The overland route from London to India and Nepal it's not a short trip

TRAVEL Q&A

January 09, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Q: I would like to know if anyone organizes overland bus tours from England to India or Nepal.

A: There are several tour operators that offer such trips, and an agent called STA Travel in London acts for many of them, including the first three of the following. Prices include the cost of meals, sightseeing, camping fees and equipment.

These are the choices:

* Dragoman, 100 Camp Green, Debenham, Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 6LA; telephone (728) 861133 (the dialing code for England is 44). Their longest journey lasts 26 and a half weeks and travels from London to Islamabad, Pakistan; Katmandu, the capital of Nepal; and Madras and Bombay, India. The cost is about $6,000, calculated at $1.50 to the pound. The company has an American agent, Adventure Center, 1311 63d St., Suite 200, Emeryville, Calif. 94608; (800) 227-8747 or (510) 654-1879.

* Exodus Overland, 9 Weir Road, London SW12 0LT; (81) 675 7996 for reservations, (81) 673 0859 for brochures. Their longest trip is 15 weeks to Katmandu and costs around $3,000. Its United States agent is Safaricenter, 3201 North Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, Calif. 90266; (800) 223-6046 or (310) 546-4411.

* Top Deck Worldwide Adventures, Top Deck House, 131-135 Earls Court Road, London SW5 9RH; (71) 244 8641. The company offers 11- or 13-week tours to Katmandu from $2,625 to $3,750.

* Encounter Overland, 267 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9JA; (71) 370 6845. The company offers a 29-week expedition to Katmandu by way of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Cairo costing about $7,500. (Adventure Center is its United States agent.)

All companies except Top Deck use custom-made trucks. Top Deck makes its trips in a converted double-decker bus.

STA Travel has two offices that can supply information about the trips and the operators: 86 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LQ, (71) 581 4132, or 117 Euston Road, London NW1 2SX, (71) 465 0484. Inquiries by mail should be addressed to STA Travel, Priory House, 6 Wright's Lane, London W8 6TA, England.

Q: My husband and I and another couple would like to rent a house in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the month of February.

A: The peak tourist season in San Miguel de Allende runs from December to March, but the summer months, especially July and August, are also gaining in popularity. House rentals for the peak season should be arranged a couple of months in advance, but there are usually houses available at the last minute.

Expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000 a month in the high season for a sprawling colonial villa with a swimming pool, four to five bedrooms, a garden, a cook and live-in maid. Smaller houses and condominiums are also available; a modern two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium will rent for about $1,000 a month in the peak months. Prices in the off-season are generally about half of those in summer.

Most houses are rented by the month; for a weekly rental, expect to pay a third to a half of the monthly rent. Parking is becoming increasingly important in the town, so a house with a garage is a plus.

Normally, renters pay a deposit for the first and last months' rent, in addition to a telephone deposit of about $500 that will be returned a few months after the renter leaves. Occasionally, a $500 damage deposit is also required.

Here are are some of the leading rental agents, most of whom work out of their homes:

* Judy Arnold, 12 Sierra Gorda, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, 37700 Mexico; (465) 233-37.

* Michael Cook, Apartado Postal 911, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, 37700 Mexico; (465) 242-01.

* Sally Thieman, 7 Montitlan, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, 37720 Mexico; (465) 234-71.

In addition, some houses for rent are listed in Atencion San Miguel, the town's English-language newspaper.

Q: My family and I will be in Eilat, Israel, next April, and we have heard that it is possible to swim with dolphins there. Our 12-year-old daughter would like to do that very much.

A: A family can spend the whole day and most of the evening at the Dolphin Reef, enjoying the private beach, the clear water and, of course, the dolphins. Admission to the reef, close to two miles south of Eilat, is about $7, $5.50 for children age 5 to 15, calculated at three New Israeli Shekels to the dollar. A half-hour swimming session in a wet suit, snorkel and mask is an extra $20 for up to six people. Reservations are essential.

Adults who don't want to get wet or children too young to swim with the dolphins (the minimum age is 10) can get a close look at them with a trainer for about $10. Scuba diving with the dolphins is an extra $50 (minimum age is 8).

The dolphins, seven or eight in all, have a wide area in which to swim; a net far out to sea keeps them from swimming away.

The privately run reef, which is open all year from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., has a restaurant, a souvenir shop, a small beach theater that shows continuous nature films and a pub on the beach.

More information: Dolphin Reef, Southern Beach, P.O. Box 104, Eilat, Israel; (7) 371846 or 373417, fax, (7) 375921 (these numbers must be preceded by 972, the dialing code for Israel).

Q: We would like to visit Quito, Ecuador, next fall. Can you tell me what weather we can expect? Would it be useful to carry an EnglishQuechua dictionary? And can you give me the address of the Ecuadorean tourist office?

A: Maximum highs and lows in the fall are pretty well static: about 72 or 73 degrees for the highs and 45 or 46 for the lows. Average rainfall in October is 4.4 inches, compared with 5.6 inches in March and 6.9 inches in April, but tapers off the rest of the fall to around 3.5 inches.

An Ecuadorean-born tour operator says most, if not all, Ecuadorean Indians speak Spanish and there is therefore no need to speak Quechua.

For information, write to Feprotur, 935 Tamayo y Foch, Quito, Ecuador.

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