A Bit About Me

I first fell in love with Africa aged 18 when I went on a gap year to Tanzania. Returning to the UK to study International Relations at St Andrews, I took every opportunity to learn more about African politics. Four years of studying just wasn’t enough and I was soon off to Stellenbosch in South Africa to study for a Masters in International Studies. When not focused on researching corruption in African governments (unsurprisingly a never-ending task) I was lucky enough to explore the rest of the country, as well as Mozambique and Namibia, in between sampling as much wine as I could (handy when studying in the heart of the Winelands) and spending weekends with friends in Cape Town.

Returning to the UK, I started working for a luxury tailor-made travel company, specialising in Sub-Saharan Africa before spending two and a half years in their US office. Now back in the UK, Africa remains my true love, but travel as a whole is one of my favourite subjects and my eyes have been opened to all the wonderful opportunities for exploration with gems waiting to be discovered in Asia, Latin America and of course the fascinating Polar Regions!

I’m passionate about travelling the world but am also increasingly conscious of the negative impact we can have. I am always looking at ways to reduce our footprint, and I love camps and lodges who focus on ensuring the environmental sustainability of their activities whilst not wanting to compromise on the experience which draws us there in the first place. We are lucky enough to have this amazing natural world to explore, but must ensure it is not just our generation who get to benefit from it.

My role here at NWS is focused on our Africa and Asia product: anything from a safari in Kenya to tracking gorillas in Rwanda, to searching for the elusive snow leopard in the Himalayas or Siberian tigers in, you guessed it, Siberia, to visiting the orangutans in Borneo. One of the most exciting parts of my role is looking for new trips and destinations, with a particular eye for finding unique wildlife experiences that you just can’t do anywhere else and how NWS can continue to break down the frontier when it comes to exploring the natural world!

Q & A with Annie

Where have you travelled to in the last 12 months?

California (technically I was living there), Paris and a road trip from Cornwall to Scotland by bike, taking in everywhere in between.

Where are you planning to travel in the next 12 months?

Hopefully back to Africa, plus Scotland, Mallorca and if I can squeeze it in, Norway.

What is your first travel-related memory?

Learning to ride my bike on family holidays to France and cycling through sunflower fields. Eventually I graduated to accompanying my brother on the daily bike ride to the boulangerie to buy croissants and bread for the day ahead and cursing the climb up the hill before enjoying breakfast!

Aisle or window seat?

Window on short haul, but it has to be aisle on anything over a couple of hours. I can’t bear not stretching my legs and fear being hemmed in by a sleeping neighbour.

Do you have any travel habits or rituals?

When on safari I try really hard to have at least one game drive where I don’t touch my camera and instead enjoy just being in the moment and observing everything happening around me. When you’re focused on looking through a lens you can miss so many interesting little things happening around you.

What are you most likely to splurge on while travelling?

Whilst not a girly girl, after a long time on safari I am inclined to have a pedicure or massage to try and recover from the toll the bush has taken on my body – I like to try and justify it to myself as being a vital part of researching a camp or lodge!

What’s your favourite thing about working at NWS?

The diversity and uniqueness of the product! I can’t think of many other travel companies that could expose you to Siberian tigers, polar bears, blue whales, orcas, whale sharks, and both lowland and mountain gorillas, on many occasions accompanied by an expert guide… the issue is it means my bucket list gets ever longer!

What do you like doing outside of NWS?

I’m a really keen road cyclist and where possible like to combine this with travel. When not injured I’ve been known to run and enjoy it, and to relax there’s nothing better than cooking or diving into a good book.

If you could do just one NWS safari, which one would it be?

That’s such a hard question. In fact when I was asked this in my interview I asked if I could have two. An Africa-specific one would be to go to the Congo to see lowland gorillas, but in terms of our whole product, it has to be polar bears in Svalbard.

Is there a standout destination in your mind?

Norway has fascinated me for a while – the fjords, Lofoten Islands, stave churches, Aurora Borealis, oh and the chance to swim with orcas!

What is your best travel souvenir?

I think it has to be blankets. For too long I would buy all sorts of useless (although usually pretty) items and after a while really wonder what had possessed me at the time. Now I try and focus on more practical items such as blankets, cushion covers and fabric as at least they can be put to good use. I think my current favourite is huge, soft, traditionally woven blanket I picked up in Cambodia.

What is the best travel advice you have received?

Always try and learn at least the basics of the local language. My father has always made a point to learn the language of a destination before visiting and whilst I don’t go as in-depth as him, learning basic greetings like please, thank you, and so on can go a long way to breaking down barriers between you and the communities you are visiting; even if it’s mainly because they laugh at your appalling pronunciation.

What is your spirit animal?

According to a highly scientific internet-based quiz I took I am a whale, but failing that I would like to be a baby gorilla: fluffy and entertaining, yet earnest at the same time.

What is your favourite thing about working/living in Brighton?

There’s so much to love with the incredible arts and food scene, but for me it has to be the natural side of things – it’s fringed to the south by the sea and to the north by the South Downs, my playground and a favourite of mine for cycling and running trails.

Explore Annie's Top Travel Moments

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