Travel: Brochures of the week
Sunday 03 May 1998
The Himalayan Treks' brochure starts off with a tour of Bhutan, which has one of the world's most restrictive visa policies. For once talk of "unspoiled" territory is genuine. As the brochure points out, this part of the Himalayas is the kind where many of the peaks remain unnamed and unclimbed. On one, the "Hidden Kingdom Trek", there is even - we are told - the possibility of spotting the yeti, that hairy animal which roams the hillsides "whistling like a policeman". Just a little interested?
If you are, bear in mind that there is a price to be paid for getting so far away from the rest of mankind, namely that you will be crossing passes of up to 16,000 feet on foot. Obviously you will be in a state of excellent physical fitness .
I have scanned the brochure in vain for photos of yetis, but the pictures we do get are alluring enough, of vast snowscapes and yaks chewing in front of Mt Kailash in Tibet. Apart from tiny villages nestling at the feet of mountains, there is not a human being in sight.
Talking of remote places, a trip aboard the RMS St Helena is not exactly going to land you in crowds either. This is a cargo liner which exists for the sole purpose of keeping the South Atlantic island of St Helena in car components and goats (so its brochure tells us). The owners are at pains to emphasise that this is not a cruise ship as such. There are no pictures of glamourous couples in ballroom dress. And if St Helena (population: 6000) strikes you as too metropolitan, don't worry: there is also the option of stopovers in Ascension Island (permanent population: zero) and Tristan da Cunha (which only receives one cargo enshipment per year). One thousand five hundred miles from the nearest mainland, this island lends new meaning to the phrase: off the beaten track. You only get two days on the island, and there's no guarantee even then of getting ashore - it depends on the weather - but don't be put off. The club of tourists who have been to Tristan da Cunha remains temptingly exclusive.
Himalayan Kingdoms 0117 923 7163.
RMS St Helena 01326 211466
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