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Travel: The concierge.

VISITING, NOT INVADING As we become more adventurous in our choice of travels, so the number of companies offering a more specialist service increases.

A new Australian-based travel company is offering tourists a unique opportunity to visit legendary historic villages, pastoral dynasties, bush ranger territory, as well as famous food and wine regions - aspects of the big country that are rarely recognised let alone experienced first hand by British travellers. Nature-Bound Australia (www.natureboundaustralia.com) has launched nine regional tours based around soft-adventure and guided walks in the country's premier national parks and World-Heritage areas.

Visitors can see vast wilderness including the historic Great Dividing Range and Glasshouse Mountains, gaze across the legendary Darling Downs, venture into the outback of the ghost gums,

and even have the chance to stand on top of Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. The packages also include free days before and after the tours in Sydney and Brisbane, with four-star hotel accommodation and breakfast.

Each journey is based on Nature-Bound Australia's travel ethic of visiting, but not invading, the natural habitats of the wild and the local communities (including indigenous) it seeks to sustain through its business.

The packages feature a variety of 14 and 19-day tours that leave throughout the year. Each trip includes full accommodation, most meals, and entrance fees into the national parks and World-Heritage areas covered by the itinerary.

To find out more about Nature-Bound Australia and its amazing Australian vacation options, call +61 7 3254 1911, or visit www.natureboundaustralia.com.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE Another growth area in recent years has been in working holidays. For those who don't fancy squandering their precious annual leave on the slopes this winter, travel specialist i-to-i is offering alternative holidays that give you a break while you make a difference.

With more than 300 volunteer placements available in 25 countries worldwide, there are all manner of ways to volunteer your support:

Save elephants in Sri Lanka For the dedicated conservationist i-to-i offers four to 12-week rotationson these incredible animal protection projects, including assisting a mahout (elephant handler) at an elephant foundation near Kegalle, and helping with animal care and an educational program at a zoo near Colombo.

Conserve a piece of heaven in Mexico At El Cielo biosphere reserve you could help preserve its oak, pine and cloud forests, to ensure they are managed sustainably and conserved for the future. An important part of this is to create trails that will give tourists access to the rainforest without damaging it unnecessarily.

Support community work in India In Bangalore, your help is needed at a variety of projects. Options include working in schools for street children, or in schools for deaf and hearing impaired children. You may work at a YMCA shelter, giving health advice or helping with carpentry lessons - a valuable trade for street-dwellers.

Save sharks in South Africa Near Cape Town, the shark populations off Seal Island, are rapidly diminishing, and volunteers are needed to join seagoing expeditions that collect data on the sharks. You can work with a team of photojournalists and shark researchers to help monitor, tag and release the sharks.

Work with special needs children in Peru In the coastal town of Mancora you can help enhance the lives of special needs children and teenagers. You can help by getting involved with a variety of activities including arts, crafts, dance and playtime. Mancora is also considered to be one of the most beautiful areas of Northern Peru.

Short breaks are available from just one week, for those whose holiday leave is limited. To find out more, contact an i-to-i work and travel advisor on 0870 333 2332 or visit www.i-to-i.com.

QUEUE JUMPING For those going the more traditional holiday route, some money-saving advice.

All theme park tickets in Florida face price increases of up to ten per cent from January 1, 2005, but the advice is buy now to save money.

Attraction Tickets Direct prices are based on the time of booking, not the departure date. Travellers can take advantage of the prices now and use their tickets whenever they travel, next summer, 2006, 2007 and beyond.

The five-park OrlandoFlexTicket is currently available for pounds 115 for adults and pounds 95 for children and includes access to Universal Studios, Universal's

Islands of Adventure, Wet n'Wild, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Any tickets bought before the end of the year at this price can be used for access to the five parks included in the Orlando FlexTicket at any time in the future.

To book call 0845 130 3876, or see www.attractionticketsdirect.com.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 16, 2004
Words:767
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