Saturday snippets: April 8th 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Uganda gorillas

How about visiting Uganda and seeing the gorillas in Bindi? And seeing the Batwa people at the same times

The mountain gorillas of Uganda shared the forest with a tribe of hunter-gatherers who lived in the trees and caves. The Batwa  – who number about 3,500 – are an ancient tribe of Pygmies who have inhabited the forests for thousands of years. In 1991 Conservationists gazetted the forests as National Park land and all humans including the Batwa were evicted to safeguard the habitat for the mountain gorillas. Currently there are a number of projects offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the Batwa people through a living history experience. Visitors to the areas in Bwindi and Mgahinga for gorilla tracking are encouraged to include a Batwa activity into their itinerary as it offers an insight into the challenge of balancing wildlife conservation and human population expansion and the impact this can have on a tribes traditions and culture. The activity is usually 3 hours and involves being led by local Batwa guides through the forest. Along the walk, demonstrations of traditional skills are performed showing how they used to make fire, hunt, gather food and utilise medicinal plants. The walk culminates with a visit to the Garama Cave, once a sacred refuge for the Batwa, where folk songs and dance are performed.

The Cutty Sark at Greenwich will be joined by forty tall ships over the Easter weekend © NMM

Setting sail from Greenwich on April 16th will be more than forty tall ships heading for Quebec City where they will be part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of Canada. Over the Easter weekend, you’ll be able to see them before they sail. Once in Canada, they will become part of Rendez-Vous 2017, a naval celebration of the anniversary on July 18th. After visiting Quebec City the tall ships will make stops in ports in Ontario and the Maritimes.  There will also be an evening sail past in the Annapolis Basin and the Tall Ships Festival will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from July 28th to August 2nd. But before Canada gets a chance to see these ships, you can too by popping down to Greenwich over the next week.

On Menorca, the mayor of the city of Palma announced last week plans to ban tourist rental apartments. Property owners disobeying the ban risk a €40,000 fine. Except the council can’t introduce this because the government of the Balearics would have to approve it. The government is drafting a law tightening the regulations but it won’t apply for this summer. As for 2018 be cautious about booking a rental until this issue is resolved one way of the other.

Yet another country says that it has seen an increase in Brits travelling there. This time it is Chile which says that, last year, and additional 11% of us visited the country to enjoy the trekking, the coastline, the vineyards and heritage sites. Overall, 5.6 million overseas visitors went to Chile including 51,611from the UK. The government says this is due to the international marketing that it has undertaken which is set to continue this year. So it is expecting that arrivals will rise by a further 14% this year.

A survey from Holiday Inn Express suggests that the average Brit feels like they need a break just 29 days after they return from their last one. It is at this point, claims that the survey, where fatigue starts to set in, work performance starts to slide and people feel the need to get away from the daily grind. Further research suggests that eating more comfort food than usual was named the biggest sign people are in need of a break. But what is more than usual? Our household cake consumption doesn’t vary much. Does that mean we always want a holiday?

The Scottish Sealife Centre

At the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, plans have been announced to create the National Marine Centre for Scotland.  The centre will expand the existing education and conservation programmes which all sounds perfectly reasonable. But the SSC says that it needs to develop the new centre “in order to remain viable.” It says it has more education requests than it can cope with and visitor expectations are at an all-time high. That is good news as it suggests that the tourism appeal of SSC is continuing to grow. Subject to raising the remaining funding it needs, the new centre will open in 2020.

Readers will be ware that the northern part of Australia was hit by a cyclone last week. That has led to flooding in some areas but it has had at least one benefit. Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland is a very popular tourist destination but there has been a drought there for the last six months. Now the watercourses are full and the roads have hardened so that vehicles can travel around the island more easily. Some prior to the rains were dangerous. The walking tracks that had been closed for some time due to fire danger should re-open soon.

Go to Malaga in Spain and it is the nearby beaches that may attract you. There you’ll find a strong British feel but that will increase this year as the Malaga Picasso Museum is running an exhibition starting April the 26th which introduces the artists of the School of London with works that reformulate the way life is represented in art. The exhibited collection features works by Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, shown along with those of Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, William Coldstream, R. B Kitaj, Leon Kossoff, Paula Rego and Euan Uglow. It runs until the end of summer.

The success of India’s e-Visa system (90,000 were issued for UK citizens in the scheme’s first year) has resulted in the Indian government doubling the time allowed for visiting India to 60 days as from April 1st 2017. Tourists also have double entry meaning you can visit India, go on to Neal, for example, come back into India and not need another visa provided that all was done in those 60 days. You can now also apply up to 120 days in advance, the minimum time being four days before travel.

Now passengers flying from Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi to Australia will undergo random explosive detection tests and targeted screening of electronic devices. Unlike measures in the UK and the USA, these new measures do not include the bans on electronic devices being used in cabins on passenger flights. The new measures would affect passengers traveling with Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

James and the Red Balloon

Drayton Manor in Staffordshire opened last weekend for the new season with a new ride – James and the Red Balloon. Sited in Thomas Land, the ride continues the Thomas the Tank Engine theme that the park has. The ride features James and his antics with a hot air balloon. Families can fly up, up and away in their very own balloon and enjoy extensive views of the park from the ride’s highest points.

A new tour operator opens for business on April 10th. You’ll know the company but not the name they have chosen. Sandals and Beaches Resorts, which will be ATOL bonded, have decided to start the business despite their resorts being freely available in other tour operator brochures. The name for the tour operation business will be Unique Caribbean Holidays Limited probably to be abbreviated to UCH since it is a bit of a mouthful.

In perhaps the home of the movement that epitomises the US fight for independence over 240 years ago, the US city of Philadelphia is opening a new museum on the 19th of April. Called the Museum of the American Revolution, it “will take visitors on a journey through the story of the USA’s founding, across four floors of exhibition galleries. The museum will be home to a number of George Washington’s personal belongings and an assortment of weaponry, personal items, fine art, printed works and manuscripts dating back to the American Revolution.”

A new £130m arrivals terminal is to be built at Stansted. But it shouldn’t mean disruption to passengers as it will be built next to the current terminal. Opening in 2021 it will have larger immigration and baggage reclaim areas. The main feature however is that when it opens, Stansted will be the only airport in the UK operating dedicated arrivals and departures terminals.

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