Bargain of the week: cheapest Peru
Much-needed extra capacity between Europe and Lima in Peru arrives on 8 August, when the highly regarded airline Lan starts thrice-weekly flights between Madrid and the Peruvian capital. Connections from Heathrow are offered on British Airways and Iberia.
To fill departures in the first few months, seats are available at £599 return – around 20 per cent lower than the lowest currently prevailing fare levels – through the specialist South American Experience (0870 499 0683; www.southamericanexperience.co.uk). The company's director, Andre de Mendonca, says: "Space at this entry fare-level is limited but as the flights have only just been announced early bookers should be lucky." You must book by the end of June for travel by 15 November.
Be careful when you touch down. The Foreign Office issues specific advice about arriving at Lima's Jorge Chavez airport: "Unwary passengers are often approached by thieves masquerading as tour operators, people who pretend to know them or bogus taxi drivers.
"There have been frequent cases of rogue taxis being used to perpetrate robberies. You are advised to arrange taxis at the taxi counters at the information kiosk between the baggage retrieval/ customs area and the exit to the public area."
And anywhere in Peru, "If you have luggage, you should not take a cab where your luggage can be seen, as it attracts robbers, who use mobile phones to advise cohorts to hold up the cab and rob you further along the road".
The range of packages to Peru continues to increase, with Voyages Jules Verne (0845 166 7003; www.vjv.co.uk) offering some very low prices. An 11-day trip including Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu (by train and bus), has sold out for the summer but there is still availability for the 22 October departure, price £1,175 including flights from Heathrow on Iberia.
Warning of the week: flying around Indonesia
Six scheduled airlines operating in Indonesia have been rated as unsafe by the country's Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The organisation looked at the operational performance of all Indonesia's airlines, and found none of them met international standards.
Some scheduled airlines were so poor that they have been named and shamed with the warning that some of the legal requirements have not been implemented, "which may reduce safety levels."
The carriers involved are Batavia Air, Adam Air, Kartika Airlines, Trans Wisata Air, Jatayu Airlines and Dirgantara Air Service. The Australian government has told its officials to avoid flying on these airlines.
Indonesia's national carrier, Garuda, was rated slightly better. In the past 25 years, though, it has suffered six fatal accidents, most recently in March when a Boeing 737 over-ran the runway after landing at Yogyakarta.
In April, the US Federal Aviation Administration announced that Indonesia was failing to comply with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Destination of the week: Alton Towers, by rail
The admission price for the Staffordshire theme park (pictured above right) for anyone aged 12 or over is £24, if you book in advance online at www.altontowers.co.uk. But if you can visit Alton Towers within the next month, Midland Mainline (08457 125 678; www.midlandmainline.com) offers a train to Derby and back, a coach from there to the park and admission for a total of £35 from London. You depart St Pancras at 8.25am, returning at 8.41pm, with nearly seven hours at Alton Towers. First class is available at £44. From Leicester or Sheffield you pay £31 in standard class, £39 in first. This "summer sale" applies only until 23 July; all-inclusive rates are still available after that date, but at higher prices.