey's bottom, or somewhere as far away from tinsel, turkey and tree as possible? The classic Great Christmas Escape is simply to tell everyone you're going away, buy a skipload of TV dinners and DVDs, take the phone off the hook, close the curtains ... and wake up on 27 December. You could rent a remote hovel on a blasted moor and read long serious novels while kippering yourself trying to keep the smoking fire alight. You could pack your PJs and check into a hyper-cool city-centre hotel, order the un-Christmas room service menu and watch satellite telly. Or you could make the most of the long holiday and book a serious escape. Here are some options for this Christmas.

Go on safari

Escape to Namibia. Sunvil Africa can tailor-make a 15-day, fly-in trip (fly-in means by small private plane), taking in the Skeleton Coast (where the President of Namibia likes to spend Christmas fishing) and guided journeys into remote wilderness. Sunvil's Goshawk itinerary includes flights over the Namib dunes, visits to remote Himba villages, game tracking (including white rhino) in reserves and national parks, staying at small select camps such as Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, which has only eight thatched bungalows, each with its own private plunge pool. But you'd better have a fat wallet because economy flights are all fully booked to the region; you'll have to go business class, which will bump up the price to £6,130 inclusive. Departs 16 December. For details visit www.sunvil.co.uk or call 020-8232 9777.

Or try: Cox & Kings on 020-7873 5000 and www.coxandkings.co.uk. Wildlife Worldwide on 020-8667 9158 and www.wildlifeworldwide.com.

Get on board

Flee the country on Explore Worldwide's 10-day, Nile Felucca Sailtrek, departing 20 December, which includes a trip to the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings, arriving by donkey at dawn. The highlight of the holiday is a three-day voyage down the Nile on a traditional felucca, sleeping on deck under the stars. The trip costs £660, including flights, all transport, nine nights' accommodation, some meals and an Explore tour leader. For details call 01252 760000 or visit www.explore.co.uk.

Or try: Norwegian Coastal Voyage on 020-8846 2622 and www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.com. P&0 Cruises 08453 555333 and www.pocruises.co.uk.

Play in the snow

It's low season in Iceland, so you can get great deals, such as the five-bedroomed Lava House in Adaldalur, which has its own hot tub and children's play area. Located near Lake Myvatn, the house provides an excellent base for exploring Iceland's amazing landscape - craters, weird lava formations, steam vents and mud pools. The days are short, but you can ride across the empty snow-covered landscape, go cross-country skiing or hire snowmobiles. Best of all, the geothermal springs, including the stunning Blue Lagoon, are less crowded. Departing 20 December, seven nights' accommodation at the Lava House in December costs £850, based on two sharing, with additional adults charged £427 each and children (aged two to 17 years) from £314 through Arctic Experience. Prices include international and domestic flights, car hire, one night's b&b in Reykjavik and airport taxes. For details call 01737 214214 or visit www.arctic-experience.co.uk.

Or try: The Travel Experience on 00 358 9 622 9810 and www.travel-experience.net. Norvista on 0870 744 7315 and www.norvista.co.uk.

Lie on a beach

Pack your bikini and head for the sun. This Christmas you can enjoy seven nights for the price of six at the luxurious Villa Nova on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Departing 20 December, you can have this sumptuous 19th-century coral stone house, set in sugar, banana and mango plantations, as your home from home for the week. Privacy is assured with just 28 suites to choose from, all with their own terrace, plus a top-class restaurant, pool, tennis courts and gym. And just a few miles away are the quiet beaches of the east coast. The price is £2,885 per person, based on two sharing, including flights with British Airways, transfers and seven nights' b&b in a deluxe terrace room. For details call 020-7292 5050 or visit www.exsus.com.

Or try: Harlequin Holidays on 0845 450 3782 and www.harlequinholidays.com. Thomas Cook Signature on 0870 443 44448 and www.tcsignature.com.

Put your skis on

Slip on your salopettes and hit the slopes. Total Ski has several chalets suitable for small groups, so you get the "catered chalet" package without meeting strangers en route to the bathroom. Chalet Aitkin in St Anton in the Austrian Alps sleeps just eight people and is on the outskirts of the resort, so you can batten down the hatches and do your own Christmas thing. Built on three floors, the chalet - which is decorated to a high standard - has wonderful views across the whole of the Rendi ski area from most of the rooms. Departing 21 December, a week's skiing costs from £759, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick (Manchester flights are also available at a supplement), transfers and fully catered accommodation (except for the staff's one evening off). For details call 08701 633633 or visit www.skitotal.com

Or try: Crystal Ski on 08701 606040 and www.crystalski.co.uk. Family Ski Company on 01684 540333 and www.familyski.co.uk.

Take a hike

Limber up for an eight-day walking holiday in the Valleys of the Gredos in Spain, departing 21 or 23 December. Flying into Madrid, you'll head west to the medieval city of Avila. From here you'll tramp down Roman roads, mule tracks and ancient paths to Mombeltran, Arenas de San Pedro and Candeleda, staying at characterful guest houses on the way. And if you fancy giving your feet a rest, there's the chance to do some kayaking and horseriding, too. The tour costs £895 per person, including flights, transfers, b&b accommodation, some meals, baggage transfers, map and route notes. For details contact 01524 242000 or visit www.walksworldwide.com.

Or try: Headwater Holidays on 01606 720099 and www.headwater.com. ATG Oxford on 01865 315678 and www.atg-oxford.co.uk.

Have an adventure

Experience another way of life on a nine-day journey through India with Bales Worldwide. Departing on 22 December, the tour will call at Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, visiting cultural sights including Qutb Minar, Sikandra and the Taj Mahal on the way. You'll even get a chance to explore a 16th-century ghost town, Fatehpur Sikri. The package costs £995 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers and all transport, first-class hotel accommodation and some meals. For details call 0870 755 9851 or visit www.balesworldwide.com.

Or try: The Adventure Company on 01420 541007 and www.adventurecompany.co.uk. Steppes Travel Group on 01285 651010 and www.steppeseast.co.uk.

Just relax

No tinsel, no shopping - and no TV. Go on a retreat at the Anglesey Healing Centre in Llangoed. Enjoy walks in the area's beautiful countryside and across empty beaches, rest, read and relax in front of the log fire, eat delicious food and enjoy an aromatherapy or Reiki treatment. The Healing Centre's three-day, Christmas Escape package, arriving on Christmas Eve, costs £200 per person, including breakfast, packed lunches and evening meals each day, and one treatment of your choice. Departs 27 December. For details call 01248 490814 or visit www.angleseyhealingcentre.co.uk.

Or try: Erna Low Body & Soul on 020-7594 0290 and www.bodyandsoulholidays.com. Thermalia Travel on 0870 165 9410 and www.thermalia.co.uk.

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