Naila got the travel bug from a young age. Her first long haul trip was to Mumbai, India for her first birthday – although she doesn’t remember much about it!
Having studied Spanish and Portuguese, it is no surprise that Naila volunteered in various social and conservation projects in Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica to Nicaragua while backpacking through Latin America for 6 months. With no plan, guide books or language skills, she managed to make her way from Miami to the southern most point in Argentina, via Panama, Colombia, Brazil with many adventures along the way; including sailing down the Amazon, visiting the magnificent waterfalls in Iguazu and experiencing city life in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, La Paz and Santiago. As well as travelling by jeep from the Atacama Desert in Chile to the expansive salt flats in Bolivia, trekking in the Andes, including the classic 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
In between my travels Naila lived and studied in Barcelona for about 18 months, to learn a language and experience a different culture and way of life.
In 2009 Naila embarked on a 12 months around the world trip. This time she also visited Cuba, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon, the Afro-Brazilian culture in the north of Brazil and the charming indigenous places and thew landscapes in northern Argentina. She also explored different cities in Bolivia and Colombia, including trekking to the 'Lost City' for 6 days through forests and rivers. As well as visiting South America, Naila travelled overland from Moscow to Singapore by train and bus including the trans-Siberian express through Mongolia to Beijing and down through South East Asia. She then flew via Australia and Fiji to get to the Americas to make it in time for the carnival in Rio.
Q: Favourite city:
A: A difficult one I really like Rio, Buenos Aires and Mexico City but if I had to choose it would be Rio, it is a mish-mash of extremes in terms of environments, wealth, class, communities living side by side, it has the beach, mountain, forest, culture, and history, all in one vibrant city.
Q: Favourite country:
A: Brazil - it has my favourite city and my most memorable journey. The food / music . I'm a football fan so can appreciate their passion and craziness for football. I also like the warm climate, beach, and diversity of the nature and culture. I felt quite at home there – the people are very welcoming and warm!
Q: Favourite meal:
A: Argentina for the meat/beef! It was quite a novelty sitting down to a steak dinner at midnight in Buenos Aires! And Malaysian food for the spices and fusion of different flavours and cuisines.
Q: Most memorable journey:
A: Taking the Trans-Siberian express from Moscow to Beijing, stopping in Mongolia on the way and overnighting in a traditional yurt in minus 27 degrees!! Traveling by local boats down the full length of the Amazon river from Iquitos to Belem and getting to know the locals and sleeping in a hammock for the entire journey – which took nearly 8 days.
Q: Favourite travel advice:
A: Travel responsibly, and travel light, disconnect, engage and immerse yourself in the nature, culture, local way of life.
Q: Next on must-see list:
A: Too many to choose from – would like to explore central Africa and Central Asia as know very little about these destinations. Iran for the food and Japan for the culture.