Fed up with the festive season? Just rise above it

There are plenty of ways to escape Christmas this year, from tiger-spotting in India to a polar cruise. Simone Kane suggests some cunning plans

Sunday 09 November 2008 01:00

Up to £500

Spend a day marooned on Lindisfarne for a guided nature walk and another on a Cheviot Valleys Safari in one of the most secluded areas of Northumberland. These two day trips and five nights' five-star self-catering make up the Christmas with A Difference Break, available from 22 to 26 December with Northern Experience Wildlife Tours (01670 827465; northernexperiencewildlife tours.co.uk), price £210 per person, based on four sharing.

Ride the rollers in Portugal on a seven-night surfing course near Lisbon with Go Learn To (0844 5020 445; golearnto.com). It runs from 21 December, price £284 per person, including daily surf lessons and surf camp accommodation (upgrades are available), but no flights.

Or you could take to the seas on the Tall Ships Adventure (023-9283 2055; tallships.org), which is a seven-night hands-on sailing trip around the Canary Islands on a traditional brig. The holiday departs Tenerife on 21 December, from £449 per person, full board, no flights, note there is an age restriction of 18-75 years.

Head for the hills of the unspoilt Sierra de Aracena, Spain, on an independent walking break with Inntravel (01653 617906; inntravel.co.uk). Timeless Aracena costs £488 per person, with seven nights' self-catering, car hire and walking notes. No flights.

Up to £1,000

View Venice from the Water on a four-night escorted tour with Voyages Jules Verne (0845 166 7003; vjv.com). From its mooring near St Mark's Square, MS Michelangelo will cruise the lagoon, visiting the islands of Torcello, Burano and Murano and the fishing port of Chioggia. Departs 22 December, price £542 per person, including flights, taxes, transfers and full board.

Capture the beauty of Cappadocia in Turkey – land of fairy chimneys – from a hot-air balloon and discover the underground city of Kaymakli. Journey Anatolia (020-8761 5605; journeyanatolia.com) is offering seven nights over Christmas from £770 per person, including B&B in a cave hotel, two balloon flights, two day tours and transfers. Flights are not included.

Fly and flop at the five-star Miramar Al Aqah hotel in Fujairah where the leisure facilities include a spa and watersports. Plus it's possible to make a day trip to nearby Dubai. Hayes & Jarvis (0871 664 0246; hayesandjarvis.com) has four nights for £837 per person, departing 23 December, with flights and B&B.

You could head for the West Coast of America on a small group adventure with Trek America (0845 330 6095; trekamerica .co .uk). The California Christmas, Vegas New Year nine-day tour includes Christmas Day snowshoeing in Yosemite National Park and hiking in Death Valley, in between exploring San Francisco and partying in Las Vegas. The trip departs San Francisco on 24 December, price £899 per person, including eight nights' room-only, but excluding flights.

Take in the cultural highlights of Russia on a Christmas, Kremlins & Tsars break with On the Go Tours (020-7371 1113; onthegotours.com). Start in Moscow, then head overland by sleeper train to ancient Pskov, and finally St Petersburg. Departing 20 December, the price is £902 per person, including flights, eight nights' B&B and some meals.

Kids will love the overland India Family Adventure with Dragoman (01728 861133 dragoman.com). Camel-riding in the Rajasthan desert, tiger-spotting in Ranthambore National Park, rickshaw and elephant rides, and the Taj Mahal will keep them busy. Departs 19 December, price £3,895 for a family of two adults and two children aged six to 16 years, including 10 nights' B&B, most lunches, some dinners, but no flights.

Pamper yourself at Le Meridien Limassol, Cyprus, where you can indulge in spa treatments, then relax in sea and freshwater pools, hammam, sauna and steam bath. A trip departing on 22 December, through Cadogan Holidays (0845 615 6793; cadoganholidays.com), costs £956 per person, including flights, transfers and seven nights' B&B.

Up to £1,500

Join a group trip to Rio in Brazil with Jingando Holidays (020-8877 1630; jingandoholidays.com) and get 18 hours of samba and forro lessons, and a Portuguese tutorial, then help a community project painting a hillside favela. Departs 20 December, price £1,399 per person, including B&B in sustainable guest houses, but no flights.

Escape to the South Pacific with Hands Up Holidays (020-8871 0341; handsupholidays.com). The nine-day Taste of Fiji in Style trip combines five-star accommodation with three days' volunteering in a home for single mothers and their children. Departs 24 December, price £1,400 per person on a B&B basis, with welcome dinner, but no flights.

The four-night Snow Hotel Arctic adventure in Norway includes a snowmobile safari to fish for king crab, another through the fells and fjords, a husky-dog sled ride and a night in the Snow Hotel. Departs 17 December, price £1,480 per person, £945 per child, including four nights' full board, flights, transfers, activities and guides with Activities Abroad (01670 789991; activities abroad.com).

Up to £2,500

Combine a Kilimanjaro trek with a safari, taking in the great migration across the Serengeti, on a two-week Kilimanjaro and Northern Tanzania Safari package with Aim4Africa (0845 4084541; aim4africa.com). For any arrival date, the price is £2,220 per person, based on a family/group of four, including full board in safari lodges/ tented camps, excursions, fees, transfers, no flights.

You could opt for some snowy fun in Eastern Canada, including three nights in Montreal and seven in a log cabin, with lots of outdoor activities included. Departures 17-20 December with Bridge & Wickers (020-7483 6555; bridgeandwickers.co.uk), from £2,288 per person, including flights, transfers and room only.

Experience the wonders of Egypt with four nights in a Cairo hotel and a leisurely week cruising the Nile on a luxury wooden dahabiyya, with excursions ashore to all the archaeological wonders. Eleven nights with Bales Worldwide (0845 057 0600; balesworldwide.com) costs £2,525 per person, including flights, transfers, most meals, excursions, services of a guide and tips.

Up to £3,000

Get on board the Marco Polo for an Antarctic cruise as spring brings the chance to spot penguins, seals, whales and gliding glaciers. A 13-night trip with Transocean Tours (0845 430 0274; transoceancruises.co.uk) departs 16 December, and costs from £2,699 per person, in an inside cabin, including flights, transfers and gratuities.

Splash out

If you really want to blow the budget, sign up for a very special trip with Explore which takes you to see the cultural treasures of Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. The itinerary includes the Angkor Wat temples, a boat trip through the Mekong Delta, a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, and a welcome flop on the beach at Koh Samui's luxury Six Senses Hideaway. The price is from £4,539 per person with Scott Dunn (020 8682 5060; scottdunn.com), including flights, transfers and 11 nights' B&B accommodation.

All holidays are subject to availability and prices are based on two sharing unless otherwise stated

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