'Having whales around your kayak is worrying'

Frederick Forsyth's passport is jam-packed with stamps. His hobbies of swimming, scuba-diving, and fishing take him abroad six or seven times a year. Mauritius, Mauritania, Moscow, Mustique, Oman, Bangkok - you name it, he's been there. His trip to Oman in January sounds exciting. He says: "I was diving over the coral just off the coast of Oman and also fishing for yellow fin tuna. I was with the Sultan's desert regiment who are mostly ex-SAS - they are wild, hairy buggers, and great fun. They took me to the desert and we lived in tents for a couple of nights, playing Lawrence - except our camels happened to be Toyotas." Forsyth was in Mustique in February, staying with friends. He says: "I hate lying by the pool. The first thing I do is find a local fisherman and say 'Take me out'. We tried to go deep sea fishing for wahoo and it was too rough. I don't mind wild sea, but when the waves were the size of two-storey houses and coming at us from the side, I thought, 'One of these is going to break over us and that's us gone.' So I said to my skipper, 'Would you care to turn back?' I've never seen a more relieved Caribbean in my life!" Flicking through his passport Forsyth points out a stamp for Alaska which brings back more fishing memories. "We went to Alaska for king salmon which, at about a yard long, is the big boy. We were also kayaking through the ice floes and saw seals, bears, mountain goats, sea lions, and whales. I must say having whales around you in a kayak is worrying." Forsyth, who has written eight best-sellers, continues: "The places I go tend to be out of the way. I do that for a reason. I don't want to find half the West End racked up, toasting themselves, when I arrive. I find the people nicer if a place has not been over-touristified, the - seas are usually clearer and unpolluted and the diving and fishing is better."

Is there anywhere left for Forsyth to visit? "I want to see India and we are going this autumn to Rajasthan, which is like The Jewel In The Crown India - magnificent forts and maharajas' palaces. Some of the palaces have been converted into hotels, some stand on lakes." There is just one drawback about Rajasthan - no fishing.

Rosanna Greenstreet

8 Frederick Forsyth's latest novel, 'Icon', is published by Corgi, at pounds 5.99.

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