x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Taking the train in Australia and South Africa, and offers on Thailand hotels

Coming up Watch the scenery of the Australian Outback roll by from the comfort of a cabin aboard the transcontinental Indian Pacific railway, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

The Indian Pacific crosses the Nullabor Plain on the world's longest stretch of railway track, on its way from Adelaide to Perth.
The Indian Pacific crosses the Nullabor Plain on the world's longest stretch of railway track, on its way from Adelaide to Perth.

Watch the scenery of the Australian Outback roll by from the comfort of a cabin aboard the transcontinental Indian Pacific railway, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Austravel is offering more than 50 per cent off on holidays that take in a journey on the train in either direction between Perth and Adelaide. The Perth to Adelaide package costs from US$980 (Dh3,600) and includes a three-night stay at the Ibis Perth on a room only basis, a half-day tour of Perth and Fremantle and two nights on the Indian Pacific from Perth to Adelaide with a free upgrade to the Gold Sleeper service, which includes meals, based on departures on May 6.

The trip from Adelaide to Perth costs from $950 (Dh3,490) and includes a two-night stay at the Mercure Grosvenor hotel in Adelaide, on a room only basis, a tour of the Barossa Valley and two nights on the Pacific with a free upgrade to the Gold Sleeper service, based on departures on May 9. The journey covers more than 2,500 kilometres, including the world's longest stretch of straight railway track (478km), across the Nullabor Plain. One-hour stops en route allow explorations of the now almost deserted outpost of Cook and of the still thriving gold mining town of Kalgoorlie. The packages can be booked up to August 31. See www.austravel.com for details. Etihad flies daily from Abu Dhabi to Adelaide, with return fares starting from $2,092 (Dh7,685). Emirates Airline flies daily from Dubai to Perth, with return fares starting from $1,624 (Dh5,965).

For a train journey through the African bush, consider the South Africa package being offered by Bales Worldwide.

Enjoy three days of leisure in Cape Town, with accommodation at the Constantia, before boarding the Blue Train on the fourth morning for a 27-hour rail journey to Pretoria. Arrive in Pretoria for an overnight stay at the Sheraton Pretoria, before taking a flight to the Kruger Mpumalanga airport, from where you will be transferred to the Jock Safari Lodge for a two-night stay including game drives to spot the local wildlife.

Tours starting on April 15, 22 and 29 cost $3,300 (Dh12,140), including a $1,200 discount. The package includes breakfast at hotels and all meals on the train and at the safari lodge. The tours will run until the end of September. Visit www.balesworldwide.com for details. Return flights from Abu Dhabi to Cape Town on Etihad Airways start from $970 (Dh3,565).

Royal Orchid Holidays, the tour operator of Thai Airways International, is offering passengers 50 per cent discounts on stays at hotels across Thailand to celebrate the national airline's 50th anniversary. Shopaholics might want to consider the offer of a two-night, three-day stay at the four-star Indra Regent Bangkok, starting from Dh131 per person, excluding taxes. The hotel is ideally located in the heart of the wholesale and retail clothing district of Pratunam. Another offer in Bangkok is for two nights and three days at the four-star Amari Boulevard, centrally located on Sukhumvit Road, for Dh302 per person, excluding taxes.

The discounts are being offered on bookings from May 1 to June 30. The hotel stays are on a twin sharing basis and include breakfast. Return fares from Dubai to Bangkok on Thai Airways start from $653 (Dh2,400), including taxes. See www.thaiairways.com for the full list of hotels and destinations available in this offer.

Peruvian authorities have reopened the popular Inca Trail to the ancient city of Machu Picchu to tourists. The Inca Trail was closed after heavy rains in late January caused flooding and mudslides that left many tourists stranded. Gap Adventures has resumed bookings for its Inca Trail tours (US$749; Dh2,751), which include a day's stay in the historic city of Cuzco, visits to the Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley and the town of Ollaytantambo, followed by a four-day trek through Andes forests and mountain passes to the aptly named Sun Gate in time for a first glimpse of Machu Picchu at dawn. However, early booking is advisable since the Peruvian government limits permits for trekking the Inca Trail to just 500 a day and they are quickly snapped up.

See www.gapadventures.com for details.

rmurray@thenational.ae