Bargain of the week: Caracas for under £500

Venezuela's capital has been largely off the map since direct flights from the UK ended, but it could be back this spring thanks to a new "Tempting Fares" promotion just launched by Air France. Flights from Birmingham to Caracas are available for £486 return.

You can also fly from any of Air France's UK airports: from Manchester it is £489; from Heathrow it's £499, Aberdeen £519 and Bristol £540.

The conditions and travel dates are constrained: you must book online at by 14 April and complete travel by the end of June. Test bookings suggest that the lowest fares are available only for outward departures from 14 May – which is when the wet season is just getting into its stride in Venezuela.

Sub-£600 fares are available to Rio, Sao Paulo and Lima for the same booking and travel dates.

Warning of the week: Senegal

The former French territory at the western extreme of Africa now has "potential for unrest and civil disturbances", says the US State Department. The reason: the second round of the presidential election on 25 March.

The Foreign Office says the last bout of campaigning resulted in clashes between protesters and police with "stone throwing, water cannon, tear gas and tyre-burning".

Help could be provided by a new information service run by the French embassy which provides important security updates to all EU nationals, including UK citizens.

You can sign up for it through the British embassy in Dakar: the email address to use is

Destination of the week: Go west from Southend

The Essex airport is soon to get a connection to Dublin, with impressively flat fares. From 21 May, three flights each day to and from the Irish capital (pictured) will be operated by Aer Arann on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional. The trip is operated by propeller aircraft, with a flying time of about 100 minutes.

Test bookings made at suggest that the weekend fare (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays) is £41 each way, with other days at £31; in the unlikely event that you can pay with a Visa Electron card, you can deduct £6 from these fares.

The new service allows travellers to emulate BA's prestigious link from London City via Shannon in Ireland to New York – for a fraction of the fare. Travelling in economy from Southend to Dublin and connecting to Aer Lingus business class to New York costs just £922 one way, compared with £4,068 on British Airways.

On 2 April, easyJet opens a base in Southend, from which it will serve nine destinations. Simon Calder's latest travel film features the airport: view it free at

Prize of the week: Latin American double

For a second year, the Latin American Travel Association's prestigious travel writer award has been won for a story in The Independent Traveller. Chris Leadbeater was given the prize for his article "High season: Wild and wonderful in Chile", published here last October. You can read the winning story at Last year, Mike Unwin won with a story from Brazil.