14 February 2011
Each week Luke McCormick, Wexas Channel Editor, provides an inside look at the latest headlines and gives his independent, expert comment.
This week: Madagascar discovery and alternatives to Egypt
Lying just off the coast of Africa, Madagascar is a land of misty mountains, tropical rainforests and spiny desert scrub - and home to strange wildlife, most of which is found nowhere else on earth.
The BBC’s new three-part Madagascar series premiered last night and explores the extraordinary wildlife and the dramatic landscapes of one of the world’s most bizarre islands.
Using the latest in filming technology, the BBC’s Natural History Unit has captured the diverse and rare wildlife that inhabits this incredible land, some filmed for the first time, and features surprising stories of the favourite and enduring symbol of the island, lemurs, as well as less familiar creatures.
"There are frogs that turn from brown to bright yellow; wasps that pluck tadpoles from tree-nests; fish that swim upside down and the romantic life of the world’s tiniest chameleon."
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, Madagascar is an ambitious and intimate portrait of a fascinating but perilously fragile island. To celebrate, we’ve put together a suggested 11-day ‘Madagascar Discovery’ itinerary with an optional 4-day beach extension.
From spiders living in shells to loquacious lemurs and beachside bliss, Madagascar will leave you dazzled.
Alternatives to Egypt
With the Middle East continuing to weather a storm of political unrest sweeping across the region, visitors are, for the time being anyway, avoiding unpredictable destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia and looking for alternatives.
The Middle East is celebrated for its fascinating cultural heritage, bustling bazaars and souks, sun-soaked beaches and taste of the exotic. So where should you go instead?
Although there is uncertainty in the region, Jordan and Syria are still accessible to visitors and are great for tailor-made touring. We had Wexas experts visiting Jordan just last year to swat up on the country’s best travel experiences, and our Commercial Director is off to Syria on his holidays in the not too distant future. And although there have been demonstrations in Jordan recently, the Foreign Office reminds tourists that these have remained peaceful and that the majority of visits are completely trouble free.
The situation in Syria remains similar, as it does in Lebanon where the message is clear: ‘we are open for business’. In fact, our experts here at Wexas expect big things for all these destination this year, hence their inclusion in our 2011 Destination Hotlist.
Also on the list are the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are free of political instability and offer incredible beach-break resort hotels. Similarly you’d be hard-pressed to find a better destination than Oman - historic Muscat, numerous mountain villages and forts, and a raft of top-notch resorts have made this Gulf Sultanate a growing favourite among Wexas members.
Morocco will certainly be benefiting from the uncertainty and generally offers a safe and rewarding holiday experience. You could enjoy a city break in Fez or Casablanca or combine either with a visit to the Atlas Mountains or coastal Essaouira.
With a new British Airways flight and a wealth of new luxury hotels, as well as the reopening of old favourite La Mamounia, Marrakech is also proving a winner in North Africa.
Away from the Middle East and North Africa, Zanzibar always impresses for a slice of exotic paradise. Similarly, Mozambique is an undiscovered pocket of barefoot luxury, its islands offering a perfect escape just off the east African coast.