Ask T+L: NYC Tour, Zanzibar, Mount Rainier
We're looking for an alternative to the double-decker bus tour of Manhattan. Can you recommend an off-the-beaten-path tour?
—A.W., via e-mail
Beyond Times Square (800/999-8160; www.beyondtimessquare.com; tours from $20) satisfies urban wanderlust with customized strolls through 20 New York neighborhoods. Small groups navigate Greenwich Village à pied, stopping to uncover hidden treasures (such as Chumley's, a former speakeasy) and taste Berkshire Blue at Murray's Cheese. For outer-borough excursions, consider Bike the Big Apple (201/837-1133; www.bikethebigapple.com; tours from $59). You'll pedal through Williamsburg's Hasidic enclave, try a pint at the Brooklyn Brewery, and cycle across the Brooklyn Bridge, but not before sampling a bonbon at Jacques Torres Chocolate in dumbo. And on Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts (212/726-1529; www.watsonadventures.com; tours from $15), amateur sleuths can track down unmarked sites like the Union Square studio where Andy Warhol was shot.
What are your top picks for where to stay on Zanzibar?
—A.H., RENO, NEV.
Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, has a handful of top-notch resorts. Just 45 minutes by boat from the west coast of Zanzibar's main isle is ecology-minded Chumbe Island Coral Park (255-24/223-1040; www.chumbeisland.com; doubles from $300). Seven open-air bungalows each have mosaic-tiled floors and mangrove-pole couches; solar panels heat the water and power the electric lights. Steps away, a pristine shallow-water reef offers some of the best snorkeling in the world. More upscale is Fundu Lagoon (255-74/743-8668 or 255-74/432-6553; www.fundulagoon.com; doubles from $480), on the west coast of Pemba (the island north of Zanzibar). All 14 of the spacious thatched-roof rooms have views of the sea, but the beach suite—with its private deck and plunge pool—is by far the most luxurious. Guests gather for evening cocktails at the Jetty Bar, located on a pier that juts out into the Indian Ocean.
I am planning to climb Mount Rainier (14,410 feet) this fall. Should I be concerned about altitude sickness?
—G.T., SEATTLE, WASH.
Ascending rapidly to elevations of 8,000 feet or more may cause even the healthiest trekkers to develop Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), one of the most common altitude-related illnesses. You can decrease your chances of developing AMS by drinking lots of fluids, avoiding alcohol, and eating a carbohydrate-rich diet. You should also pace yourself: once you reach 8,000 feet, climb no more than 2,000 feet a day. The best treatment, according to Dr. Stuart R. Rose, founder of Travel Medicine, Inc. and author of the International Travel Health Guide (Travel Medicine, Inc.), is to return to a lower altitude if you feel any of these symptoms: headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, or shortness of breath. Diamox (acetazolamide)—a prescription drug that aids breathing and acclimatization—may lessen these symptoms if taken a day before a trek and one to two days thereafter. (Be sure to consult your doctor before you take it—Diamox has side effects and contraindications.)
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