Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 16 April 2024

African elephants heading to the Chobe River, on Botswana border, on a hot afternoon.

A whistle-stop tour round the world, with elephants in Botswana, cows in Wales, snow in New Zealand and a giant guitar in Tamworth, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield traverses another week in Travel


Travel teaches us to be cautious about judging others. A case in point is Botswana’s success in conservation, which has fostered big populations of elephants. Herds are putting severe pressure on the environment, and any form of controlling numbers is controversial. But the Botswana Government sells hunting licences, saying the money then aids conservation.

The German Government is considering following the UK with strict controls on importing hunting trophies. Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi explained that elephant numbers ballooned because of the country’s conservation efforts, and that hunting helps keep them in check — and has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany.

He told the German newspaper Bild that Germans should “live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to”, adding: “This is no joke”. Botswana has about 130,000 elephants — a third of the world’s elephant population. Herds damage property, eat crops and trample residents, Mr Masisi says. Botswana has previously given 8000 elephants to neighbour Angola.

Just a few weeks ago, Botswana’s wildlife minister, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, threatened to send 10,000 elephants to Hyde Park in London, so that British people could “have a taste of living alongside them”.

PS If you want to see elephants, go to Botswana.


Cow cuddling has become quite a thing in the UK. Cow Companions offers cuddling sessions at its home, the Sri Lakshmi Gaushala Cow Sanctuary in Mydroilyn, near Aberaeron in Ceredigion, Wales. Cuddling the well-meaning cows is said to promote positivity and reduce stress. A tour of the sanctuary is led by passionate guides, and guests are introduced to the cherished cows.

A spokesperson says: “Feel their energy, hear their wisdom, and witness their gentle presence as we guide you through their world. And then, in a moment of pure bliss, engage in heart-to-heart cow cuddling, a unique exchange of love and healing energy.” A two-hour tour and cow-cuddling session is from £10 (about $20), which goes towards looking after the mostly retired and rescued cows.

I should explain the sanctuary’s name. Gaura, who has been running this and involved in the protection and wellbeing of cows for about 25 years, always wanted to farm but became a vegetarian and forgot that idea, became interested in Hinduism (which reveres cows), and joined a temple when he was 19. He became a monk and a cow man for their cow sanctuary — and now has his own. It’s not an easy road, financially, but Gaura writes: “A few things I have learnt is to not let fear of failure ruin one’s dreams. To trust and be grateful.”

Donations can also be made at


We might be having a bizarrely long, languid summer (all those still nights and 30C days), but the first snow fell in Perisher last week. More than 5cm fell overnight on Monday — just under two months before the ski season opens. It’s a good time to plan and book The Station, which has both motel and apartment-style accommodation, and has an offer to pay for four nights and stay for five.

Visit and use the promo code SNOW24.


Autumn is an interesting time in New Zealand, from the subtropical north to the far more temperate south. It is the perfect season for photography, with the colours of deciduous trees and the first snowfall on the Southern Alps.

And I like APT’s big tour, over 17 days from Auckland to Christchurch. From $9195 per person, it visits 15 destinations, includes 27 meals, has an APT tour director and, at the moment, there are savings of up to $1400 per couple.


By any measure, one reader has had a terrible week. His wife died six years ago and, for the first holiday in all that time, he is off on a cruise to Hawaii with the family who were also on the cruise when she died. He says he had booked a flight home with Air New Zealand but received an email saying that the flight via Auckland to Sydney had been cancelled: “No explanation supplied”. He says he was left with very restricted options for getting four people, including a nine-year-old, home. “One flight (Hawaiian or United) had us split up around the plane and I don’t want granddaughter sitting with strangers.” He found other flights for $4000 to $5000 more than the original flight.

In WA, if an airline cancels, they may offer a refund or another remedy, such as rescheduling your flights without penalty, or — if none are available in a reasonable time — reimbursing you the cost of booking replacement flights with another airline. search for cancelled flights.

Travellers should also read the fine print of their travel insurance, to be clear on what, if anything, is covered by cancellations which require rebooking and rerouting.


Travellers with Singapore Airlines can plan their in-flight entertainment on KrisWorld Digital before flying. There are more than 1900 options, with blockbuster movies, TV series, and music and concerts, from Harry Styles to Adele and Glastonbury 2023.


Gibson guitars is celebrating 130 years of crafting brilliant instruments. (I have a gold-top Les Paul hanging on my guitar wall.) They have been making stringed instruments since 1894, when Orville Gibson designed and built his earliest-known guitar in his workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. An insider tells me: “130 years later, you can still play it and it sounds better than ever.

The innovative and forward-thinking carved top design that revolutionised the mandolin and guitar world delivering a louder, more durable, more playable instrument, remains the DNA of every Gibson.” I’m thinking of Maybelle Carter’s Gibson L-5, Tony Iommi’s SG Special and Jimmy Page’s low-slung Les Paul and double-neck EDS-1275. And the guitar in the Enchantment Under the Sea dance scene in the 1985 movie Back To The Future. The Gibson Garage in its flagship store in Nashville, Tennessee, is a must-see for players and fans. It is at 209, 10th Avenue Street.


Closer to home, at Australia’s home of country music, Tamworth, the Big Golden Guitar outside the visitor centre is 12m tall and weighs half a tonne.

The Tamworth Visitor Information Centre complex includes the National Guitar Museum, Country Music Wax Museum and Golden Guitar Cafe.