AT EASE IN THE AN­DES

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

My wife and I are join­ing an ad­ven­ture cruise from Ushuaia, to the Falk­lands, South Ge­or­gia and Antarc­tica in De­cem­ber and would like to take a guided or self-guided tour through Patag­o­nia in the two weeks be­fore­hand. Do you have any sug­ges­tions? We are quite used to ad­ven­ture travel in four-wheel drive ve­hi­cles and are happy to use the ser­vices of a driver/guide.

DOC ®

Patag­o­nia, the huge re­gion cov­er­ing the South­ern An­des in Chile and Ar­gentina, is full of vol­ca­noes, lakes, glaciers and fjords, to­gether with Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world.

De­cem­ber is one of the best times to go and For­ward Travel (for­ward­travel.com.au) is one com­pany which pro­vides a 12-day guided, ad­ven­ture-style tour. Dur­ing the trip, you would spend four days in and around one of the main high­lights, the Tor­res del Paine Na­tional Park, the eighth won­der of the world. Here you will see the three mighty gran­ite peaks of the Paine moun­tain range, val­leys, rivers, lakes and glaciers.

Con­tours (con­tourstravel.com.au) also spe­cialise in this re­gion and pro­vide many itin­er­ar­ies.

There are sev­eral four- and five­day op­tions you could join to­gether. For ex­am­ple, you could hop aboard the Sko­r­pios III ship and cruise the chan­nels and fjords. This small ship with a max­i­mum of 110 pas­sen­gers traces the same routes as did Dar­win and Fitzroy.

Their eight-day ex­pe­di­tion de­part­ing Ar­gentina, re­traces the route of Charles Dar­win to Cape Horn. You could then stay at the Ex­plora ho­tel, sit­u­ated be­side Lake Pe­hoe in the mid­dle of the Tor­res del Paine Na­tional Park. From here you can choose from ex­cur­sions by ve­hi­cle, trek or horse­back.

Al­ter­na­tively, you could look at one of their in­de­pen­dent tours and make your way along the renowned Car­retera Aus­tral route. Dur­ing the 1000km trail you can linger to en­joy the lo­cals, their foods and hand­i­crafts at your leisure.

Eclipse Travel (eclipse­travel.com.au) also has a good se­lec­tion of tour ideas. You may like to camp in the na­tional park in Eco Camp domes, then cross the Lake Dis­trict be­tween Chile and Ar­gentina and fin­ish up with a five­day trek.

WHEEL­CHAIR IN SIN­GA­PORE

My daugh­ter and I are go­ing to Sin­ga­pore in Oc­to­ber. She has a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity and will be in a wheel­chair. We have a list of things we hope to do and see but can­not find any in­for­ma­tion on which ones are wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble. Can you help?

DOC ®

Sin­ga­pore is a city well-equipped for all trav­ellers, in­clud­ing those in a wheel­chair.

All MRT (mass rapid trans­port) sta­tions have bar­rier-free fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing ramps, lifts and wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble toi­lets. Each train also fea­tures two wheelchairac­ces­si­ble car­riages, de­fined by an in­di­ca­tor sticker on the door.

More than half of Sin­ga­pore’s pub­lic buses are wheel­chair-friendly and most bus stops are de­signed for bar­rier-free ac­cess.

To iden­tify wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble buses, keep a look­out for a blue pas­sen­ger-in-wheel­chair sign on the front of the bus. The driver will also pro­vide as­sis­tance if needed.

Taxis are an­other ef­fi­cient way to get around. Re­quest one equipped for a wheel­chair or, if it’s fold­able, it can be stored in the boot (there is no ex­tra sur­charge).

You will def­i­nitely have at­trac­tions such as Gar­dens By the Bay on your to-do list. Here you will find spe­cial ramps, lifts and bar­ri­er­free routes, plus wheel­chairs for hire.

The Na­tional Gallery Sin­ga­pore, which has the largest col­lec­tion of south­east Asian art, is in the for­mer Old Supreme Court Build­ing. It is wheel­chair-friendly with ac­ces­si­ble re­strooms on every level ex­cept two.

More than 90 per cent of Sin­ga­pore Zoo is ac­ces­si­ble by wheel­chair. It also has mo­bil­ity scoot­ers for hire and al­lo­cated view­ing areas at ex­hibits, shows and am­phithe­atres. Con­sider the Night Sa­fari too. It has ded­i­cated wheel­chair areas for the show, plus sa­fari bug­gies have ramp ac­cess.

You can also take your daugh­ter to Per­anakan Mu­seum, the Na­tional Mu­seum of Sin­ga­pore, on the Sin­ga­pore Flyer and to the aquar­ium on Sen­tosa Is­land.

BOR­DER CHECKS WAIVED We are plan­ning a driv­ing tour of Europe in Septem­ber on com­ple­tion of our cruise, start­ing in Barcelona, then France, Switzer­land, Aus­tria and fin­ish­ing in Ger­many. Are there any re­stric­tions on bor­der cross­ings, visas or fees? I al­ready have my in­ter­na­tional li­cence. DOC ®

The Schen­gen ter­ri­tory com­prises 26 European coun­tries with more than 7721km of in­ter­nal land bor­ders, all of which share a com­mon ex­ter­nal bor­der. This means on your ini­tial en­try to the area (one of these coun­tries), your pass­port will be stamped. You are then al­lowed to travel within the ter­ri­tory for up to 90 days in any 180-day pe­riod.

In or­der to re­ceive this stamp, you may be re­quired to show the pur­pose of your jour­ney (an itin­er­ary or ho­tel reser­va­tion), that you have the means to sup­port your­selves (credit card) and that you have or can buy a ticket to leave.

The coun­tries of Spain, France, Switzer­land, Aus­tria and Ger­many are part of the Schen­gen agree­ment so you will not un­dergo bor­der checks or re­quire par­tic­u­lar visas as you move through these coun­tries.

HEALTH IN­SUR­ANCE AD­VICE

Do any travel in­sur­ance com­pa­nies cover med­i­cal ex­penses back home af­ter an ac­ci­dent hap­pens while on hol­i­days? I slipped on the pool deck of a cruise ship and have spent quite a few hun­dred dol­lars with the prospect of sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars to be spent since re­turn­ing home.

DOC ®

Your travel in­sur­ance pol­icy ex­pires when you land back in Aus­tralia (tech­ni­cally as you walk through im­mi­gra­tion). That is when Medi­care or your pri­vate health fund kicks in. You should seek ad­vice from one or the other and have the rel­e­vant pa­per­work from the cruise com­pany.

PIC­TURE: ISTOCK

A herd of llama graze on a hill­side in Chile’s Tor­res del Paine Na­tional Park, named the eighth won­der of the world.

SIN­GA­PORE

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