Michaela Strachan / Rex

'The wilds of Africa were so exotic in the Seventies'

Going to Cape Town changed me.

Thirteen years ago I was thinking about buying a place there. I came over and within 10 days I'd chosen a place and bought it, and met [my partner] Nick. My whole life changed; I rented my house out in Bristol and came to Cape Town. That was it, and I never looked back. I live in Hout Bay, just outside Cape Town, and I often say to my nine-year-old son, "Should we go and live in England?" and he always says: "No thanks, Mum."

Something everyone should do in Cape Town is see the penguins.

If you go down the boardwalk there's a beach that you pay to go on, and, depending on the tides, you might be lucky enough to see an African penguin swimming next to you. Or you walk on the beach and the penguins are there.

I'm allergic to elephants.

Most people wouldn't even know if they were, but I found out just how badly I was allergic when I did a series called Elephant Diaries, and we were around them all the time. Orphaned elephants, with their trunks around us, their hairs on us; I don't know what part of the elephant I'm allergic to, but when I'm surrounded by them like that I come out in a rash, my eyes start streaming. But I think I've got a lot better. We were filming recently around them and normally I'd start sneezing, but I didn't.

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Visiting South Africa changed Michaela (Rex)

Visiting Kenya as a child gave me a real love of Africa.

I must have been about 10. We were in a room at Treetops, an amazing lodge, where if you switched the switch they would tell you if there was anything interesting at the waterhole. But my brother had food poisoning, and he was being sick, so we had to turn the buzzer off. I was so cross in the morning because my mum and dad had seen these amazing things and I missed out because of my brother. In those days – that would have been the late Seventies – it wasn't so accessible to go to Kenya as it is now. So, to go to the wilds of Africa was a really exotic thing to do at that time.

My luggage was lost in Russia.

We were filming a special for The Really Wild Show in Moscow. We arrived, but our luggage didn't. We were given a choice of waiting three days for our luggage to come, or carry on without. So, we went without. It was minus 28C on the coldest day, and I was presenting, so that was a horrible decision to make. We got there and the only thing open on a Sunday afternoon was a flea market, so we ran around trying to buy all these cheap, rubbishy scarves.

Food isn't important on my travels.

I'm vegetarian and in most places it's very difficult to get vegetarian food. The worst was Paris; it's the one place I found where people didn't make the effort, although that was quite a few years ago so it might have changed. The place I was really impressed with was India; the food was really different to the Indian food that I've tasted in the UK and in Cape Town. Some people travel for the food, but so long as I've got something to keep me going I'm fairly content.

I really love the wilderness.

In the Cairngorms, doing Winterwatch, I had a two-and-a-half hour walk one morning when we weren't filming, and it was just beautiful – we had thick snow and the whole environment was just absolutely stunning. There were two of us walking, and we didn't see another person until we were a bit nearer the road.

When you travel, you've got to have patience.

You have to be willing to compromise, try not to stress, put yourself out of your comfort zone, and always find the positives. And, on a practical note, take a bright, colourful bag so that when it's going round and round at the airport, you can spot it easily.

Michaela Strachan is a television presenter and an ambassador for Exodus (jointheexodus.com)

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