I must say my holidays are never relaxing and when I get home, I’m absolutely shattered and need a proper holiday to recuperate! If only that were possible…
Dad was a rally driver and has driven around the world, and Mum has reminisced incessantly about her backpacking days and made us go to some weird and wonderful destinations, so the travel bug was fully entrenched from a young age.
I’m not really a beach type person and get restless very quickly and always need a bit more ‘substance’ to my holidays. I would say Nepal is definitely up there as one of my all-time favourite places – not just for the incredible history and delicious food, but for the friendliness of the people and for the incredible hiking you can do and hidden guesthouses you can stay in.
After working in Ultimate’s Escorted Tours team for 6 years, organising and leading small group trips to countries worldwide, I thought it was time for a change. Although I still lead trips for Ultimate, (my next being Sri Lanka in March 2024, if you want to book a spot!) I’ve now moved into the Australasia team, selling tailor-made holidays to Australia and New Zealand. It’s an amazing region with so much variety, from fascinating native wildlife to adrenaline-fuelled adventure. Solitaire Lodge outside Rotorua in New Zealand is a good place to start, with incredibly attentive hosts and lots of activities to enjoy right on the doorstep.
If you’re someone who likes to get off the beaten track, the remote Tatoosh Islands near Ketchikan in Alaska is a must. I went kayaking there and although I’m told I’m a slight over-exaggerator, I’d say 30 metres away from me, (felt more like 1) a humpback whale breached creating these almighty tidal waves. It was one of those heart stopping moments; absolutely terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. A memory that will always stay with me!
Back in April, I travelled to Colombia to a remote part called the Serrania Las Quinchas Mountain Range.
Known for its emerald mining and unique flora and fauna endemic to that mountain range, we went hiking and lived on a diet of arepas and Ajiaco (some funky looking soup with every part of the chicken floating about!) foods I’m happy to live without forever more. We then flew up to the colourful caribbean coast for lots of salsa dancing. Nick VG’s taking a trip to Colombia in February 2024, which is definitely worth going on if you’re available, and I know the food will be a little more exciting than what I experienced and there’ll definitely be time to have a go at salsa too.
My latest foray was a horse riding and hiking adventure in Mongolia. My inner child really shone through as I galloped flat out along the Mongolian Steppe with a huge grin on my face, replicating the good old Thelwell illustrations. Out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, sleeping in a traditional Mongolian Ger, exhausting myself by the endless activities during the day and downing shots of vodka and dancing in the Gers by night; it was a pretty wild and indescribable adventure.
Where’s next? I think I now have a ‘need for speed’ and want to go riding again, so I’m planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan, (hemmed in by Kazakhstan to the North, Uzbekistan in the West, Tajikistan in the South, and China in the East) with a group of friends next year to ride in the Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve. Yep… quite rogue but looks insane. Sleeping in tents, dancing around campfires, and completely off grid for 10 days.
Come and join me on an Escorted tour to Sri Lanka next March. Suffering nearly 30 years of war, a devastating tsunami, coronavirus and then government protests, this country needs tourists more than ever. Sri Lankan’s are such humble people and couldn’t be more friendly and honest. Although a small island, I hardly scratched the surface when I went previously.
I’m very excited to be going up to the unexplored Jaffna, a place where until recent years has largely been neglected from most itineraries due to all the conflict. We’ll also be heading to Wilpattu, a nature reserve, less touristy than the ones in the south where we’ll hopefully get a chance to spot leopard… this is nature, so this is not a guarantee and please don’t sign up to this trip solely to see these elusive creatures! This park has the largest population of leopard in Sri Lanka, so let’s keep our fingers firmly crossed. Come hungry – the Sri Lankan cuisine is sensational and you’ll come home a chef as we’ll be sourcing and cooking some delicacies ourselves.