`I went to conserve wildlife and ended up eating most of it'

The first entries in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's current passport are dated 1988. Having just left Oxford, Hugh spent six months driving round southern Africa with a friend. The idea of the trip was to carry out research for a paper on conservation, which gave Hugh and his friend the perfect excuse to spend six months on safari.

They started in Johannesburg where they bought a four wheel drive truck and went on to visit some 20 game reserves in Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. They spent their nights under canvas and cooked meals on an open fire. The pair discovered bread-making, and made cheese and onion, garlic, herb and even fruit bread in an old cast iron pot. The campers had trouble with hyenas, who chewed their cooking pans, and they had to defend themselves against baboons raiding their supplies. A homemade catapult made from a forked stick and the inner tube of a bicycle wheel soon saw them off.

According to Hugh, one of the ironies of the trip was at the same time that they were making their study of conservation, they were slowly eating their way through Africa's wildlife. Hugh tried ostrich biltong and roasted impala liver, and has to say both were delicious.

In 1989 Hugh gave up cooking at the River Cafe and turned his hand to journalism. He began to go on press trips abroad. His passport shows that in 1991 he visited Nairobi, to write about marlin fishing. He didn't catch a marlin, but a huge and hideous hammerhead shark weighing 120lb.

A year later he went on to press trip to the wine country of Chile. At the end of the trip he headed down south to do some trout fishing in Patagonia. The weather was dreadful, but the fishing sensational, and Hugh happily recalls the one afternoon when the sun came out and he made a little fire and cooked trout by the side of the river.

Along with fishing, diving is another of Hugh's passions. He learned to dive in London and then made two trips to Egypt in 1990 and 1991. Hugh says that after Swiss Cottage swimming pool - where the most exciting thing you saw was somebody's corn plaster - the Red Sea was massively exciting. In 1994 he went diving in the Seychelles where he saw three huge stingrays in a coral cave. Apparently if each one had been a table top you could have sat six for dinner round them. While Hugh was in the Seychelles he made a fruitless search for a local delicacy - curried bat. In a couple of weeks he's going back to the Seychelles for more diving, and he's determined to track down that bat.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before