Travel Clinic

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The Independent Travel
Do The Spanish

Stroll

We are thinking of a walking-holiday in Spain. However we are daunted by our total lack of Spanish and our ignorance of the country. Could you help by giving us the names of organisations offering walking holidays for two wimpy Brits at not too much cost? Could you also suggest an area which is "typical", ie unspoilt, and which offers gentle walking?

Jane Savage

Dorset

Jill Crawshaw replies: Spain is absolutely the right country to choose - there's so much variety, and away from the sunshine costas you'll be far from the madding crowd. And don't worry about your lack of Spanish - all the walks I suggest are accompanied by an English/Spanish speaking tour leader.

There's a choice of Spanish walking holidays from Ramblers Holidays (01707 331133), all accompanied by a Spanish-speaking leader; its seven-day Arcos de la Frontera holiday, available in the cooler months between September and November, is based at an old hotel in Arcos with a mixture of gentle walking in the countryside and bus trips to Jerez, Cadiz or Seville. The price ranges from pounds 398-pounds 459 including flights and half-board. The same company offers a Granada and Seville programme in October, staying four nights in each of these gems, again with guided walks.

I like the sound of the seven-night Seville and the Sierras tour of Andalucia offered by Headwater Holidays (01606 48699) and run by English couple Nick and Hermione Tudor. You stay on their farm, with a maximum of eight people, paying from pounds 667-pounds 729 with full board and flights.

Walking and trekking specialists Exodus (0181 675 5550) suggests a range of European walking holidays including its Algamitas itinerary, again through the hills of Andalucia.

Eleanor and David Smith run these holidays from their converted farmhouse; there are five guided walks, and one day to do as you wish, and it costs from pounds 415 per person to include flights and accommodation with breakfast; a local payment of pounds 75 includes all meals.

If you've got two weeks, the Moorish Andalusian "Discovering the Highlands" from Explore Worldwide (01252 319448) could be the best choice. The holiday again includes exploring the wild mountain landscapes of Andalucia. Prices start at pounds 599 to include flights, 14 nights B&B in modest hotels and pensions, and, of course, a tour leader. Other Spanish walking holidays from Explore Worldwide include a week in the Picos de Europa and two weeks walking in the high Alpujarras in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Finally you can discover a Majorca that's little known to British holidaymakers on an escorted walking tour with Sherpa Expeditions (0181 577 2717), exploring the island's rugged north-west region. The cost is from pounds 713 including flights, half-board, and a tour leader throughout.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.

I am going on a camping holiday in the Sinai desert and I have been told that there is a small risk that a snake or scorpion could creep into my sleeping bag and bite me. Could you advise me what I should do if I am bitten (before I get to the doctor)?

Emile Smythe

Accrington

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: The chances of this happening to you are very remote and reports of fatalities from venomous bites are extremely rare in travellers: the people living in the area are at more risk of such occurrences. Nevertheless, if you are sleeping under canvas in the Sinai, it would be sensible to take some precautions. For instance, shake shoes and clothing before putting them on, inspect bedding before retiring and make sure that you use a tent which has a sewn-in groundsheet. The more dangerous species of scorpions in Egypt tend to be nocturnal, so certainly make sure that you wear shoes when walking around at night.

If a snake should bite, the golden rule is not to panic. It is rare for enough venom to be injected for a bite to prove fatal. Without knowing the exact circumstances of your trek, mostly within the Sinai there should be sufficiently good transport to reach medical facilities in a reasonably short time. Do not under any circumstances attempt to cut open and suck out the venom. Instead, splint the bitten limb or use a sling, to prevent movement, and seek medical help. In some circumstances the spread of the most dangerous venoms can be slowed down by applying a reasonably tight crepe bandage around the whole limb, but this should only be used for bites from snakes such as mambas who produce a neurotoxic venom. Take paracetamol, not aspirin, for pain relief.

Scorpion bites can be extremely painful but few Egyptian species are dangerous. Children are at a greater risk than adults of a fatal scorpion sting. If bitten by a dangerous venomous scorpion, apply a cold compress and seek medical help as soon as possible; strong painkillers and anti- venom may be required.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.

SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT KENYA

On Weekend Watchdog the other night there was an investigation of holidays in Kenya, specifically the security of tourists in the country and the poor quality of food and accommodation on some holidays there. I have booked a holiday at Club Hotel, Watamu beach in July, arranged by the African Safari Club, and I wonder if the standards will be higher there than shown in the programme.

Mrs Powis

Whitstable

The Travel Editor replies: In most parts of Kenya visited by tourists there is no particular security risk. Nairobi can be a dangerous city but this is far away from the itineraries of tourists. Parts of Mombasa might be called dangerous but only in the sense that any big city is. If you ride in taxis, avoid shanty towns and empty streets late at night, don't carry handbags which can be snatched, and keep an eye out for pickpockets, there is no special cause for concern.

As for your particular hotel, I am informed by Nick Weekly of the African Safari Club that it is opening after refurbishment on 14 July. It is situated to the north of Mombasa (the hotels shown in the programme were to the south) and it has a strict policy of allowing only licensed traders on to the adjacent beaches.

DRIVING IN EUROPE

I want to drive my car around Europe but I have been told that there are all sorts of special requirements driving on the Continent. What are these?

Keith Keeping

Portsmouth

The Travel Editor replies: The AA provides a list of useful, and in many cases compulsory, things to take with you. These include a GB sticker; a warning triangle (compulsory use almost everywhere in the event of an accident); headlamp beam converters; spare bulbs for your headlights (in Spain you are legally required to do this); and finally a first-aid kit (legally required in Austria and most eastern European countries). The AA sells all these things in a kit from its shops.

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