Something to declare: flying around South Africa; rail travel in South America; Good deed of the week: offsetting; 48 Hours download</b>

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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: flying around South Africa

The first no-frills airline in South Africa, Kulula (www.kulula.com), has begun services from Johannesburg's secondary airport, Lanseria. Kulula promises that this gateway has "less traffic, less stress" compared with the main airport, Oliver Tambo International. Lanseria is north of the city centre (and close to the suburbs of Sandton and Randburg), and much more convenient for the city of Pretoria than is the main Johannesburg airport. Free coffee and newspapers are given to passengers, even on no-frills flights.

The airline, which is modelled on easyJet (Kulula means "easy"), has good availability at one-way fares of around ZAR600-650 (about 50) from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth; book in advance and try to be flexible about dates.

Warning of the week: rail travel in South America

One word sums up the state of the railways in much of Latin America, according to the information contained in the latest edition of the excellent Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable (12.50): forlorn. In the biggest country, Brazil, "The few passenger services that exist operate in isolation from one another, and no effort is made to promote them."

"Peruvians only" is the message in Peru for services from Cusco going beyond Machu Picchu; the daily third-class train is off-limits to foreigners. The timetable also mentions that "no heated or airconditioned stock is available", even though the nation has some of the highest-altitude rail services in the world.

In next-door Ecuador, a novel approach is taken to passenger comfort: "There are two classes of accommodation, coach and roof, with fares being identical. All trains carry passengers on the roof." The editors point out that the bus provides an alternative, but warn, with some understatement, that "some vehicles do not offer modern comforts".

Rail adventurers are unlikely to have much luck in Colombia, either, where services are mainly suspended, because "the State Railway is now bankrupt and has closed".

Argentina has the most extensive network, and services at last appear to be expanding; the train from Buenos Aires to Rosario (the home town of Che Guevara and location of Argentinian Art Nouveau) now runs daily, rather than weekly.

Good deed of the week: offsetting

Carbon-offset schemes have been around for years, though not every traveller has been convinced by their integrity. Now Abta and the Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) have launched what appears to be a well-conceived scheme. It is called "Reduce My Footprint" and is operated by Carbon Offsets Ltd.

"The initiative doesn't claim to absolve the guilt of travellers," says Frances Tuke of Abta. "It encourages them to reduce emissions across every aspect of life not just air travel and to 'offset' what can't be reduced."

"Reduce My Footprint" apportions half the funds to Government- approved schemes or Certified Emission Reductions that have been certified under the Kyoto Protocol. The current project is a wind-farm project in India, which provides power to the local grid. The other half of the money goes to energy-reduction programmes in tourism destinations in the UK and overseas, such as solar power in villages in Kenya, and giving low-income families in South Africa advice on how to make more fuel-efficient fires for cooking. Travellers can use "Reduce My Footprint" through their travel provider or go online to www.reducemyfootprint.travel.

Download of the week: 48 Hours

The first video versions of The Independent's award-winning "48 Hours" series are now available in vision, free to download: preview your city break in Fez by visiting , or a sojourn in Singapore at www.independent.co.uk/singapore.

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