Travel: Passport - Martin Clunes - I was inspired by seeing 'Born Free' when I was a kid

WHAT happens when Martin Clunes from Men Behaving Badly takes off abroad? Is it straight down to Torremolinos with the boys for a fix of Hawaiian shirts, beach babes and warm lager?

Not quite. As patron of the Born Free Foundation, an animal welfare charity, Clunes has travelled to Africa three times this year in hot pursuit of Nina, a young African elephant. His journeys, which took him from Kenya and Tanzania to find a home for Nina after her reserve was closed down, formed the basis of the recent TV documentary "Born To Be Wild".

"I've always been an animal lover, ever since Born Free - the first film I remember seeing," he says. "Africa is amazing - a quarter of the world's landmass. And from a wildlife point of view it is just about the best place you can go to.

"What was good about helping Nina was not being in Africa on some sort of safari but being able to see the wildlife behind the scenes, as it were. Being directly involved in animals does the soul good - it reminds you that humans are just another species on this planet. It makes you feel insignificant in a positive way - like standing by the sea watching the waves, and realising that all your worries don't really amount to much in the scheme of things."

Still, Clunes had his fair share of cork-popping on a recent trip to Montana.

"I'm still jet lagged from the Sundance Film Festival," says Clunes. "My wife's film Sliding Doors was chosen to open the event. I was there, but only for a spot of ligging. It was great being up in the mountains. I got a lot of skiing in."

"There is one place I didn't like: Bangkok," he says. "I'm not a great fan of cities, anyway, and there were just so many people racing around - madness. Then again, my wife and I were on our way back from an idyllic late honeymoon in Malaysia. We stayed in two hotels on stilts - one right over the sea and the other in the middle of the rainforest. Then we took the Eastern & Orient Express from Singapore to Bangkok - two days and nights travelling through amazing scenery."

Martin Clunes is spearheading a safer sex campaign with the Terence Higgins Trust along with STA travel who are offering customers a comedy cassette in exchange for a pounds 1 donation. He will also be auctioning celebrity goods at the Independent Travellers' World shows. See page 9 for details.

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