My early travel memories are of long car journeys squashed in the middle seat, bickering with my sisters and listening to Harry Potter tapes. Then, as a teenager I visited Morocco and really caught the travel bug. I loved the bright colours in the souks, the exotic foods in the market and the general hustle and bustle.
After that I took every travel opportunity I could and have been lucky enough to travel extensively throughout Asia, South and Central America, and my latest obsession is seeing more of Africa. I love staying in a luxury hotel as much as the next person, but my travel highlights almost always come from the opportunity to get close to nature, especially when you have it all to yourself (which often means going a little off the beaten track or out of season).
Horse riding safari in Kenya – I adore giraffes so getting the opportunity to get within a few feet of one whilst on a horse was very special. I sat quietly in the saddle and watched it eat as yellow-billed oxpeckers hop around it cleaning its mane of bugs.
Sunrise volcano climb, Bali – Climbing up the black sand of an active volcano before dawn, in the dark with a head torch on to see the sun rise from the top and enjoy breakfast cooked on volcano heat was pretty memorable.
Gorilla trekking and tree climbing lions in Uganda – the adrenaline of sitting within a few meters of a silverback male is hard to beat (especially when the guides have told you what to do if they charge). I also loved seeing the tree climbing lions who look similarly awkward coming down from a tree to a pet cat stuck up one.
Lewa Wilderness – Kenya. Stunning, bright rooms which have beautiful views over the valley and four poster beds, a pool to relax by and a huge option of safari activities including walking and horse-riding safaris. This place is hard to beat.
Jim’s Farm Villas – Sri Lanka. On top of a hill, the location is stunning with gorgeous views and set within a 50 acre plantation (and the Hilltop villa is perfect for families). I remember watching fireflies at night by the pool, learning to make egg hoppers and you can also travel to the main house on tuktuks!
Saruni Mara – Kenya. As a big cat fan this ticked all my boxes – in three days I saw – lions with their cubs playing, a blue eyed leopard and a cheetah with six cubs trying to catch her lunch. Fantastic Italian food (the best I’ve had in Kenya) and warm, friendly staff.
Where I’ve been recently
Top Travel Tips
Do the thing that scares you – many of my favourite travel experiences have involved me doing something that pushes me a little out of my comfort zone – whether it is a walking safari or a diving experience. If there is something that you feel both excited and a little nervous about, you’ll be thrilled once you’ve done it!
Put your phone away – holidays are often about spending time with your nearest and dearest. If you can, leave your phone in your hotel safe and check it once a day and delete social media apps for the period your away – you can share all your snaps once back.
Ear plugs and an eye mask – for me these are sleep essentials when travelling!