Travel doctor: 40th anniversary on safari in Namibia

A self-drive holiday is an option – the roads are generally good and you could see incredible sights


Q: To celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary my wife and I are planning to take our two sons and a daughter-in-law on an African safari. We are planning to go during Christmas and New Year 2014/2015 and must travel during the school holidays. We were wondering about Namibia. Our budget is £3,500-£4,000pp. What can you suggest?
Chung Man Poon, via e-mail

The first thing I would suggest is that if you intend to travel over Christmas 2014 you should book by January at the latest, otherwise you may struggle to get the flights and the accommodation you want. A self-drive holiday is an option in Namibia — the roads are generally good and you’d be able to see some of the country’s other incredible sights, as well as enjoy a safari. Rainbow Tours (020-7666 1250 , ) has a two-week circular trip including the AfriCat project at Okonjima, game viewing in the Etosha National Park, tracking rhino in the deserts in the Damaraland , visiting the coastal town of Swakopmund and climbing the towering dunes of the Sossusvlei. Over Christmas, a visit will start at £3,890pp, including all flights, car hire and B&B in top-quality lodges and guesthouses. If self-drive doesn’t appeal, you could join an 11-day guided tour for between two and eight people that includes Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund and Sossusvlei —cost £4,000pp, inclusive of flights, accommodation with most meals, transport and guide. Expert Africa (020-8232 9777, ) and Africa & Beyond (0161-789 8838, ) offer similar itineraries.

Q: We’ve theatre tickets for a show in Harrogate early next year but haven’t sorted out accommodation. We would like somewhere very comfortable with excellent food.It’s our 25th wedding anniversary too. Any ideas?
Jo Clark, via e-mail

: Rudding Park (01423 871350, ), a country house hotel a few minutes’ drive from Harrogate, ticks all the boxes for a celebration stay. Rooms are sleek and well-equipped, its Clocktower restaurant is suitably smart, there are manicured grounds to wander in, a spa and even a cosy 14-seater cinema. Rates start at about £120 a night for a double, B&B. If you’d prefer to stay somewhere very central, however, book one of the better rooms (from £195 B&B) at the front of the Hotel du Vin (01423 856800, ) or a loft suite (£265 B&B). The hotel overlooks The Stray, the town’s 200 acres of open common, and has a great bistro.
Q: My husband and I booked a holiday through Thomson Lakes and Mountains to the Hotel Idania in Bardolino in Italy. During the holiday all our cash — €700 together with about £200 — was taken from a locked safe in a locked hotel room. There was no sign of a forced entry. My husband had the safe key on him at all times. Three other couples also had all their cash taken from their safes. The hotel management took the view that it couldn’t be any of the staff and that we couldn’t prove how much we had actually lost. They also stated that their insurers would not pay out any compensation unless there was a conviction. What can we do?
Linda Scarfe, via e-mail

A: This is a cautionary tale for anyone who uses in-room safes to store their valuables. Thomson helped to arrange the police reports necessary to make a claim through your insurers but I’m afraid there’s little point in pursuing the Idania — unless you can prove that a hotel was negligent it’s unlikely to admit liability.

A Thomson spokesman said: “We’re sorry that Mr and Mrs Scarfe and others’ holidays were marred by this terrible incident, which we believe to be an isolated event. We have been working with this hotel for more than 20 years and we are not aware of any similar incident previously — indeed the hotel owner has said that this has never happened in his 50-year career running hotels. We are advised that the investigating police officer was satisfied with the security procedures of the hotel.” For future trips you might consider either using the safe at the hotel’s front desk (and getting an itemised receipt) or taking a slashproof, anti-theft bag.

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