Travel London Lite Friday, 23 October 2009 13 TakeaBeirutbreak LE GRAY, a chic new CampbellGray hotel, launches this month in the re-emerging city of Beirut. The hotel is in the smart Central District, facing Martyrs Square and Weygand Street, near some of the citys best shopping and entertainment. Speaking of shopping -- our own Vivienne Westwood has just opened a shop in the city, too. Check out the special opening offer of 190 for two per night in a deluxe room. For reservations call 0096 11 973 111; Egyptian luxury ENJOY a five-star week-long break in Egypt for 499 at Taba Heights. Taba is located among mountains and untamed desert, a uniquely picturesque backdrop on the Sinai Peninsula. Its award- winning golf course, world-class diving and nearby archaeological highlights make it a great winter escape. Seven nights half-board at the five-star Marriott Beach, departing London on 23 November, from 499. To book, visit or call 020 8418 2515 Marka milestone HEAD to hip Berlin to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Voyages Jules Verne offers a four-night break to Berlin for 647pp (two sharing), including BA flights from Heathrow departing 6 November, transfers, B&B stay in a five-star hotel, a sightseeing itinerary, the services of guides and an after-hours guided tour of Charlottenburg Palace with dinner and concert. Go to or call 0845 166 7003 Big Apple bargain TAKE advantage of American Airlines flights to New York -- which start at just 313 -- and do your Christmas shopping in the Big Apple. Book by 3 November for travel between 1 November and 15 December for flights from 313; 333 for travel from 16 December to 31 May. Boston is also on offer from 326 and Miami from 372. See website for further details, terms and conditions: or call 020 7365 0777 Takingoff... BOLIVIAS DAZZLING PLAINS AND MULTICOLOURED LAGOONS EDITED BY OLIVIA WALMSLEY 120) to the famous salt flats of Uyuni and where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met a messy end. Judging by the look of the jeep Ill be travelling in, a similar fate may befall me. I climb into the car with my friend Sam, three fellow tourists, driver Pedro and English-speaking guide Archie. We set off and immediately the landscape is truly spectacular. We spend the first day tackling the kinds of roads that car advertisers dream of. Were about 4,000 metres above sea level, which makes breath- ing, sleeping and digesting food a struggle. Temperatures drop to -20C as night falls, and we put on all our clothes, extra sleeping bags and blan- kets to try to stay warm. We fail. The next day we gaze in awe at a series of multicoloured lagoons, first red, with pink flamingos skimming the surface, then green, then blue. Before long, my fears about our vehicle are realised. One of the wheels parts company with the car and were thrown from the track. Luckily nobodys hurt and we wait in the dark while Pedro works his mechanical magic. Were rescued by a passing tour group, and in the morn- ing, the wheel secured by a bungee cord, we head for the climax of the trip, the Salar de Uyuni itself. About 40,000 years ago, this was a giant lake. When it dried, it left the Salar -- the biggest salt plain in the world, an endless, otherworldly expanse of blinding white. The dazzling sky is so bright, it looks like it has been digitally altered. With the tour over, Sam and I hop straight on an overnight bus to La Paz where were staying at hostel Loki (; dorm beds 3, double rooms 10pp). Appropriately named for the Norse god of mischief, Loki is party central, and we hit its ornate bar and La Pazs top club, Mungos, with a vengeance. After trawling the witches market and the bustling downtown area with a hangover, I decide I need some sea-level sunshine. Loki books us on a 16-seater plane with Amazonas Airlines (60 return) to the jungle town of Rurrenabaqu and a three-day wetlands trip with Bala Tours (, 55). Laid- back Rurre is a treat. We spend a night in Hotel Santa Ana (double room 4) before boarding a longboat and gliding into the Amazonian basin. Instantly we spot a massive black crocodile lounging on the shore. We spy turtles, flocks of coloured birds, capybaras (like spaniel-sized gerbils) and mini-monkeys so cute they make me long for one of my own. Not quite as endearing is the anaconda we stumble across on a swamp hike, or the piranhas we fish for -- and eat -- the next day. Accommodation is far from luxuri- ous. We sleep in dorm rooms with 10 beds. Amazonian animals are never far away. Drifting off one night Im jolted awake by a frog leaping on to my pillow. Its a shame my screams scare it off -- dried frogs bring riches in these parts. At least, thats what they tell me at the witches market. American Airlines flies from Heathrow to Miami and then on to La Paz, Bolivia. Return fares start from 839.72 per person, including all taxes and surcharges, see Blinding: Jodie, second right, and friends on the salt plains Jaw-dropping: the Salar de Uyuni salt plains stretch as far as the eye can see index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html