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

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen