Something To Declare: El Salvador; Colombo; BA; Colombia's Caribbean
Saturday 25 September 2010
Destination of the week: El Salvador
"You breathe fear in the air in Central America," wrote Martha Gellhorn more than 20 years ago. But in 2010, Central America is welcoming and relatively safe. From next Saturday, it will also be more accessible, thanks to a new link on Iberia (0870 609 0500; iberia.com) from Madrid to San Salvador, the capital of Central America's smallest state.
The airport is well placed for El Salvador's fabulous Pacific beaches, and offers easy access to the city, plus an array of historical sights and natural wonders.
Fares from London start at £612 return, and test bookings suggests there is plenty of availability at around this price. The outbound flight goes via Guatemala City, which makes for a long journey (nearly 19 hours from Heathrow), while the return is non-stop to Madrid.
Bargain of the week: Colombo
Fares to Sri Lanka's capital are decreasing, thanks to the arrival of a new airline on the route. The Bahrain-based carrier Gulf Air (0844 493 1717; gulfair.com) has started a flight from its hub to Colombo, with connections from London.
As with all new routes, the link to Colombo will be kick-started with fares below prevailing rates.
For travel in October and November, fares from Heathrow start at £414 return (though during a series of test bookings, these had to be obtained by phone, rather than online, because of problems with the website).
Sri Lankan, the only airline with non-stop flights from Heathrow to Colombo, charges around £600 return, while other flights connecting in the Gulf start at around £450.
Tip of the week: BA to BA
Strong demand to South America has led to British Airways replacing its four-times-a-week Heathrow-Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires link with daily non-stop flights to both cities from next March. The service to the Argentinian capital will be the longest hop from Heathrow, at 13 hours 40 minutes, but saves nearly two hours compared with the current one-stop.
To Florida, two BA flights each week from Gatwick to Orlando will switch to Tampa from March, creating a daily service on both routes.
* TIP is the airport code for Tripoli in Libya, to which BA faces new competition from Heathrow when BMI starts a service on 1 December. The new flight timings are almost identical to BA's schedule.
Warning of the week: Colombia's Caribbean
Travel to Colombia gets no easier. The Foreign Office this week brought out a new bulletin warning about the attractive Caribbean resort of Santa Marta, after "two British citizens were robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight" there.
The nearby Tayrona National Park is popular with visitors, but you should visit only "beach areas and resorts you are reliably advised are safe". Inland, "illegal armed groups are active and drugs are grown and processed in the area".
Anywhere in Colombia, foreigners – including backpackers – "are potential targets for kidnapping". The unhappy essence of the advice: "Drugs, organised crime and terrorism are inextricably linked in Colombia".
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