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Steppes Leading Ladies | Issue Six | August | Freespirits

Our sixth edition of ‘Leading Ladies’ champions the Free Spirits. Women who followed their passions, whose hearts ruled their heads and who have become masters of their own fate, such as Lady Jane Digby who aged forty-six travelled to the Middle East and married a Sheikh.

Children’s author Katherine Rundell whose roof and tightrope walking gives her the same buzz as her childhood passion for climbing trees in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Katya Galitzine who travelled to the former Soviet Union in 1989 to learn Russian and study sculpture and ended up making St Petersburg her home for the next 10 years.

We hope you will be inspired to follow your heart on your next travels…

Justin WateridgeJustin round
Managing Director | Steppes Travel

 

header image © Andrew Crowley / The Telegraph

 

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“Jane Digby had everything: beauty, aristocratic connections, money and as revealed in her letters, poetry and intimate diaries – a highly original mind. She was an intrepid traveller and finally found happiness in Arabia. A remarkable woman. Her life was as she desired” – Odete Lind ( Fifth cousin of Jane Digby).

Lady Jane Digby ( 3 April 1807 – 11 August 1881) was an English aristocrat who lived a scandalous life full of romantic adventure. She had four husbands and many lovers including King Ludwig I of Bavaria and his son King Otto of Greece. However she became known for her travels to the Middle East. Aged forty-six she fell in love with Sheikh Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab, connected to the great Anizzah tribe of Syria. He was twenty years her junior and she married him, adopting Arab dress, learning Arabic and spending half of each year living a nomadic life in desert tented camps. She lived this way with the Sheikh for over 28 years. Dividing her time between desert life and in a palatial villa in Damascus. She was referred to as Shaikhah Imm al-Laban (Mother of Milk) due to her pale complexion.

Want to know more – we recommend reading ‘A Scandalous Life’ by (one time Steppes group tour expert) Mary S Lovell.

FOLLOW IN JANE’S FOOTSTEPS TO THE MIDDLE EAST

Katherine Rundell

“Never ignore a possible”  – Katherine Rundell ‘Rooftoppers’

Katherine Rundell is the author of Rooftoppers, Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and The Wolf Wilder. She grew up in Zimbabwe where her love of climbing trees began. Growing up in Africa and writing a book about cartwheels is always going to resonate with the team at Steppes.

She begins each day with a cartwheel and believes that reading is almost exactly the same as cartwheeling. It should turn your world upside down and leave you breathless. In her spare time she can be found walking on tightropes and trespassing on the rooftops of Oxford colleges.

CARTWHEEL WITH THE KIDS ON A FAMILY HOLIDAY

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Katya Galitzine

Katya Galitzine travelled to the former USSR in 1989 to learn Russian and study sculpture. St Petersburg became her home for 10 tumultuous years of political change. Katya is a descendent of Catherine the Great and set up The Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library in 1994 in memory of her father. It is now the only Anglo-Russian library in St Petersburg, a thriving cultural centre in her grandmother’s house. She is also hosting our group tour to Russia

We asked Katya to share her thoughts on who has inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

What was your earliest or childhood ambition?

To be a Nurse – I liked the uniform, hated the blood aspect, so not much future there. I had met Florence Nightingale’s grandson when I was about 5 and that made a big impression on me.

You best piece of travel advice?

In my twenties I met an artist/film director called Jean Negulesco – he told me the secret to happiness is to always have enough money to make a journey, it did not matter whether it was a trans-Atlantic air flight or a short train journey at home. I have tried to keep to that premise and found it to be true. If you have a journey to prepare for or look forward to, everyday life becomes thrilling again.

If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

It’s not over yet…

Read our full Q & A with katya here

JOIN KATYA IN RUSSIA

Russian Revolution

 7 DAYS FROM £2,595 PP

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Combining the vitality of Marrakech with the Atlas mountains and dramatic Atlantic coastline. The perfect muse for any would-be sketcher. No art experience required.

JOIN MAXINE IN MOROCCO

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Who has inspired you? Cast your vote as to who we should feature next. Send your suggestions to leadingladies@steppestravel.co.uk

British Travel Awards Did you know? The British Travel Awards 2016 are now open for voting and we’d be extremely grateful if you could vote for Steppes Travel in the category ‘Best Luxury Holiday Company.’ You can cast your vote here

What's-On-headerBeyond Steppes Travel FestivalBEYOND Steppes Festival
Royal Geographical Society London
17th & 18th September 2016

Have you booked your tickets yet? New speakers just announced include Jonathan Scott from ‘Big Cat Diaries.
See more on our dedicated Festival website

Buy your tickets

Featured speakers: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Chris Packham, Benedict Allen, Alastair Humphreys, Colin Bell, Steve Leonard, Edurne Pasaban, Hanli Prinsloo, Monty Halls, Kenton Cool…and much more.

Get in touch to start planning your next holiday. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Katya Galitzine

Katya Galitzine travelled to the former USSR in 1989 to learn Russian and study sculpture. St Petersburg became her home for 10 tumultuous years of political change. Katya is a descdendent of Catherine the Great and set up The Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library in 1994 in memory of her father. It is now the only Anglo-Russian library in St Petersburg, a thriving cultural centre in her grandmother’s house. She is also hosting our group tour to Russia

We asked Katya to share her thoughts on who has inspired her, her best travel advice and more…

1. What is your earliest or childhood ambition?

To be a nurse, I liked the uniform, hated the blood aspect, so not much future there. I had met Florence Nightingale’s grandson when I was about 5 and that made a big impression on me.

2. What motivates you to do what you do?

Truth and laughter.

3. Who has inspired you to do what you do?

Strangely I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of very famous, successful people who have achieved great things in their lives; some of whom I was inspired by, but then I got to know them and realised that everyone is human and we all have failings. So I think my greatest inspiration is my son, even before he existed. I wanted to do things so my children/child could be proud of me. Of course, reality is, he is not interested in my past and all the things I have done in my life at all. I’m just his Mum – but it brings me great joy to know I that I have a fund of stories to tell him, when he eventually wants to listen.

4. If your 20 year old self could see you now what would she think?

I would be most surprised at myself and my present life and most probably think what a bore I have become, but glad that I am happy.

5. in what place are you happiest?

In St Petersburg, no doubt about it – but I also really like airports and the anticipation of flying somewhere new.

6. What ambitions do you still have?

Never having been very ambitious, I have dreams instead: to see pandas in the wild, to climb Mount Kinabalu or look inside a volcano. Back home to direct a contemporary Macbeth set in modern day Russia and write more books.

7. Ambition or talent: which matters more?

I studied sculpture for 6 years with a grand master, Mikhail Anikushin – the People’s Sculptor of the Soviet Union and he drummed it into me that being an artist is 10% talent and 90% hard work.  These days people with ‘ambition’ tend to work hard, so I suppose my practical answer is ‘ambition’ – but I think ‘talent’ is more thrilling!

8. how often do you travel?

I tend to visit St Petersburg every other month, where I manage The Galitzine Memorial Library.  A project I set up with my Mother in memory of my father, George.  We are now in our 3rd decade and continue our undertaking to provide books about Russia that were printed abroad, our main field of interest has become the lost generation of Russians who were forced to emigrate during the 75 years of communism. We are a registered charity (No 1015036) and rely on donations from people interested in supporting our worthwhile cause.

9. do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes and No. Due to everything I am involved in, I spend a lot of time travelling and Russia is very polluted, but due to the economics of the nation and its size, very little has been done to correct it.  On the flip side, due to a poorer population, most people in the cities do not have cars, do not eat meat every day, they recycle clothes and household goods and all their newspapers, cardboard and bottles, a throwback from Soviet days.  Plastic containers have only appeared in Russia in the last 25 years and they now litter the sides of roads and rubbish dumps; every time I see one, it reminds me how comparatively new capitalism is to Russia and how fast they have adopted it and all its bad habits.

I remember visiting Lake Baikal about 10 years ago at the end of the summer and seeing mounds of rubbish piled up against this beautiful clear lake, it was quite shocking; the guide who was with us, blithely told me not to worry – because Greenpeace volunteers come at the end of the season and clear it up for them!

I think ‘Time’ these days is the enemy of the environment; we are all in such a rush to get everywhere and do so much, that we have to get places quicker and that always uses more fuel; as people in the modern world, we all want to achieve more, advance more – whether it is greed or ambition or just so many more opportunities on offer, it uses up natural resources much quicker than they are produced – so I am all for supporting trips that help eco-systems and think more should be done to support reforestation, such as Steppes Travel do or British Airways.

I notice that the next generation, is brought up much more aware of their carbon footprint than we were and this gives me great hope.  I also try to teach my son how precious this world is and how the fact that the planet is round is important; what goes around comes around, or better still the immortal words of Lou Reed, “You’ve got to reap just what you sow”.

10. the one essential you travel with?

If only there was just one! I envy those who travel light. Contact lenses – so that I can see, that is essential. Otherwise, I like to have one of my exercise books and a pencil. I am just learning that an iPhone has a programme called ‘Notes.’

11. your best piece of travel advice?

In my twenties I met an artist/film director called Jean Negulesco – he told me the secret to happiness is to always have enough money to make a journey. It does not matter whether it’s a trans-Atlantic air flight or a short train journey at home. I have tried to keep to that premise and found it to be true. If you have a journey to prepare for or look forward to, everyday life becomes thrilling again.

12. what advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Avoid the quagmire! ( That’s a legal term, by the way).

13. if you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

It’s not over yet…

Get in touch to start planning your holiday to Russia. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Steppes Leading Ladies Issue Five | July | Primates

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“We admit that we like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes.” – Richard Dawkins

Our fifth edition of Leading Ladies champions our pioneering primatologists. Women like Dian Fossey who dedicated her life to the conservation of Mountain Gorillas and brought this endangered species back from the brink.

Women like Jane Goodall who arrived in Tanzania, age 26 with a notebook, a pair of binoculars and a strong desire to study wild chimpanzees. Now one of the worlds leading primate ambassadors whose conservation work continues to protect chimps, habitat and local communities worldwide.

Ashley Leiman, who first visited the rainforests of Malaysia in 1974, set up the Orangutan Foundation UK to help primate conservation and today leads our Borneo Orangutan conservation tour to Tanjung Puting National Park.

Justin WateridgeJustin round
Managing Director | Steppes Travel

P.S Every hour rainforest areas the equivalent to 300 football pitches are being destroyed in Malaysia and Indonesia by the palm oil industry.

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Dian Fossey changed the future of gorilla conservation.

In 1967 Dian Fossey set up camp in Rwanda’s Parc des Volcan. She found a species on the brink of extinction. Although Dian was not an advocate of gorilla tourism – it is this aspect and the money generated from tourism that has helped fund their conservation and pay the park guides to protect these great apes.

Almost 50 years later they are still endangered but protected and the population is slowly climbing with an estimated 880 Mountain Gorillas in the world.

“The man who kills animals today is the man who kills the people who get in his way tomorrow.” – Dian Fossey

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS

GORILLA TREKKING HOLIDAYS

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“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”  – Jane Goodall

Dr Jane Goodall DBE is one of the world’s leading primatologists in chimpanzee behaviour.

Best know for her 55 year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Goodall’s research challenged long term beliefs that only humans could construct and use tools and that chimpanzees were vegetarian. She observed chimpanzees feeding at a termite mound placing grass stalks into the mound to fish for termites and also stripping leaves from twigs to make them more effective as a tool for capturing. She also observed chimps hunting and eating colobus monkeys.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS

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Ashley-Leiman, founder of Orangutan Foundation UK

Ashley Leiman founded the Orangutan Foundation UK in 1990. One of the leading figures in orangutan conservation, Ashley spends approx a third of her year in the field (predominatly in Indonesian Borneo).She is also leading our trip to Borneo

We asked Ashley to share her thoughts on who has inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

Who has inspired you to to what you do?

Growing up I wanted to be Albert Schweitzer, the French-German theologian, organist, philosopher and physician. He inspired me with the words “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

What inspires you?

My first experience in 1974 in the rainforests of Malaysia, I knew I was ‘home.’ Today it’s the continued motivation and enthusiasm of our Indonesian staff and knowing we make a difference.

What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

They are future conservationists – change is in their hands.

Read our full Q & A with ASHLEY here

JOIN ASHLEY IN BORNEO

Indonesian-Borneo-Orangutan-Conservation-Tour-

 11 DAYS FROM £2,795 PP

Gorilla-Trekking-Guide

Download our guide for expert tips and FAQ on what to pack, which parks to visit, our choice of accommodation and what family groups and behaviour you might see.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GUIDE

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Alex Walker Ladybug safaris

In conjunction with Alexander Walker’s Serian, we are offering the first-ever fully female guided safari. Start your journey in Kenya’s Mara North Conservancy and then head into Tanzania’s Northern Serengeti.

FIRST ALL FEMALE GUIDED SAFARI

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Who has inspired you? Cast your vote as to who we should feature next. Send your suggestions to leadingladies@steppestravel.co.uk
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“It is thought that one in ten products found on supermarket shelves today come from palm oil. Rainforest areas the equivalent to 300 football pitches are being destroyed every hour in Malaysia and Indonesia.”

According to the UN  there is risk that by 2020 there will be no wild orangutan remaining outside protected areas. What can we do to help protect the habitat of the orangutan?

READ BLOG

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Beyond Steppes Travel FestivalBEYOND Steppes Festival Royal Geographical Society, London
17th & 18th September 2016

Ashley Leiman will be speaking at the Festival along with our many key speakers.

Buy your tickets

Featured speakers: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Chris Packham, Benedict Allen, Alastair Humphreys, Colin Bell, Steve Leonard, Edurne Pasaban, Hanli Prinsloo, Monty Halls, Kenton Cool…and much more.

Get in touch to start planning your next holiday. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Ashley Leiman

Ashley Leiman in Boreno at the Orangutan Reintroduction Camp

Ashley Leiman founded the Orangutan Foundation UK in 1990. One of the leading figures in orangutan conservation, Ashley spends approx a third of her year in the field ( predominantly in Indonesian Borneo). She is also leading our Borneo Orangutan Conservation Tour.

We asked Ashley to share her thoughts on who inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

1. WHAT WAS YOUR EARLIEST OR CHILDHOOD AMBITION?

I wanted to be an explorer and show jumper.

2. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

The world would be a poorer place without the tropical forest and life within.

3. WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

Growing up I wanted to be Albert Schweitzer, the French-German theologian, organist, philosopher and physician. I was moved by his words – “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

4. WHat inspires you?

My first experience in 1974 in the rainforests of Malaysia, I knew I was ‘home.’ Today it’s the continued motivation and enthusiasm of our Indonesian staff and knowing we make a difference.

5. If your 20 year old self could see you now what would she think?

Not surprised. I was never mainstream. But hopefully proud of what I have achieved.

6. in what place are you happiest?

Remote Scotland and in my workplace in Kalimantan.

7. do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes, but with work 6,532 miles away I have no choice but to travel by air. However, I rarely take holidays…

8. the one essential you travel with?

Reading light.

9. your best piece of travel advice?

Read at least one book on your destination. Take your curiosity with you and don’t be afraid of new experiences.

10. what advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

They are future conservationists – change is in their hands.

11. if you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

I wouldn’t change anything. Any earlier and I wouldn’t have the wisdom and experience.

Travel with Ashley to Borneo

Indonesian Borneo - Orangutan Conservation Tour

Expert led group tour

Indonesian Borneo – Orangutan Conservation Tour

11 days from £2,895pp

View Group Tour

Get in touch to start planning your holiday to Borneo. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Zara Fleming

Zara-Fleming

Zara Fleming is an independent art consultant, researcher and exhibition curator who has specialist knowledge of Buddhist art. She first visited Bhutan in 1976 and has been returning ever since. She has been responsible for the Tibetan and Nepalese collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Assistant Projects Director in Europe for the Orient Foundation.

We asked Zara to share her thoughts on what motivates her to do what she does, who inspired her, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…

1. WHAT WAS YOUR EARLIEST OR CHILDHOOD AMBITION?

I am not sure which came first to become a farmer (as I was brought up on a farm and loved looking after the animals and living the outdoor life) or to travel to Tibet and the Himalayas. From the age of 7, this was my ambition (I had a teacher who told us about the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile which had happened that month (March 1959) and according to my teacher I was very moved…….and got the school to raise money for refugee children. We also had a colouring book with a picture of the Himalayas and a Tibetan lady with a yak and I knew then that this was the place I really wanted to explore. I now live on a sheep farm in North Wales and travel frequently to the Himalayas.

2. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

The joy of living and the pleasure I get from sharing my love of the Himalayas and Buddhist culture with others. This could be through travelling, lecturing, organising exhibitions or researching a client’s Tibetan object. I also love initiating or contributing to small scale health and education projects in the Himalayas, to give something back to my friends in the Himalayas – who have given me so much.

3. WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

My first teacher (Mrs Pipe) was hugely influential by introducing me to Tibet and by instilling in me the importance of being true to myself.  The inspiration for travel and adventure came from my grandmother, but also later from Peter Hopkirk who encouraged me to become a travel guide and lead the first British tour to Tibet in 1981. And last but not least I am inspired by the many Tibetan lamas whom I have met, who have introduced me to a path of wisdom and compassion.

4. What ambitions do you still have?

Whilst I am still physically fit, I would like to trek and explore various parts of the Himalayas which I have not yet been to – and be able to introduce more people to this inspirational part of the world and to a Buddhist culture which I love so much.

Whilst my mental powers are still OK, I would like to write a book of my travel experiences. And although not a real ambition, my aim each day is to think less of myself and to make other people happy.

My immediate ambition is to take my husband to Bhutan later this year, as we got engaged at Takstang in November 1976 – to celebrate 40 years of being together and to thank him for his patience when I travel solo.

5. WHat matters most – ambition or talent?

A combination of both, talent is doing something you are good at and enjoy and ambition is the driving force which gets you where you want to go. But you also need enthusiasm!

6. If your 20 year old self could see you know what would she think?

When I was 20, I was somewhat shy and naive and although I had trained in museum studies and still wanted to go to the Himalayas, I did not have a future plan.  Looking at me now, I think she would be somewhat amazed that I had ended up with a career that combines my love of Buddhist art and travel in the Himalayas.

7. IF YOU had to rate your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Eight or eight and a half.

8. in what place are you happiest?

Where I feel at home and this is where my heart is, which is either in the hills of North Wales or the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, preferably surrounded by those I love.

9. do you consider your carbon footprint?

Definitely, as the earth is a very precious place and we should look after it for future generations.  However, I wish I had wings so I could still travel eastwards without increasing my carbon footprint!

10. how often do you travel?

I usually lead 3 or 4 group tours a year and together with other travel for lectures, project work or fun – I am probably away for 3 – 4 months of the year.

11. the one essential you travel with?

Apart from my passport (and a copy), my much travelled small red rucksack, a comfortable pair of boots and a pot of Vicks (good for colds, smells etc!)

12. your best piece of travel advice?

Travel light, go with the flow and don’t just look “at” the places you visit, but look “into” and immerse yourself in the local culture.  Expect the unexpected and always have a sense of humour.

13. what advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your dreams, but work hard and enjoy what you do and never never give up. If you believe you can do it, you can.  And treat others as you would like to be treated.

14. if you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

Not that much. It has been a privilege to have led the life I have and yes there have been downs, but hopefully I have become a better person through them. If anything, I wish I had written more whilst travelling.

Get in touch to start planning your holiday to Bhutan. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Hanli Prinsloo

Hanli-Prinsloo

Hanli Prinsloo FreediverHanli is an 11 times South African Freediving Record Holder who has taught freediving to over 500 students. She is the founder of the I AM WATER Foundation, which focuses on ocean conservation through human experience. Hanli is also a film-maker, avid ocean adventurer and certified yoga instructor. The freediving instructors she leads have taught freediving around the world, alongside working with top athletes, celebrities, and individuals with aquatic phobias. She is leading a freediving trip to Mozambique with Steppes this May and in January 2017.

We asked Hanli to share her thoughts on what motivates her to do what she does, who inspired her, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…

1. What was your earliest or childhood ambition?

Apart from being a mermaid I dreamt of working as a journalist, big game keeper or actor. It was pretty diverse dreaming in retrospect, but I seem to be doing a little bit of all three in my everyday adult life.

2. What motivates you to do what you do?

I’m deeply passionate about transformation. I really believe that even though humans are the biggest problem we are also the only solution.

It seems as if most people see themselves as separate from the natural environment and this state of affairs has terrifying consequences.

I am motivated by the change I see in kids and adults who get to have extraordinary nature experiences, when a child opens her eyes underwater for the first time and feels that connection with body breath and planet I know I can keep going.

3. Who has inspired you to do what you do?

My father was a horse breeder and worked with the ethos of horse whispering and animal interaction long before these became books or films, and growing up on a wild farm in South Africa with but one rule ‘come home before the sun sets’ I think my parents and my childhood inspired many of the beliefs and values I hold. When it comes to outside the family, I have been inspired by individuals such as Dr Ian Player and Dr Silvia Earle, but also the writings of sufi poet Hafiz regarding how we live and breathe as human animals.

4. If your 20-year old self could see you know, what would he/she think?

I think she’d be pretty excited that I’m living in Cape Town and not freezing Sweden where I studied!

But all in all I don’t think she’d be that surprised, the trajectory was set very early on for me and my dreams.

5. If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

In all honesty no, not really. I feel like where I am today and where I am headed is thanks to the sum of all the mistakes I made and things I tried.

And also, what value is there in regret?

6. In what place are you happiest?

The ocean! Be it surfing, freediving in chilly kelp forests, playing with dolphins in blue water or just swimming around, salty skin makes me happy!

7. Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I do. I try to. Apart from the amount of traveling I do, I live a pretty low impact lifestyle. My carbon footprint and my heart aching want of a dog are the two things I will stop traveling for one day.

8. The one essential you travel with?

Good quality re-usable water bottle. I despise disposable plastic bottles and I love water!

9. Your best piece of travel advice?

If you struggle to keep an exercise regime going when you travel, bring a lightweight yoga mat with you and some podcast yoga classes.

Whether you’re in a teeny hotel room, big open resort or in transit at an airport, rolling out a yoga mat and finding time to breathe and move really brings you back to yourself.

10. What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Your dreams are always worth amputating the ego for. Ask for help, be humble and work hard. Don’t think you have to do it all on your own or prove yourself, others have experience and most likely want to help you – assuming your dream is for greater good, I’d do anything I can to assist!

I am water foundation

Get in touch to learn more about our freediving holidays with Hanli Prinsloo. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

Mozambique - Freediving, Yoga and Dolphins with Hanli Prinsloo

wildlife group tour

Mozambique – Freediving, Yoga and Dolphins with Hanli Prinsloo

10 days from £2,845pp

View Group Tour

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Steppes Leading Ladies: Issue Two | April 2016

In our second issue of Leading Ladies (our monthly series) we highlight the heroines of nature. The thing that connects all these women is their avid enthusiasm, determination and eagerness to explore and study the natural world and all they encounter within it.

Prepare to be inspired.

Justin WateridgeJustin round
Managing Director | Steppes Travel

 

 

P.S Who has inspired you? Cast your vote and send your suggestions to us on inspire@steppestravel.com


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Isabella Bird Leading Ladies

Isabella Lucy Bird was a nineteenth-century English explorer, writer, photographer and naturalist. She was the first woman to be elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

“There never was anybody who had adventures as well as Miss Bird,” wrote the Spectator of this intrepid woman. From early childhood Isabella was frail and suffered from a spinal condition. Encouraged by her father, a keen botanist, Isabella studied flora with him and her mother taught her an eclectic mix of subjects. Overcoming poor health and the restrictions of a male dominated society, Isabella travelled extensively well into her old age. Far from slowing down she took up photography at the age of 60.

She climbed mountains, stayed in both palaces and slums, visited Australia, America, Hawaii, India, Kurdistan, the Persian Gulf, Iran, Tibet, Malaysia, Korea, Japan and China. She was an accomplished rider of horses and the occasional elephant. Her innate intelligence, curiosity for the world and adventurous spirit is illustrated by her own photographs and detailed accounts in her published books which well document her pioneering travelling life.

“I have just dropped into the very place I have been seeking, but in everything it exceeds all my dreams.” Isabella Bird.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS


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Charlotte Uhlenbroek is a zoologist and BBC television presenter who spent her early working life studying primates. Billed as the next Attenborough, Charlotte has an obvious passion for the natural world and animal kingdom.

Her love of animals began from the age of five when she lived in Kathmandu. Her family kept an extraordinary menagerie of animals including cats, dogs, rabbits and parrots, mostly ‘rescued’ by Charlotte. She said that at eight years old she realised that the Nepalese musk deer were being poached for musk oil and was horrified. From that time on she decided she wanted to work and conserve wildlife in some way.

After her PhD in Zoology Charlotte spent six months in Burundi helping primatologist Jane Goodall set up a conservation project for chimpanzees, followed by four years in the forests of Gombe, Tanzania studying the communication of wild chimpanzees.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS


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Saba Douglas-Hamilton is an award-winning wildlife filmmaker, Kenyan wildlife conservationist and television presenter. Working with Save the Elephants in Kenya she helped set up a research station in Samburu that now monitors over 900 elephants. She is also leading a trip to Kenya with Steppes in January 2017.

We asked Saba to share her thoughts on what motivates her to do what she does, who inspired her, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…

Read our full Q & A with Saba here

Kenya-Elephant-Insight-tour-with-Saba
The contribution made to elephant conservation by the Douglas-Hamiltons is renowned and so to spend a week in their company, on their home soil of Samburu and Naivasha is the opportunity of a lifetime. Take walks and game drives along the Ewaso Ng’iro River, escorted by Saba Douglas-Hamilton and Elephant Watch’s Samburu guides.

11 DAYS FROM £10,995 PP


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Indonesia-Wildlife-tour-led-by-Dr-Claire-Oelrichs

Explore the wilds of Borneo, Sumatra and Komodo searching for endangered wildlife. Led by Dr Claire Oelrichs, scientific advisor to Save Indonesia’s Endangered Species.

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Hands-on participation with AfriCat for a fascinating insight into big cat conservation. Led by AfriCat founder Donna Hanssen who established this foundation from her farm at Okonjima and which has become one of the most effective carnivore conservation organisations.


Votes-for-Women Votes-for-women-header-imageWho has inspired you? Cast your vote as to who we should feature next. Send your suggestions to leadingladies@steppestravel.co.uk

conde-Nast-travel-awards-header

The Condé Nast Reader Travel Awards 2016 are open for voting, and we’d be extremely grateful if you could vote for Steppes Travel in the ‘Specialist Tour Operator’ category. You can cast your vote here.


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Saba tourA Life with Elephants by Saba Douglas-Hamilton
April & May dates

Join Saba for an evening of exciting animal stories and intimate behind the scenes tales of life in Kenya with her young family.

See tour dates and book tickets

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Saba Douglas – Hamilton

Saba-Douglas-Hamilton--Leading-ladies

Saba Douglas-Hamilton is an award-winning wildlife filmmaker, Kenyan wildlife conservationist and television presenter. Working with Save the Elephants in Kenya she helped set up a research station in Samburu that now monitors over 900 elephants.  She is also leading a trip to Kenya with Steppes in January 2017.

When Saba was just six weeks old she met her first wild animal, an elephant named Virgo who was one of approximately 400 elephants that her zoologist father Iain Douglas-Hamilton was studying in Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania.

Saba round portrait

We asked Saba to share her thoughts on what motivates her to do what she does, who inspired her, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…

What was your earliest or childhood ambition?

Being able to cast spells seemed immeasurably attractive when I was a child, so initially I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a witch. After a while this morphed into more sensible options – like a ballerina or cave-woman, and finally, much later, a wildlife film-maker!

What motivates you to do what you do?

The natural world has never been more fragile than it is today, nor more under attack. Yet it is our home – essential to our physical, spiritual and mental well-being. My love for wild creatures and places, my concern for what’s happening to our Planet, and the increasing uncertainty of my children’s future in a world that is being buried under concrete, drives everything I do.

Who has inspired you to do what you do?

My parents have been hugely influential in my life, opening my eyes to the beauty of Nature and catalysing a passion for all wild things.

As has my grandmother, Prunella Stack – head of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty – who  taught me that one must count one’s lucky stars, have grace and courage in times of hardship, and fight for what one believes in.  Many science writers too have shaped how I think, including Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, David Quammen, and, lastly, E. O Wilson whose perspective on life and call for setting 50% of the Planet aside for Nature aligns closely with my own heart.

If your 20-year old self could see you know, what would he/she think?

When I was 20 I used to think that anyone over 30 was ancient, so I’d probably find now that I was rather old! But I’d be pleased to learn that my older self had had some interesting adventures along the way, married a wonderful man, and discovered that life becomes more interesting the older you get.

If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

I was very unhappy at the first boarding school I was sent to in England at the age of 13, so that’s one thing I would definitely strike off the list!  I also wish I’d kept a better journal, especially in the last decade. Things went a little pear-shaped writing-wise after I had kids!

In what place are you happiest?

I am happiest when I can hear frogs singing at night or feel the interconnectedness of all things in the web of life around me.  As far away as possible from people, pollution and concrete, and in the company of my husband and kids. Bejewelled by the sounds of the night, perfumed by the purest air, and clothed in the softest darkness hung with stars, I feel like the richest person in the world.  Surrounded by myriad sentient creatures – in all their diversity of hue, scale, colour, leaf and shimmering skin – my sanity is quickly restored.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes, often. The health of our Planet plagues my dreams. I try to live as close to nature as possible, to give back through my work in conservation, and do no harm.  We all need to down-size our lives big time, stop this crazy over-exploitation of the Earth’s resources, and tackle the spectre of human overpopulation.

The one essential you travel with?

My hat, which is now very well worn.

Also my sunglasses and beloved Swarovski binoculars and toothbrush and face cream of course!

Your best piece of travel advice?

Keep a diary to record your first impressions. Write everything up as soon as you can when it’s still fresh in your mind.  Get off the beaten track, and and wash your hands often, especially before you eat.

What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Figure out what you really want to do then commit yourself 100% – and don’t take no for an answer!  Once you get your foot in the door, be positive, enthusiastic, work hard, and make yourself indispensable. Anyone with any sense will harness the power of your passion, and you will fly!

Event: A Life with Elephants by Saba Douglas-HamiltonSaba tour

April & May dates

Join Saba for an evening of exciting animal stories and intimate behind the scenes tales of life in Kenya with her young family.

See tour dates and book tickets

 

 

Get in touch with us for more information on your Kenya holiday with Steppes, call us on 01285 880980 or email inspire@steppestravel.com for more advice.

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Steppes Leading Ladies: Issue One | March 2016

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we at Steppes Travel would like to pay tribute to the heroines of past and present.

From polar extremes to the depths of the oceans, women explorers have been charting new territory all around the world. Their determination has paved the way for thousands to follow in their footsteps. Now it’s less unusual for women to single-handedly row oceans or join an expedition – but none the less brave and extraordinary.

Each month we intend to highlight women who have changed the world and shattered glass ceilings for explorers and continue to be an inspiration to us all.

Our first issue features three such women who have ventured to the South Pole.

Prepare to be inspired.

Justin WateridgeJustin round
Managing Director | Steppes Travel

 

 

P.S Who has inspired you? Cast your vote and send your suggestions to us on inspire@steppestravel.com

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Edith (Jackie) Ronne was the first woman to explore Antarctica. At the age of 28, Ronne followed her explorer husband, Finn Ronne on an expedition to Antarctica in 1947. She was the first woman ever to brave the winter season of Antarctica, along with Canadian Jennie Darlington. Ronne’s goal was to write her adventures for the New York Times and she shared her experiences and chronicled their first winter becoming known as Antarctica’s First Lady.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS


Currently-Making-Waves Sara Wheeler spent seven months in Antarctica in 1995 as writer in residence with the US Polar Program. Following her experience she wrote the international bestseller Terra Incognita:Travels in Antarctica. The book is a fine read and a must for anyone looking to travel to Antarctica. True to the spirit of the continent, her honesty, humour, characterisation and clarity shine through on every page. She is able to convey a sense of the extreme landscape without over romanticism.

Sara Wheeler Terra Incognita Travels in Antarctica“In Antarctica, I experienced a certainty amid the morass of thoughts and emotions and intellectual preoccupations seething inside my balaclava’d head. It wasn’t an answer…it was something that put everything else in true perspective…The landscape was intact, complete and larger than my imagination could grasp…it was scale, the unownedness and the overpowering beauty that made Antarctica different.” Sara Wheeler.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS


Section-Dividers

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Sue was an Associate Producer on the award winning BBC series ‘The Blue Planet’ and is a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Her travel and photography highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face to face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming of polar bears in the Arctic and on safari in Zambia. Sue has led many of our photographic wildlife group tours and will be joining our cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands with Monty Halls and Telegraph Tours departing next January.

We asked Sue to share her thoughts on who inspired her to become a photographer, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…

Read our full Q & A with Sue Flood here

JOIN SUE IN ANTARCTICA IN JANUARY 2017

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For anybody with a love of wildlife and wild places, a voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands is the ultimate experience. Expert-led throughout with marine biologist Monty Halls and wildlife photographer Sue Flood and a special audience with Ranulph Fiennes.

24 DAYS FROM £10,950 PP


Votes-for-Women Votes-for-women-header-image

Who has inspired you? Cast your vote as to who we should feature next. Send your suggestions to inspire@steppestravel.com.

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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Sue Flood

Sue Flood was an Associate Producer on the award winning BBC series ‘The Blue Planet’ and is a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Her travel and photography highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face to face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming of polar bears in the Arctic and on safari in Zambia. Sue has led many of our photographic wildlife group tours and will be joining our cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands with Monty Halls and Telegraph Tours departing next January.

We asked Sue to share her thoughts on who inspired her to become a photographer, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…

Sue Flood profile

What was your earliest or childhood ambition?

At school I wanted to work on wildlife films with David Attenborough, so to get to do that for 11 years was truly a dream come true!

What ambitions do you still have?

To be a better photographer and get fitter!

Ambition or talent: Which matters more?

They’re both important. And you make your own luck, to some extent. Whenever people tell me I’m lucky, I always reply that the harder I work, the luckier I get!

If your 20-year old self could see you know, what would he/she think?

I think she’d be pleasantly surprised at how happy I am, doing a job that I love, and very happily married to a childhood friend who I met when I was 9!  I also think she’d be amazed to find out I was invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace as a result of my photography.

If you had to rate your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

It goes up to 11, like the amps in Spinal Tap.

In what place are you happiest?

Home is where the heart is. Though an emperor penguin colony is the place I’m happiest in the field!

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Of course I do. I wish it were possible to do my job without getting on a plane.

How often do you travel?

Several long-haul trips a year.

The one essential you travel with?

My camera, of course!

Your best piece of travel advice?

Save your airmiles!  Saving my points with Virgin Airlines allowed me to get married on the beach on Necker Island last year (and Richard Branson was our witness!).

What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Work hard, and don’t ever think of doing this job unless you want to do it more than anything else in the world!

What motivates you to do what you do?

Getting people interested in the natural world, whether through still or moving images.

Who has inspired you to do what you do?

No prizes for guessing it’s David Attenborough!

If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

No – most of my career has been wonderful, and the bits that haven’t have taught me something, so I wouldn’t change a thing.

Travel with Sue on one of our wildlife group tours below or get in touch with our experts for more information on an exclusive Galapagos charter in 2017 led by her. Call us on 01285 601 791 or email inspire@steppestravel.com.