TREKS AND TEMPLES

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE EXPERT DOC HOLIDAY - KIM CULYER

I’m in­ter­ested in moun­tain­ous scenery and I like to walk. Be­fore I get too old, I’d like to at­tempt a Hi­malayan trek. My hus­band has found an or­gan­ised tour vis­it­ing end­less temples, monas­ter­ies and shrines by minibus. But is there a trip that com­bines trekking and cul­ture?

DOC ¿

Look at ad­ven­ture tour­ing as your style of trip, and you will find itin­er­ar­ies en­com­pass­ing both the cul­tural side plus hik­ing, walk­ing or cy­cling in parts. World Ex­pe­di­tions (world­ex­pe­di­tions.com.au) would be a good place to start.

They have a tour I be­lieve would suit you both.

The 14-day High Road to Lhasa jour­ney is graded at level two, mean­ing the ac­tive parts are lim­ited to day walks and th­ese are op­tional. So hubby can choose to opt in or out as he pleases.

The tour cov­ers many in­ter­est­ing shrines, monas­ter­ies and palaces, plus it vis­its the Rong­phy Val­ley to see Mount Ever­est’s north face. This is the same base camp from which George Mal­lory led one of the first Bri­tish ex­pe­di­tions, in the 1920s.

Or, if you can con­vince your hus­band to trek most of the way, try the 12-day Ever­est Trek. This is the least chal­leng­ing of treks and in­cludes an eight-day hike to al­ti­tudes of 3790m. It fol­lows the main trail from Lukla (you fly there from Kathmandu) and in­cludes walk­ing through small vil­lages and shar­ing the trail with cargo-laden yaks and don­keys, giv­ing you a good taste of the cul­ture.

This itin­er­ary is rated three (in­tro­duc­tory trekking). It in­volves tented ac­com­mo­da­tion but the views of peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse and Ever­est are worth it.

Oth­er­wise, you could have a cus­tom-made, mar­riage-sav­ing itin­er­ary cre­ated to in­clude ex­actly what you want to see and do. This way you could per­haps hike part of the way and hubby could meet you at the end of the day hav­ing trav­elled by pri­vate trans­port.

CARE­FUL TRAILS

A fam­ily mem­ber has been di­ag­nosed with end-stage cancer. We want to take them on hol­i­day but haven’t found any travel insurance that cov­ers this pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion. Can you sug­gest op­tions for travel but with peace of mind so that if any med­i­cal emer­gen­cies oc­cur, we won’t be left with a hefty bill? We have heard of re­cip­ro­cal health care in New Zealand.

DOC ¿

The Aus­tralian Medi­care sys­tem has a re­cip­ro­cal agree­ment with coun­tries in­clud­ing the United King­dom, Italy, Nor­way and New Zealand. This agree­ment pro­vides some es­sen­tial health ser­vices and sub­sidised medicines to Aus­tralians trav­el­ling to th­ese coun­tries, if needed.

How­ever, the level varies with each coun­try and can­not be re­lied upon to re­place pri­vate travel insurance.

It is de­signed for sim­ple GP vis­its or sub­sidised pre­scrip­tion medicines. Am­bu­lance, den­tal, elec­tive treat­ment and non-im­me­di­ate treat­ments are not cov­ered. Med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions to Aus­tralia and fu­ner­als are also not cov­ered.

The best way to en­joy some qual­ity time on hol­i­day to­gether is to choose some­where tran­quil in Aus­tralia. This way you will all be close to home and cov­ered un­der the Medi­care scheme or their pri­vate health cover.

We are ar­riv­ing in Syd­ney on a cruise ship next month about 7am but our in­ter­state flight isn’t un­til 8pm. Is there a safe place to store our lug­gage for the day?

DOC ¿

There are two op­tions: the Visi­tor’s Cen­tre (aus­tralian­vis­i­tor­centres.com.au) or Smarte Carte (bag­gagestor­age.com.au), both at Cir­cu­lar Quay. Smarte Carte of­fers a handy trans­fer ser­vice.

You can drop your bags with them at Cir­cu­lar Quay, then pick them up at any nom­i­nated ter­mi­nal at the air­port. Book on­line for dis­counts.

My beau­ti­ful friend and I are off to Uluru for a week­end to cel­e­brate a spe­cial birth­day. Our flight stops in Alice Springs and we will have two hours to see some of the town. Can you sug­gest what we could do in that short time? DOC ¿ The town­ship of Alice Springs is 15km from the air­port, roughly a 10-minute drive. With two hours, you could jump in a taxi and do a whirl­wind drive into town and back. Speak to the taxi driver to be sure he or she is clear about what time you need to be back, then ask them to show you around.

Also, con­firm at your depar­ture point whether your bag­gage is be­ing through-checked to Uluru. Jet­star, for ex­am­ple, does not do this, so you would need to col­lect your bags in Alice Springs and re-check them for your next flight, en­croach­ing on your time avail­able to sight­see. CAN­BERRA’S CITY COM­FORTS

My hus­band, our nine-year old and I are trav­el­ling to Can­berra in Jan­uary. Can you rec­om­mend a fam­ily/self-con­tained unit in the city cen­tre?

DOC ¿

The Mantra on North­bourne (mantra on­north­bourne.com.au) is cen­tral and has self-con­tained one- and twobed­room apart­ments. The BreakFree Cap­i­tal Tower (breakfree.com.au) also has large self-con­tained apart­ments, with views of Lake Bur­ley Grif­fin. The Cap­i­tal Ex­ec­u­tive Apart­ment Ho­tel (cea­ho­tel.com.au) should also be on your list for af­ford­able fam­ily rooms with well equipped kitchens. Note: if you are an au­to­mo­bile club mem­ber in your state you could re­ceive bet­ter rates.

We are trav­el­ling by air to Sin­ga­pore to join a cruise ship. We ar­rive at Changi air­port at mid­night but we do not board the ship un­til af­ter lunch. Can we get a room at the air­port?

DOC ¿

The Crowne Plaza Ho­tel (changiair­port.crowne­plaza.com) is next to ter­mi­nal three at Changi Air­port. It is linked to ter­mi­nal three via a walk­way and ter­mi­nals one and two via the air­port Sky­train.

PIC­TURES: ISTOCK

Hik­ers trek past a shrine deep in the Hi­malayan moun­tains of the Ever­est Na­tional Park in Nepal.

CAN­BERRA

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