With Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ much-anticipated Antarctic crossing this year, what advice can you offer to the amateur visitor to this continent? I’ve heard about a lot of cruises that allow you to set foot on the tip of the ice shelf. Can you tell me the best way to spend as much time on land and see as much wildlife as possible? Ross, via email
Visiting Antarctica is, for most people, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience one of the world’s most remote locations.
The icy landscape is home to a stunning array of wildlife, including penguins and whales. Most visitors to Antarctica travel by boat, and you can go with cruise ships or smaller vessels – there are expeditions taking anything from between 10 to 500 passengers.
The cost of trips starts at around £2700 for 10 days, but they vary widely, with only some of them allowing passengers to go ashore onto the ice.
When planning your trip, remember that smaller boats offer you better access to trained guides and special interest tours, such as kayaking, and because of their shallow hull they can reach less visited parts of the ice, too.
On the other hand, larger ships generally provide a smoother crossing. Between December and March is the warmest time of year, with around 20 hours of sunlight each day in January.
February and March are the best months for whale-watching and to see penguin chicks being reared.
I am interested in visiting Marrakech for a few days in the new year – how easy is it to reach Fez from there and is there much to see? Dan, via email
It is pretty straightforward to reach Fez from Marrakech, as both buses and trains serve this route.
I would personally opt for the train – while slightly more expensive (£14) it takes eight hours and arrives at the brand-new station, conveniently close to the centre of Fez’s modern district, Ville Nouvelle.
This is a great jumping off point for exploring Fez. Fez’s main drawcard is the medina.
Narrow lanes and covered bazaars are crammed with a chaotic mix of market stalls, street food, hordes of people and constant repair works to the ancient buildings. One of the main attractions is simply exploring this atmospheric warren of shops and cafes.
You will most likely get lost at some stage, as the tiny lanes of the medina are difficult to navigate, but this is often the best way to find a new part of the area.
Be aware that it isn’t safe to wander the medina at night, though, as there are many reports of robberies.
There are sights within the medina as well, such as one of Africa’s largest mosques (Kairaouine Mosque and University).
Although non-Muslims are not permitted to enter, you can still marvel at its sheer scale.
The Chouara Tanneries are an iconic sight in Fez.
Here you can see the tanning pits by walking through one of the many leather shops that back onto it.
Lonely Planet’s Laura Lindsay will give you the benefit of her infinite wisdom if you email a question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your question is answered, you’ll win a Lonely Planet guide of your choice.
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