My life in travel: Richard Branson

'Memories are made when travelling, not when you're chained to a desk'

Sir Richard Branson founded the Virgin Group in 1970 and Virgin Atlantic in 1984, which starts flights from Heathrow to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen this week. His new safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, opens in Kenya in July (mahalimzuri.virgin.com).

First holiday memory?

Salcombe in Devon. I remember it because it was the holiday when I learnt to swim. My aunt bet me 10 shillings that I couldn't master it by the end of the fortnight. The water was freezing that year, but I was determined to win the bet. It wasn't until we were on our way home, and we stopped by a river, that I finally managed it.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Devon holds a special place in my heart. As a child, I normally went on holiday to Bantham and have lots of happy memories from my time there. I used to catch sand eels in the early morning and go fishing for bass throughout the day. I remember a gull taking my bait.

Best holiday?

Necker [Branson's private isle in the British Virgin Islands]. I've got so many wonderful memories of times spent there with family and friends over the years. Two occasions stand out: my own wedding more than 20 years ago, and my daughter Holly's in 2011. Joan and I were thrilled, not only that she choose to have her wedding on Necker, but that she picked the same day as us, which now makes our anniversary even more special. It was also memorable because it took place in the ruins of the Great House after the fire and before the bulldozers came in to rebuild.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That there are still so many places to see and not enough time to do it. Seeing the world has been so enriching for me – I would encourage everyone to see as much of it as they can.

Ideal travelling companion?

My wife Joan, Holly, her husband Freddie and my son Sam with his new wife Isabella. For me, it's about having my family and friends around me when I'm away.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Adrenalin junkie. You only get one shot at life so you need to make the most of it. I've probably calmed down in recent years but I still like to be as adventurous as possible and stay active. My biggest passion sports-wise is kite-surfing.

Holiday reading?

I read everything, but generally more fact than fiction – especially autobiographies and biographies. I've read Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela at least twice on holiday. Every time I'm totally awed by his vision, strength and forgiveness. I feel honoured to have got to know him and his wonderful wife Graça over the years.

Where has seduced you?

Madagascar. I went there last year with my son and it truly captured my heart. It was so sad to see 95 per cent of the beautiful rainforests are being destroyed. Luckily, the remaining 5 per cent is absolutely magnificent with more diversity of species than almost anywhere else in the world. We're campaigning hard to help protect what is left of Madagascar and its wildlife.

Worst travel experience?

I love travelling full stop – so while I've had some harrowing instances, I never look at them negatively. Memories are made when you're travelling – not when you're chained to your desk. My worst one, however, must have been crossing the Pacific in a hot-air balloon when everything that could have gone wrong did. For three days, my Swedish teammate, Per Lindstrand, and I were both certain we'd never come home. As it turned out, we missed Los Angeles by 3,000 miles and ended up in the Arctic.

Favourite drive?

I always love going on a safari drive whenever I visit Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa. I've been fortunate to see so many incredible animals over the years and each time it's completely different. Following Ulusaba's pack of wild dogs is my highlight.

Best meal abroad?

At Icebergs on Bondi Beach. It has the most stunning views over the beach, fantastic food and wine, and you're always guaranteed a good time. I love Australia, especially Sydney, which has got to be one of my favourite places in the world.

Where next?

Kenya this summer for the opening of the new camp in the Maasai Mara, just in time for the annual Great Migration, which sees up to one million wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other game undertake a journey of roughly 1,600km through Tanzania and Kenya.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn