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Getting To Know Simon Reeve

TV presenter & New York Times Bestselling Author Simon Reeve will be will be sharing his travel experiences and greatest adventurers at Destinations (29th January to 1st February). We met up with Simon Reeve and asked him a few questions about his personal travel experiences and his predictions for 2015's travel hot-spots and trends. Here's a sneak preview of what to expect.

What destination surprised you the most?

I’m surprised by almost everywhere I visit. That’s one of the many great things about travel! If I was forced to give just the one example then I’d go for the Maldives. I thought all those pictures in the brochures are photo-shopped, but the colours really are that strong, and the sea really is that amazing. I was blown away by the place. And the treasures in the sea there are incredible. I was in the water as a dozen manta rays came flying through the sea towards me. That was a priceless experience.

What is the most unusual souvenir you have in your home?

I was travelling across the island of Borneo for a TV series and went to stay with a family of indigenous former headhunters. They said they wanted to adopt me. I could hardly say no. So they smeared me with blood and presented me with a short fighting sword. It’s got a series of notches along the blade, which apparently equals the number of heads it’s been used to chop. I’ve got it hanging from a hook, out of reach of my young son.

What has been your scariest travelling experience?

We’re always warned how dangerous it is beyond Dover, but I’ve always been amazed how safe and welcoming most of the world really is. That’s probably been the biggest surprise for me since I started travelling. But obviously for TV we’re required to go off the beaten track and to some pretty dodgy places. I’ve been shot at and I’ve found myself in minefields. I was scared to death in Mogadishu, Somalia, when I was being guarded by a group of stoned local mercenaries and our makeshift local tank encountered another gang. Everyone screamed and turned their weapons on each other. I was stuck in the middle and thought I was toast. Travelling covertly into a dangerous area of Burma was also frightening. And so are Indian roads.

What has been your most memorable travel experience?

I feel like I’ve been pretty blessed by a lifetime of incredible travel memories. That’s what I love about going on a trip or adventure. You rack-up experiences that will linger in the mind forever. The most memorable are those moments when you really connect with somebody who is living a completely different life in a completely different world. I’ve drunk tea with the Masai in Africa, shared a laugh and a piece of goat with a remote tribe in South America, and heard incredible tales while hunting with the Bushmen of the Kalahari. I never take those experiences for granted. I know how lucky I am. 

In your opinion, what’s going to be big in travel for 2015?

I think people are looking for more exciting and memorable experiences while they’re on their travels. Whether they’re off on holiday to a resort, or going on a backpacking adventure, people want to do things, taste things and experience things that they’ll remember long after their tan has faded. The market for ‘adventure tourism’ is growing rapidly, and I think that covers a huge range of experiences. It’s not just people bombing down a hill on a mountain bike. It’s doing things that encourage you out of your comfort zone so that your senses can be tweaked and teased. That’s the way to rack up some great memories.


See Simon Reeve, in conversation with Paul Goldstein, discussing his latest travel adventures at The Stanfords Travel Writers Festival at 1pm each day of the show. Simon will be taking questions from the audience at the end of the interview and you can meet him at the 'Signings at Stanfords' shop after this event to get one of his books signed.

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