Travel clinic: Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts, including a doctor and a lawyer

SPA BUT NOT SPARTAN

We are interested in health farms and spa holidays abroad somewhere, but not of the very young and trendy type - something appealing to normal people who need a relaxing break. Nothing too Spartan, please!

Eric Snape

Brighton, Sussex

Jill Crawshaw replies: Both Erna Low (0171 584 2841) and Thermalia Travel (0171 483 1898) specialise in spa and health holidays, offering flights, accommodation, and selected treatments or activities included in the deal.

Their destinations range from France and Italy to Turkey and Thailand, and include several former eastern bloc countries, where spas are very much a way of life - although it's fair to say that some of the accommodation and public spas in that area lack the luxurious touch, and could well be too Spartan for your tastes.

From Erna Low I've selected Biovimer, the largest sea water therapy and fitness centre in Europe. It's in the Bale des Anges, easily accessible from Nice and Antibes, staying in apartments with views over the sea and the Cote d'Azur. Biovimer offers beauty treatments as well as thalassotherapy (sea weed packs, water massage, and so on), has traditional as well as diet cooking, and even two bars. The package costs pounds 760 for a week.

Still by the Mediterranean, the five-star Hotel Sidi San Juan at Alicante, although not a complete spa, offers beauty and relaxation programmes and has a racquet tennis club with six courts, and a nine-hole golf course nearby.

Going further afield, The Hydro, in South Africa's Stellenbosch, is not too trendy or medical, and attracts the 30-to- 40 age group. All kinds of treatments - reflexology, Tai Chi and Shiatsu are offered in the natural health programme. Stellenbosch itself is a highly picturesque old colonial Dutch city. At the price - a rather hefty pounds 1,130 - it would perhaps be worth considering a second week touring from Cape Town and along the Garden Route which would add only another pounds 250 or so to the cost, and would make the long journey worthwhile.

In Thermalia's programme, Abano Terme costs pounds 737 (for flights, full board and five treatments), and although Italy's spas can be heavy on the medical treatment, Abano is only 10 minutes from Padova, and an hour from Venice or Verona. You can also borrow bikes from your hotel, play golf nearby, or browse around the shops.

One of the Hungarian Spas with very modern facilities, the Danubius Hotel on the Margit island in the middle of the Danube, has a range of health and fitness programmes and costs pounds 606.

Budapest is a fascinating city, its prices still reasonable, but beware, its excellent restaurants and the delectable Hungarian cooking is based on goose fat, dumplings, pork, and some of the richest cakes you're ever likely to come across.

If you fancy a Turkish spa, Thermalia offers an interesting one - the five-star Hotel Thermal Colossale at Pamukkale, famous for its curative waters. It is near the much-photographed white travertine formations often known as "The Cotton Castle".

It's an attractive region, but would be too busy for my taste between July and early September, as tourist coaches pack the site. A week there costs pounds 665.

The most luxurious and relaxing of all the brochure offerings is the Privilege Resort and Spa on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin (pounds l,544 for 10 nights including flights), which also caters well for the 30-40 age group, but is very French oriented and probably only advisable if you speak good French.

8 Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer, and broadcaster.

INTO AFRICA

My son is to spend six months travelling across Africa and although he has had a few injections, and is taking malaria tablets, I keep telling him that there are many more exotic diseases out there, for which it is impossible to be vaccinated. Am I right?

Maureen Mahoney

Guildford, Surrey

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: It is certainly true that not all tropical diseases can be vaccinated against, but this should not deter you from a holiday in Africa providing simple precautions are taken.

Bites from insects such as mosquitoes can cause a long list of tropical diseases, including malaria, sleeping sickness, Leishmaniasis, dengue, and river blindness. Malaria is the most important and it must be remembered that no anti-malarial tablet is 100 per cent effective. For the other insect-borne diseases the risks to travellers are usually low and fatality extremely rare.

Dengue is an increasing problem in many parts of the Third World, but is not as often encountered in Africa. The important message here is to follow closely the advice given regarding the avoidance of insect bites in order to minimise any possible risk.

The consumption of contaminated food or water can give rise to a variety of infections. Examples range from simple traveller's diarrhoea to giardia and dysentery. Again the risks can be reduced by taking precautions with food hygiene and drinking only safe or treated water.

There are a number of diseases contracted by direct contact with an organism. The most important in Africa is bilharzia, which I described last week. Wound infections and ulcers can be minimised by good wound care.

In many cases the symptoms of a tropical disease will not be apparent until after returning home. When seeking treatment, for up to a year later always mention where you have been.

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.

I wish to live and work in South Africa (Cape Town) but without the hassle of an official work or work seekers' permit. Is it possible to acquire a temporary holiday working visa?

C Marston

Leeds

The Travel Editor replies: Sadly, South Africa doesn't issue any kind of working holiday visa. It's not possible legally to work your way around the country for a year, as for example it is in Australia. The only way that you are allowed to stay in the country and work is to have found work with a South African employer before arriving. You must show the South African Embassy in Britain a letter from your prospective employer to prove that they have advertised the job in South Africa, and that you are the most suitable applicant.

The only other option is to stay as a holidaymaker and find "under the counter" work, although this is illegal. But given the abundance of cheap labour in South Africa, you will not exactly be raking it in. Reckon on about pounds 20 a night in bars or restaurants, perhaps pounds 10 to pounds 15 a day in shops.

Tourist visas aren't required for citizens of most Commonwealth and EU counties, as long as you have an outbound ticket of some kind. All visitors are issued with a three-month tourist visa on arrival in South Africa. There is a 90-day extension on this (R450 at the Department of Home Affairs in Johannesburg or Cape Town, local authorities willing) possible at every three-month interval for up to a year. After this point it may become more difficult to extend.

Nationals who do need visas had better get them (free) from the South African Embassy in London (call 0171 930 4488) as they are not issued at the border.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears