Tripologist: heads-up on Latin America's lows and highs

Breathtaking ... a llama at Machu Picchu.
Breathtaking ... a llama at Machu Picchu. Photo: Getty Images

I plan to visit Latin America next year with my wife. We hope to book a tour, ranging from 20 days to a month, to see Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru. Which month is best to visit these countries and is it better to go during low or high season?

- A. Pan, Melbourne.

Your plans take in a huge area with different climate zones and there is no perfect month that would allow you to see these countries at their best. You might decide what is the most important part of your itinerary and base your travels around that. For an expert opinion, I've sought the advice of World Expeditions (worldexpeditions.com).

Top of the tree ... Paul Bocuse.
Top of the tree ... Paul Bocuse. 

"The best time to visit Machu Picchu is between late April and September," a World Expeditions spokeswoman says.

"This period also works well if you are keen to escape Brazil's high season, from December to March, when prices rise, although this is also the most festive time in the country. Low season in Brazil is from May to September. Except for July, this is the cheapest and least-crowded time to visit the country.

"In Chile, temperatures in Santiago vary from 17 to 30 degrees during summer (December to February) and 14 to 18 degrees in winter. Temperatures in Patagonia are much lower and October to March is the most practical time to visit.

"The best time to visit Buenos Aires is spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May)," the spokeswoman says.

 

Eat, drink and be merry for Christmas in Lyon

My husband and I will be in Lyon on Christmas Day and I am wondering how to find somewhere to have a Christmas meal? Also, is there much to do in Lyon on Christmas Day?

- M. Chestney-Law, East Melbourne.

Finding somewhere to eat in Lyon on Christmas Day is like finding somewhere to lose money in Las Vegas. The city regards itself as the centre of French gastronomy and even on Christmas Day, you won't have a problem. At the absolute top of the tree is Paul Bocuse (www.bocuse.fr), which takes its name from the chef.

Auberge de l'Ile (aubergedelile.com) is another fine upmarket restaurant and also a great choice for swanky accommodation.

Philippe Gauvreau (pavillon-rotonde.com) is modern and elegant and set in park-like surrounds. At the other extreme, Le Potager des Halles (lepotagerdeshalles.com) is small and regarded as one of the emerging stars, with a choice of formal or bistro dining.

A good place to look for restaurants is the Via Michelin website (viamichelin.co.uk). Also check the feedback on Tripadvisor (tripadvisor.com). You should book several months in advance.

Many of the city's main attractions will be closed, but opposite the cathedral, the Vieux Lyon funicular whisks you up to Fourviere Station and the fortress-like basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere, from where you can take in a lovely city view.

 

Hawaiian allergy strategies

I'm planning to take the family to Hawaii (Honolulu) for 10 days. My two daughters suffer from multiple food allergies (egg, dairy, wheat, gluten, nuts, fish). Are there restaurants that cater for people who suffer from food allergies? Are we able to take packaged food items into Hawaii such as long-life soy milk, dairy-free chocolate and rice crackers? Can we bring medication as well (i.e. cortisone creams, antihistamines)? Any travel advice for allergy sufferers will be greatly appreciated.

- D. Yee, Sydney.

Peanuts feature on many restaurant menus in Hawaii and you would want to be sure that any restaurant that claims to cater to food-allergy sufferers takes measures to guard against cross-contamination. Duke's Waikiki (dukeswaikiki.com) and LuLu's (lulushawaii.com) at Waikiki, Maui and Kona are two popular restaurants that cater to patrons with food allergies.

Restaurants at the large, prestige brand hotels are often more responsive to diners with food allergies. The Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii gets good reports on this score from travellers.

You might want to choose accommodation with kitchen facilities so you can prepare meals.

You can take soy milk and rice crackers into Hawaii but you should have no problem finding these items in supermarkets.

You can take both hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines to the US.

Momaboard (momaboard.com) has a useful page of tips for travelling with food-allergic children.

 

Europe's galaxy of stars

This September, I am going on a study exchange to Swansea for five months, while a friend of mine will be going to the Copenhagen Business School. What are our options in terms of travelling to visit each other and would there be a viable halfway point for us to meet for a weekend break during the semester?

- H. Wong, Epping North.

Amsterdam would be my pick. It's a longer trip for you than for your friend but it's a gem of a city packed with wonderful museums and galleries, cafes, nightlife and plenty of activities, whatever your taste might be.

One of the beauties about living in Europe is that you have a galaxy full of stars within easy reach and, with cheap airfares, the world is your oyster. Other cities you might consider include Paris, Venice, Barcelona, Rome and Nice. Copenhagen itself is one of the sweetest, neatest capitals you will ever see. If your friend has a couch to spare, you might invite yourself over there for a weekend break, although I'm not so sure Swansea has the same allure. They are all great cities, - make it a long weekend if you possibly can.

Both The Guardian newspaper (guardian.co.uk) and The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk) have excellent travel websites that will help you make the most of whichever destination you choose.

 

Digiwatch

Looking for hotel accommodation in Europe? Venere is a handy hotel search engine that can help you find the right room at a keen price. Key in your destination and Venere responds with a list of options — not just hotels but B&Bs, inns, holiday houses and villas. You can filter by price, star rating and location within a city, and check reviews posted by past guests. Although Venere's database encompasses the world, it shines brightest in Europe. venere.com.

 

If you have travel questions, we'd love to hear from you. Write to travelshd@fairfaxmedia.com.au and include the name of your suburb or town in your letter. Personal correspondence cannot be entered into. Only questions appearing in print will be answered. One published letter each week will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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