Nicola was born in Calcutta, India, where she spent the first part of her life before moving to Kenya and South Africa. She spent much of her time in the bush on safari with her family. She completed her diploma in viniculture and viticulture in South Africa, before moving to Botswana, where she assisted in the running of camps in the Okavango Delta.
She then moved to Namibia, where she ran a camp and was involved in community projects on the Caprivi Strip, assisting the local communities as well as being part of an AIDS awareness campaign. She moved to London and started an office for a Botswana safari company before starting her own company, African Explorations in 1989 in the Cotswolds.
She spends three months of every year travelling and researching new properties and she is deeply involved in assisting a number of charities throughout Africa and India which she is passionate about. She is also very interested in birdlife, plantlife and most conservation issues! She is hoping to complete her degree in nature conservation – parenthood allowing! Nicola also enjoys flying.
Acknowledging her expertise, she was made a Judge for the Good Safari Guide, which recognises the finest safari lodges and camps in Africa, and she is a member of the Women’s President’s Organisation.
Nicola’s personal favourites
Fly-camping in Katavi National Park. Canoeing along the Zambezi in the Mana Pools with professional guide James Varden; chimp-trekking safari and snorkelling in the Mahale Mountains; walking in the Selous; game-viewing in the Busanga Plains; fishing in the Lower Zambezi, staying on my own island with completely open-fronted cottages, so that one can see the sunrise at Sindabezi. The sunset at Xugana Lodge in the Okavango Delta. Horse-riding on the Nyika plateau. Uganda for its chimpanzees and gorillas. Hot air ballooning over the dunes of the Namib desert. Kitich Camp in Northern Kenya for its wonderful scenery. Kiwayu in Kenya for the beach and the exquisite Italian food, and the simple, extraordinarily tastefully decorated cottages, with no doors or windows. Swimming with a pod of dolphins in Lamu, Kenya. Bird Island in the Seychelles, where there is simply nothing to do, except to swim, fish and walk and read a book or make good conversation! Kurland, Ants Nest and Three Tree Hills in South Africa for families. Swimming with a green turtle in Maputaland. Catamaraning around Nosy Be in Madagascar.
And in India; the backwaters, gliding on a kettuvallam houseboat. Himalayas – a walking holiday with a Sherpa guide in Kumaon and 360-degrees Leti with its amazing views of Nanda Devi. Madhya Pradesh, staying at a wonderful, intimate palace with the maharajah and his wife, and visiting the local markets. Viewing tiger in Kanha National park, Madya Pradesh. Sitting in a private house on the Lake Vembanad in Kerala and walking to the top of the Cardamom Hills. Riding on horseback along the Bhramaputra River in Assam; camel-trekking in the Thar desert in Rajasthan. Udaipur, the most beautiful city in Rajasthan, otherwise known as the Venice of India.
In South America, Nicola spent four months travelling through Brazil which she loves! The throbbing, pulsating city of Rio de Janeiro, the vibrancy of the people and the magical beaches. Drinking from green coconuts on the beaches at Salvador in Bahia, and visiting the Amazon and the Pantanal – seeing children with anacondas and sloths as pets in Manaus.
Watching the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes rivers flow side by side with different velocities and swimming amongst piranhas! And the Rio Carnival – of course! Colombia – my favourite country. Why? The magnificent architecture of Cartagena, the cobbled streets and squares and watching grandparents and grandchildren in the evening doing the salsa as part of a tradition.
The best caipirinhas and the spontaneity of dance in their culture. That actually applies to anywhere in South America! Ecuador – a beautiful country, with the Amazon – that magnificent river and exploring the rain forests on foot and the waterways by boat. The parrots – as they swoop into the canopies of the trees at dusk. The Andes – with their local culture, the magnificent markets and weaving, the breathtaking scenery and the wonderful estancias. Often owner-managed, they embue the heart and warmth of the Ecuadorian people, again invariably built in beautiful, colonial style with fantastic riding. The Galapagos Islands – simply magical! Where else can you see the entire metamorphic cycle of the blue footed booby? Or swim with sea lions (and sharks!). Watch turtles hatching and at certain times of year, the Albatross’ courtship display. Argentina – with the most extraordinary riding in the Patagonian Andes and around Buenos Aires.