Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Aulani Resorts Taking Bookings After June 1

Disney resorts issued a statement last week notifying guests that its “parks are closed until further notice” and, now, the parks have advised travel agents that bookings will only be accepted for dates after June 1, 2020.

The statement from Disney read: “At this time, the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort call centers will not be taking any new bookings for the months of April and May. New bookings for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Aulani Resort will be available for stays starting June 1, 2020.”

Despite this announcement, there has been no update on when the parks will be reopened.

As previously stated, travelers with hotel reservations that take place while the parks are closed can cancel or postpone their trips without penalty, and the resorts are working with guests to rebook stays that are affected by the closure.

For those who just can’t wait for the parks to reopen, relive the experience through the eyes of others with virtual videos.

Source: Read Full Article


Luxury travel news this week: Coronavirus update – A Luxury Travel Blog

Here’s a round-up of luxury travel stories that have caught the eye this week. To make sure you receive these new weekly alerts in your web browser, please click on the red bell icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page and click ‘subscribe’ (works on desktop only – for other ways to subscribe, please click here). This will also alert you to any other posts on the blog. Should you wish, you can unsubscribe at any time, by clicking on the icon again and selecting ‘unsubscribe’.

Why the travel industry will be stronger and better after coronavirus

The travel industry has been decimated by the coronavirus — with estimates of over $24 billion lost as 825,000 jobs have been wiped out and more than 8.2 million visitors stay away from the United States alone. But with the storm clouds come a silver lining. Without the steady stream of cruise ships (some of the worst polluters in the world), the canals of Venice have become clear for the first time in centuries; pollution around the world has dropped dramatically and cities that had been trampled by overtourism are recovering… [read more]

Yes, we will travel again — here’s how and when to plan your next trip

These are not normal times. These are not normal times for the people of Wuhan, Milan, Seoul, New York, or any other region hit hard by COVID-19. And these times are not normal for those seeing the pandemic on the horizon, feeling the anxiety of battling the invisible enemy that’s rattling our world physically, emotionally, economically, and culturally. With the world under lockdown, and with increasingly stringent restrictions coming into place across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, and beyond, many are asking how they can still plan travel — and have something hopeful to look forward to — in a time of ongoing and ever-accelerating shutdown… [read more]

Billionaires are chartering superyachts for months at a time to ride out the coronavirus pandemic

Billionaires are hoping to avoid the coronavirus pandemic by self-isolating on superyachts, The Telegraph’s Alan Tovey reports. Tovey spoke with Jonathan Beckett, the CEO of yacht broker Burgess. Beckett told The Telegraph that wealthy people are looking for ways to “weather the storm” and that a yacht “in a nice climate isn’t a bad place to self-isolate.” Large yachts have enough storage room to hold supplies that can last for months, Tovey notes, meaning the vessel can spend a longer amount of time at sea without docking. Of course, renting superyachts for months at a time is pricey, with some charging £100,000 ($118,944) a week plus crew costs and the largest of yachts costing over £500,000 (almost $600,000) a week… [read more]

Private-jet operators fly high, before requesting bailout

First, private-jet operators touted a surge in demand, sending them scrambling to keep up with the “biggest month” in their corporate histories. Then, within the same month, they were forced to turn customers away as governments around the world closed their borders, hotels shuttered, and citizens entered a surreal new reality: quarantine by mandate. Now, these symbols of high-flying wealth are joining America’s commercial airlines in asking for a $54 billion U.S. government bailout. Without hotel partnerships and open airstrips, they too are facing bankruptcy… [read more]

Coronavirus rocks the luxury hotel industry

The ever-expanding fallout surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has shocked the hotel industry, forcing dozens of the world’s most famous hotels to cease operations. While some closures are open-ended, others have been accompanied by a fixed reopening date, though uncertainty grows with each day as the outbreak spreads across the globe… [read more]

We really enjoy hearing from our readers and would love to hear your views on any of these stories! Please click on the comments below and share your thoughts. Thank you.

Have a story you’d like to share? Please contact us for details.

Source: Read Full Article


20 of the best travel films


Wild (2014)

Cheryl Strayed decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail to face her demons, and her memoirs were turned into this uplifting film starring Reese Witherspoon as the inexperienced hiker who turns her life around. Director Jean-Marc Vallée was adamant that the movie be shot entirely on location: the journey starts in the Mojave Desert, heads up to Mount Hood – the highest point in Oregon – and the magnificent Crater Lake, before culminating in the iconic Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks on the Oregon/Washington border.
Netflix, Google Play, Sky Store.
Read the Guardian review

Tracks (2013)

Another memoir adaptation, Tracks stars a young Mia Wasikowska as Robyn Davidson, who spent nine months trekking across the Australian desert on camels. Her journey begins in Alice Springs and takes her across scorching outback to the Indian Ocean, via sights such as Uluru and Coffin Bay. It’s an inspiration for would-be solo travellers, given that Robyn was only accompanied by her dog and, at some points, a photographer (Adam Driver).
Amazon, Google Play, Sky Store
Guardian review

Into The Wild (2007)

Graduate Christopher McCandless gave away all his possessions and money to charity and hitchhiked across Northern America to Alaska, where he attempted to live in the wild. This poignant account of his journey is directed by Sean Penn and stars Emile Hirsch in many of the real locations visited by Christopher, aka “Alexander Supertramp”. Feast your eyes on peaceful Lake Tahoe, camping at Beard’s Hollow, kayaking down the Colorado River and run with wild horses … There’s plenty to envy until things take a darker turn.
Sky Cinema, NOW TV, Amazon
Guardian review

Lion (2016)

If you fancy a good cry as well as a virtual trip to India, then Lion is for you. Based on a true story, it tells of a young Indian boy, Saroo (Sunny Pawar) who accidentally boards a train to Kolkata and becomes homeless. After being adopted by an Australian couple, the older Saroo (Dev Patel) searches his memory – and the evolving internet – in an attempt to locate his childhood home and find his family. This is a film with plenty of compassion as well as armchair travel, with locations including Tasmania as well as India.
Netflix, YouTube, Google Play
Guardian review

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

A cheerful comedy-drama about a divorcee rediscovering herself, this memoir adaptation features scenery as charming as the central performance from Diane Lane. Frances Mayes’ pals send her on a tour of Tuscany, where she ends up falling in love with a ramshackle house and buys it on a whim. She meets a plethora of interesting people, including Polish builders and an eccentric old British actor, and becomes a major fixer-upper. The film was shot in and around the town of Cortona, near Arezzo: think gorgeous little houses cut into the hillside overlooking glistening waters.
Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Sky Store
Frances Mayes on writing Under the Tuscan Sun


Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Go tramping in the New Zealand bush with this adorable comedy-drama directed by Oscar-winner Taika Waititi. A winning family adventure, it sees grumpy foster uncle Hec (Sam Neill) following his cheeky young charge Ricky (Julian Dennison) into the wilderness for a trek that turns into a gripping adventure – and an opportunity for the pair to try out their survival skills. Most of it was filmed around the Auckland area, and includes jaw-dropping scenery that Hec describes as “majestical”.
BFI Player, Amazon, Google Play, Sky Store
The landscapes behind Hunt for the Wilderpeople

The Way (2010)

Follow in the pilgrims’ footsteps with this touching, meditative drama starring Martin Sheen as a grieving father who decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail after the death of his son (played by Sheen’s son, Emilio Estevez, who also directs). The route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia takes in sensational landscapes as well as a variety of entertaining characters, including James Nesbitt as an Irish travel writer.
Amazon Prime Video, YouTube/Google Play, Sky Store
Guardian review


On the Road (2012)

Based on Jack Kerouac’s novel set in the late 1940s/early 50s, literature’s most famous road trip did not make it onto the big screen until 55 years after the book was published. Sam Riley is the writer who heads to Denver, North Carolina, San Francisco and Mexico by car and occasionally bus. Head here to vicariously experience a hedonistic road trip with sexually fluid bohemians played by an array of Hollywood’s hottest, including Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge and Kirsten Dunst.
Amazon Prime Video, Sky Store
Guardian review

Captain Fantastic (2016)

This film immediately plunges the viewer into the forests of the Pacific Northwest: you’re greeted by lush green trees, the sound of birdsong and the sight of a deer munching its way through the bush. Said deer is short-lived, however, as a pack of children led by Bodevan (George MacKay) slaughter it and take it home for tea with their father (Viggo Mortensen – who’s also in On the Road). It’s a chance to live out your off-grid fantasies, before the family are plunged back into society on a road trip with entertaining consequences.
Netflix/Amazon, Sky Store
Guardian review


The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Three brothers have madcap adventures on a train in this quirky, colourful film that could only have been made by Wes Anderson. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman are the warring trio who bicker and bond their way through a scenic rail journey in India. Though the film was shot mainly in Rajasthan, the fictional route also convincingly takes in the Himalayas – and reminds you of the wonders of train travel abroad.
Amazon, YouTube/Google Play, Sky Store
Guardian review

Before Sunrise (1995)

A train to Vienna is the romantic setting for this cult drama starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. After meeting on the journey, they spend the night walking around the city together. Their frank, naturalistic exchanges are involving and funny, and it’s easy to fall in love with the Austrian capital as the pair jump on trams and ferris wheels along the banks of the Danube. Director Richard Linklater followed this with Before Sunset and Before Midnight, but this remains by far the most romantic in the series.
Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Sky Store
Guardian review


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

A daydreamer finally lives out his travel fantasies in this whimsical adventure based on James Thurber’s short story. Walter (Ben Stiller) works a dull desk job at Life magazine, and goes on a globe-trotting treasure hunt in search of a missing negative by legendary photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn). Walter’s travels take him to Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas, and although some of the locations are stand-ins, the film captures the wonder of globe-trotting in a cosy, feelgood format.
Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Sky Store
Guardian review

Patagonia (2010)

The psychological benefits of travel are at the heart of this tender drama that explores the links between Wales and Argentina. A Cardiff couple travel to Patagonia where they are guided by a Welsh-Argentine guide (Matthew Rhys). Meanwhile, an older woman journeys from Argentina to Wales to discover her roots. It’s a moving watch with a fun backstory: Rhys found out about the production when travelling through Patagonia on horseback, where he bumped into the director, Marc Evans, who was scouting for locations.
Amazon, iTunes, Google Play
Guardian review

Black Mountain Poets (2015)

Rural south Wales provides a handsome setting for this con artist comedy from writer-director Jamie Adams. Alice Lowe and Dolly Wells star as sisters on the run who resort to posing as a pair of famous beat poets at a retreat in the Black Mountains – what could possibly go wrong? As they camp out in nature, the remote location forms a backdrop for their potential redemption, as well as plenty of improvised humour.
YouTube, Google Play, BFI Player
Guardian review


Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

You wouldn’t want to re-live the journey these characters make, but the landscape looks remarkable from the safety of your sofa. Loosely inspired by an infamous incident in 1845, it sees a small group of settlers travelling across the Oregon High Desert and becoming increasingly less confident in their guide, Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood). Kelly Reichardt’s western shows the gender dynamic slowly shifting as the stakes get higher, and she’s assembled an excellent cast lead by Michelle Williams, Shirley Henderson and Zoe Kazan.
Amazon Prime
Guardian review

The Lost City of Z (2017)

Explorer Percy Fawcett had a compulsion to travel, undertaking hugely risky journeys in the Amazon in to prove his theories about a disappeared civilisation – theories that were ridiculed by his contemporaries in the early 20th century. James Gray’s film stars Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett, Sienna Miller as his wife, and Robert Pattinson as his right hand man, who helps him navigate the rainforest, which looks tantalisingly beautiful despite the dangers that unfold.
Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Sky Store. Also showing on BBC2 Friday 27 March at 11.05pm
Guardian review

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

An ambitious adventurer makes an eventful jungle voyage in Werner Herzog’s German-language classic inspired by the life of Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald. Notoriously volatile actor Klaus Kinski’s wild eyes glint with lunatic abandon as he dreams of building an opera house in Iquitos, in the Peruvian Amazon, and navigating the Pachitea river in a huge steamboat. The shoot (famously as troubled as the events it depicts) took place in the wilds of Brazil and Peru, where Herzog and cinematographer Thomas Mauch vividly captured the cast’s period costumes against the sights and sounds of the jungle.
BFI Player, iTunes
Guardian review


2 Days In Paris (2007)

Julie Delpy writes, directs and stars in this whipsmart dramedy that puts a humorous spin on the notion of a romantic city break. She plays Marion, a photographer who lives in New York and decides to spend two days in the French capital with her neurotic boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg). It takes in plenty of famous spots, including the Père Lachaise cemetery, the Pasteur metro station and – should you be missing the Eurostar – the Gare du Nord.
Amazon Prime
Guardian review

In Bruges (2008)

Who knew a film about a couple of hitmen could showcase a city’s charms so beautifully? The Irish contract killers hiding out in Belgium have very different goals: while Ray (Colin Farrell) just wants to get drunk, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) would prefer to see the cultural sights. And so Martin McDonagh’s bitterly funny black comedy takes in architectural delights such as the Belfry of Bruges as well as canal trips through the medieval city.
Amazon, YouTube, Google Play Sky Store
Guardian review

Roman Holiday (1953)

Take a trip back in time to Rome, circa 1953, where a princess (Audrey Hepburn) is trying to stay incognito. After she’s befriended by an American reporter (Gregory Peck), he realises her identity, but keeps his a secret in an attempt to get a scoop. Romance follows, along with iconic black and white shots of the Eternal City. Look out for a meeting on the Spanish Steps, a tour of Colosseum and Vespa ride through the city traffic.
Sky Cinema, YouTube, Google Play
Guardian review

Rental prices generally between £1.99 and £3.49 depending on household subscription status. Netflix and BFI Player films are included in a monthly subscription and are subject to change. Most films also available on DVD/Blu-Ray

Anna Smith is a film critic and host of the podcast, Girls On Film

Source: Read Full Article


Britons in Peru miss rescue flights and face months stuck in hostel

A group of Britons stranded in Peru will miss rescue flights put on by the Foreign Office after two travellers at the hostel they are staying in tested positive for coronavirus.

Around 140 guests in the Pariwana hostel in Cusco, including nine British citizens and one Irish one, have been told they could be quarantined for up to three months and will now be confined to their rooms for 23 hours a day.

Failure to comply could result in imprisonment, the Peruvian authorities have told them.

What are coronavirus symptoms and should I go to a doctor?

It is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals.

The virus can cause pneumonia-like symptoms. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties.

In the UK, the National Heath Service has defined the symptoms as:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Medical advice varies around the world – with many countries imposing travel bans and lockdowns to try and prevent the spread of the virus. In many place people are being told to stay at home rather than visit a doctor of hospital in person. Check with your local authorities.

In the UK, NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

China’s national health commission confirmed human-to-human transmission in January. As of 26 March, more than 474,000 people have been infected in more than 150 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

There have been over 21,300 deaths globally. Just over 3,200 of those deaths have occurred in mainland China. Italy has been worst affected, with over 7,500 fatalities. Many of those who have died had underlying health conditions, which the coronavirus complicated.

More than 115,000 people are recorded as having recovered from the coronavirus.

“The news that we could be trapped here for three months is devastating,” said Alex Foulkes, 31, a freelance film-maker from Wrexham who is trapped in the hostel.

“It feels like being in prison. We literally just have beds in our rooms and the bathroom is shared by dozens of travellers. I’m not sure how we’ll cope with being confined to our rooms for the next three months for 23 hours a day.”

Footage shot by Foulkes shows guests being told the ministry of health has imposed a quarantine “which can last from one month to three months”.

The virus outbreak has led to growing anxiety among the estimated 700 Britons remaining in Peru after the first British Airways repatriation flight left Lima on Wednesday.

Organisers say people are getting increasingly worried that the Foreign Office’s repatriation efforts do not have control of the situation.

“I wasn’t panicked up to now, but I am now,” said Ellie Harper, 32, who is stuck five hours from Lima. “We have had no information about when the next flights are coming, we have heard rumours that they could be next week but this shows the longer this goes on the greater the chances of us being hit by coronavirus and being forced into quarantine for three months.”

There have also been reports of poor communication.

One couple told the WhatsApp group of marooned Britons on Wednesday night: “We had a call just now from the British embassy saying we should have been on today’s flight but they never emailed us to say that, and they emailed us yesterday to say we weren’t on the flight and they are now saying it’s too late.”

Another couple in Cusco told how they were selected for the first rescue flight but made it clear to the Foreign Office they were 22 hours away from Lima. When they stood outside their hotel at the allocated time for the pick-up bus, none came.

“They then went to the airport in Cusco and there were just two queues – one of Brazilians and one of Americans all holding certificates for travel and their passports and no sign of any British representatives,” Harper said.



The twitter group #uk&irishstuckinperu tweeted to the British ambassador to Peru, Kate Harrisson: “This could have been avoided if you had taken the correct action.”

Germany appears to be leading the way on repatriation, with British people stranded in India and Thailand remarking how it has desks at the airports and is actively trying to register its stranded citizens.

Chris Linford, 56, from Hayfield in Derbyshire, said citizens of all nationalities were congregating outside the German embassy in Delhi as it seemed to offer the best hope of leaving India.

The cafe owner said: “Every other country has left. They’ve all been repatriated for free: Russia, Canada, Germans, Bulgarians, Italians,” he said. “All these foreign nationals are meeting at the German embassy. They [the embassy] are organising all the buses to the airport. It’s all been going through the German embassy.”

Another British national got a seat on one of seven coaches charted by the German government to take stranded Europeans from Rishikesh to Delhi five hours away. The woman, who did not want to give her name, stood outside the Germany embassy on Wednesday pleading for help. She said: “The British still say call the airline but they [the airline] say call the embassy. Our government is an embarrassment.”

Figures obtained by the Guardian show Germany has put on 70 charter flights so far to return 17,000 of the 50,000 German nationals stranded from Algeria, Argentina, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ecuador, the Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, The Philippines and Tunisia. Charters are being organised for a further 25 countries.

The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, has said the main focus must now be to provide quick and unbureaucratic help.

By contrast, the UK has repatriated just over 1,000 citizens.

The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, told MPs on Monday citizens had been repatriated from 26 countries “as far flung as from Wuhan [China] over to Cuba”.

Claire Waterton, the mother of a young Briton stranded in Ecuador, wrote to Raab this week to complain that the Foreign Office’s advice to keep checking airline websites was “meaningless”.

“This week all German tourists in Ecuador were asked to register their exact locations in the country. Transport was laid on to pick them up and to deliver them to the airport,” she said, adding that her daughter and friend were “still stuck in the very hostel that German citizens have vacated, confused by your excuses and suggestions”.

Source: Read Full Article


IBTM Connect to showcase industry knowledge online

IBTM Events has launched a new online platform, IBTM Connect.

The service is a resource hub for business events professionals to access and share knowledge and practical guidance. 

The launch is part of a three-step plan to keep exhibitors, hosted buyers and the wider industry connected as they collectively navigate the impact of Covid-19.

IBTM Connect will host regularly updated content, including insightful webinars and videos from key industry professionals, ways to virtually network with industry peers and news and updates to prepare for recovery.

Commenting on the launch, Shane Hannam, portfolio director, IBTM Events, said: “We recognise that this is an unprecedented period of challenge for our industry and we are absolutely committed to continuing to provide support and education for our peers.

“Our connections and industry partnerships mean that we are uniquely positioned to create and curate high quality content from around the globe that can serve to provide insights and tangible benefits during this time.

“By keeping conversations going and sharing learnings, together we can weather the storm and emerge in the strongest possible position to rebuild and recover.”

Content will be refreshed regularly, including with weekly webinars from industry experts covering topics, including motivational keynote speaker Gary Bradt delivering a session on ‘how to cope during times of unprecedented change’ and Helen Moon, founder of Eventwell, talking about ‘mental health and wellbeing’.

The latest content on IBTM Connect covers everything from mental health and wellness, to managing a crisis and tips for working from home.

Further details will be announced in due course on the official website.

Source: Read Full Article


Photograph of the week: Four Seasons Seychelles Resort at Desroches Island – A Luxury Travel Blog

The following post in our regular ‘photograph of the week’ series was scheduled to appear here many weeks ago, before the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus was as widespread as it is now. Whilst travel around the world is not recommended right now, we leave this post here as a source of inspiration for something to look forward to once normality returns to our lives.

Accessible by seaplane charter, the stunning Four Seasons Seychelles Resort at Desroches Island sits among the top properties of an already impressive brand. This off the grid location ticks plenty of boxes – spacious villas, private plunge pools, pristine beaches, and sunny cabanas. There’s even a tortoise sanctuary! Available by private plane transfer, how many resorts have you stayed at that have their own airstrip?

As expected, the Four Seasons offers island luxury with a relaxed approach. The friendly staff immediately greet visitors by name and have golf carts ready as guests step off the airstrip from the short flight from Mahé. There is a quick tour of the lush premises before checking out their accommodation, where any additional paperwork is finalized. Luggage is seamlessly loaded into separate golf carts and meets guests in their villa.

When possible, booking a Sunset Beach Villa is highly recommended. High ceilings (and thread counts), a bathroom that’s almost as large as the bedroom, soaking tub, indoor and outdoor showers — these villas even come with a hammock and private beach access. We spy hermit crabs and other wildlife before going for a plunge in our private pool. These villas also include a second level, which is perfect for morning coffees or pre-dinner cocktails. While golf carts are always available to collect guests, bikes (which come with every room) are the primary mode of transportation.

The low number of rooms at Desroches all but ensure a feeling of seclusion. As the property only takes up a small part of the island, embrace your inner adventurer, grab a map, and explore island trails by bike. Pack your bathing suit to go for a quick swim, or jog on one of the many private beaches, all stocked with towels, bottled water, and recreational swim gear. While guests will most likely remain in the privacy of their villas, there are plenty of public spaces, including: tennis courts, an infinity edge pool, an on-site spa, a modern gym, a conservation center, and a water sports center. Diving and snorkeling can be arranged, and sports equipment is available at an additional fee.

Meals can be a romantic affair, as guests can dine beachside at The Lighthouse (but not before stopping for stunning sundowners upstairs). There is also all-day dining at Claudine, which offers a range of international selections, The Deli, which is home to a small sweets shop, as well as a The Bar. Similarly, guests can stop at the Lighthouse Lounge for a cocktail. Finally, there is a small bar at The Castaway, located near the watersports area.

For a resort of this caliber, everything seems to align with expectations. The spa takes offerings to the next level with Connection Ceremonies, Sensory Connection rituals, and visiting masters with some of the industry’s leading practitioners who visit the island. Guests would need to check in advance for these visits.

Easier to access than the Maldives, Desroches Island offers levels of privacy and a sense of ‘getting away from it all’ rarely found in the rest of the world. With a price tag to match, this could be a once in a lifetime getaway. Even on the ‘main’ island of Mahe, there are very few properties that approach this level of privacy and space. The low number of rooms, stunning location and attentive but relaxed nature of the staff make this a memorable vacation destination.

A pro traveler tip – add this unique destination at the start or end of your stay in the Seychelles to start out with a bang, or end on a high note. Also, try and seek out George, the oldest tortoise on the island, over one hundred years young.

Thank you to Courtney Brandt from A to Za’atar for permission to share the photograph.

If you have a really special photograph you would like to share with A Luxury Travel Blog‘s readers, please contact us.

Source: Read Full Article


WATCH: Family Recreates Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Ride at Home

A Utah family is going viral after hilariously recreating Disney’s iconic Pirates of the Caribbean Ride at home while the theme parks remain closed as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Inspired by a homemade Splash Mountain video posted to Facebook by Chip and Co. last week, the Thornock family went to work while practicing responsible self-isolation, using costumes, props and even the family dog to recreate their favorite ride.

“We already had some pirate stuff from Halloween and such. We are very familiar with the ride, so we picked out some of the key parts and brought it to life using items lying around the house,” the family’s second-oldest daughter, Brin Thornock told SYFY WIRE.

“It only took us about an hour-and-a-half to put everything together. We shot it on our phones and I edited in my phone as well,” she added. “The hardest thing was trying not to break character and laugh.”

As of Monday morning, the Thornocks’ video has been viewed more than 1.7 million times on Twitter, racking up more than 92,000 likes and nearly 31,000 retweets.

California’s Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and other Disney parks around the world have been temporarily shut down as officials aim to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the meantime, all you need is a bit of ingenuity to bring your favorite rides to your doorstep.

“Just enjoy your time together as a family. Get creative,” Thornock told SYFY WIRE.

Source: Read Full Article


Coronavirus travel updates: which countries have restrictions and FCO warnings in place?

The Foreign Office (FCO) is advising UK nationals against all but essential international travel. Border closures and other travel restrictions are increasing globally. The FCO advice took effect on 17 March, for an initial period of 30 days.

This article was first published 28 February and is being updated daily. It was last updated at 3.30pm (GMT), 23 March

In a statement, the FCO said the advice is in response to the increasingly unpredictable situation in terms of restrictions being imposed:

“Often there is little or no notice when countries take these steps and restrictions are also being imposed in areas where no cases of coronavirus have yet been reported. They are therefore very difficult to predict.

“British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so. That includes the risk that they may not be able to get home, if travel restrictions are put in place. Anyone still considering travel to be realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure, and to make decisions in light of the unprecedented conditions we face.”

Coronavirus map: how Covid-19 is spreading across the world

The FCO is not advising UK nationals to immediately return to the UK, but says that people should “keep in mind that flights may be cancelled at short notice or other travel restrictions may be put in place by foreign governments” and to “take account of the fast moving situation and plan accordingly, while flights remain available in many places”.

The following countries have travel restrictions in place that may affect UK nationals (who do not have residencies in other countries).

This includes quarantine measures, border closures, flight suspensions, health screenings and other measures. Restrictions are constantly changing and we are updating as quickly as possible:


* EU proposes suspension of non-essential travel

The EU has proposed that all non-essential travel should be suspended to European Union for 30 days, the president of the EU commission has announced. This would affect travel from outside the EU, but the UK would be exempt.

Albania and Slovenia
All flights suspended.

No direct flights between Austria and the UK, or direct air or rail connections from Austria to Italy, France, Spain or Switzerland. Travellers coming from Italy by road will be stopped at the border and must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Ski resorts closed on 15 March in Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg.

Andorra, Monaco and the Netherlands
Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely. Some flights suspended.

Mandatory quarantine for 14 days. E-visas suspended. Flight schedules reduced. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult.

Coronavirus: travel companies allow trips to be postponed free of charge

Flights from outside the EU are suspended. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited. Some flights suspended.

Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine
Ban on entry to UK travellers. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving these countries as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult. Some countries have reduced flight schedules, land/sea border restrictions and restrictions on non-essential movement.

Self-quarantine for 14 days. Some borders are closed and some flights suspended. Travellers may be asked for proof of accommodation booking. Under 18s and over-65s must self-isolate until 31 March.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Borders closed form 19 March for 30 days. Self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers may be asked for proof of accommodation booking.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving these countries as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult. Some flights suspended. Flights suspended from Greenland from 21 March to at least 4 April. Flights to Faroe Islands severely reduced. Borders with Sweden closed to travellers from 14 March.

Some flights suspended. Cross-Channel train and ferry services reduced. Restrictions on non-essential movement from 17 March for 15 days (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise of up to 20 minutes running or walking). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited.

Greece and Ireland
Self-quarantine for 14 days. Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited; health screenings on arrival likely.

Isle of Man
Self-quarantine for 14 days.

All passenger flights suspended from 23 March. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited already; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars are closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours; public transport limited.

Travellers in Malta advised by Maltese government to leave as soon as possible.

No direct flights to the rest of Europe. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macao, South Korea or Taiwan in the 14 days before arrival.

Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Iran and Hubei province of China. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovenia or Austria.

Land border restrictions with Spain (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Flights from outside the EU suspended (not including UK, USA, Canada, Venezuela, South Africa and Portuguese speaking countries). Self-quarantine for 14 days for anyone arriving in Azores, Madeira and and Porto Santo. Restrictions to non-essential movement are likely to be imposed soon.

Self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers in Romania advised by the FCO to leave as soon as possible.

UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Hotels and short-stay accommodation must close by Tuesday 24 March (measures do not apply to long-term accommodation, such as long-stay campsites, as long as travellers can cater for themselves and do not rely on communal facilities, which will be closed). Some flights suspended. Land border restrictions (ie cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care).

All Scandinavian Airlines flights suspended. Other travel options are limited.

Land border restrictions (ie no non-residents, and cross-border commuters and deliveries only). Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise, those that can’t work from home only). Cultural and sporting activities prohibited; ski resorts closed; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited. Some flights suspended.

Flights to the UK suspended from 17 March. Land borders closed. Travellers who test positive on arrival will be quarantined in a government facility for 14 days, and negative test results in 14 days self-quarantine. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult


Suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days.

Suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. Self-quarantine for 14 days. All travellers must present a health certificate within three days stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Some flights suspended. Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in Europe (not including UK).

Bhutan, Indonesia, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Oman, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and UAE
Ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Royal Brunei Airlines has suspended direct flight from Brunei to London – currently it is the only airline flying from Brunei, with twice-weekly flights to Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, and Singapore.

Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain or USA.

Hong Kong, Israel, Macao, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan
Self-quarantine for 14 days.

Ban on entry to all travellers from the UK, EU, and Turkey from 18 March. Commercial flights suspended until 31 March. All visas and e-visas invalid until 15 April.

Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Iran or Italy in the 14 days before arrival.

No commercial flights in or out of Jordan, and all land and sea borders closed. Restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care).

Borders closed with Thailand. Thai Airlines and Thai Smile have suspended flights between Vientiane and Bangkok. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, as onward travel could become more difficult.

All borders closed and flights suspended – a decision that will be reviewed on 29 March. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care) and violators could face imprisonment; public and private gatherings banned; two people per car only; public transport suspended.

UK travellers are advised to leave as soon as possible. UK travellers must present a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus, or self-quarantine for 14 days.

Suspension of visa-on-arrival scheme. All land borders closed. All mountaineering expeditions for spring 2020 have been suspended. All travellers require a health certificate stating that they do not have coronavirus

All flights suspended until 4 April. Large gatherings prohibited.

Ban on entry to all UK travellers. Shutdown of all public transportation, limited flights from 20 March to 13 April. Foreign nationals can still leave at any time.

Ban on entry and transit. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Sri Lanka
Ban on entry to UK travellers. No new visas being issued. Flights suspended from 19 March. Daily curfew of 6pm, initially until 23 March.

All flights suspended from 20 March. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in or transited through, China, Iran, Italy or South Korea in the 14 days before arrival.

Travellers who have recently been in affected countries require a health certificate stating that they are not affected by coronavirus. Self-monitor for 14 days. Songkran celebrations postponed and other large gatherings likely to be cancelled or postponed.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. No new visas being issued for 15-30 days, and 14-day quarantine for all travellers entering Vietnam. Some flights suspended.


Sea and airports closed for 14 days from 20 March (11:59pm local time). Self-quarantine for travellers who have been outside the Caribbean Region within the 14 days prior to arrival.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Borders closed and suspension of all flights for 30 days from 12 March. Nationwide quarantine until 31 March.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Flights suspended until 31 March 2020.

Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras, Saint Helena, Saint Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago
Ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, to ensure travel plans can be met.

Antigua & Barbuda and Montserrat
Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or Singapore.

Mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

Ban on entry to UK travellers from 20 March (11.59 local time). No incoming passenger flights from LF Wade international airport for two weeks.

Ban on entry to all travellers from 20 March. All flights suspended from 21 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. US border closed to non-essential travel from 20 March (midnight EST). Some flights suspended. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, to ensure travel plans can be met.

Cayman Islands
Ban on entry to UK travellers. International passenger flights suspended for three weeks from 22 March. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Land and sea borders closed and all flights suspended for all travellers from 18 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Airports will close from 23 March. Flights are still departing, but cancellations and disruption likely. Land and sea borders closed. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers staying in casas particulares may be moved to hotels. Restaurants and bars will be restricting services and hours; public transport likely to be affected.

Dominican Republic
Closure of all air, land and sea borders from 19 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie food shopping, medical care, exercise. Cultural and sporting activities prohibited; large gatherings restricted; restaurants and bars closed; shops likely to be open at limited hours and public transport limited.

El Salvador
Ban on entry to UK travellers. International flights suspended.

Suspension of all flights until at least 5 April. All travel to Galapagos has been suspended from 16 March and all national parks have been closed until further notice. Restrictions on non-essential movement from 16 March for 15 days (ie food shopping and medical care).

Some flight suspensions. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Ban on entry to traveller who have been in the 14 days before arrival (and on also on travellers who have been to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland or US)

All international flights suspended from the Cheddi Jagan airport at Timehri and the Eugene Correia airport at Ogle for 14 days from 17 March. Land border restrictions with Brazil. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama, Thailand, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Singapore, South Korea or US.

Some flights suspended. Large gatherings restricted. Land border with US closed from 21 March (midnight local time) to all non-essential traffic for 30 days.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. National curfew between 9pm and 5am – travellers should not leave their accommodation outside of these hours. Some flights suspended. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, to ensure travel plans can be met. Closure of commercial and leisure establishments, restrictions on entry to supermarkets.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. International flights suspended from 21 March. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. Restrictions on non-essential movement (ie food shopping and medical care only). Closure of commercial and leisure establishments, restrictions on entry to supermarkets.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Land and sea borders closed and air travel limited. Travellers should get in touch with the embassy to register for repatriation. Send a full name, location and contact details to [email protected] UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible. All borders closed and restrictions on non-essential movement from 16 March for 15 days (ie food shopping and medical care only).

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
Self-quarantine for 14 days. Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Italy or Iran in the 14 days before arrival.

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Screening and possible quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in affected countries.

Turks & Caicos
Ban on entry to travellers who have been in affected countries in the 21 days before arrival – a list of countries that is subject to change frequently.

All flights suspended with Europe from 20 March. Large commercial premises closed until further notice. UK travellers are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. Border with Canada closed to non-essential travel from 20 March (midnight EST). Some flights suspended. UK travellers that wish to leave are advised to consider leaving as soon as possible, to ensure travel plans can be met.


Ban on entry to UK travellers. All borders closing on 20 March (9pm local time) and could be closed for at least six months (to non-citizens and residents). Self-quarantine for 14 days. Large gatherings restricted. Transit permitted to travellers departing from New Zealand with a confirmed onward ticket on the same calendar day to return home up to 14 March (11.59pm local time), but must not have been in China, Iran, Italy or South Korea in the 14 days prior to transit.

Ban on entry to travellers who have recently been in China, Iran, Italy or South Korea. No connections through Australia or New Zealand.

French Polynesia
All travellers require a health certificate stating that they do not have coronavirus.

Kiribati and Micronesia
Must have been spent 14 days in a country without any cases prior to arrival.

Ban on entry to travellers who have been in or transited through China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Macao or South Korea in the 21 days before arrival.

New Zealand
Ban on entry to all UK travellers from 19 March (11.59pm local time). Self-quarantine for 14 days. Large gatherings restricted.

Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong or Macao in the 14 days before arrival.

Solomon Islands
Quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in affected countries.

Ban on entry to all UK travellers.

Ban on entry to travellers who have been in China, Hong Kong Japan, Macao, South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan in the 14 days before arrival.


Algeria, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Uganda
Borders closed and flights suspended.

Flights suspended. Ban on entry to travellers who have visited China, South Korea, Iran, France, Spain, Portugal or Italy since December.

Quarantine in allocated hotels for all travellers arriving by air. Entry and exit at border crossings will be limited to “extreme necessity”.

Temporary ban on visas for nationals from affected countries affected. Some land border restrictions.

Cape Verde
All sea borders closed and restricted flights from 18 March.

All airports closed. Must have spent 14 days in a country without any cases prior to arrival.

Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia,Gambia, Malawi and Mozambique
Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in affected countries. Some flights suspended.

Ban on entry to UK travellers until 31 March. All air traffic suspended from 19 to 31 March.

Quarantine of 14 days for travellers who have recently been in China, South Korea, Italy, Germany or US.

Land borders closed with South Africa. UK travellers can transit through Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg

Visitors must submit their passports for a 14-day monitoring period.

Ban on entry to UK travellers. All flights suspended fro 25 March (11.59pm).

Namibia, Mauritius and Seychelles
Ban on entry to UK travellers. Some flights suspended.

All flights suspended. Restrictions on movement and social distancing enforced. Quarantine of 14 days likely, for travellers who have recently been in affected countries.

No commercial passenger flights with Europe for 30 days from 20 March. Self-quarantine for 14 days for travellers who have recently been in affected countries. Air France will be commissioning flights for European citizens from Antananarivo to Paris on Monday 23 March (1:45am) – contact Air France to buy tickets by phone or at the Air France desk at Ivato airport.

Flights suspended with the UK from 16 March (return flights from 19 March). Restaurants, bars and other public spaces closed.

All flights suspended from 20 March for initial period of 30 days. Borders closed and and restrictions on non-essential movement outside of residences, including travel between cities and districts from 21 March for two weeks.

All commercial flights suspended from 20 March. Large gatherings restricted

South Africa
Suspension of visa on arrival scheme. Some flights suspended form 21 March. Travellers in the country who received a stamp on arrival allowing them to stay for 90 days do not need to apply for a visa.

Quarantine for 14 days for anyone coming from an affected country.

Flights suspended and sea borders closed. Curfew 6am to 6pm and restrictions on non-essential movement (ie except food shopping, medical care). Cultural and sporting activities are prohibited.

Quarantine for 14 days for anyone coming from an affected country.

Cruise ships

The FCO is advising against all travel on cruise ships for passengers aged 70 years and over or those with high-risk conditions. Some destinations are placing bans on cruise ships docking or passengers disembarking, including Australia, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro and Portugal.

Source: Read Full Article


10 essential travel books to read during self-isolation – A Luxury Travel Blog

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are,” according to Mason Cooley. This idea is especially poignant at this time in our history. Myriad global authorities are advising social distancing and self-isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, most of us find ourselves with some time to fill in our own company and, perhaps, a renewed desire to see as much of the world as possible when this is all over.

With travel restrictions in place to contain the virus, many around the world have had to cancel or change their travel bookings. This does not mean, however, that you should put your travel planning on hold. On the contrary, this is the time to dream. What better place to find destination inspiration and shared travel fervour than between the pages of great travel books?

The titles on travel shelves run aplenty. There is fiction where descriptions are so rich that the setting takes on the importance of the characters. There are tales of early explorers and modern-day adventurers whose unbridled spirits have left the world graced with incredible stories. There are those who had the courage to leave the familiar to call the land of the exotic home. There are those who explore every nook and cranny in the immediate vicinity around their homes to great literary effect.

As there is no ideal kind of traveller, there is no ideal kind of travel literature. The common ground lies in the power of the written word to be the vehicle across the oceans, through mountain ranges, and through some of the world’s most famous cities – and I can think of little better at times like these. The borders of our imaginations will never be closed.

Of course, there are many titles to satisfy the travel-obsessed reader. I have limited this selection to works of non-fiction touching on a handful of locations around the world. There are, of course, a huge number of books (some by famous and classic writers) which are glaringly absent from the list but, amongst these essential travel books, there are books for almost every kind of traveller.

Whoever you are and however you love to travel, there is almost certainly a book on this list to keep you enthralled for a blissful afternoon at home. Among the pages, you will also, no doubt, stoke the fires for travel and adventure in future. Discover new destinations, feel inspired to explore your hometown and country with a little added interest, feel driven to ride bicycles across continents. Whatever you take from the books you read during this challenging time in our personal and collective histories, I hope these books bring you inspiration, solace where it is needed, and a reminder that we can accomplish great things in far-flung places if we so desire.

A Journey Around My Room by Xavier de Maistre

If you look around the room you are sitting in, do you think it worthy of recording forever in writing? Could you craft excitement and anticipation in the retelling of your days at home? In 1790, Xavier de Maistre was placed into 42 days of confinement in Turin. He was a young soldier for the Sardinian Kingdom and had engaged in an illegal duel. Isolation was to be his punishment.

In his pink and blue pyjamas, he turned his bedroom sentence into a manuscript – creating a travel journal of his daily activities within the four walls. In the grand style of the travel writing of the era, de Maistre created a witty account of his confinement and one which continues to be well-read and enjoyed.

Essentially, it is an apt reminder that life’s great occasions are just a matter of perspective. Altering our viewpoint on circumstances can change them from drab and every day to dazzling – if we choose. While grand adventures and exotic destinations may flavour our lives, there is an art to celebrating the familiar.

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson

Robyn Davidson’s epic trek across 1700 miles of Australian desert is an exceptional feat by anyone’s standards. In extreme desert conditions, Robyn crossed the country with four camels and a dog. She did not have a long history of survival and desert living; nor did she have abiding experience working with camels. After two years of preparation, this young woman walked into the desert, driven by an idea she couldn’t shake and personal reasons for this challenging, unique odyssey.

She had agreed to write an article for National Geographic detailing the trip. I came across this article many years ago, with unforgettable images of camels on Australian beaches and a story that left me aching for more. The brief meant her solitude was punctuated by meetings with the photographer assigned to the project, Rick Smolan, and a not unexpected romance develops between the two.

One of the most outstanding things about Davidson’s story is that she is not driven by fame or recognition or some hard-sought-after sense of accomplishment. She is motivated by some nameless internal force; one that does not shy away from being alone in remote and dangerous places with only the echoes of her own thoughts and the company of camels. As with any great adventure, she was not left unchanged by the experience, but her transformation extended beyond herself to become an enduring commitment to indigenous Australian peoples and natural landscapes. Tracks was also made into a motion picture in 2013 and this film adaptation is just what Tracks fans need when the pages of the book run out.

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux is a fantastic novelist and is an institution within the travel-writing genre – so much so that selecting one title is almost impossible. Having lived in Africa for some years, it seems apt to choose one of his books relating to this wild and diverse continent. The Cairo to Cape narrative is one which has become somewhat commonplace these days, but Dark Star Safari will always be remarkable as a tour de force of travel writing. There will never be anything quite like the unique lens Paul Theroux casts over his subjects.

Dark Star Safari is at once an incredible journey, homecoming, and exposé – but one that reads like an adventure story. Paul Theroux throws caution to the wind, passing through areas of danger and upheaval, giving the world a glimpse of the various facets that make this continent so fascinating. The book is astonishingly honest and unavoidably personal. It does not avoid corruption, poverty, decay, and disease and there is an undertone of disappointment of unmet hopes for a place he once called home.

That said, the uncomfortable realities of Africa are juxtaposed against her beauty to make this landmass even more of a marvel. Exquisite landscapes, wildlife, and cultural richness dating back to some of our earliest ancestors are just some of the wonders of the continent visited in the book. From rural villages and great open expanses to modern cities, Theroux gives an expansive view on a continent that often defies description in its diversity. Native Africans and seasoned travellers alike are guaranteed to learn something new about Africa in this amazing book.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

One would be remiss to talk about travel writing without mentioning Bill Bryson. His books are widespread and absorbing. A Walk in the Woods is a firmly-held favourite for many Bryson fans (myself included) and, if you are new to his work, will probably leave you wanting more.

One of the things I love about this book is its potential to remove barriers for anyone looking for an injection of adventure. It reinforces that nothing need stand in the way of a dream and there is something for everyone in every stage of life between its pages.

In 1998, Bryson decided to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend, Stephen Katz – probably the least likely partner for a hike on a national trail. The Appalachian Trail is one of the most iconic American trails for anyone with a love for the outdoors, covering some of America’s pristine landscapes from Georgia to Maine. The landscape is spectacular and, with wild cats and bears to think about, not entirely without risk.
In his humorous, almost conversational style, Bill Bryson reveals the history of the trail and his plans to walk it. Unseasoned outdoorsmen, their antics are enormously entertaining from cover to cover. This book is a reminder that even half an adventure qualifies as an adventure.

A Walk in the Woods has also been made into a fantastic film starring a very fitting Robert Redford as Bill Bryson and Nick Nolte as Stephen Katz.

Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure by Michael Palin

Michael Palin is one of the best-travelled personalities in the world, having seen more countries than most famous people, presidents, and members of the royal family. Palin pairs up with another of history’s great travellers in this charming book, following the global path of Ernest Hemingway.

The book follows the BBC documentary on the same topic, but is easily enjoyed independently of the series as Palin connects the dots in the travel life of this literary figurehead and nomad. Indeed, if you are looking to broaden your knowledge of the world, you might find Hemingway-esque insights into Paris, Spain, and Kenya (to name a few) in Papa’s masculine and long-revered writing.

This book takes us from America to Europe, on safari in Africa, and big game fishing in Key West to Cuba, and the American great plains. From a glimpse into Hemingway’s favourite bars to homage to the writer in the form of the Hemingway look-alike competition, the book is a journey of its own in its diversity. The cacophony of Spanish bullfights, the unhindered spirit of Cuba, the quiet and wonder of Wyoming – there is plenty of fodder for future travel plans in the footsteps of Palin and Hemingway.

Elements of Italy by Lisa St Aubin de Terán

Italy has won the hearts of travellers for generations. The food, the history, beautiful natural landscapes, and la dolce vita – it is a country with multi-faceted appeal to every kind of traveller. Its popularity has made it a subject for the world’s writers in a growing body of literature which researchers would find staggering.

In this wonderful synopsis of everything Italian, Lisa St Aubin de Terán has captured the essence of Italy within the elements of earth, water, fire, and air. She has masterfully cobbled together writings from Dante to Dickens, Da Vinci to Keats, Elizabeth David to Guiseppe di Lampedusa to create a vivid compilation of impressions, memories, and stories from Italy.

A native of Italy for 17 years at the time of writing, one can tell that this book has been created by someone deeply in love with the country. With a fascinating personal history that has seen her live around the world, this book is an interesting focal point for someone who seems to have a fluid sense of home. If you have been to Italy once, if it is a place that draws you back over and over again, you will find yourself smiling at the familiar, gasping at the extraordinary, and basking in Italy’s signature passion, romance, and whimsy.

Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger

Great travel literature gives you a shifting view on countries and places around the world. Arabian Sands has swiftly moved to the realms of classic travel literature over the past decades – and with good reason. It is one of the most abiding contributions to writings about the Middle East, giving a glimpse from a Westerner into a part of the world largely unknown by his predecessors and contemporaries. Dissatisfied with a Western way of life, Thesiger’s travels are in pursuit of the extraordinary. This urge takes him to the Arabian Empty Quarter, a harsh desert land where survival is an art.

His travels take place between 1945 and 1950 at a time when most Arabians had never come across a European in their lives and their religious inclination would be to kill the infidel if he was discovered. With this threat a daily worry, he experienced the contrasts of hot days and freezing nights alongside the Bedu people, gaining unique insights into one of the world’s unknown cultures.

Wilfred Thesiger joins Lawrence of Arabia and Gertrude Bell in giving us a Western viewpoint on Middle Eastern history which would otherwise have been lost with the desert winds. He also joins the realms of the world’s great explorers in the personal fortitude inherent in his travels. His writings are enjoyed the world over even today and gives the world a picture of the Middle East prior to the transformation set in place by the discovery of oil.

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen / Isak Dinesen

First published in 1937, Out of Africa is a collection of stories by Danish writer Karen Blixen about life on her farm in Africa. The Oscar-winning film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford skyrocketed her story into global fame. The story has resonated with countless people over the years, inspiring African travel and safari dreams for many.

A Danish storyteller revered among her set for her ability to captivate her audience at gatherings and dinner parties, it’s perhaps no surprise that her book and life story received so much acclaim. Running a struggling coffee farm and dealing with her husband’s numerous infidelities, her affair with Denys Finch-Hatton has taken on the status of legend amongst romantics and Africa-lovers.

Out of Africa details daily life in a strange and often harsh land. Blixen proves herself a well of resilience as she faces a slew of challenges – from failed crops and unfavourable weather to personal tragedies and illness. Blixen approaches everything with an unwavering grace and appreciation for Africa’s beauty, building relationships with the Maasai and Kikuyu people along the way.

Her stories cover African stories of birds and animals which become a part of her day in this wild part of Kenya – a land that becomes home in every sense as time goes by. At its heart, Out of Africa is a story of loss – giving up the places held dear and people well-loved.

Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession with the Amazon by David Grann

During the 1920s, English explorer Percy Fawcett travelled into the Amazon in search of an ancient and almost mythical ancient civilization, in the quest for the kingdom of El Dorado. The city was reputed to be rich in jewels and treasure, a legend that captured the attention of history’s treasure hunters. In the build-up to the departure, Fawcett convinced the public around the world that he had empirical information which would guide him to the civilization of the kingdom of Z. He set off with a party, including his 21-year old son, into the depths of the Amazon and the group was never seen again.

The search for clues of the fate of the Fawcett party was approached with a similar fervour and numerous people from around the world have gone missing, died, or lost their minds in trying to find out the fate of Fawcett and the location of the Lost City of Z.

David Grann is one such treasure hunter, having stumbled upon a collection of diaries. One can’t help but be intrigued by the wilderness of the Amazon and the pockets of humankind that live within it. Similarly, the bravery of classic explorers will always pique the interest of anyone who loves adventure and we can’t help but question what we would do differently in a modern setting. Now a major film adaptation, Lost City of Z is the best of both of those things and a definite must-read for anyone who loves a mystery.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Co-founder of the Paris Review, Peter Matthiessen is perhaps best known for his nature writing. Following the death of his wife from cancer, Matthiessen travelled to the Himalayas along with naturalist George Schaller in search of the elusive snow leopard. These cats are notoriously hard to find, but life-changing in every encounter.

For Schaller, this was a research trip predicated on gathering information on the snow leopard’s primary form of prey, the blue sheep. These extraordinary creatures are adapted to some of the most inhospitable conditions in the world. For Matthiessen, the trip was more of a spiritual odyssey, with a severe change in external circumstances to spark an internal shift in perspective, to act as a catalyst for growth.

In our hardest times – and throughout the ages – man has sought comfort in nature. For many of us, the world of birds and wildlife has served to reset some sense of priority within us. It has also acted as a reminder that we are part of a greater eco-architecture. There are creatures and landscapes of great beauty that exist without our seeing them very often or at all. The world continues to hold some mystery beyond the well-trodden path of the things we know and the cities we have created.

In the highest mountains, blue sheep treading precariously on rockfaces and searching for food in barren-looking environments, life goes on no matter what human problems befall us. How wonderful that there are pockets of the world preserved in such a way. How wonderful that they grant us acceptance of the world as it is supposed to be. And how wonderful that a print in the snow can keep us curious, keep us searching.

What are you reading right now?

Are there any other recommendations you would like to add to our list?

Please tell us in the comments!

Source: Read Full Article


One of the world's top scuba diving destinations will wait for you – A Luxury Travel Blog

In the light of the COVID-19 outbreak all over the world, the whole globe is in lockdown and almost all the international flights have been cancelled! Yet, we still have the opportunity to read, know and discover new things and places, which we hope to visit one day.

Marsa Alam, Egypt’s Red Sea features over 400 species of coral and reefs, in addition to hundreds of magnificent fish species, sea animals, anemones, urchins, and more. Here we are going to highlight the ultimate beauty of Marsa Alam’s diving spots.

Marsa Alam is perfectly located on the western shore of the Red Sea, Egypt. Recently, it is chosen as one of the best diving spots in the world, from which you can completely explore the southern Red Sea’s wonders. In addition to that, Marsa Alam offers several world-class resorts that line the coastlines charming beaches, and what makes it more interesting, it is only about 4 hours’ drive away from Hurghada.

Marsa Allam makes a perfect diving spot for those who are looking for new challenging dives and unique wildlife experiences. Its sites offer a real opportunity to dive with unique species of sea turtles, cute dolphins, dugongs, and manta rays.

Actually, the diving season in Marsa Alam is year-round, yet the perfect time to dive in Marsa Alam is from May through August. We recommend visiting Marsa Alam in autumn when it is quieter and the water temperature is still balmy. You should expect water visibility up to 100 feet (30 m), but make sure to ask an expert about the perfect local dive sites and sea conditions before diving unguided. Pack a 3 mm or 5 mm wetsuit; depending on your cold tolerance, and always carry a dive knife, torch, and DSMB.

Best diving spots in Marsa Alam

Abu Dabab Beach

Diving depth: Up to 25 meters

Location: 30 km north of Marsa Alam.

Water visibility:  5-20 meters; better in the deeper areas

Suitable for: All diving levels.

Abu Dabab is considered one of the most popular beaches in Marsa Alam; it features many turtles and dugongs. It is also a dive site suitable to all skill levels, although it doesn’t contain any coral reefs and not infrequent poor visibility. Professional divers count it as the best place to get close to sea turtles and the dugong.

Fortunately, the bay has recently been closed to boats making both snorkeling and scuba diving easier and more relaxing. You can divide among a group of the imperiled shark species – one of the world’s rarest sharks.  It has bizarre but beautiful looks as if a stingray had been crossed with a real shark. Nothing to worry about, it’s not aggressive at all.  However never touch them as a flip of its tail could dislodge your mask.

Elphinstone Reef (Sha’ab Abu Hamra)

Diving depth: From 20 up to 70 meters (60 – 200ft)

Location: 50km northeast of Marsa Alam, and 10km from the shore.

Water visibility:  20-30 meters

Suitable for: Experienced divers only

Amazing reef line lies in the open ocean, a little over seven miles (12 km) from the Marsa Abu Dabbab coastline. It takes around 20 minutes to get there via Zodiac from Marsa Alam. It is considered as one of the top reef plateaux in The Red Sea; it’s about 300 meters long, 30 meters wide, and 40 meters deep. Yet, at its edges, there are near-vertical cliff walls.  The west drop off is a little less vertical than the east and sandier with some overhangs and small caves.

Elphinstone makes a perfect option if you are looking for shark encounters, particularly the large and usually solitary oceanic whitetip.  Many divers report up to four sitings on a single dive!  Please be cautious of these magnificent animals and never feed them. You can see sharks year round, but they are most numerous from October to December.

The reef there attracts an enormous variety of sea life including jacks, tuna, blue lunar fusiliers, black snapper, and lone giant barracuda. So, it’s better to watch the reef from a distance.

Sataya Reef

It is still not yet as well-known as other diving spots in Marsa Alam; few of the tour operators currently visit it. Yet, this gave it an additional privilege that makes of it a special reef to visit. You probably stand a better chance of swimming close to dolphins as contrary to what you might believe, these friendly but easily stressed animals. So, try to avoid areas where there are too many people and boats.

Samadai Reef (Dolphin House)

Diving depth: from 10 up to 15 meters (32 – 49 ft)

Location: approx. 20km SE of Marsa Alam

Suitable For: All diving levels

It is one of the most popular reefs in Marsa Alam; you can consider it one of the world’s most important dolphin habitats. It’s home for a large family of around sixty spinner dolphins. They are nocturnal animals and return every morning to the shallow waters of the reef to rest. It’s better not to feed or play with the dolphins as it is not natural for them and may cause distress.

Samadai Reef is crescent-shaped with a small lagoon of sand and sea-grass within, which is rich in marine life including the usually elusive sea horses.  You can also explore some underwater caves and at least twelve coral towers!  Remember, you should only explore the caves with an experienced guide.

Hamada Wreck (Abu Gosoon Shipwreck)

Diving depth: from 0m up to 18m

Location: 68km SSE of Marsa Alam

Water visibility: 15 to 30m

Suitable for: all diving levels

The Hamada sank off a secluded shoreline south of Wadi El Gamal National Park in 1993. The wreck is unique as it’s suitable for snorkelers, as well as experienced and novice divers.

It is home to young corals, while the wreck itself is home to a number of species, including hump head wrasse, lionfish, butterflyfish, and moray eels. It is fringed with some of the most beautifully colorful coral reefs in the world due to its sandy white beaches. It’s an enchanting site for diving that is perfect for experience the delicate harmony and balance between man and nature.

Sherif Khalil is Owner of Dunes & Beyond. Dunes & Beyond offers luxury tours, Nile cruises and desert safaris in Egypt.

Source: Read Full Article