Travel: Animal magic in a desert oasis
The animals came in two by two. Then four.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that when Noah set off in his ark they shipwrecked on this very desert island, found a veritable Oasis, then never left.
I wouldn’t blame them.
I was in Fuerteventura, the Canary Islands’ beach capital, and also home to its biggest animal park - Oasis Park Fuerteventura.
Sunscreen had been applied, the glorious rays were beating down, I just watched a baby giraffe have his bottle lunch. In other words, not your usual Wednesday in late October.
We flew over to this gem and prime time winter sun destination with Jet2.com from Manchester, landing smoothly just metres from the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean to find balmy sunshine on an island renowned for its year round warmth.
Here the temperature rarely drops below 18 degrees or above 32, thanks to its position 62 miles off the coast of Africa, sitting on the same latitude as Florida or Mexico. Politically Spanish, it is known as the ‘Island of eternal spring’ and renowned for its long stretches of beautiful beaches and rolling sand-dunes at the Parque Natural De Corralejo.
After a minibus transfer, we arrived at our home from home, the sprawling 4* Barceló Jandía Mar hotel in Jandia, situated on a hill gazing down at endless beach.
This is all-inclusive luxury with families in mind. Everyone here is friendly - and all the staff say hello.
Designed to echo the luxury hotels of the Caribbean, here they really care about the guest experience.
This is a classy take on all inclusive.
My room was very spacious, clean and modern.
I always consider the bathroom a test and this passed with flying colours.
My balcony overlooked the beautiful pool complex and from there across the gleaming ocean.
Standing there, it is hard to believe it is winter back in England.
The Jandia Mar has much to offer, from it’s remarkable array of food choices - the huge dining rooms cater for all your meals.
Here nobody goes hungry.
A snack bar offers snacks in between meals and free drinks, both alcoholic and non alcoholic are available from multiple bars free of charge until 11pm.
The food itself caters for all the possible whims and desires of the hotels largely German, Scandinavian and British clientele, every imaginable food is available plus Fuertenventurian local dishes and themed nights.
During our stay we enjoyed a Mexican theme and a Turkish night.
Plus every guest get a reservation at the hotel’s A La carte restaurant, where we dined sumptuously on steak.
You can eat like a King and Queen which is where the multiple pool, exercise classes, spa and gym come in.. Multiple activities are all available, from miniature golf, windsurfing, scuba diving and fishing.
There is no excuse to be bored, with the Barcy Club kids teen themed spaces and activities giving mum and dad some time off to sunbathe, or enjoy a drink.
There is really very little reason to leave this sun-soaked idyll but leave you must because this island may be a volcanic rock - but it has so much more to offer.
With the entire island driveable in a couple of hours, nothing is too far and our first stop at Oasis Park sets the tone for a magical trip.
This is not just a zoo, but a sprawling rescue centre, many of the animals are here after being used as pets, rescued from cruelty or dangerous situations. Every animal has a story and a background, some more shocking than others.
One gorilla, kept alone, still thinks she is human after being kept as a member of the family for years - eating at the table and nursing the family baby until it became jealous and was rough with her young friends.
I fed the giraffes and the elephants and we walked among the lemurs, who were quite happy to make themselves at home on our shoulders.
With 3,000 animals of 250 different species, plus Sea Lion and Bird of prey shows plus camel tours and a remarkable botanical cactus garden, Oasis really is just that on this desert island.
We drove high up in the volcanic hills, where the Morro Velosa Observation Point offers remarkable views across the island and the ocean while the sculptures of the Kings Guise and Ayoze look over territorially.
Then we learned a little about the cheese at islands’s dedicated Cheese Museum.
This may sound random but goats milk Majorero cheese is embedded in this history of the island and its inhabitants.
Salt production is also a local industry, this too has its own little museum.
From our southerly home from home we travelled to the north of the island where we posed for photos among the rolling, inspiring, yellow sand-dunes of Corralejo. Eat your heart out Dubai.
Finally, we paddled and swam in the sea of the golden beach, watched tiny fish dart between our toes in the turquoise waters thinking of our colleagues behind their desk in chilly northern England.
The animals may have come two by two but it no surprise the wiser visitors travel over in their thousands.
-Jet2.com offers friendly low fares, great flight times, and a generous 22kg baggage allowance to Fuerteventura from Manchester Airport, with flights operating from January to Decemberaq.
-Jet2.com also flies to Fuerteventura from Belfast, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford and Newcastle Airports.
-Fares start at £57 one way including taxes.
-Jet2holidays breaks at the 4-star Barcelo Jandia Mar Hotel start from £499 per person, based on seven nights all inclusive accommodation with flights departing from Manchester on 28th November 2015.
-To book flights visit www.jet2.com or for package holidays visit www.jet2holidays.com or call free on 0800 408 5599.
-Fuertenventura boasts three main resorts - Jandia, Costa Caleta and Corralejo - which cater for visitors of all ages, with
restaurants and bars that are perfect for families and great nightlife for adults.
-Find out more about Oasis Park at fuertenventuraoasispark.com