Sunday, November 20, 2005
Q. I've read that Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. What kind of tourist facilities are there?
Steve Grabowski, Pompano Beach, Fla.
A. Patagonia, the thumb of land at the bottom of South America, is an "amazing wilderness area with spectacular mountains and glaciers that fall into turquoise-blue lakes," says Nadia LeBon, director of special programs at Mountain Travel Sobek (888-687-6235, http:/
Besides its mix of ocean and mountain air, the 1,000-mile-long region shared by Argentina and Chile is noted for its national parks, crystalline lakes, glaciers cleaved from the Andes and wildlife ranging from penguins to a rare indigenous deer. There are also jagged cliffs revered by mountaineers and ancient petroglyphs.
Travelers can explore Patagonia by land or sea -- or a bit of both. For terra firma, head for the parks -- Torres del Paine on the Chilean side or Glaciares on Argentina's half -- which are seven hours by car or bus from Punta Arenas, Chile, or Calafate, Argentina, respectively. Lodging is scattered inside and around the parks, including the all-inclusive Explora hotel (011-56-2-206-6060, http:/
Many cruises offers expeditions around Tierra del Fuego that include glacier walks and a visit to penguin-populated Magdelana Island. Cruceros Australis (877-678-3772, http:/
For general info on Patagonia, see http:/
We are planning a tour of the rock art in South Africa and Mali. Can you recommend tours?
Nereide Ellis, Arlington
Rock art is one of the world's oldest art forms, dating to 21,000 B.C., and the pictographs and petroglyphs adorn cliff overhangs, rock shelters and caverns throughout Africa. However, Christine Mullen Kreamer, curator of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art, writes in an e-mail, "One of the richest regions of rock art in Africa is south of the Zambezi River in southern Africa, particularly Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa."
In Mali, most tours include a visit to the Dogon region, where you can see the designs on the Bandiagara escarpment. Explore! (800-227 8747, http:/
For organized tours, Cedarberg African Travel ( http:/
My husband uses the wheelchair services provided by the airlines. What is an appropriate tip for these services?
Helen Guest, Herndon
Before you say thanks with a bit of the green, first discern whether the employee assisting with wheelchair services works for the airlines or are contractors. According to David Castelveter, vice president of communications at the Air Transport Association, most airline employees cannot accept gratuities -- though check with the specific airline as each carrier's policy varies. However, contracted workers like sky caps do accept -- and appreciate -- tips. The amount, though, is personal preference. The Emily Post Institute recommends $2 to $5.
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