Rough Guides Editor Q&A

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Hi everyone,

In the start of a new series of Q&As with our editors and authors, I’ll be answering your questions here from 4-5pm BST (11am-noon EDT) today.

I’ve worked at Rough Guides for four years and am currently an editor on the “rest of the world” list, looking after some of Rough Guides’ Asian, Australasian and African guides. I’m a bit of a wine geek and a huge foodie, writing regular features for the website about food and drink related trips. I’m also interested in budget travel and advising first-time travellers, and have recently toured Paris and northern France updating the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget.

Got any questions about what it’s like to work at Rough Guides or need advice for your next trip? Fire me a question below.

Eleanor Aldridge 02/05/14    Community FAQsAfricaAsiaAustralasiaEuropeNorth AmericaSouth America Link Report

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I’m keen to go on an African safari (ideally somewhere in southern African, away from the touristy Tanzania/Kenyan safari circuits) but don’t have thousands of pounds to spare. Is there such a thing as a ‘budget’ safari, without compromising on safety and the welfare of the animals?

Greg Dickinson 02/05/14    Link Report

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I imagine roughing it a bit will only add to the experience! I’d much rather be awoken by roaring lions than by a coffee machine at a high-end guesthouse. When would you suggest is the best time to go?

Greg Dickinson 06/05/14    Link Report

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If you don’t mind driving and cooking yourself, and roughing it a bit, a Kruger trip as described can be a great experience, with a good balance between budget trip and guided safari. Do book accommodation as soon as you can, some camps get booked out months in advance. If the camp of your choice is full just settle for a similar hut/campsite at the nearest other camp; as long as you have a booking you can at least stay in the park, and there are often ways to switch your bookings to other camps later on, or once you are there.

Jeroen van Marle 06/05/14    Link Report

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Thanks for your replies. Kruger self-drive sounds like a great option, that’s exactly the kind of thing I had in mind – and even more affordable than I had hoped!

Greg Dickinson 06/05/14    Link Report

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Kruger is great year-round (SA holidays excepted when it gets busy), but sightings are easier in the SA winter, from June to September, when there’s little rain, it’s bone dry, and animals gather at waterholes more often – the grass is less tall around that time as well making viewing from a low cheap rental car easier. It’s cool at night then, but days can still be quite hot. Spring, around Oct/Nov, is great because of the young antilope and other young animals bouncing all over the place. But I’ve visited in all seasons and was always happy with the experience and sightings.

Jeroen van Marle 09/05/14    Link Report

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Good question! It’s definitely trickier. I’m setting up our next edition of RG Tanzania at present, and there are some eye-wateringly expensive tours and camps. That said, if you choose basic accommodation outside the parks and make use of local buses, there are some deals to be had. Kruger National Park in South Africa is also worth investigating as it’s well set-up for self-driving.

Eleanor Aldridge 02/05/14    Link Report

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It’s easy in South Africa. Head to the amazing Kruger National Park (5-6 hours drive from Johannesburg airport) with a cheap rental car (no 4WD necessary). It’s well visited, but when driving around it’s often just you (plus a wide variety of animals) on the road. The daily admission fee is 264 rand per day. Inside the park at the well-equipped restcamps, camping for two costs just 190-220 rand per night; the cheapest huts or safari tents cost from 300 rand per night for two – book as far ahead as you can via sanparks.org and avoid all SA and EU holidays if you can. With a bit of planning you’ll get a camping spot by the fence with hungry hyaenas pacing by as you grill your sausages, elephants rumbling by at night and roaring lions keeping you awake. Drive around yourself by day, but do supplement this with the very affordable 3-hour sunset drives (around 150 rand) or morning walks (300 rand) that get you closer to nature with an expert guide at hand. So including admission, group drives/walks, accommodation, car, petrol and supermarket food, around 50-60 pounds or 70-80 euros a day could get you one of the top wildlife experience Africa has to offer. Plan to stay at least 4-5 days in the park to make it worthwhile, limiting the number of restcamps and kilometres in favour of a slow approach that will get you better sightings.
Jeroen van Marle, Rough Guide South Africa

Jeroen van Marle 03/05/14    Link Report

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I’m looking into travelling to Europe (on Eurostar, plus a connection, if necessary) with an under-one-year-old. I’d much prefer the variety a city offers, rather than a resort, but are there any especially child- & baby-friendly destinations you’d recommend?

Ed Wright 02/05/14    Link Report

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What about taking the new Paris–Barcelona train and getting the best of both worlds with city/beach break? They started running direct services a couple of months ago, starting around €60 one-way. It’s a 6hr ride, but no airports or turbulence and lots to look at out of the window!

Eleanor Aldridge 02/05/14    Link Report

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A question from an RG reader on Twitter:
“@TwoBritsAbroad: is it silly/not really poss 2 go to Patagonia in June??”

Lottie Gross 02/05/14    Link Report

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Hi @twobritsabroad,
It is possible to visit Patagonia in June, but you might find a lot of the tourist infrastructure has shut down and transport could be tricky. March and April are usually best to avoid the crowds and get the best of the weather!

Eleanor Aldridge 02/05/14    Link Report

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On Twitter, @abruzzo4foodies wants to know how they can attract food & wine tourists being only 1.5hours from Rome. As a food and wine lover/expert, what would you recommend Ellie? What would you look for to attract you?

Lottie Gross 02/05/14    Link Report

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Hi @abruzzo4foodies,
You’re in a great position to attract visitors: a lot of the most established wine tourism regions are an hour-or-so from large cities (think Champagne and Paris or Napa and San Francisco). Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is pretty well-known wine, too, so that’s a good start when trying to capture tourists’ attention. What I always look for is a small tour or tasting with a personal touch. For me it’s all about meeting passionate, small-scale producers and learning about how the local area influences production. As for the food, fancy, Michelin-star -style restaurants will always draw a certain crowd, but seasonal local specialties and foodie festivals can be just as much of a draw. Hope that helps?

Eleanor Aldridge 02/05/14    Link Report

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Where would you recommend for a budget traveller who wants good food & drink??

Clare Blanchfield 02/05/14    Link Report

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Far too many places! Perhaps a couple of months in Southeast Asia for the street food and affordable cookery courses; a weekend in Paris picnicking on eclairs, macarons and crepes; great curry by the beach in Goa; a budget mini-break to Marrakesh for tagine and mint tea; Berlin for the cocktail bars; a side-trip from the Central-American backpacker-trail to visit coffee plantations in Costa Rica.

Eleanor Aldridge 02/05/14    Link Report

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I’m looking for any recommendations for Hamburg – any thoughts? Good restaurants etc.?

lostsoutherner 02/05/14    Link Report

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Hamburg’s not a city I can personally claim to know well, but our authors recommend the Michelin-starred Canard Nouveau for a fancy dinner, Edelcurry for currywusrt and Bullerei for something more affordable/trendy. Hope that helps for starters!

Eleanor Aldridge 08/05/14    Link Report

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Should I even *try* to speak broken French in Paris, or am I better off sticking to English? I always feel that – rather than appreciating the effort – Parisians are rather offended by my butchering of their beautiful language.

(Needless to say, je ne parle pas Francais.)

Kia 08/05/14    Link Report

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I think a small attempt to speak French is always welcomed, especially when it comes to the basics.

Kicking off with “bonjour”, “s’il vous plait” and “merci” followed by a smile, “désolé, je ne parle pas très bien français” and asking to switch to English generally gets things off on the right foot. Many Parisians (especially front of house staff) who speak perfect English can get a little irked with Brits and Americans insistent on ten minutes of mumbling through a menu.

On the flip side, you’re likely to find some occasions where you’ll have no option but to get the phrasebook out!

Eleanor Aldridge 08/05/14    Link Report

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