My travel dream for 2021: top 12 readers’ tips | Travel

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Winning tip: A perfect ’stan

Covid willing, we’ll be heading to Kyrgyzstan. It’s at that perfect point where the infrastructure supports a great travel experience, but it’s not become spoiled by tourists. Bishkek is modern and vibrant, and in the stunning rural areas it’s possible to stay with nomads living the traditional life. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with delicious locally sourced food. Kyrgyz community-based tourism proved an affordable way to experience the life of horse-riding nomads living in yurts, and the money goes into the community itself.
Minnie Martin

Where the map takes us, Wester Ross

Evening sunlight over Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross.
Evening sunlight over Achnahaird Bay, Wester Ross.
Photograph: Lorraine Yates/Alamy Stock Photo

The west coast of Scotland is our wild goal. During the neverending house tidy of 2020, we found the Gairloch & Ullapool area OS map and pored over it – a bit of geography home learning for my son, who liked the wriggly contour lines and the consonant-heavy names of the lochs and mountains. We’ll take the high road to Gairloch to see orca and minke (Hebridean Whale Cruises, £64 adult, £35 child), stay in a wooden wigwam at Sands campsite (from £52pp), and walk to the beach humming the Skye boat song.
Nancy Gladstone

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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Island dream, Lundy

Tourists land from MS Oldenburg on Lundy Island.
The MS Oldenburg landing on Lundy. Photograph: Backyard Production/Getty Images

My son, daughter and I have been making lists of where we want to go since the first lockdown. We’ve booked a few days on Lundy for next August in the hope that it will be safe to travel again by then. It only involves a five-hour drive to Ilfracombe, Devon, and then a couple of hours on HMS Oldenburg (which for my three-year-old boy will be the holiday made before we even get there). We’ll stay in Castle Cottage, in the keep of a castle built by Henry III in 1250. There’s nothing to do but explore cliffs, beaches and lighthouses, and look for the crashed bomber plane in the heather. And there’s no internet.
Kate Attrill

All a-Twitter for York

Curtor holding an 800-year-old figure of Christ
An 800-year-old figure of Christ returned to York last year and on display at the Yorkshire Museum. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

I’d love to go to York and visit the Yorkshire Museum as their wonderful tweets – mainly about odd or mysterious items in their collection – have kept me entertained and brought history alive this year. A pint or two in the city’s ancient pubs and a wander home to characterful lodgings would just cap a cultural visit off nicely!
Liz

Mind-Boggling Whitby, North Yorkshire

Boggle Hole YHA, Robin Hood’s Bay.
Boggle Hole YHA near Robin Hood’s Bay. Photograph: Ian Bottle/Alamy

Low cost and close to home, a stay with the YHA at Boggle Hole is always a welcome relief. A converted watermill with a reception, bar and cosy sitting room complete with a log fire and leather couches, it’s in a pebbled cove overlooking the sea, with wooded cliffs on either side. Go in spring or early autumn and the prices are as low as £29 a night. Walk across the sandy beach to Robin Hoods Bay or over the jagged cliffs to Ravenscar to see the seals.
Safiya El-Gindy

Golden Glasgow

Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Photograph: Black Jake/Getty Images

I long for the wide expansiveness of Glasgow boulevards: west-facing, bathed in the golden glow of light glancing off sandstone. I long for the cobbled alleyways, armpit-piled bookshops, curiosity shops crammed with treasure; and also the glitzy, glassy, high street emporiums filled with unafforded luxuries. I long for views of the university, the Campsie Fells, the high flats, the rivers snaking through. And the tearooms, pubs, gastropubs, curry houses, Asian street food haunts, delis and restaraunts high end and greasy spoon. It’s only two hours away but has been impossibly out of reach. I long for full immersion, to be sated by all its gritty, impossibly romantic, unabashed grandeur.
Fiona

Simply sublime, Cotswolds Way

The Cotswold Way at Crickley Hill.
The Cotswold Way at Crickley Hill. Photograph: Alamy

In 2021 I want to carry on enjoying the benefits of the simple pleasures of travelling that 2020 led us to – like walking and talking. I want to walk the Cotswolds Way from Broadway to Bath, breathing in fresh air, wondering at big skies, scanning rolling hills in the distance while getting fitter without going to gyms or swimming in chlorinated pools or using mobile apps. Its 120 miles should take about a week, staying in village pubs along the way. Travel, like life, should be about connecting reality to your imagination by inspiration, which can come in the purest, most simple of forms.
Nick

Faroes football

My dream is to fulfil a Covid-delayed bucket-list trip to see the ultimate sporting underdog story, and take my football-crazy nine-year-old on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We will be travelling to see the Faroe Islands play an international match on home turf. They’re due to play Scotland on 12 October in a World Cup qualifier. Fly into the capital, Torshavn, and you can walk to the stadium. Hire a car for the full Faroes experience: it’s the bird-watching capital of Europe. Hotel Streym in Torshavn has Atlantic views and doubles from £90.
John Connolly

Harvest festival with a difference, Ukraine

Harvest time on a farm near Lviv, Ukraine
Harvest time on a farm near Lviv, Ukraine. Photograph: Martin Charlesworth

It will take the best part of a day and a half but here’s my plan: a few buses, some trains and a flight from my home in the Ribble valley to Ukraine, crossing the Polish border at Przemyśl. I’m expecting Lviv to be “bruised but not broken” as the Ray Davies song goes, with coffee, cake and varenyky (dumpling) culture still largely intact. I plan to go in August for the Saviour of the Apple feast, an Eastern Orthodox celebration of harvest. The reason for going is not necessarily the destination or the festival but the sweet joy of a long journey to a foreign land and interaction with strangers at long last.
Martin Charlesworth

Totally ore-some, Mauritania

The iron ore train, Mauritania

For 2021, I want to travel somewhere that is remote with low population density and gives me an adrenaline rush. After a bit of research, I’ve chosen to go on the iron ore train in Mauritania. The 700km journey on a cargo train from the north of the country to the west coast takes around 34 hours. This train is among the world’s longest and heaviest and riding it is totally free. From time to time, I look at the photos and videos of the journey on the internet and instantly get goosebumps. See for yourself. It’s total madness.
Venkata K C Tata

Silk Road: Samarkand to Baku

The Registan place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The Registan place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photograph: Andrey Vishin/Alamy

As we enter 2021 with unbridled hope and optimism for a better year filled with limitless freedom and a vaccinated global population, never have I wanted more to return to completing my journey of the Silk Road, started in 2019. Beginning in Xi’an and Kashgar, China, I headed west to Almaty, Kazakhstan, before crossing over into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. My trip allowed just enough time to reach dazzling Samarkand in Uzbekistan. My trip ended at the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, a breathtaking marvel from which I hope to restart my adventure in 2021. My aim is to reach Tehran, from where I will return to Baku, one of my favourite cities, for a deserved cup of coffee.
Scott Strachan

Mountain overload, Georgia

Kazbegi, Georgia.
Kazbegi, Georgia. Photograph: Franka Hummels

I want to be overwhelmed by Georgia’s Kazbegi region again. I want to get so exhausted by marvellous hikes – where I will not meet a soul – that the next day will be spent on a balcony with a book that gets little attention because the mountains take my breath away. I will only leave that balcony to eat terrific vegetarian Georgian food, with the same view. That balcony I left and want to return to is at Rooms Hotel, where doubles go for $100 – steep by Georgian standards but worth it and not as steep as those mountain slopes.
Franka Hummels



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Germany considering halting air travel to curb spread of coronavirus variants

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Germany considering halting air travel to curb spread of coronavirus variants

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Bring it on home: Puerto Rico | Travel

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Who and where Stephen and Valerie Cuppett of Glen Carbon at Luquillo Beach in Puerto Rico.

The trip • They spent a week on the island in February 2020. Highlights included the El Yunque tropical rainforest, Old San Juan, Arecibo Observatory and their oceanfront condo (Ocean Villas next to the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort).

Travel tip • Visit El Yunque National Forest early in the day so that there are no other people in your photos of the various waterfalls. The trail leading to the Mount Britton tower takes about 40 minutes and is well worth the view from the top of the tower.

Contribute • Email your photo to stlpost@gmail.com. Include the full names of everyone in the photo, including where they are from and where you are standing in the photo. Also include your address and phone number. Please also tell us a little about the trip and a travel tip. We’re looking for interesting, well-composed, well-lighted photos.

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Travel news latest: ‘No scientific evidence’ for quarantine hotels

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The bosses of British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic have criticised the Government’s plans to introduce hotel quarantine for arrivals from ‘high risk’ destinations. 

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, executives from the three airlines said they had ‘seen no compelling scientific evidence’ to support the idea of hotel quarantine, and called on Boris Johnson to discuss financial support for the industry.

“Policy should be based on evidence,’ they wrote; ‘and we have seen no compelling scientific evidence that introducing a policy potentially of blanket quarantine in hotels, is necessary in addition to measures only recently introduced.

‘We request the opportunity to discuss both an exit plan and a bespoke support package with you urgently, at a time of your convenience.’

The plans, based on Australia’s hotel quarantine system, would cost travellers up to £1,500 for 10 days self-isolating – with meals served in their rooms and round-the-clock supervision by private security guards.

Scroll down for more on this story, and other breaking travel news.



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Tell us about a tranquil place you’ve found for the chance to win a £200 holiday prize | Travel

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With everything going on in the world right now, it’s essential to try to carve out moments of calm. Where do you go to tap into tranquillity? Perhaps it’s a spot on a local river, a particular park bench, a hidden coastal cove, or even a serene city cemetery. It could also be somewhere you revisit in your mind that induces a sense of peace.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by travel expert Tom Hall, will win a £200 voucher from glamping specialist Canopy & Stars, which has more than 700 places to stay amid nature. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe the paper, too.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on Tuesday 2 February at 9am GMT

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here

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Got a great travel pic? Destinations Photo Contest is open now | Travel

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Our Destinations Photo Contest is back!

Send in your best photos by Feb. 5 for a chance to win up to $1,000. The top photos submitted will also be featured in a national publication reaching more than 1 million households.

Here are some great photos of food and drink to whet your appetite for the contest:

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Got a great travel pic? Destinations Photo Contest is open now | Travel

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Our Destinations Photo Contest is back!

Send in your best photos by Feb. 5 for a chance to win up to $1,000. The top photos submitted will also be featured in a national publication reaching more than 1 million households.

Here are some great photos of food and drink to whet your appetite for the contest:

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Americans warned against travel as COVID-19 variants spread and testing rules go into effect

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The State Department warned Americans to strongly reconsider travel Tuesday as a new COVID-19 testing requirement went into effect and new variants of the virus were detected in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“If you’re overseas right now, it could be harder to come home for a while,” said Ian Brownlee, the State Department’s acting assistant secretary for consular affairs. “Everyone needs to be prepared to be potentially seriously disrupted in their trip.”

Brownlee’s warning came on the first day of the U.S.’s new testing requirement for inbound travelers overseas. All airline passengers, regardless of citizenship, must now present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel or show proof that they have recovered from the deadly virus. Anyone failing to do either will be denied boarding by the airlines and will be responsible for any additional lodging costs.

While U.S. embassies overseas can help U.S. citizens with information and possibly a loan to help them return home, Brownlee said they do not have the ability to provide COVID-19 testing for those seeking to return.

“The bottom line message is: This is really not the time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel and that all travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on getting this virus under control, and accelerating our vaccination strategies,” he said.

The new measure is part of an executive order issued by the Biden administration to tighten COVID-19 restrictions with the hope of slowing down the spread of several highly contagious variants of the disease that are now spreading in the region.

At least 15 countries and territories in the Americas, including the United States, have confirmed the presence of at least one of three emerging variants: Those first identified in southeast England, South Africa or Brazil.

The new variants are proving to be very difficult and their emergence highlights the challenges U.S. health officials are facing in the race to vaccinate as many people as they can against infections, said Dr. Marty Cetron, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s global migration and quarantine division.

“They all suggest that they are potentially more contagious than the current circulating predominate virus. They can quickly become the predominant virus that’s circulating and several of them have presented challenges in …evading some of the natural immunity and challenges toward looking at our vaccine solutions,” he said.

The Pan American Health Organization confirmed the spread of one of the highly contagious mutated strains of the virus to 14 countries Tuesday. That list grew hours later when the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory 433 miles south of Miami, reported that the U.K. variant had also been detected in three recent travelers arriving from Barbados and Britain.

“It is not surprising that we now have confirmation of this variant in the Cayman Islands, as we know it to be virulent and widespread,” Cayman’ Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said.

Cayman was notified of the strain by the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Trinidad-based public health agency conducting COVID-19 testing for a number of countries and territories in the region. The agency has been asking its members to send in selections of positive COVID-19 samples for genetic sequencing.

So far, Caribbean health experts have discovered the U.K. variant in Cayman Islands, St. Lucia, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Separately Cuba, according to PAHO, has reported the presence of the South African strain while the Dominican Republic has confirmed the presence of the U.K. variant.

On Tuesday, the U.S. surpassed 25 million reported cases of COVID-19 and over 400,000 deaths, the CDC said, making the variants even more of a threat. The CDC made a last-minute decision to eliminate a two-week waiver for airlines flying to countries where it will be difficult for passengers returning to the U.S. to comply with the new testing rule.

“This virus is a formidable foe,” Cetron said. “We have to be prepared to be very flexible in response to this virus and adapt our strategies quickly.”

Cetron said the new variants have the ability to spread asymptomatically and pre-symptomatically, characteristics that have been fueling the pandemic. Also worrying is the speed at which the virus can move through a population and grow exponentially, its reproductive rate and the evolution of the virus in forming mutations that have the potential to become more contagious, and potentially more serious.

For example, in the case of the strain that emerged in Manaus, Brazil, there is a high probability of reinfection. While the population had recovered from an initial large wave of infections, it was later revealed that the mutation caused a number of reinfections and a second uptick in cases. This variant has been reported in Japan after it was first identified in Brazil in December.

“We’re really in a race between a really formidable virus and our human ability to control transmission and bring our best tools to the table in the form of vaccinations. So we have the variant versus the vaccines, and we have the infection in general in and of itself, versus our ability to fight this.”

Since Tuesday, airlines have been tasked with confirming that passengers traveling to the U.S. have been tested within the previous three days, in accordance with the new order.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said Tuesday afternoon that the company’s Latin American and Caribbean operations were running smoothly, and that there were no major issues to report.

U.S. officials said they have been fielding calls from airlines and so far the issues that have come up are things that were anticipated and are being worked out. There are over 100 countries that have testing requirements for either exit or entry to control the global pandemic, the CDC said.

The new testing requirement does not apply to individuals flying from the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.

At the Port-au-Prince airport in Haiti, however, chaos did erupt and police had to be called, said a physician, Dr. Vincent DeGennaro, who was traveling back to the U.S. Tuesday. DeGennaro said several passengers who got tested at his facility, Innovating Health International, which is among several on a U.S. embassy list, were denied boarding by airline agents when they checked in for their flight.

The airlines told the travelers that the tests were invalid because DeGennaro’s facility is not among the five on a list released by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP).

“Why does the MSPP list matter?” said DeGennaro, who also got tested at his facility and faced no problems boarding a JetBlue flight to Fort Lauderdale. “These are American visa holders on U.S. private companies being screened for a U.S. policy they are going to need to enforce on the U.S. side of the border.”

DeGennaro said he spent the afternoon emailing, tweeting and calling all of the major U.S. carriers flying to Haiti, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. No one responded. He said another colleague traveling Tuesday told him he saw dozens of U.S. bound passengers denied due to the testing requirement.

American Airlines spokeswoman Laura Masvidal declined to comment on whether there had been any significant reduction in the number of people boarding flights. She acknowledged that some passengers arrived at the Port-au-Prince airport without proof of negative results and were moved to a later flight after showing the necessary documentation.

Spirit Airlines said while most of its U.S.-bound passengers flying out of the region Tuesday showed up with the proper documentation, some had to be turned away after presenting antibody tests. The CDC is requiring PCR COVID-19 tests or rapid antigen tests.

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