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Travel

Take a look inside UK safari lodges where you spend the night with elephants and cheetahs

‘Guests will be able to get closer than ever before to our wildlife and make friends with their animal neighbours’

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West Midland Safari Park

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.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

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.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

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.”

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

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.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park

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.

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Travel

New date set for when UK tourists will need to pay to enter Spain, Greece and Portugal

Here’s everything you need to know…

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@bobglennan / Flickr

The date for when British tourists will have to pay to enter European holiday hotspots has changed, the European Union has confirmed.

It was originally announced that anyone from the UK travelling to one of the twenty-six countries in the Schengen States will have to apply and pay for a visa from September 2023. 

However, the launch of the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) has been delayed, with it now being expected to come into force from November 2023.

From then, any British tourist travelling to any of the twenty-six Schengen State countries will have to apply via an official website and/or app for mobile devices with a fee of €7.

@raecaspar / Unsplash

The ETIAS has been designed to enhance security and enforce the borders of the Schengen zone, which includes popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy.

They will be required for anyone over the age of eighteen and under the age of seventy travelling to one of the countries, whether it be by airplane, boat or car.

Read More: Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

Tourists will need a passport or equivalent document to apply, and it’s estimated that for the majority of people, ETIAS will be approved within minutes.

However, those who are flagged as a potential risk could face a wait of up to ninety-six hours.

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An ETIAS will cost €7 (£5), with successful applicants being permitted to travel within the Schengen Zone for up to ninety days per 180-day period.

There are 26 countries in the Schengen Area, all of which will fall under the new visa system:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

For more information and to see if you’re eligible to apply for the new ETIAS visa, visit the official ETIAS website here.

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Travel

Spain issues update on £85 a day rule for British tourists

According to officials, it isn’t a new rule…

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Spanish officials have addressed the controversy surrounding the country’s new policy regarding British tourists’ spending money.

According to various reports last week, holiday-goers are now required to prove they can spend at least €100 (£85) a day for the duration of their holiday.

It was also suggested that tourists will need to provide evidence of a return flight or onward ticket, as well as proof of accommodation while on holiday.

A number of British travel firms criticised the alleged new policy, arguing that Brits contribute hugely to the large tourism market.

Julian Dik / Unsplash

But now, Spanish officials have dismissed these reports and clarified which rules British tourists need to be aware of.

A statement on behalf of the Spanish Tourist Office said the rule was not new and had in fact been in force since January 1st. It added that the regulations were not confined to Spain and applied to visitors from most nations outside the EU-Schengen border-free travel area.

Read More: Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

Manuel Butler, the Spanish Tourist Office director, said: “The requirement for UK travellers to be able to illustrate sufficient means for the duration of their stay and the return is established in the Schengen Borders Code and is not a Spain-specific requirement.

“This is not a new requirement and has been in place for some time for visitors from outside of the European Union or Schengen area. When entering Spain, these checks are not systematically carried out for every traveller.

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“Likewise, travellers coming to the UK are also required to show that they have specific means to support themselves and any dependents for the duration of the trip and the ability to pay for the return or onward journey.”

The UK Foreign Office guidelines states: “Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area.

“If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.”

Read more about the government’s entry advice for Spain here.

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Travel

British tourists visiting Spain will need to prove they can spend £85 a day

A number of Spanish resorts are also restricting alcohol consumption among British tourists

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Tourists heading to Spain this summer will need to prove they have adequate spending money under new travel restrictions.

Holiday-goers will now be required to prove they can spend at least €100 (£85) a day for the duration of their holiday. They may also need to provide evidence of a return flight or onward ticket, as well as proof of accommodation while on holiday.

These requirements follow a U-turn on Spain’s decision to ease airport congestion for holidaymakers by allowing all UK passport-holders to use automatic e-gates to enter the country.

British travel firms have criticised the tough new policies, arguing that Brits contribute hugely to the large tourism market.

Julian Dik/Unsplash

The Spanish Ministry del Interior said on the new entry requirements: “Foreigners from third countries must prove – if required to do so by the officials in charge of controlling the entry of people into Spanish territory – that they have economic resources for entering the country.

“This could be through cash, traveller’s cheques, payment letters, or credit cards, which must also be proven to have sufficient funds available on them.”

Read More: Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

The UK Foreign Office added: “At Spanish border control, you may need to show a return or onward ticket, show you have enough money for your stay, show proof of accommodation for your stay, for example, a hotel booking confirmation, proof of address if visiting your own property, or an invitation from your host or proof of their address if staying with a third party, friends or family.

“The Spanish government has clarified that the ‘carta de invitation’ is one of the options available to prove that you have accommodation if staying with friends or family.

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“Tourists may also be asked to provide evidence that they are able to spend a minimum of €100 each day of their holiday, equating to £85.22 plus an additional minimum of €900.”

British tourists are also reminded to check their passport stamps to see if they enter or exit the EU Schengen area through Spain as a visitor.

The UK Foreign Office guidelines states: “Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area.

“If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.”

Read more about the government’s entry advice for Spain here.

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