Something to declare: Egyptian temperature alert; East Coast bargains; on track in Peru
Saturday 12 December 2009
Warning of the week: Temperature alert for travellers to Egypt
If you are heading for Egypt, and have a high temperature or other symptoms of flu, you could be placed in an isolation ward – at your expense.
"Egyptian authorities screen for the Swine Flu virus at many Egyptian airports, including Cairo, Hurghada, Taba, Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh," says the Foreign Office in travel advice released on Thursday,
"Anyone showing a temperature above 38C (97.5F) and/or demonstrating flu-like symptoms may be placed in an isolation hospital while further tests are carried out." It can take 24 hours to get the results of these tests, and even if you test negative you could be liable for the costs of accommodation, food and medical treatment. Anyone testing positive must remain in quarantine until they test negative for the virus. The Foreign Office warns "Medical facilities can be basic," and that "the British Embassy is unable to advance payment or settle bills on your behalf".
Bargain of the week: East Coast, low cost
The new government-owned franchisee on the main line from London via Yorkshire to Scotland is flexing its marketing muscles with a short-term, flat-fare offer for the new year. East Coast is selling seats at £9 for any length of trip, even from London to Inverness from 5 January to 5 March – but excluding a black-out period between 12 February and 21 February. The deal, which can only be booked at eastcoast.co.uk/nine , is open for booking until midnight on Monday, 14 December. The company is making 100,000 seats available, which sounds generous, but in fact works out at an average of only around 12 tickets per train.
As always, the greatest chances are on off-peak trains. No other discount applies, including railcards or the 11 per cent online discount applied to advance bookings on East Coast trains. And, unless you remember to print off and take the voucher displayed on the website as part of the booking process, your ticket will not be valid.
Destination of the week: On track in Peru
This weekend sees an expansion of many rail links in Europe, but in South America some rail journeys are rationed to just once a month: the Lima to Huancayo train will run from the handsome Desamparados station in the Peruvian capital on 15 January next year, taking around 12 hours to reach Huancayo, an average speed of 28km/h.
Miss this train, and the next is on 12 February with another on 19 March. From April, the numbers increase to three a month, with the departure on 1 April well worth considering, because the inbound trip runs during the day (all the earlier ones this year return overnight).
The 335km-long railway was built between 1870 and 1908 to carry copper and zinc ore from mines in the Andes to the coast. It closed to passenger traffic in 1992, but has been running a very limited service since 2003 – at times as infrequently as once a year.
The line includes 66 tunnels, 59 bridges and 22 zigzags. The highest point is Ticlio at 4,829m above sea level; until the line from China to Lhasa in Tibet was opened, this was the highest railway in the world. The Peruvian line still boast the world's highest passenger railway station: Galera, at 4,781m.
You should book in advance at ferrocarrilcentral.com.pe. The standard one-way fare is a bargain 100 soles (£22), with a $165 (£36) return available; "Touristic class" costs twice as much.
Tip of the week: North or south in Europe
Norway's second city, Bergen, and the Spanish gem of Salamanca, get their first airing in Travel Channel's 48 Hours In ... series next Tuesday, 15 December, at 9pm. You can watch on Sky channel 251.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
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