Top 5 places in Africa to see endangered animals – A Luxury Travel Blog

Most animals in Africa are to some extent endangered, though the term usually refers to an animal that is in danger of extinction. The causes are mostly linked to mankind – poaching for food or the pet and “medicinal” trades, as well as loss of habitat due to climate change and competition for land.

High quality safaris positively contribute to helping endangered animals and the people who live nearby.  Many of the best safari lodges are located on private reserves where the owners actively partner with local people to conserve wildlife and where tourism income reaches those people. This greatly reduces poaching, protects land for wildlife and encourages people to see animals as beneficial rather than things that eat crops or provide dinner. Here are stories of five lodges doing just that.

Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa – Pangolins

It’s estimated that 1 million, primarily Asian pangolins were trafficked in the last ten years to meet demand for scales prized for their supposed medicinal properties, and meat which is seen as a delicacy.  These curious and delightful looking creatures are also found in Africa where the threat is increasing, partly due to climate change causing habitat decline.

Tswalu Kalahari is pioneering the restoration of natural habitats on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. It’s a fascinating place to see arid savannah creatures like eland, brown hyena, meerkat and African wildcat. Valery Phakoago is based there, conducting  PhD research into ground pangolins, so we can understand these shy creatures better. On a walk you may see a young pangolin curl into a protective ball as you approach before she relaxes and moves off to forage for ants and termites.

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Uganda – Mountain gorillas

The world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in the misty volcanic hills where Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo meet. The main threats to these mighty creatures are accidental snaring, hunting and disease. Determined efforts by national parks staff and high value tourism mean that populations have risen from 620 in 1989 to just over 1,000 today, with numbers growing steadily in all three countries.

Making your way through the “King Kong” setting of mists, forests and volcanoes in search of gorillas is an experience of a lifetime, and the eventual encounter is awe-inspiring. The cost of doing so is high, but funds from gorilla permits help pay for armed rangers and conservationists who protect these great primates. From Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge in Uganda, you can enjoy a unique morning spent in the company of a semi-habituated gorilla family, assisting the conservationists in their efforts and experiencing one of the most raw and immersive encounters imaginable.

Namiri Plains, Tanzania – Cheetah

A cheetah can go from 0 to 60mph in three seconds, rivalling the fastest sports cars. Watching one of these lithe felines racing across the plains in pursuit of a gazelle is to see poetry in dazzling motion. But speed is not everything – in the Serengeti and Masai Mara combined there are only 300 cheetah compared to 3,000 lion. The smaller cat suffers from competition with its bigger cousin and is killed by farmers and hunters. Cheetah cubs are seen as the ultimate feline pet in some middle eastern countries.

In the remote plains of the eastern Serengeti, over an hour from any other camp, is Namiri Plains. Previously closed to the public for 20 years, the oceans of undulating grasslands surrounding camp have been the setting for a successful cheetah conservation project. Now, with exclusive access to the area and with the option to meet the research team, it is one of the best places in Africa to see cheetah, alongside the other cats and the entire range of Serengeti wildlife. Incidentally, the 10 stylish tented suites are unashamedly luxurious, each with a bathtub on the deck where you can drink in the pristine views while soaking in bubbles.

Old Mondoro, Zambia – Elephant

You’re staying at the intimate and charming Old Mondoro Camp. As you watch elephant roaming past you to swim and wallow in the Zambezi waters, you would be forgiven for thinking that these mighty creatures can hardly be endangered. Yet the 30,000 people who live in villages adjoining the Lower Zambezi National Park see elephants trampling and stealing crops, while ivory poachers from neighbouring Zimbabwe and Mozambique are a constant threat.

The exclusive little camps dotted along the Lower Zambezi are actively involved in ‘Conservation Lower Zambezi’, which operates anti-poaching patrols. They have also developed state-of-the-art ideas like helping village farmers grow “chilli fences” which deter elephants from entering farmland and produce a cash crop for sale. An elephant can knock over a tree and chew his way through a huge branch but they can’t stand chillies!

Lewa Wilderness, Kenya – Rhinoceros

Between 1960 and 2000, southern Africa’s rhinoceros population declined by a staggering 98% due to poaching for their horn. It’s still a serious problem as 80 rhinoceros are poached each month, especially in South Africa where the largest number of survivors remain.

One strategy for saving rhinoceros is to move them to safer locations, and in recent years some have been taken to Botswana where the vast private wildlife concessions and smaller populations of people provide safety. In Kenya, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy pioneers rhinoceros conservation in dynamic partnerships with local communities and are so successful that they are able to send rhinos to newer conservation projects. You might stay at Lewa Wilderness Lodge with the Craig family, founders of Lewa, where these wonderful creatures and a spectacular array of other wildlife are thriving.

Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive. Africa Exclusive has been creating the finest tailor-made safaris since 1990, specialising in luxurious accommodation in beautiful remote places.

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An American couple is stuck in Kuwait under 24-hour curfew and isn't allowed to grocery shop. The US embassy hasn't been helpful.



a man and woman posing for a picture: Klement and Linda Camaj Klement and Linda Camaj

When Kuwait announced earlier this month that it was implementing a 24-hour lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus, residents flocked to grocery stores by the thousands.

People stood in lines — some blocks long — in heat that exceeded 90 degrees, according to Klement and Linda Camaj, two Americans in Kuwait for work.



a group of people walking on a city street: People waited in lines for hours to get groceries ahead of Kuwait's total lockdown. Linda Camaj


© Linda Camaj
People waited in lines for hours to get groceries ahead of Kuwait’s total lockdown. Linda Camaj


Because the announcement fell during Ramadan, when Muslims traditionally fast from sunrise to sunset, some people waiting in the heat fainted, Linda Camaj told Business Insider.

“It was by far the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced,” said Linda, who said she waited in line on May 9 for six hours with her husband.

“I honestly thought the line was for something else,” Klement said in the phone interview. “We saw a handful of people pass out, completely passed out … You have to take into consideration that they are fasting and they can’t drink water. They can’t eat.” 

The Camajs, who both work at the Berlin-based think tank A Path for Europe, traveled to Kuwait City for business in early March. While news of the coronavirus had already been spreading, the couple thought that Kuwait may be spared from the kind of outbreaks other countries were experiencing.

As the situation got worse and the 24-hour curfew was announced the second week of May, the couple tried to stock up on groceries.

Despite waiting in lines for hours for two days before the lockdown went into effect, the stores closed before they made it inside.

Kuwait now allows residents to go grocery shopping by appointment. But because the Camajs are on tourist visas, they can only order delivery. Realizing that delivery would be nearly impossible with such high demand, they attempted to book a flight home, but the cheapest tickets they could find were for $5,000 each, they said. 

Unable to pay that, and feeling out of options, they reached out to the US embassy in Kuwait by phone and email, hoping that they could provide the couple with documentation so they could leave the house to get food and drinking water.

The embassy representative asked them whether they had running water and internet, which they do, and then told them that they can either stick it out and wait for more delivery times to be added or pay for the flights home, according to an email viewed by Business Insider. Several phone calls went the same way, they told Business Insider. 

The couple was shocked by the government’s response. 

“Am I going to fry the WiFi router and eat it?” Klement told Business Insider. 

“We would love to be able to go back to New York, we would love to,” Linda said. “But we don’t have $10,000.” 

The couple survived on chips and marshmallows for a day before a friend stepped up to help

After arriving home from two grocery stores on May 9 and 10, sweaty and empty-handed, the couple found snacks around the home to eat.

The 20-day total lockdown is planned to last through May 30, according to Reuters. 

“On Monday, we shared a bottle of water, and marshmallows, and chips,” Klement told Business Insider.

On Tuesday, a friend who lives nearby was able to get an appointment to go shopping and picked up a few items for the couple. 

They didn’t want to ask their friend to help because people are limited to shop for 30 items each week, so anything their friend bought on their behalf would be one less item for his family, Klement said.

a sign on the side of a building: The couple is keeping a tally of the days they have been confined to their apartment. Linda Camaj

The Camajs said that they realize that there are people in the world, including the United States and Kuwait, that are in far worse situations than they are during this pandemic.

While they are uncomfortable, they have been able to make it work, they said. 

More than anything, the couple is frustrated with the lack of response from the US Department of State.

Klement said that when a friend from Britain, who is also in Kuwait, found herself in a similar situation her embassy sent groceries to the door.

He wasn’t expecting that kind of help from the US State Department, but was hoping that he could be provided with a document that allowed them to leave the apartment to buy food. 

The US Department of State didn’t immediately return a Business Insider message seeking comment. 

“I’m not asking for charity, just give me some sort of paper that lets me buy some food,” Klement told Business Insider. “I truly believe the role of my government is safeguarding its citizens.” 

Linda and Klement Camaj are continuing to look for flights home

As the total lockdown continues, the couple is continuing to try to order groceries online. 

The Kuwaiti government allows people to leave the house to walk between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., but the streets have been crowded. Many people have been out without masks, which is in violation of the lockdown, Linda said, leaving the couple feeling too unsafe to leave their homes.

Last week Kuwait’s Ministry of Health reported that it had registered its first three-digit jump in cases over 24 hours. On Thursday, an additional 947 positive coronavirus cases had been detected over a one day period, bringing the total in the country to 11,975, Al-Monitor reported.

Prior to the lockdown, the cases were in the 7,000 range, Klement said.

The couple feels that the rush to grocery stores over May 9 and 10 are responsible for the uptick. 

The couple is beginning to give up trying to go straight home. Instead, they’re looking at flights to Sweden or the Netherlands, where they have family. From there, they will look for flights to the US.

The couple said that after unsuccessful talks with the US embassy, they reached out to the Swedish and Dutch embassy. Neither one of them are citizens there, but found the people the reached on the phone to be more helpful to them in terms of offering advice.

“On the other hand, you have the world’s greatest superpower that says ‘sorry sir there’s nothing I can do for you,'” Klement said, referring to the US. “I felt like I was calling Verizon.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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A little Italy… in Greece: The undiscovered island of Syros

A little Italy… in Greece: The undiscovered island of Syros is an Italianate masterpiece and hopes to have us in the picture this summer

  • Syros is an island of 22,000 souls in the middle of the Greek Cyclades 
  • The island’s biggest attraction is its Italian-style capital city of Ermoupoli 
  • Tourists use the island as a pit stop between Mykonos and Piraeus in Athens 

Ermoupoli is possibly the most extraordinary town in Greece. There’s no maze of alleys, no whitewashed houses and no heaps of tangled fishing nets in the harbour.

What you get instead is a busy city, whose broad squares, grandly domed churches and pastel-coloured mansions look more Italian than Greek.

Ermoupoli is the capital of Syros, an island of 22,000 souls in the middle of the Cyclades. New fast catamarans started docking there last year, which is how tourists discovered it — they use it as a pit stop between Mykonos and Piraeus, the main port of Athens.

Ermoupoli, pictured, is the capital of Syros, an island of 22,000 souls in the middle of the Cyclades

Italianate Ermoupoli is Syros’s biggest attraction. It was established in the 1820s by refugees from the ravaged islands of Chios, Psara, Kasos and Crete during the Greek War of Independence. They were canny traders and shipbuilders whose industry turned Ermoupoli into the principal Greek port until the rise of Piraeus.

They built stately homes in the prevailing neoclassical style, and decorated churches with heirlooms. One of them turned out to be quite a sensation.

Papa Kostas, the parish priest of the church of the Dormition of the Virgin, is keen to recount the story. ‘It was March 1983, the first day of Lent, and George Mastoropoulos, the archaeologist, was cataloguing the icons brought to Syros. 

He was cleaning them carefully until he started jumping around like a child. “Papa Kostas,” he said, “you have a veritable treasure here”.’

What Mastoropoulos had revealed below the grime of the centuries was the signature of El Greco. I look at his Dormition, painted in Cretan style when the master was in his 20s, and I’m glad that it didn’t end up in a faceless museum but remained in the loving care of Papa Kostas.

A quick stroll from the church leads me to the central Miaouli square, dominated by the town hall and its long, monumental stairway.

I continue through streets paved with marble to the Apollo theatre, built in the style of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.

I pass the church of St Nicholas the Rich, a domed basilica on Corinthian columns, and end up high above the town, on a cove crowned by a string of palazzos.

Greek chic: Ano Syros is full of narrow alleys. The medieval town is on a steep hill overlooking the harbour 

The next day, I climb up to the medieval town of Ano Syros, on a steep hill overlooking the harbour.

It’s here, in the old capital, that I finally discover those characteristic claustrophobic lanes, pelagic panoramas and white-washed houses.

Once again, Syros ignores the rulebook: the monastery belongs to the Capuchins, while the churches feature organs, polychromatic statues, wooden confessionals and teachings by Pope Francis.

A priest in the Church of St George explains: ‘Ermoupoli is Orthodox, but the rest of Syros is Catholic. The island used to be under the protection of the Pope. Now we celebrate Easter together on the Orthodox dates by special dispensation from the Vatican.’

No surprises, though, when it comes to the beaches. From Ermoupoli a bus runs a circuit of the southern shore, where the sands are toffee-hued and the water transparent.

Tourists use Syros, pictured, as a pit stop between Mykonos and Piraeus, the main port of Athens

The most developed resort is the golden crescent of Galissas, where I’m welcomed at the highly celebrated restaurant Iliovasilema. It serves Greek cuisine with a creative twist: sea-urchin salad, fennel flan, beef cheek orzotto.

Another popular resort is Kini, a compact fishing village with a pleasingly quiet harbour, where I board a boat with Syros Adventures for a day trip to the northern beaches.

Our final stop is Grammata, a sheltered bay with iridescent waters. I decide to follow the shore around a rocky promontory where shipwrecked sailors have carved messages of gratitude since ancient times.

Not dressed for hiking, I slip and wreck my flip flops — a disaster, as I’m left barefoot on sharp rocks. A Greek couple on a sailing boat spot my predicament and throw me a pair of sandals — that miraculously fit — so I can complete my walk. ‘Keep them,’ they shout, refusing my offers of money. ‘It’s you who needs them.’

So that’s how I remember Syros. Idiosyncratic and eccentric the island may be, but its soul belongs to an old-fashioned Greece where acts of generosity to strangers are still part of daily life.

TRAVEL FACTS

John travelled with Sunvil (sunvil.co.uk), which offers seven nights’ B&B in Ermoupoli from £898pp, including flights from London to Mykonos and ferry transfers. See visitsyros.com/en. 

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Disney confident in cruise division return

Walt Disney Co. executives said that while Disney Cruise Line would likely be the last part of its travel portfolio to resume operations, data shows that consumer interest in the cruise division remained high.

Disney reported that coronavirus-related disruptions cost it some $1.4 billion in its fiscal second quarter, mostly from its Parks, Experiences and Products division, of which the cruise lines is a small part.

Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, said that although the cruise line “will probably be the last of our travel oriented businesses to come back online,” he added that he thought its brand position gives it more resilience than its competitors.  

“Because of that love for Disney and assurance that they feel, that they trust our business to act in a responsible way to help to the extent possible protect them against some of the woes that have plagued the industry since Covid has hit,” he said.

He also said that Disney data and our research “shows that our guests will be just as interested in cruising with us long-term.”

Christine McCarthy, Disney’s CFO, said that the cruise line “is one of our highest-rated businesses in terms of guest satisfaction, and it also has a very high intent to repeat the experience. So a lot of people who go on one tend to go back for multiple cruises.”

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Discover the 5 best wines in Provence – A Luxury Travel Blog

Let me take you on a journey. It’s a COVID-19 era trip without flights, trains, suitcases or hotel rooms. And with travel banned, rather than a passport, you’ll need just a glass of wine and a little imagination to hop over borders.

The French speak of tipicité and terroir. By this they mean that a well-made, carefully crafted wine should speak (sing even) of the region in which it was made. If you are one of the many ruing a cancelled trip to Provence or planning a future one, then head to your nearest wine merchant (on-line if you are not allowed out) and ask for any of the following wines.

They number among the finest in Provence and include a bottle of red, dubbed the Petrus of Provence and of course the region’s most iconic rosé. Uncork the wine well in advance, select your best glass, find a comfortable chair, pour, lean back and relax. Take your time and inhale the sticky scents of the garrigue, wild thyme and rosemary, pines oozing amber sap, and the cooling minerality of the fierce mistral. Taste the beating sun in the spicy ripe summer fruits, with their overtones of tobacco and comforting oak. Close your eyes after every sip and picture yourself in Provence.

Domaine Tempier, Bandol, red

Bandol reds are among the most sought-after wines in Provence. The vines of the appellation are planted in a sun-drenched valley behind the busy Mediterranean port of Bandol. There are numerous producers but the reference for the region remains Domaine Tempier, which produces one of the finest reds in Provence.

Bandol red ages and improves for up to twenty years. Over time the tannins grow progressively rounder and wonderful smoky notes evolve. 2015 Bandols (the last exceptional vintage in Provence) are currently drinking beautifully. Domaine Tempier itself is an unprepossessing place. An old farmhouse sits at the end of a line of plane trees. There’s no pomp or ceremony just a simple tasting room in a converted annex. Visiting is a wonderfully low-key affair, and this allows the wine to do the talking. Lucky tasters may be offered the opportunity to sample a flight of Tempier reds going back twenty years or so.

Chateau Vignelaure, Aix en Provence, rouge

The Chateau claims it is the jewel in the crown of the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence. The renowned American wine critic Robert Parker once commented that the Chateau was “one of the showpiece properties of not only Provence, but also France”. All this fuss stems from the uniqueness of the wine. Back in the 1960s George Brunet grafted from Cabernet Sauvignon vines which were used to produce the classed Bordeaux Chateau Lagune.

Much to the scepticism of the wine establishment at the time, he planted outside Aix en Provence, with the stated aim of making a wine in the Bordeaux fashion. Locals laughed as they knocked back the pastis and gossiped about the folly of the owner. They all agreed that the heat of the south of France would be too much for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, predicting an explosion of sugars and a highly alcoholic undrinkable wine. However, today, Chateau Vignelaure reds top Provencal wine lists. They age for 20 years just like fine Bordeaux and if you shut your eyes as you drink it is possible to believe you are on the banks of the Garonne. When travel re-opens make a point of visiting the cellars which extend over 5 subterranean levels. As well as the thousands of bottles of wine, there is an art gallery.

Domaine du Paternel, Cassis, white

Seek out a bottle of Domaine du Paternel, and let your imagination take you to the sunny Mediterranean. In Cassis, pastel coloured houses line the port side and cafes bustle as chefs prepare the local speciality – bouillabaisse fish soup. A crescent of hills holds the town in a sheltered embrace, and on the sun-burnished slopes above the port, vineyards produce Provence’s finest whites. The wine is so popular it frequently sells out by the end of the summer. Even sniffy Parisian restaurants will find room for Cassis white on their Carte du Vin. A bottle of Domaine du Paternel, the appellation’s signature vineyard, is the perfect accompaniment to any seafood. Buttery in colour it offers a wonderful minerality which rolls across the palate as you taste. The wine stands up to the saltiness of oysters, just as well as it accompanies the softer flavours of a grilled sole.

Domaine Ott, Chateau Romassan, Bandol, rosé

Before Whispering Angel came along Domaine Ott was the go-to rosé of Provence. Slightly deeper in colour than the young usurper, it has a fuller flavour and is a better accompaniment to meals. Pair it with a barbecue or some Thai food to discover the wonderful depth and fruity notes of this stand out Provencal rosé. It is made (predominately) with the Mourvedre grape, which so distinguishes the reds and rosés of Bandol. The wine arrives in a beautifully shaped bottle, tucked in at the waist like coca-cola bottles, and with curves in all right the places. Back in the naughty nineties Kate Moss was papped, topless, sashaying along the beach in Saint Tropez with the distinctive bottle poking from her bag. Sales of pale rosé took off and have not looked back since.

Domaine Milan, Saint Remy de Provence, Le Jardin, rouge

One for the purists because Domaine Milan is a natural wine producer. Not only are chemicals not used in the fields (this earns you the title organic wine in France) but also there are no chemicals used in the fermentation of the wine. It is old fashioned wine making and a horse tills the soil between the rows of vines. Dubbed the Petrus of Provence, Le Jardin, shares the same soil (blue clay) and Merlot grape as, Petrus, its more well-known Bordeaux cousin. The wine always sells out and owner Henri Milan makes it a rule to increase the price every year with the aim of matching Petrus. A nice marketing quirk is that your personal price is locked in for life when you purchase your first bottle.

Jamie Ivey is the Founder of Provence Small Group Tours. Provence Small Group Tours is a boutique travel agency offering luxury small group tours of Provence.

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Families in Abu Dhabi allowed to travel more than three in a car

Police say strict measure remains, outside of family members, with AED1,000 fine for offenders

There are currently 13,599 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UAE, where there have been a total of 119 deaths.

Abu Dhabi Police have said members of the same family are allowed to travel in the same vehicle and will not be fined for breaching the three-people limit.

According to a statement from the authorities, first-degree relatives are also exempt from the measures, which were introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus throughout the emirate.

However, outside of this relaxation, the police have emphasised that taxi drivers and motorists with passengers in their car, will be fined AED1,000 if they are caught with more than three people in their vehicle.

There are currently 13,599 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UAE, where there have been a total of 119 deaths.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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Bournemouth Airport first in UK to check passengers for coronavirus

Revealed: Bournemouth Airport has installed ‘thermal fever detection’ cameras and will become the first UK hub to screen passengers for signs of coronavirus

  • The tripod-mounted cameras have been fixed to the airport’s staff entrance
  • They will soon be installed at the airport’s departures and arrivals terminals
  • It is hoped the technology will remove the need to enforce social distancing 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Bournemouth Airport will become the first UK airport to start checking passengers for signs of coronavirus in a fresh blow to the Government’s decision to not screen arrivals.

Bosses have installed ‘thermal fever detection’ cameras that are capable of recording body temperatures and alerting border guards to anyone with a fever.

The tripod-mounted cameras have been fixed to the airport’s staff entrance but will soon be installed at every entrance to the airport’s departures and arrivals terminals.

Bournemouth Airport will become the first UK airport to start checking passengers for signs of coronavirus. Pictured here is one of the ‘thermal fever detection’ cameras installed at the airport’s staff entrance

The system will automatically alert border staff to any passenger showing signs of a high temperature, allowing them to intercept and isolate travellers before they board a plane.

It is hoped the technology will help airlines by removing the need to enforce social distancing – a move that industry leaders have warned could push up ticket prices 50 per cent.

The action by Bournemouth Airport – which is used by 800,000 passengers a year – marks a significant departure from the Government’s controversial decision to not screen travellers.

The system will automatically alert border staff to any passenger showing signs of a high temperature

It comes after the Daily Mail revealed that the boss of Heathrow had written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling for a set of stringent screening measures, which could include temperature checks, antibody tests and a requirement that all passengers carry health passports proving they are medically fit.

Ministers say around 15,000 passengers arrive into the UK every day. Incredibly, none are tested for signs of the virus but are simply handed information leaflets about symptoms.

Critics say the lack of tests threatens the health of the nation and makes a mockery of the lockdown conditions opposed on the rest of the country.

The action by Bournemouth Airport – which is used by 800,000 passengers a year – marks a significant departure from the Government’s controversial decision to not screen travellers

Heathrow executive John Holland-Kaye wants an internationally-agreed set of screening measures to restore confidence in air travel.

The airport’s executives also want Public Health England (PHE) to release evidence proving ministers’ claims that temperature screening is ineffective.

PHE has insisted that screening measures are futile against a virus that can have an incubation period of up to 14 days.

However, airport bosses are anxious that the total lack of tests makes the UK’s airports appear more dangerous than others around the world, where strict controls are in place to identify and isolate passengers displaying symptoms.

The Mail understands that at least two other airports are interested in installing the same ‘thermal fever detection’ cameras that are being used at Bournemouth.

Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the screening policy around airports is ‘under review’ and may change in the future.

Gatwick Airport has also confirmed that it is working with the Department for Transport (DfT) on possible screening measures, which may include mass temperature checks.

A spokesman for SCC, the IT firm supplying the thermal cameras, said: ‘By deploying this technology as part of a range of measures, airports can begin to reopen for business safely, reducing the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 cases and protecting passengers and employees. Thermal fever detection could also help airlines by removing the requirement to undersell occupancy to enable social distancing on flights.’ 

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Brokenwood Mysteries star Fern Sutherland’s life in travel

Fern Sutherland stars in Kiwi detective series The Brokenwood Mysteries. Watch seasons one to five on Sky’s pop-up channel, from Wednesday, April 22 to Saturday, April 26.

Where was the first overseas trip you took and what are your strongest memories from it?

Samoa – abiding memory is (not) sleeping in a fale on the beach in peak storm season.

What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?

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This chef has been living in isolation since NOVEMBER – in Antarctica

‘A daily routine keeps me sane’: Meet the chef who has been living in extreme isolation since NOVEMBER – in Antarctica, the only continent to avoid coronavirus

  • Karin Jansdotter, 34, is a chef on the Troll Norwegian research base on Queen Maud Land
  • She is on a year-long contract and lives with five men on the extremely remote Antarctic station 
  • Her tips to living in self-isolation include morning meditations, mountain hikes and ‘delicious food’ 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

While the world gets to grips with living in isolation, Karin Jansdotter has been dealing with very limited social interaction since November – in the icy wilds of Antarctica. 

The 34-year-old globetrotting chef from Sweden landed a job on the Troll Norwegian research base on Queen Maud Land along with five men, and she is set to be there until the autumn, when her year-long contract ends. 

She has developed various coping mechanisms while living at the remote base – where the annual temperature averages -25C – which include morning meditations, making ‘delicious food’ and FaceTiming with her family and boyfriend back home. 

Karin Jansdotter, 34, is a chef on the Troll Norwegian research base on Queen Maud Land

Jansdotter found out about the chef job at Troll – which opened in 1990 and monitors things such as meteorites, radiation, environmental toxins and seismic activity – after working as a chef on expedition boats and coming into contact with the polar community 

Jansdotter says learning about the coronavirus pandemic while being so far away has been ‘very surreal’, but she is glad that she is in Antarctica, as it is the only continent that hasn’t been hit by the virus.  

She tells MailOnline Travel via a high-speed internet connection from her temporary home thousands of miles away: ‘We consider ourselves very lucky and happy to be here and that we got this job in these scary and bizarre times. We run the station as normal. 

‘We are a part of a very fortunate group of people who are not going to meet anyone for the next seven months.

‘We follow closely from the base what’s happening out on the world. It is, of course, the talk around the dinner table. 


Jansdotter takes a break to enjoy a spot of sunshine in the frozen wilds (left). On the right – the view from her plane seat as she landed at the Troll base last November 

A view of the accommodation block at the Troll base where Jansdotter sleeps and works 

Troll base employs a team over the winter season to keep things ticking over in preparation for the scientists arriving in the summer months when the frozen airfield reopens

Jansdotter helps guide a plane in on the Troll runway. The landing strip is closed during the winter months 

Troll Station is extremely remote. Its closest neighbour is the South African base, Sanae IV, which is about 186 miles (300km) away

There is a BBQ at Troll base and Jansdotter used it to grill some ostrich steaks, which she says were a hit

‘We think about our loved ones at home and hope that no one will be infected with the virus. I called my parents and told them to be careful and to stay home from work. If they get sick, I cannot go home to them. Thankfully they listened to my advice so that made me feel calmer.’

Jansdotter found out about the chef job at Troll – which opened in 1990 and monitors things such as meteorites, radiation, environmental toxins and seismic activity – after working as a chef on expedition boats and coming into contact with the polar community. 

The base employs a team over the winter season to keep things ticking over in preparation for the scientists arriving in the summer months, when the frozen airfield reopens. 

Along with a chef, the base employs an electrician, research technician, mechanic, plumber and doctor. 

With a ‘bug for cold, icy and remote places’ the chef applied for the culinary job ‘without hesitation’ and when she was hired it was ‘like a dream come true’.

She muses: ‘I enjoy the silence and I appreciate solitude and I love Antarctica.’ 

He temporary home is remote in the extreme. 

Troll Station’s closest neighbour is the South African base, Sanae IV, which is about 186 miles (300km) away. And between Sanae and Troll is a broad ice stream that is dangerous to cross by snowmobile, so there are no neighbourly visits. 

One thing that helps keep Jansdotter sane at the tiny research base is ‘a good daily routine’.  

Jansdotter and her teammates hold a sign that says Happy New Year in Norwegian 

A shot of the Vietnamese spring rolls Jansdotter made for a special New Year’s Eve dinner, with soya mayonnaise as a dressing

One of Jansdotter’s specialities is an instant apple and cinnamon ice cream made using liquid nitrogen 

JUST HOW ISOLATED IS NORWAY’S TROLL STATION ON ANTARCTICA? 

Troll Station is extremely remote.

Its closest neighbour is the South African base, Sanae IV, which is about 186 miles (300km) away.

Between Sanae and Troll is a broad ice stream that is dangerous to cross by snowmobile, so there are no neighbourly visits.

In the winter, Troll is physically cut off from the rest of the world as the air strip is closed, but there is a satellite link-up.

The overwintering team can make phone calls and send e-mails, surf the internet and watch television.

Queen Maud Land was picked as a spot for the Norwegian Antarctic research station as the region was claimed by Norway in 1939 after being discovered by a

Norwegian expedition team in 1930.

The area consists of a barren plateau covered by an ice sheet measuring up to 1.5 miles (2.4km) thick.

The coastal area where Troll Station is located is more mountainous. It neighbours the region’s highest peak, Jokulkyrkja or the Glacier Church, which stands 10,328 feet tall.   

She gets up two hours before starting work at 8am and spends time reading, meditating and writing in her journal while consuming several cups of her favourite dark roast Swedish coffee by candlelight. 

Another thing she has recently started doing is practising breathing techniques developed by the Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof. 

She says: ‘The breathing is really great and it helps set me up for the day. Breathing is another way to help build up your immune system.’  

After some time alone, Jansdotter eats breakfast with her teammates.

She then gets to work, preparing the lunch that will be eaten around 11:30am.

The cook says: ‘Sometimes I make bread, maybe I ferment some vegetables – I’m loving kimchi at the moment – or I take my little electric car and drive out to my containers to “shop” food. 

‘I have five containers on the base in total. One with dry food, two with frozen goods and two with refrigerated produce.’

After lunch is finished there is washing up to do and then preparation for dinner takes place.  


Jansdotter has a little electric car to ‘shop’ for food. She has five storage containers on the base in total. One with dry food, two with frozen goods and two with refrigerated produce

Jansdotter gets up two hours before starting work at 8am and spends time reading, meditating and writing in her journal while consuming several cups of her favourite dark roast Swedish coffee by candlelight

Jansdotter notes: ‘We have dinner at 3:30pm and then it is our working day over. We usually talk about the day and then everyone goes off to have some free time, which can involve going to the small gym, playing an instrument or watching a film.’

At the weekend, the Swede gets time off and if weather permits, she enjoys venturing off and exploring the surrounding mountains.

She reveals that she makes sure to exercise every day, as it helps her to focus and keep mentally and physically strong. 

She says: ‘I usually practice yoga and meditate for 20 minutes. This combination keeps me sane and I sleep really well. 

‘I also go to the gym to run and lift weights. Being active is really important for isolation – it gives you all those endorphins that boost your mood.’

Along with exercise, Jansdotter says ‘good food is also important to morale’ when living in isolation and it’s fun to keep things varied. 

Some of her top recipes to date include instant apple and cinnamon ice cream made using liquid nitrogen, ostrich steaks from South Africa on the BBQ and Vietnamese spring rolls with soya mayonnaise, which were served at a special New Year’s Eve dinner.  

The team eats vegetarian food once a week, which forces Jansdotter to get creative and think of something more exciting than basic salads or pasta. 

Until the end of the summer season, there were still fresh supplies coming in by plane, but now the runway is closed and Jansdotter can only work with the produce she has in storage.

While the rest of the world navigates life in isolation, Jansdotter says she hasn’t minded it so far, admitting that the stunning scenery surrounding the base helps

While the rest of the world navigates life in isolation, the intrepid cook says she hasn’t minded it so far, admitting that the stunning scenery surrounding the base helps.  

She concludes: ‘I like the fact that I have less, it declutters my brain and makes me appreciate other things in life.

‘But maybe ask me the same question in six months’ time. I know I will hug the nearest thing I see when I go home and I will enjoy the sound of birds singing.

‘Everything is so uncertain right now, but I hope that the world will be a better place when I get home and that people and countries will go down a path of solidarity and fight this pandemic together.’     

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