Active Traveller

My life in active travel: Simon King

'Holidays are often peppered with work'

Simon King is a television presenter and film maker

First holiday memory?
Travelling through France in a VW caravanette with my family, table football, Pez sweets in their plastic dispensers, ordering a Coke in French – all set the scene for a life of travel.

Best holiday?
Holidays are often peppered with work for me. When we stay in a country on a filming project, we will sometimes bolt on a few days at the end to chill. Top spots have included the Kenyan coast in Lamu and Argentina's mountains.

Favourite place in the British Isles?
Shetland. It is a land apart, with the warmest welcome I have ever experienced; a true sense of wilderness.

What have you learnt from your travels?
Tolerance; to remain nonjudgemental; to listen more than talk; and to be open to new experiences at all times.

Ideal travelling companion?
My wife, my children, good friends. Sharing the journey is such an enriching element to travel. And, selfishly perhaps, from time to time being alone is important too.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
All of the above. Chilling on a beach, jumping up and kitesurfing (badly) and then heading for a museum. All a completely fulfilling and necessary part of a break from the norm. That said, my life is rarely "norm"!

Greatest travel luxury?
A hip flask with my favourite malt whisky.

Holiday reading?
Everything and anything. Books on business management, light novels, weighty tomes. Reading is such a delicious indulgence for me, I so rarely get the chance when working.

Where has seduced you?
Kenya always, Shetland forever, the Scottish Western Isles, the Massif Central in France. Tuscany in any season, Vancouver, Cape Town... so many places!

Better to travel or to arrive?
Both are precious. We lead an itinerant lifestyle, and sometimes the logistics of travel can weigh heavy – but a well-planned journey is fulfilling in so many ways. Long-haul flights, especially if seated comfortably, are one of the few times I get to completely relax and disengage.

Worst travel experience?
The airport at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Brutal, rude, unpleasant and disrespectful.

Worst holiday?
I don't do resorts very well. Squeezed alongside people roasting by the pool in Turkey or Spain is not my idea of fun.

Worst hotel?
The Kensington Hilton. With a name like that, it should be fabulous, but the rooms have a complete lack of charm.

Best hotel?
So many wonderful places around the world. Fundu Lagoon on Pemba Island, Matemwe Bungalows in Zanzibar, Gidleigh Park in Dartmoor.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?
Driving in the Masai Mara searching for cheetahs, riding in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy reserve in Laikipia, Kenya alongside reticulated giraffe, walking the coast of Shetland, looking for killer whales and otters.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Buy a guide book, a phrase book and a bird book.

Dream trip?
Three months' travelling through a country with my family overland, with nowhere to go. Perhaps the US, Russia or Australia.

Best meal abroad?

Under the stars of an Australian desert sky, grilling rabbit fillets over an open fire.

Favourite city?
Difficult one. Paris and Florence for culture and beauty, Cape Town and Vancouver for fun and positive thinkers.

Where next?
I'm currently based in the Masai Mara in Kenya, then back to the UK for projects in Britain including Springwatch. Perhaps a trip to the Caribbean, if life allows.

Simon King will be signing copies of his new book, "Shetland Diaries", at this year's Outdoors Show, 26-28 March at the NEC, Birmingham. For more information, visit

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