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.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit