One of the world's most breathtaking locations, Victoria Falls (above) has become more easily accessible for Hong Kong travellers with the launch last week of a new service to Zambia and Zimbabwe, via Dubai, by Emirates. The same flight (EK713) covers both destinations, but with the Zambian capital, Lusaka, being the first stop, it makes most sense to disembark there. The best views of the falls, however, are to be had from the Zimbabwe side, where the historic Victoria Falls Hotel is located. Visas on arrival for most nationalities are available for both countries, so you can hop across and back again if you have the US$80 or so in cash required to cover entry/re-entry of each destination. Alternatively, you could buy an open-jaw ticket and fly back from Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. A cheap overnight train (which still uses 1950s British carriages) runs to Harare from the falls. Flying time back to Dubai from Harare is close to 10 hours. The Africa-bound flights leave Dubai five times a week, departing at 9.25am. Advance bookings for the Victoria Falls Hotel can be made at www.africansunhotels.com, and up-to-date travel advice for Zambia and Zimbabwe can be found at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk.
Hot air breaks
Starting next month, visitors to Ayers Rock (above right) - or Uluru as it has become more popularly known in Australia - will have a chance to be among the first to view the landmark from a hot air balloon. The flights, operated by Outback Ballooning (www.outbackballooning.com.au), will depart at dawn and fly over the region south of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, an area inaccessible to anyone without a special permit. The balloon won't actually pass over the mighty rock itself, but will float between 10 and 25 kilometres from it. The price for a four-hour tour, including 30 minutes flying time, is A$450 (HK$3,700) per person.
Deal of the week
Farrington American Express has several reasonably priced choices of hotels included in its two-night package to Okinawa, Japan, which starts from HK$3,550 per person, twin share. At this price you'll be staying at the Hotel Sun Palace Kyuyokan (www.palace-okinawa.com/sunpalace), but better options for not much more include the Tokyo Daiichi Hotel Okinawa Grand Mer Resort (www.daiichihotel-okinawa.com/en) for HK$3,750. Top of the price list are the Laguna Garden Hotel (www.laguna-garden.jp) and the ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Hotel & Resort (right; www.anaintercontinental-manza.jp) both available for HK$5,550. Also included in these prices are economy-class flights with Hong Kong Express, daily breakfast and travel insurance. If you want to book a longer stay, flight tickets are valid for up to seven days. For reservations and further details, visit www.amextravel.com.hk or call 3121 3121 and quote package ID: L2012OKAK030.