Have you both always had an interest in travel?
Chris: Yes, very much so. I loved going on road trips all over Europe with my parents as a child, and then as a student I caught the last wave of the era of easy overland travel to Asia. After college, I started working with the Royal Geographical Society on expeditions to some of the most inaccessible places on earth and have kept travelling ever since to 108 countries including 83 to India alone.
Carolyn: Absolutely, I will never tire of the pure joy of exploring new destinations, cultures and tastes. My extensive and diverse travels were the inspiration for the World Food Cafe in Covent Garden which we set up in 1990 and ran for 20 years with a live kitchen serving recipes collected on our travels.
How long have you been taking Escorted Tours for The Ultimate Travel Company?
We ran our first food and photography themed tour from Bangalore to Mangalore in southern India in February 2015, since then we have run similar tours to Vietnam, Burma and Central India.
What theme do your joint tours usually take on as a couple?
The trips are designed to share our passion and enthusiasm for global cuisine and photography. Searching out authentic cuisine is the perfect way to get under the skin of any country, we feel it’s a common language beyond words. Our trips are carefully curated to include off the beaten track locations that give opportunities to capture images of dramatic landscapes, stunning architecture, colourful food markets and intimate encounters with local culture.
Chris, how do you bring your photography into each of your tours?
I offer an initial illustrated workshop using a selection of my own images then take the group through the basics of exposure, focus and composition. I then offer one to one tuition throughout the trip for anyone who wants to learn more about how their camera works and what it can do.
And how about the cooking, Carolyn?
I like to start by going back to basics, introducing our guests to the weird and wonderful ingredients that typify the cuisine of each destination and then showing how they are used with cooking demonstrations. Exploring local spice and vegetable markets, chatting with stall holders and tasting their wares, visiting producers, hand-picked restaurants and the homes of local people for encounters with authentic cuisine.
What happens if some have more of an interest in photography or cooking?
That’s easy, we can split the group at any point to reflect different preferences. We can also do this if some of the group want to climb to a hill top temple to photograph a sunset, while others prefer shopping or sitting by the pool.
How many people typically join you? And who usually joins the tours? Solo travellers, couples…etc…
Usually between 14-16. A good combination of couples, single people travelling with a friend and solo travellers. This works well as couples sometimes want time alone and the solo travellers can carry on exploring with us.
What do those who travel on one of your Escorted Tours get out of travelling as part of a group apart from some new photography and cooking skills.
As well as plenty of stimulating conversation and a chance to make new and often - as it turns out - lasting friendships, we design bespoke experiences for our groups such as cocktails at sunset in the turrets of a remote rural family fort in India, a private supper in the home of Vietnam’s leading art dealer, sharing a super fresh Moroccan seafood lunch on the fishing harbour wall in Essaouira or learning how to mix the ultimate caipirinha with Rio’s most famous mixologist on the summit of Sugar Loaf.
What sort of properties do you stay in whilst taking an Escorted Tour?
We choose a mixture of our favourite luxury hotels, grand palaces, hidden hideaways and chic retreats, most of which we have stayed in before and have a personal relationship with the owners who will pull out all the stops to spoil our guests with authentic cuisine and experiences. Whenever possible we like to take over a whole property.
Where do you both love to travel to? Do you have a favourite country?
We just love to travel to any exotic far flung locations but India will always be our firm favourite.
Interested in joining a tour with Chris and Carolyn? Get in touch with Sophie by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.