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Destination of the week: southern African eclipse

Destination of the week: southern African eclipse

Forty days from now, the first total solar eclipse of the 21st century takes place. On 21 June, the path of totality will sweep across southern Africa and Madagascar. Cloud cover in northern Zimbabwe is less likely to occur than in Cornwall in 1999, which is why Explorers' Tours (01753 680237; is basing its eclipse holidays there. Direct flights to Harare are full, but the company has now found some space travelling via Johannesburg on South African Airways. The cost is £1,295 (with a single supplement adding 20 per cent), which includes flights, accommodation, most meals, and expert commentary on the heavenly event. Bookings are also being taken for the only total solar eclipse of 2002, which once again visits southern Africa, but will also extend as far as Western Australia.


Warning of the week: careful with that hire car

The car-rental company Alamo issues the following advice to customers in the US: Only ask for directions from a law-enforcement officer or at a well-lit, populated business. DO NOT pull over to the side of the road to study the map. Avoid short cuts. Stick to main streets and well-lit highways. Your personal belongings are not worth physical harm, so don't resist in the face of danger. If another motorist tries to tell you something is wrong with your car, do not stop until you see a gas station or well-populated area to check the vehicle. And do not assist anyone with a disabled car. Just drive to a well-lit area and call the police for them. Never pick up hitchhikers.


Bargain of the week: Mykonos, with a pink ticket

"At least our prices are straight", is the claim from Respect, a leading gay tour operator. The company (020-7485 8855; is selling what it describes as a "fab new straight-friendly flight-only programme" to the Greek island of Mykonos. Flights leave Gatwick on Wednesdays and Fridays. June prices start at £195 return. There are also flights to Ibiza (£145 in June) and Barcelona (£155). The company urges heterosexual passengers to try it: "We won't bite (but we might mince a bit)."

Simon Calder