Destination of the week: Peru plus
Two new flight links starting in the new year will drastically improve options for travellers wanting to cover the highlights of South America. Lan, the airline that was born in Chile but has since spread across the continent, is starting two key services to and from the Peruvian capital, Lima.
On 5 January, the airport on the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls gets a non-stop connection with Lima on Lan Peru, opening up a Rio-Iguazu-Lima itinerary. On 16 January, Lan Chile starts flying from Lima to Easter Island, previously connected to South America only through the Chilean capital, Santiago. This will remove a tedious detour for time-pressed travellers seeking to combine Peru with Easter Island, pictured.
Both of these new flights are open to travellers contemplating a round-the-world trip with the Oneworld Alliance, which includes British Airways and Qantas as well as Lan. And each is featured in a new trip from W&O Travel South American Experience (0845 277 3366; wandotravel.com).
Warning of the week: Red Sea alert
If you are tempted to Egypt by easyJet's new low-cost flights from Gatwick, launched this week, the Foreign Office warns about the risks of adventurous activities. It says: "There were three serious hot-air balloon accidents in Luxor in 2009. You should consider the operator's safety arrangements carefully. The hiring of quad bikes can be dangerous. There have been several serious quad-bike accidents involving British nationals in resort areas. You should take the same precautions as you would in the UK and note that safety standards can vary considerably. And if you are heading for the Red Sea coast for diving or snorkelling, ensure that your travel insurance, or that of the tour or dive company, provides adequate cover for the costs involved in any air/sea rescue if you are lost at sea. The current fee can exceed US$4,000 (£2,650) per hour. Egyptian authorities will undertake an air/sea rescue only on receipt of a payment guarantee."
Tip of the week: Docklands to Tuscany
Christmas in Florence? That appetising prospect is provided by a new link from London City Airport, starting on 22 December. The CityJet flights (0871 666 5050; cityjet.com) are in competition with an existing link on Meridiana (0871 423 3711; meridiana.it) from Gatwick – at present the only direct service from the UK to Florence's small, handy airport. The new flights operate thrice weekly to 7 January, and after that six times a week.
Bargain of the week: Rail deals
Southampton to Manchester for £12.50 one-way, London to Sheringham in Norfolk for £8 on National Express East Anglia, and Brighton to Bath on First for £8: these are some of the prices available at Bestvaluefares.co.uk, a gateway for cheap advance rail tickets.
You need to delve and be flexible to get the lowest fares. Best deal of all? Probably from one end of the country to the other: Dover to Kyle of Lochalsh for just £21.50.