Our regular feature, interviewing a ‘person of interest’ about their travel tastes: Roger Dugmore has a long history in the safari business, as his father before him ran photographic and hunting safaris in Kenya. Now the owner of Roger Dugmore Safaris, he has been leading classic-style safaris in Botswana for the last 25 years.
The best group trip you have ever been on:
A trip to Pemba (Zanzibar) working on an environmental video shoot for Tanzania TV as a volunteer. It turned out to be a real eye-opener and I got to see the reality of this ‘paradise’, all the things that the tourists don’t see. Most alarming was the child labour; children from the age of four were digging out the coral used for building. The degradation of the land was also shocking, through excessive cutting of wood for building houses and the making of charcoal, and beach erosion due to the poor management of coastal areas. However, through all the hardship the people carry on with a sense of pride.
We also got to witness kirumbizi which is traditional stick fighting and Maulidi ya Homu, traditional Arabic singing. Visiting Kojone Island was amazing; the people are living almost on top of one another, with each house less than a metre from the next. The fishermen are famous for their traditional fishing along the east coast from Lamu all the way down to Mozambique, using fishing techniques like dynamite and visiting sunken cities such as Ruse Mkombu.
This has to be the best group trip I have ever experienced. I realised I need to be educated about the world; while this goes on, thousands of tourists visit Zanzibar each year for its paradise beaches and know little of the realities and problems these places have. It’s important to tread with respect and go on all trips wanting to learn.
And the worst?
I am lucky to be able to go on trips but I know that at any moment everything could go awry. However, even the worst trips can be the best if you understand the people, environment and what you are getting yourself into. Be open-minded.
What’s your favourite UK destination for a group day out?
I think for a group day out it has to be London, such a multicultural city. It has all and more than one can possibly want in a day: amazing architecture, museums and galleries, not to mention the great restaurants and pubs. London also boasts the highest amount of green spaces of any city in the world.
What makes a good group trip?
Great organisation, well in advance so you know what to expect, and asking all the relevant questions you want answered beforehand. The best group trips are interesting and educational journeys with experienced guides who have an intimate knowledge of their environments. They need to be characters who understand people’s needs and they need to be people with passion. I think it is better to travel in smaller groups where everyone gets a more intimate and enlightened experience.
What do you always pack?
I always pack my toothbrush, passport and camera. Depending on the location I am going to, I will always make sure I have the correct clothing too. Being in the safari business, I need to be sure of my environments and pack accordingly. I recommend keeping your packing compact and manageable.
And what do you leave out?
I leave my office behind on all my trips so I can concentrate on the experience.
What was your favourite trip last year?
Taking my daughters for the first time to Kenya with a group of 12 friends. Our flight took us over Egypt along the Nile to Mombasa and then to our destination on Watamu Beach. It was a dream to show my children the country where I was brought up and to share the cultures and interesting places with them. The friendliness of the Kenyan people made the trip exceptional. I highly recommend Kenya as a destination, as it is a unique country in Africa and well worth a visit.
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