x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Last-minute bookings bring rich dividends

Late discounts and increasingly off-the-beaten track destinations mark 2010 including trips to Vietnam and Cambodia and Burkina Faso.

Departures on a fully-organised, 12-day tailor-made trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, including a seven-night cruise along the Mekong River between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, have been substantially reduced for travellers ready to go next month. Cox & Kings (www.coxandkings.co.uk; 0044 207 873 5000) is offering an impressive US$1,445 (Dh5,300) off the usual price of $5,447 (Dh20,000) per person for the trip, the "Mekong Odyssey Private Journey", which has both upstream and downstream departures and features three nights at the stylish Hotel De La Paix in Siem Reap and two full days with a private guide at the temples of Angkor.

The $4,000 (Dh14,704) trip must be booked before the end of January for departures on February 3, 10 and 18 and includes all accommodation, ground transport, a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City and the nearby Cu Chi tunnels, guiding and most meals. It does not include international flights. The cruise part of the trip is aboard either the RV Mekong Pandaw or the RV Tonle Pandaw and includes a day on the waters of the Mekong Delta and five days on the Mekong River, passing small villages and temples and getting on and off the boat for shore excursions. The journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice-versa) along the Tonle Sap Lake is done by speedboat. Cox & Kings also has a variety of other special offers which currently include $480 (Dh1,765) per person off a tour of South America; $200 (Dh735) off a group tour of Ethiopia, and four nights for the price of three in St Petersburg.

The Abu Dhabi-based adventure company Noukhada (www.noukhada.ae; 050 721 8928) has launched a new one-day trip to Belhailam Island, just north of Yas Island, starting today. The group, which will comprise three guests and a guide, sails from the mainland to Belhailham Island in a catamaran with two kayaks in tow; on the island the group will explore wildlife, including ostrich, deer and flamingos. The group will then kayak around the surrounding mangroves for two hours, completing a loop and arriving back at the catamaran. It then sails back to the launch site for the drive back to Abu Dhabi. The cost of the trip is $150 (Dh550) and is refundable if weather conditions are not favourable.

Ever more off-the-beathen-track destinations are on the books this year for many travel companies, including the UK-based adventure company Undiscovered Destinations (www.undiscovered-destinations.com; 0044 191 296 2674) and Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com). Undiscovered Destinations has launched new trips to countries including Siberia, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Romania, Algeria, North Korea and Colombia.

The 14-day Burkina Faso trip takes in the Sahel, the city of Bobo-Dioulasso and the Sindou mountains and costs $3,435 (Dh12,620) per person, travelling as part of a group and excluding international flights. New holidays available through the Responsible Travel portal include trips to Papua New Guinea, Alaska and Canada and Ghana; the company also has a number of special offers for late bookings, including a cap at 2009 prices, plus a further 10 per cent off on safari holidays to the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands nature reserve in South Africa in January and February, and reduced-price accommodation in dozens of locations including the Algarve, Lanzarote, Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus.

Etihad Holidays (www.etihadholidays.com; 800 23 24) still has availability on its ski holiday packages to Lebanon, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and the United States available for travel until April 17. Three nights in Faraya Mzaar, Lebanon, costs from $993 (Dh3,650), seven nights in Cervinia, Italy, costs from $1,760 (Dh6,475) and seven nights in Kitzbuhel, Austria, from $1,540 (Dh5,570); all prices include flights and accommodation, and are per person based on two sharing.