Going home for Christmas

Due to the relaxation of IATA rules and mandatory e-ticketing, it is now possible for a travel agency to ticket from anywhere in the world. This might mean different agencies in various countries could have better deals than others. With the global credit crunch looming, airlines are looking at fewer passengers - which means better deals for the consumer as they battle it out for your business.

If you reside in the UK and need to book a ticket home this festive season, there are several online options. In the UK the most popular travel portal online is www.expedia.co.uk which covers all facets of travel; air, hotel and car hire can be arranged on one website. In South Africa, www.flightsite.co.za has recently launched and encompasses all travel on one website but is directly targeted at Southern African consumers.

The site has some great fares loaded for popular regional routes as well as some international routes and these can be paid for online from anywhere in the world. An e-ticket is emailed as confirmation – valid for travel.

A very worthwhile idea to arrange prior to arrival for anyone travelling home this Christmas is a weekend getaway or day out with the family. There are a number of lodges not too far out of Harare that can make for a great break or day out for the whole family. Chengeta Safari Lodge is just over an hour’s drive and Bally Vaughan are diverse places with a range of activities. Good websites to search for accommodation in Zimbabwe are www.venues4africa.com and for a trip to the Falls www.gotovictoriafalls.com. Kariba Houseboats are always a firm favourite over Christmas and New Year despite the rain that will most likely fall over any New Years celebration but won’t dampen the fun to be had. Availability of Kariba Houseboats is very limited and anyone looking to book who has not done so yet is in store for a difficult time. It would be better to plan a trip before Christmas or after New Year if a Kariba houseboat trip is a must for your trip home.

Travel Warning: Political Crisis – Dangerous Destination

A power-sharing agreement has been signed between rivals Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai following a long – and violent – political crisis in Zimbabwe. Mugabe remains president and chair of the cabinet, but Tsvangirai is the new prime minister and runs the country day-to-day. Both men have committed to ending violence, the attacks on political activity and press freedom. The situation remains uncertain: they are yet to reach an agreement on a unity cabinet. Travellers must remain vigilant at all times and avoid any public protests. Tsvangirai’s MDC party estimated 120 of its members have been killed, 5000 abducted and 200,000 forced from their homes by pro-Mugabe militias.

The national economy remains in crisis, with food and fuel shortages common. The government’s alleged mishandling of land redistribution has led to poor harvesting and alarmingly low food stocks. Travellers to Zimbabwe should use common sense to bypass obvious dangers and respect any local advice regarding safety. Avoid solo travel and remote areas. Be particularly wary in the Victoria Falls area where thieves have targeted tourists.

Despite the negative press (although very justifiable) the Diaspora who are returning home will know how to deal with corrupt officials and other situations that would normally ring alarm bells for first time travellers. Once a flight, accommodation and supplies have been arranged a trip to Zimbabwe will still be the holiday of a life time – it is the land of milk and honey and once you have arranged your own cows and bees Zimbabwe beats its regional counterparts hands down for its sheer beauty and diversity.

Mana Pools, Kariba and the Eastern Highlands are all areas that are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Diaspora – your holiday spend for a week or two in those regions will mean the world of difference to the lives of those you come into contact with. The country has been bought to its knees and its people are starving so to all those going home this Christmas – enjoy being home and know that you are making a difference! – [email protected]




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