We want to take a holiday on Kangaroo Island but are not sure which part of the island to stay at and how long we need to see it. Would two weeks be too long? We have three teenage boys. Will they be bored after a week?
- P. Whitfield, East Killara.
Kangaroo Island is a wonderful slice of free-range Australia. Just a couple of minutes after you land at Kingscote Airport, you can spot koalas in the manna gums. Chances are you'll soon see an echidna or two crossing the road. Sea lions, fur seals and fairy penguins are abundant.
Its beaches are sublime, although taking a dip in all but the peak summer months takes courage.
The island also attracts some truly amazing talents and its permanent population of just over 4000 includes a colony of writers and artists and a supremely relaxed crew of sheep farmers, fishermen, cheesemakers and beekeepers, all of whom believe that they live in paradise.
You can see the highlights comfortably in three days, although many choose to linger.
Does this sound like the kind of place that will astonish and entertain those boys? If so, bon voyage, but if they're anything like standard teenagers, this may not be a good fit.
Accommodation on the island can be divided between motels or hosted lodges and self-contained lodgings. If you choose the former, you'll most likely be in one of the major towns. These are in the island's eastern half while the wildlife wonders are mostly in the west and this is a big island.
If you choose to stay in self-contained accommodation, you will have a much greater choice of locations. You can investigate the various options at the island's official tourism website.
Caution in Colombia
My husband and I will be travelling around South America for three months and want to include Colombia on our itinerary. He is worried about kidnapping and the general high level of crime. Is it safe to visit now? And what do you recommend for an adventurous traveller with two or three weeks to spend there?
- A. Smith, Bellevue Hill.
"Safe" is a relative concept but if you're an experienced third-world traveller and don't take risks, chances are Colombia and you are going to get along just fine.
Many travellers are now visiting Colombia and reporting positive experiences. The rebel FARC movement is talking peace with the government and kidnapping is less of a threat. Personal crime is still an issue, there are plenty of guns around, the cocaine trade is booming and therefore so is organised crime, but as long as you don't look wealthy and stick to the well-trod tourist trail you should have no problems.
As far as what to see, definitely Cartagena, the Amazon rainforest, Medellin, and if you're feeling adventurous, Ciudad Perdida. Throw a few days on the Caribbean coast into the mix as well.
You can find plenty of information and advice from travellers online.
Preparation part of formula for grand prix trip
I intend travelling to Dubai and Abu Dhabi during late October/early November for the formula one grand prix. I would appreciate your advice on any essential items that need to be considered prior to departure, especially with regard to medications and travel vaccinations. Should I convert Australian dollars to dirhams?
- C. Claudius, Greensborough, Vic.
Familiarising yourself with the risk level is a great start. Take a look at the "Travellers' Health" page for the United Arab Emirates on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website. Even in the case of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are relatively healthy places, you should consult a clinic that specialises in healthcare for travellers. The Travel Doctor andTravel Vaccination Health Care both have clinics in Melbourne.
The time difference between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi is seven hours, so you can expect jet lag for a couple of days at least. The average daily maximum temperature in this part of the world in November is 31 degrees, and there is a risk of sunstroke. Be sure you drink plenty of water, seek shade and wear a hat.
You will pay a hefty currency conversion fee if you buy UAE dirhams in Australia, and I would not bother. You can withdraw funds from your Australian bank account in the form of dirhams via ATMs, which are readily available throughout the UAE.
However, check with your bank to make sure you will be able to use your credit or debit card overseas, and consider getting a second ATM card from another financial institution as a back-up.
Amalfi villa is the way to go
We are planning a trip to Italy next year in May, meeting with relatives from Britain. There will be six adults, one elderly, and two small children. We are looking for reasonably priced accommodation for seven to 10 days. We'd be happy with any style, from a villa to hotel rooms, depending on the cost. We were considering the Amalfi Coast but decided it was a bit mountainous for the elderly relative and not so interesting for the children. Now, we're looking at the area around Venice.
- J. Atherton-Cooper, Woy Woy.
Almost certainly a villa is going to be a cheaper option than the three hotel rooms you would need to accommodate this number. A villa will also allow you to save by preparing some of your own meals, and a hotel breakfast is rarely the highlight of an Italian day.
The Veneto region, around Venice, would not be my first choice. The Amalfi Coast sounds like a far happier alternative. The scenery is gorgeous and the region well supplied with beaches, colourful villages that topple down the hillsides, cafes and a history stretching back to Roman times.
If you're worried about that elderly relative, you could choose to stay somewhere flat, such as Sorrento. Ferries make it easy to take day trips to local glamour spots such as Positano, Amalfi and Capri.
A villa with a pool might be a good choice and you can find a wide range at HomeAway. It provides comprehensive surveys of villas that should fit your needs.
Nevada Wier is one of my favourite travel photographers. Her specialty is the third world and her website offers not only a gallery of sensational and inspiring images, she also posts articles, videos, equipment lists and helpful hints on how she goes about her work. If you want images that capture some of the excitement and spectacle of the wider world from an original perspective, take a look. nevadawier.com.
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