If you’ve ever wanted to spend the night next to elephants and cheetahs then now’s your chance.
A collection of brand new luxury safari lodges have opened in the UK, and families can now book a holiday there.
West Midland Safari Park’s lodges offer the only overnight stay with elephants in the whole country, with the option to spend the night next to the cheetahs as well.
The lodges were originally scheduled to open last summer but the pandemic delayed this – bookings did initially open last year before being forced to pause due to the massive demand.
There are eight suites available, with six located in the elephant park and two next to the cheetahs, with fantastic close up views from your bedroom.
Each lodge can accommodate five guests, and feature open-plan living rooms with outdoor seating and balconies, as well as a king-size bedroom on the lower floor and room for three people to sleep on the upper floor, with the option to add a cot.
From your suite you’ll be able to watch elephants like the young male Sutton, his aunt Latabe and mum, Five, while two of the lodges overlook the cheetah area, where cheetahs like Asrael and Bappe – recently brought over from France – live.
Chris Kelly, Managing Director at West Midland Safari Park, said: “It’s been a long journey, but we are absolutely delighted to have finally opened our doors and welcome guests to our Safari Lodges experience.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved, in delivering beautiful accommodation to offer guests the opportunity to stay onsite for the first time, but also in upgrading stimulating and enriching environments for the wonderful animals we have in our care.
“Our lodges are going to offer a special and unforgettable Safari-stay right here in the Midlands. Guests will be able to get closer than ever before to our wildlife and make friends with their animal neighbours.
“Being located on our reserves, guests will also have the chance to spot some of our other species and experience all the great attractions we have to offer, making it the perfect retreat for all the family.”
Chefs based on-site will prepare your breakfast and dinner and deliver it to your room, so you can eat while taking in the fantastic views.
For the price of the lodge, you’ll also get admission to the park and wristbands for the rides at the theme park, with prices starting from £147 per night for children and from £171 per night for adults.
While availability for the rest of 2021 is now limited due to huge demand, there are still lots of options available for next year.
You can check out the West Midland Safari Park website here for more info.
Passport warning issued as travellers told not to book holidays
Thanks to the pandemic, people are experiencing massive delays on their passport renewals
Hopeful holidaymakers have been urged to check their passports as ‘one million holidays’ hang in the balance.
During the Covid pandemic, millions of British passports expired, meaning that many families are now being made to wait much longer than the recommended 5-6 weeks to get their renewed passports back.
Because of this, the government has issued a warning to those planning on getting away this year, stressing that people should not book any holidays until they have their passports back.
The website states: “It is important to stress, you should not book travel until you have a valid passport – your new passport will not have the same passport number as your old one.”
The Home Office has also warned Brits to leave more than the recommended ten weeks to get their passports back due to the increased demand.
The website says: “Customers can also help to ensure there are no delays with their application, such as using a high quality photo with a digital code, applying online and applying for a new passport more than ten weeks before they are due to travel.”
Recent reviews on Passport Waiting Time, a site that tracks consumers’ waiting time during applications, has demonstrated the inconsistent and lengthy wait times for a new passport.
One user’s review from last month says she had to wait for more than twelve weeks for two of her family’s passports to be renewed.
She wrote: “Applied for my two children’s renewal 17 Jan and currently still in the processing stage.
“I made four applications in Jan and have received two out of four of them. The two I received came within a few weeks, so I don’t understand why it is taking so long.”
And the issue has only been exacerbated further by a rule enforced by a number of different countries requiring travellers to have at least six months left on their passport.
Under this guidance, passports must be valid for another six months before they depart for international travel to countries such as the UAE, Saint Lucia, Singapore and Thailand.
For more passport rules and information, visit the Gov.uk website.
Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions
Alcoholic drinks will be restricted for tourists in a number of hotels across the Balearic Islands
Those planning a boozy all-inclusive trip to Spain this summer might want to rethink their plans thanks to the country’s new alcohol regulations.
A warning has been issued to holiday-makers who have booked all-inclusive trips to certain parts of Spain enforcing a new ‘alcohol cap‘ in a crackdown on drunken behaviour.
Thomas Cook sent out an email to its customers this week to remind them that hotels in Magaluf, Majorca and some parts of Ibiza are enforcing the new rule, which will see Brits be limited to a certain number of alcoholic drinks throughout the day.
The email read: “Please be advised that a decree has been issued by the Balearic Government on a new restriction for All Inclusive meal option.
“There is a maximum of six alcoholic drinks per person per day that can be served and these drinks will be provided only during lunch and dinner ( 3 each).”
The Balearic government has banned pub crawls, the sale of alcohol in shops between 9.30pm and 8am, and advertisements for party boats in some areas.
Balearic Islands Tourism minister Iago Negueruela has previously said on the matter: “We want British tourists – we don’t want this type of tourism.
“British tourism is essential for our islands. We share with the British government the view that some images of British tourists are embarrassing.
“We want to put a stop to bad behaviour. We will increase the police presence in these areas and the number of inspectors – we will have zero tolerance for tourism excesses.”
Plans to stamp down on public drunkenness and antisocial behaviour in the Balearic Islands have been in the works for quite some time now, with Mallorca’s former politician Jose Ramon Bauza slamming Magaluf’s party strip Punta Ballena as ‘500 metres of shame’.
Most of the new restrictions did come into place in 2020, but due to the Covid pandemic, most holiday-goers are only now discovering them.
Greece to scrap all Covid travel restrictions this week ahead of summer holidays
Good news for those wanting a summer holiday this year…
Greece will be scrapping all remaining Covid travel restrictions this week in a last-minute attempt to boost tourism.
From May 1st, all arrivals in Greece will no longer be required to provide evidence of vaccination, recovery from Covid, or a test to enter the country, regardless of their vaccination status.
Brits will no longer need to present a Covid vaccination certificate to enter bars, restaurants and other attractions either.
Face mask rules are also expected to be relaxed by June.
Last month, Greece also scrapped the requirement for Passenger Locator Forms, making it easier for Brits to travel to the country.
However, the lifting of these measures will be re-evaluated in September – after the peak tourist season – and could be reintroduced if cases spike.
Minister of Health Thanos Plevris said in a statement: “According to the epidemiological data and the suggestions of the experts, we are announcing the roadmap for the de-escalation of the measures against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All measures will be reviewed on September 1st, depending on the picture of the pandemic.”
Greece is one of the first countries to drop all Covid travel requirements for tourists this summer, with other popular destinations still requiring proof of vaccination status or Covid recovery.
In Spain, holidaymakers will need to show proof of either being fully vaccinated or having recently recovered from Covid.
To be considered as fully vaccinated, travellers will need to have completed a full vaccination course at least fourteen days before travel – if they completed this nine months before travelling to Spain, they will need a booster jab to qualify as fully vaccinated.
Though Spain did recently ease its restrictions on unvaccinated teenagers aged between twelve and seventeen, who now only require a negative Covid test rather than a vaccination certificate.
They have also dropped a number of other restrictions such as mask wearing outdoors.