Although he spends plenty of time at 35 000 feet, Cape Town is where freelance travel writer Richard Holmes calls home. When he’s not jetting off on assignment, he’s usually unearthing a new foodie find in South Africa’s ‘Mother City’, running the trails of Table Mountain, or surfing at his local break.
Where did your love for travel start?
While working in the television industry in 2000 I joined a documentary crew in Madagascar for six weeks. We travelled from Antananarivo to the rainforests of Ranomafana, to the baobabs north of Toliara, and then overlanded along the south coast to Fort Dauphin. The combination of cultures, food and scenery sparked some serious wanderlust!
Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
As a journalist I get to indulge my sense of curiosity. I’m always amazed by how generous people are with their time, knowledge and expertise. I guess I just love being able to ask nosy questions of interesting people doing amazing things!
What is your favourite destination/place to visit and why?
I get asked that a lot, and it’s impossible to give just one answer. I love the outdoors, and on that score I was blown away by Iceland. For cities? Hong Kong, every time. For culture and scenery? Sri Lanka. Island holidays? Northern Mozambique is unforgettable. For safari? Id spent my last dollars on going back to the Okavango Delta.
Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out.
One of the very few trips I was able to do in 2021 (thanks Covid) was an unforgettable quad-bike adventure across the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana. Leaving the refurbished (and gorgeous!) Jack’s Camp, we travelled across shimmering saltpans to reach Kubu Island, an otherworldly outcrop of granite and baobabs. Sleeping out on the Pans was a highlight, as was surviving 400-kilometres on the back of a quad! It was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime- experience.
Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives… or that isn’t given enough.
Noise-cancelling over-ear headphones are transformative for long plane journeys. They take away the rumble of the engines, and allow you to really enjoy the in-flight entertainment. Or the silence.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
Like to see: Horizons and wide-open spaces. Sunsets too!
Like to taste: Anything I haven’t before. I’ll try just about anything once
Like to feel: The rumble of a plane accelerating down the runway. It means a new adventure is loading.
Like to hear: Monks chanting in Asian temples. There’s something ancient and serene about that sound
Like to smell: The magical ‘angel’s share’ in the barrel cellar of Scottish whisky distillery
Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to?
I’m a big fan of Skift.com. Based in the US, they take a thoroughly global view of the travel industry and it’s far-reaching impact on the world economy.
Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows
I have a ‘take-off song’ for when I fly. It’s my mental cue that I’m on the road again, and it never fails to bring a smile, even if it’s a sombre song. Right now I’m playing ‘Latter Days’ by Big Red Machine.
Lastly, what do you love about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa) and what are your sentiments on the evolution of trade shows being part virtual?
Aside from bumping into friends and colleagues from the industry, it’s always a great opportunity to discover new products and services to write about. As for the virtual evolution, it’s simply part and parcel of adapting to where we find ourselves now. Resilience is a muscle every traveller needs on the road, so we just need to keep exercising it!