My Life In Travel: Charlotte Uhlenbroek, Editor
'The pilot practically landed the aircraft blind'
Saturday 27 September 2008
First holiday memory?
I lived in Ghana until I was about five, and I remember going to Busua beach when I was three or four, which was the most beautiful place. It was the first time I encountered waves.
After a bit of globetrotting, our family moved to Nepal and we often went trekking in the Himalayas. I love the sense of space and the peace; it's a different world. Another great holiday was a road trip across east Africa with my husband and some of his friends.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I'd love to travel in the British Isles more. I have a special place in my heart for Cornwall, because my husband and I got married near St Mawes. I have a friend who runs a fabulous pub called the Tinners Arms in Zennor. I also adore the Scottish Highlands.
What have you learnt from your travels?
To be open-minded. Wherever you go, people are basically the same, which is reassuring.
Ideal travelling companion?
My husband, Dan. We took a year off in 2004 and spent the year travelling and exploring together, doing a bit of charity work on the way.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I do love to flop on a beach with a pile of books. I'm also a real history junkie so I love visiting ruins. Dan is very active so we almost always do something, even if it's an adventurous hike or some sailing.
Greatest travel luxury?
I have a basic pack that includes some kind of music, a Leatherman knife, a good book and a camera.
I love reading novels, because it's great to switch off from work. I enjoy historical novels; on our last holiday I got hooked on Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander.
Where has seduced you?
So many places. Nepal seduced me from the word go and still does. East Africa is somewhere I really love, too; I always feel very close to the earth there. The Amazon was also one of the most mind-blowing places I've visited, as was Alaska.
Better to travel or arrive?
These days I prefer to arrive. When I was a child I loved the excitement of going to the airport. Having said that, journeys such as canoeing up the Amazon I could do forever.
Worst travel experience?
We had to land at a bush airstrip in Congo because we didn't have enough fuel. It was dark and there were no lights on the landing strip. The pilot practically landed blind, but thankfully the people who were waiting for us used their vehicle lights to guide us down.
There was a bad hotel in Mwanza, Tanzania. At the time, it was the only hotel there and had a disco attached to it that played incredibly loud music. There were bedbugs and no light bulbs or running water. The staff were delightful, though.
A tiny hotel in Peru that we stayed at when we filmed the Jungle series. It was up in the cloud forest with a stunning waterfall right by it. The forest was hung with lichen, so you felt you were in a magical, alien world.
Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?
My favourite walks have to be in the Himalayas. Diving in Papua New Guinea was absolutely stunning, with such a wealth of life. I also did a wonderful ride along the beach in Australia: the sense of space was incredible and the horses loved galloping through the surf.
Best meal abroad?
I love Indian food. The best meals I had in India were in tiny tea-shops where the thalis – a fabulous selection of different curries – cost the equivalent of about 30p. In Goa, we found a place that did the best tandoori fish I've had, accompanied by the most delicious naan bread.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
If I'm filming and it's daytime, we get on with things pretty promptly. Otherwise I like to take an aimless meander to get my bearings.
I'd love to travel to central Asia, particularly to the Mongolian steppe – I'm attracted to huge, open spaces. I'd also jump at the chance to go to Antarctica.
I love Rome. When I was a child, we'd have to stop in Rome, at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, which my father worked for. It's such a beautiful city.
I'm off to film chimps in Uganda.
Charlotte Uhlenbroek is editor-in-chief of 'Animal Life', published by Dorling Kindersley on 1 October (£30; www.dk.com)
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