James has had a passion for adventure ever since he was a little boy. His earliest holiday memories are several rainy camping trips in the UK, of which he loved every minute. Whilst these trips helped him grow his love of the great outdoors, he knew he needed to explore further, much further!
The chance came when his father decided to re-marry in Sri Lanka in 1994. The country had just been placed under a state of emergency and a complete curfew was in place. True adventure! Several years of backpacking followed, which included working a lengthy spell as a dive master in Columbia and a boat builder in Laos before finally becoming a tour leader in 2003.
James has lived and worked in over 75 countries worldwide and led trips in countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali and Turkmenistan. He currently lives in Luang Prabang in Laos and when not working enjoys driving his motorbike to hidden waterfalls and discovering abandoned temples.
Q: How did you fall into tour leading?
A: One of my first truly exotic trips was to Borneo with another adventure company and proved to be an epiphany. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong and I loved it! I told the tour leader there and then that I wanted to become a tour leader too. He became a lifelong friend and the rest is history!
Q: What do you like most about tour leading?
A: I love people and I love travel! The opportunity to lead people to places they would otherwise unlikely visit alone. Oh and I also love adventure.
Q: Where is your favourite part of the world?
A: South East Asia. Chamonix is also a fantastic place, it’s full of energy.
Q: What was your biggest travel highlight?
A: Visiting Afghanistan and getting back alive!
Q: What’s the craziest request you’ve ever had from a client?
A: To retrieve a woman’s glasses that she had lost in a long drop toilet in Ethiopia, she didn’t get them back.
Q: What’s the one thing you couldn’t travel without?
A: My passport…my leatherman and an up to date guide book.
Q: Which famous person would you most like to travel with?
A: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bear Grylls and Bruce Parry all together!
Q: Have you ever made a cultural faux pas?
A: Yes many unfortunately! Most recently in Laos I was invited to attend a Buddhist blessing ceremony as a guest of honour. It was incredibly hot and part way through I was handed a small glass of water. With relief I quickly drank it much to the shock and amusement of my fellow guests. I later discovered that I was supposed to sprinkle this sacred water over the building we were blessing! It turned out to be untreated pipe water!