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Asia Travel Experts

Who we are

We are the only bespoke safari and luxury holiday company in Europe that is entirely owned and staffed by people who have spent their lives being brought up in Africa and India. We know, watch and understand the seasons – something which cannot be gleaned on a 2-week research trip to a country.

Imagine if somebody asked you to explore England, Europe or America in two weeks. Would that make you an expert? We don’t think so, either. There is another factor, too. Like many other companies we promote responsible tourism. Unlike many other companies, we take it one step further and greatly contribute to various charities in the countries in which we operate. And then one step further still, when we create lovely, exclusive safaris and luxury holidays, where one can visit the places we assist.  Either way, you can have the most wonderful time on your holiday, knowing that you are making a difference. Now that makes sense to us!

In addition, Hashim Tyabji who heads up our Indian department has written several definitive books on tigers and he has his own wildlife lodges in India, recognised as being some of the finest in the country. He was chief warden of Bandhavgarh National Park and director of operations of Tiger Tops in Nepal. He also did the scientific research for the BBC’s Land of the Tiger. Nicola Shepherd was born in Calcutta and is simply an Indophile. She has great knowledge and enthusiasm for this diverse subcontinent, and loves to share her passion with you.

The joy is that we can offer so many permutations. Luxury safaris and holidays, wonderful adventurous family holidays, or learning about wildlife, history, culture and architecture with the ultimate professional guides. There are also some amazing boat trips along the River Hooghly as well as on the River Bhramaputra in Assam, which we thoroughly recommend! For those interested in antiques, we can assemble a fantastic antiques trail through Tamil Nadu. Perhaps go on an art trail through Rajasthan looking at Rajput paintings with an art historian who loves to share her knowledge with you. Perhaps have a day in Delhi being taken on a tour by well-known author, William Dalrymple.

Whether it is learning about Buddhism in Bhutan, taking luxury walks through the Himalayas with your Sherpa guide, rafting down the rivers in Ladakh or seeing snow leopard with the director of the snow leopard conservancy, having a private cookery lesson in Kerala and going down to the market with the owner to select your ingredients, seeing tiger, leopard and sloth bears in Madhya Pradesh on safari, taking a boat down the Bhramaputra river in Assam, cycling through Madhya Pradesh with your guides, horse-riding in the Aravalli Hills or camel-trekking in the desert, having dinner with a maharajah, flying around Mount Everest, walking the cobbled streets in Kathmandu with your guide, seeing tea plantations and blue sperm whales in Sri Lanka, spending time with orangutan or finding rafflesia flowers or relaxing on gorgeous beaches in Borneo, sailing down the River Irriwaddy in Burma, or scuba diving in crystal clear water in the Maldives.

We create extraordinary journeys into regions where The Explorations Company has first-hand experience. We have slept in the beds, tasted the food and, most importantly, looked for sites that are unusual and often off-the-beaten-track, as well as finding the very best guides who will unfold these worlds to you. Much of our knowledge comes from having lived in these regions, having inside information that transforms your holiday from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Some of the excursions are not available to the general tourist, and we have developed these ideas over time with a handful of carefully selected guides.

Confronted with such an array of choices, even the most independent of travellers needs a helping hand, a word of advice, a pointer in the right direction. Especially if you wish to wander off the well-trodden trail. This is what Asian Explorations specialises in. Bespoke holidays to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Borneo, Burma and the Maldives – all completely tailored around you!

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Hashim Tyabji

Hashim Tyabji

Hashim worked for Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Nepal from 1978 to 1988, alternating with summers spent in the Western Himalayas – Kashmir and Ladakh – leading treks and organising trout fishing camps.

In 1981 Hashim was appointed Chief Naturalist at Tiger Tops. From 1985 to 1988 he was appointed Director of Operations for Tiger Tops India, dividing his time between Bandhavgarh National Park in Central India and overseeing operations in Kashmir and Ladakh. In 1986 Hashim began a survey of the birds of Bandhavgarh; the results of which were published in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Hashim  has contributed articles and notes to wildlife journals and magazines as well as writing a guide to Bandhavgarh, which remains the most widely read (and only) guide to the park. Hashim served as honorary Wildlife Warden of the park and was appointed to the Indian Board of Wildlife. He has assisted various film-makers, being scientific advisor to some productions, including BBC’s Land of the Tiger series.

Hashim is also a director of a company that owns a pioneering property (Forsyth’s Lodge) in Satpura and Bagh Van in Pench. Meanwhile his work as a wildlife and history tour leader has taken him to virtually every corner of the subcontinent, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Hashim’s personal favourites

Five years spent in Chitwan at Tiger Tops. You are treated to the daily spectacle of the high Himalayas forming a magnificent backdrop to the lush, sub-tropical wilderness of the Nepali terai. The great joy of Chitwan was the ability to wander these forests on foot, learning the skill and art of tracking and the ways of the jungle from real experts in a way that is impossible from a jeep or on elephant back. Crouching behind a sandbank listening to the mating calls of a pair of tigers from within the tall elephant grass across a small river, with the high peaks of the Himalayas glistening in the Alpenglow at twilight. Bhutan for its scenery, pristine wilderness, cultural integrity and its determination to preserve the best of the past, while integrating with the present in a manner that benefits the entire population.

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Harsha Ogale

Harsha Ogale

Harsha is the latest addition to our Asia team and has extensive experience in arranging bespoke trips to this fascinating Continent. A native of India Harsha, after completing a graduate course in Commerce, decided to pursue his interest in travel by starting a business looking after corporate travel. Just four years later, he moved to England with his wife.

Harsha has travelled extensively through Rajasthan, Kerala and Central India. His most recent visit was to the gorgeous island of Sri Lanka where he explored the cultural sights of Sigiriya and Polonoruwa. He loved the beaches in the south, whale watching along the east coast, the spectacular Tea Trails bungalows and walking through the Singharaja rainforest offering superb birding opportunities. Do pick his brains if you would like to stay in off the beaten track locations offering stunning views. Harsha thoroughly enjoys working with our local agents and has formed excellent relationships with some of the best guides there as he believes that its the quality of guiding that makes a holiday successful. He has a passion for wildlife and has visited most of the wildlife reserves in India and Sri Lanka. Having been on a cycle trek last year through Chattisgarh, Harsha has taken a liking to it and that’s the latest addition to his hobby list. 

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Nicola Shepherd

Nicola Shepherd

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.

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Jonathan Drew

Jonathan Drew

Leaving the City, Jonathan spent some years as a dairy farmer in Devon (which he loved, cattle are one of his great interests) before the UK’s agricultural crisis forced him to go to Africa to look at farming there.

He helped build and ran several camps in Tanzania, in the Serengeti and Tarangire, as well as building a lodge overlooking the Indian Ocean. Jonathan developed a special interest in the tribal cultures of East Africa and a deep affection for the gentle people of Tanzania. Moving back to England, Jonathan ran a dressage yard, whilst also working as a marketing consultant for various African businesses, and often went back to Africa. He kept peripheral farming interests in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Jonathan travels frequently to Africa but his interest in aboriginal cultures also often takes him to Canada, where he can often be found canoeing, often solo and completely unsupported, in the deep bush. There he is able to indulge another fundamental interest: bush-craft skills and disciplines.

Jonathan’s personal favourites in Africa

Watching a herd of 500+ elephant in Tarangire; sailing the Indian Ocean on Midsummer, climbing the rigging and sleeping in a hammock on the deck beneath the stars; Borana Ranch in Kenya, excellent riding at an ideal place for a family; riding with Tristan Voorspuy; canoeing on the lower Zambezi with James Varden; Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu for an eclectic mix of a real, down-to-earth experience with the local Samburu, some of the finest cuisine in Kenya and some brilliant ‘bush style’ cooking!; the incredible Selous; walking in the remote Katavi National Park; ‘wild’ camping in Kaokoland, Namibia and beachcombing at Kiwayu in Kenya.

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Catherine Pirie

Catherine Pirie

Catherine (Kate) was born in Zimbabwe, and spent the first part of her life in Mushandike National Park before moving to the outskirts of Hwange. She left Zimbabwe and moved to Botswana, where her parents ran various lodges in the Okavango Delta, and Kate followed suit!

She spent time working at various camps learning different aspects of the industry. She worked on various mobiles throughout Namibia, and in Sabi Sabi in the Kruger National Park. She helped to build a camp in the Okavango Delta, and then spent time escorting specialist groups in the panhandle in Botswana, including anthropologist and zoologist Lyall Watson. She ran a houseboat on the Panhandle, and then managed Chilwero and Selinda in the Chobe and Linyanti areas, leading walking safaris. Kate headed Botswana Tourism in London before joining African Explorations and spends much time researching properties for African Explorations as well as being an integral member of the company. Kate is a tremendous birder and is interested in plants.

Kate’s personal favourites

Driving through northern Damaraland, Namibia. Hearing the Indri Indri for the first time in Perinet, Madagascar. The colours of the Karoo in South Africa in winter, and the sheer space. The sunset at Xugana Lodge, Okavango Delta. Camel-trekking in Kenya. Snorkelling in the iridescent waters of Lake Malawi. Game-viewing with anthropologist, Mike Rainey in the Amboseli. Snorkelling in the Maldives.

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Katharine Tetley

Katharine Tetley

Katharine Tetley graduated with a degree in African Politics before she went to law school and worked as a qualified corporate lawyer for nearly three years after training.

In her travels, she spent her gap year teaching in the Northern Pare mountains in Tanzania for Schools Partnership Worldwide (SPW) – a charity which supplies teachers to East Africa. She also spent time travelling in Malawi and Zimbabwe and lived in Uganda, where she did research for SPW. She then lived in Zambia, where she managed two camps in the Busanga Plains and Lunga in the Kafue region, one of Zambia’s most spectacular areas. She spent six weeks travelling around Mozambique, and she spent her honeymoon in Sri Lanka.

Some of her holidays have been spent trekking up to Camp Two on Nanga Parbat, Pakistan, Annapurna and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal, a self-drive camping holiday in Namibia, a self-drive camping holiday in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa and Lesotho; Canoeing down the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea and travelling by train from Beijing into Tibet. She has also visited Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Northern and Southern Tanzania.

Katharine’s personal favourites

Sunrise and tree-climbing lions on the Busanga Plains; walking in the Usumbara mountains in Tanzania; climbing Mount Meru, Tanzania; visiting the old ruins on Ilha de Moçambique; camping in the Namib desert; walking in the Selous Game Reserve; horse-riding in Lesotho; the Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet – the photos don’t do it justice!

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Cath Fouche

Cath Fouche

Catherine was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has spent most of her life exploring the corners of her continent as well as abroad. One of her earliest childhood memories is being charged by an elephant in Namibia while driving themselves around the country!

Her family spent every holiday venturing anywhere that involved nature, wildlife, and camping under the stars and so her love for Africa began. Catherine has worked in luxury travel since graduating from the University of Cape Town in 2006 and has travelled within South Africa, and to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya and northern Tanzania. She has also visited the beautiful Reunion Island, as well as the UK, most of Europe, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

Catherines Personal Favourites:

Inhaling the morning mist that hangs over the plantations of the Karatu highlands near the Ngorongoro crater, barefoot dining on the beach whilst watching glow worms illuminate the waves on Benguerra island in Mozambique, driving through the Amboseli National Park and being witness to its incredible stark contrasts in terrain, listening to the vivid retelling of scenes from the Anglo Zulu war at Rorke’s Drift (goosebumps!), high tea and bubbly on the Rovos Rail journey from Cape Town to Pretoria, cycling through the rice paddys of the Hoi An countryside in Vietnam passing by water buffalos, and sleeping on a bed roll in the middle of the salt pans of the Makgadikgadi national park under the magnificent night sky.

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Louise Mumford

Louise Mumford

Inspired by her Mexican godmother, Louise was intrigued by Latin America at an early age, from its music and its flavours, to its history.

After spending some time living in France, her wanderlust was put on hold for a few years due to the demands of a busy career in London. Finally, at a more advanced age than some, she took herself off for a gap year to the Latin continent in search of high mountain peaks and alpacas. This ignited – some 13 years ago – an enduring passion for this diverse and colourful continent and the Latino love of life.

Louise’s personal favourites

Ask Louise to choose between city, desert, jungle, ocean or mountains, and she finds it hard to opt for one over another – although at a pinch, mountains would probably just clinch it.

Not that Latin America has a shortage of unforgettable things to offer on any of the above fronts. From spotting pink river dolphins in the Amazon, to watching iguanas and sea lions in the Galápagos.

From sampling the Peruvian delicacy of guinea pig, to attempting the tango in Buenos Aires or being serenaded by mariachi in Veracruz; from sipping maracuya caipirinhas on Copacabana beach while listening to a local samba band, to spotting jabiru storks and kingfishers at sunrise in Corriente; or even voyaging to the White Continent and taking a dip in the Antarctic Ocean. Louise has a wealth of treasured Latin American experiences that she loves to share.

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Pauline Pirie

Pauline Pirie

Pauline is Kate’s mum and has a devilish sense of humour! She also happens to have run some of the finest camps in the Okavango Delta, which was her home for most of her life, as well as in Zimbabwe and therefore has extraordinary knowledge of these countries.

She then moved to Maun, where she was the operations manager and book-keeper for a major Botswana safari company. She moved to England, where she is also our book-keeper.

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Julie Clifford

Julie Clifford

Julie was born in Benghazi, Libya. She then spent some of her childhood in Jumeirah, Dubai watching dolphins playing in the sea in front of the family house. She learnt to ride at a young age and at 15 owned her first horse.

Whilst working for a law firm in London, she was a member of the Save The Children Fund and the Children in Cities Appeal Committee. Taking a short leave of absence, she went on a world trip travelling to Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Australia and Canada. Other countries Julie has travelled to include: Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, Kenya, The Gambia, various Greek Islands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA.

She is passionate about horses, having re-trained two ex-racehorses using the Monty Roberts’ techniques and she enjoys walking, wildlife, bird-watching, walking (with her dog Alfie) and photography. Julie also has a diploma in Reflexology.

Julie’s personal favourites

Swimming with the horses and watching wildlife on horseback, before making camp with the horses nearby and sleeping out under the stars in Horizon, South Africa; sharing a quiet moment on a fishing boat with an old fisherman and his grandson in Lamu; canoeing from Misahualli down the Napo River, trekking deeper into the jungle with machete in hand and young mongoose walking with us; watching a herd of elephants and their young cross the river right in front of us and then just stroll on by, listening to the roar of lions lying in bed in my tent, and the sunsets whilst on safari in Samburu, Kenya – wow! Standing on the shores of Lake Nakuru watching the flamingos; sitting in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace, Bangkok – so peaceful; standing in the middle of the Western Desert outside Egypt – it’s like being on the moon; diving the Great Barrier Reef – then sleeping on top of the boat watching the stars; climbing the sand dunes on Fraser Island to watch the sunrise; crossing over the fast-flowing river by pulley chair to get to McCarthy, Alaska; being flown by an ex-rodeo cowboy very low over a glacier– virtually touching the ears of the moose below – and watching a grizzly bear mother with her cubs in Alaska; standing on deck of a fishing boat in Alaska in the midnight sun, with hump back whales swimming alongside.

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Taryn Ellis

Taryn Ellis

Taryn was born and bred in South Africa and, having a rather outdoorsy father, spent most of her family holidays camping or caravanning around the country.

From an early age Taryn enjoyed accompanying her dad down caves, jumping in waterfalls, catching crabs in rivers and generally seeking out anyway to get dirty and spend time outdoors, rather than learning how to cook!

Taryn completed a diploma in tourism in South Africa and subsequently moved to the UK, where she has spent the last 13 years. She has worked for a safari company, which gave her the opportunity to travel to Kenya, Northern Tanzania, Sri Lanka, the Riviera Maya in Mexico, Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Through Taryn’s own personal holidays, she has enjoyed trips to Australia, a road trip through California, Nevada and Arizona, Cuba, snorkelling off Egypt’s Red Sea coast, and some rather historical trips through Europe. Being sporty by nature, Taryn is keen to try her hand at anything that involves speed, mud, water, bicycles and anything else that she’s allowed to get her hands on. She’s also currently training for a triatholon.

Taryn’s personal favourites

Hot-air ballooning over the Maasai Mara; swimming with dolphins and whale sharks in Mexico; snorkelling in the Maldives and Egypt; walking through the tea trails and villages in Sri Lanka; sleeping out on the star-beds in Kenya; being up close to and feeding a giraffe at the giraffe sanctuary in Nairobi; and last, but certainly not least, being flown by Richard Roberts low across the Mara, whilst listening to the dulcet sounds of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.

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