Jonathan Scott: My life in travel

'If I had one day left in my life, I'd spend it in the Maasai Mara'

Jonathan Scott is a zoologist, wildlife photographer, and presenter of BBC television's 'Big Cat Diary'

First holiday memory?

Taking the caravan to Bognor Regis. I grew up on a farm in Berkshire. My dad died when I was very little, but my mum was pretty adventurous, so the Morris Minor was attached to the caravan and we would drive down to the coast.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I used to live between Cookham and Maidenhead on a 40-acre smallholding and I loved it. We had a view of the fields, filled with hay and a little woodland. I was always into natural history so I loved looking for squirrels and foxes and badgers. It was an idyllic upbringing. Sadly, mum sold it when I was 15.

Best holiday?

I've spent so much of my life in Africa and it's all been a bit of a holiday. People ask: "When are you going to get a real job?" My biggest adventure was an overland trip from London to Johannesburg, more than 6,000 miles, the length and breadth of Africa. During four months, I got malaria, I got dysentery, and I just didn't care. It's also when I first saw the Maasai Mara – I've since been married there and it's the place I'd go if I only had one day left in my life.

Jonathan Scott: Next stop Burma Jonathan Scott: Next stop Burma What have you learnt from your travels?

To be adventurous and break free of what fear can do to you. You have to learn to understand acceptable risk. Most places you go, people mean you no harm. They will reach out to you and help you, whether you're short of directions or being invited in for a meal. You have to be optimistic.

Ideal travelling companion?

My wife, Angie. I'm noisy and talkative, but Angie is the opposite. She is beautiful and serene, quiet and the most wonderful listener. She has added some kindness to my wild and manic life.

Greatest travel luxury?

I have some very nice things, some beautiful artwork that we've collected, but the most important thing is Angie and the kids. I couldn't travel without is my camera though, and where possible, I love to take a pair of Swarovski binoculars.

Holiday reading?

I love reading autobiographies and books that explore the way we see things, such as Pathways to Bliss by a philosopher called Joseph Campbell. The key to life is understanding what your dream is and following it. You might not make a career of it, as I've been lucky enough to do, but certainly you've got to identify what it is.

Where has seduced you?

The Maasai Mara. Our main house is in Nairobi, a beautiful place with an Out of Africa view, that Karen Blixen talked about. We live in Langata and look out on to the landscape of the Ngong Hills. But we also have a little stone cottage in the Maasai Mara, which is where we get away to. It's where the Marsh pride of lions from Big Cat Diary lives.

Biggest adventure?

Antarctica. I've been about 17 times now and it is just the most unreal place, there's no other destination like it. If you have money and time, you would have to include South Georgia, home to tens of thousands of king penguins and elephant seals. On a sunny day, you're in paradise.

Best hotel?

The Oberoi group. We've stayed in so many of their hotels. Each of them has a different feel and yet, when you walk through the door, there's always someone waiting to help you. My favourite is Vanyavilas on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park. It's a tented lodge and and it's unbelievable.

Favourite swim?

We were just in Egypt, where Angie was born, on the Red Sea. She's hasn't been back since her family moved to Tanzania. The snorkelling is almost indescribable. The underwater world and the clarity of the ocean was mind-boggling.

Best meal?

We love seafood and the coast. If for any reason, we couldn't get our kids down to have a holiday by the sea, we would all go instead to the Tamarind Restaurant in Nairobi. We would start with crab claws, which you have to pre-order, because they're so popular, then move on to lobster and end with an outrageous brownie.

Favourite city?

San Francisco, where our son lives. I like the trams and the friendliness. I always think it's probably one of the best places in America to be hard up, because people are bound to be nice to you. There are lovely places to eat, good walks, the Golden Gate Bridge and you're in California!

Where next?

Angie's got a big interest in Buddhism, so we've been to Nepal and Bhutan before, but in December we are going to Burma. For us, as photographers, there are temples, monks and riverboats, so it should be incredible.

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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent