I first made the acquaintance of Africa in the early 1980s as an assistant overland expedition leader. And it was love at first bite.
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Since those early years I have visited the continent many times in many different guises. My favourite trip, by a short head, is riding from Windhoek to Walvis Bay across the Namib Desert. But how do you choose between a riding safari, a gorilla safari, a birding trip, a Kili trek and watching the wildebeest migration? It really would be like choosing your favourite child!
Over the course of my career, I have opened a specialist Adventure travel agency; sold it to establish a tour operator specialising in horseback expeditions; and helped set up the Book Bus, an altruistic organisation bringing literacy to rural Zambia.
To choose a single memory of Africa that captures the continent for me, it’s the sound of laughter at night: sound carries in the bush, particularly if you’re under canvas, and no matter where you are in Africa, there always seems to be a nearby village. In the peace of the evening, laughter from around the campfire seems to reach your semi-sleeping ears, perfectly framing the nightscape. And to perfectly complement that, I remember being in the Okavango Delta one Christmas – the season the bell frogs choose their mates – and the delicate tinkling of their calls as they serenaded each other was just enchanting.
These days I live on the edge of Dartmoor, not too far from the Atlantic coast, with my wife and two increasingly independent daughters. And let’s face it, if you can’t live in Africa, rural Devon ain’t a bad compromise!