Something to Declare: Latin America; Southern Africa; try for a luxury flight

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: Latin America

The southern part of the Americas is woefully short of aviation capacity from the UK. Only two Latin American capitals are served by British Airways (Mexico City and Buenos Aires), and the only other surviving destinations in the continent are Rio and Sao Paulo. But options for British travellers are about to increase. Varig, newly reconstituted after its near-failure last year, re-starts flights from Heathrow to Sao Paulo and Rio at the end of the month. This will improve connections to other Brazilian destinations.

Peru is the most popular destination for UK holidaymakers, but there is still no sign of direct flights returning to Lima. In the meantime the well-regarded airline, Lan, has introduced three flights a week to the Peruvian capital from Madrid, with connections from Heathrow on Oneworld partners British Airways and Iberia. David Gilmour of South American Experience (0845 277 3366; www.southamericanexperience.co.uk) says "Lan intends to increase this to six times a week from March 2008".

Further north, KLM returns to Panama City next March – 10 years after it dropped the destination from its route network. The Dutch airline will fly non-stop from Amsterdam, with connections from airports across the UK. Again, the new link will facilitate "open-jaw" flights into Mexico City and out of Panama, allowing a one-way journey along the spine of Central America.

Warning of the week: Southern Africa

The Foreign Office this week issued new travel advice for three Southern African nations.

Namibia: "It is easy to lapse into a false sense of security on Namibian roads, because most are well maintained and there is little traffic. But there have been fatal accidents on gravel/dirt roads, especially on bends. It is dangerous to exceed the speed limit of 80km/h. During the rainy season (January to April) many roads can become impassable."

Malawi: "Lock car doors and keep windows closed, especially when stopping. Armed car jacking is also a risk, especially for drivers of 4x4s. Do not offer lifts to strangers. Be alert to obstructions in the road. If your car is targeted do not resist or act impulsively. Drivers have been wounded by assailants. Exercise caution with over-friendly people who approach you offering to act as guides or selling goods. Do not accept food from strangers; people have been robbed after eating drugged food."

Zimbabwe: "There has been a general increase in the level of violent crime and a serious deterioration in the economy and infrastructure, making basic services, including utilities and health services, very unreliable. Food, fuel and water can be difficult to find."

Bargain of the week: try for a luxury flight

Silverjet, the Luton-based business-class only airline, has jumped on the Rugby World Cup bandwagon with panache. If you buy a ticket to New York or Dubai by kick off at 8pm British time tonight, and England win the final against South Africa, then you will win an additional free ticket to either destination. Call 0871 700 8520 or visit www.flysilverjet.com.

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