A Bit About Me

I was born and brought up in the Himalaya in a family of passionate wildlife lovers, conservationists and assorted eccentrics who chose to call a tent and then a wattle-and-daub hut in the forests of Corbett country their home. My education included home-schooling under a tree and being a boarder in Nainital at 6,400 ft above sea level, from where I went on to study in Delhi. My brief brush with civilisation spurred me to abandon its confines to climb Himalayan mountains alongside my mountaineering heroes, becoming a certified mountaineering instructor.

I spent the next nine years guiding in the Indian Subcontinent, as well as working for an adventure travel company for whom I led expeditions, Himalayan treks, and wildlife and cycling trips in India. As a result, I have an abiding passion for wildlife and cycling. Some of my favourite moments were a month-long cycling expedition in Ladakh, exploring the Thar Desert, and hiking and camping in the jungles of Uttarakhand, but my standout experience is tiger tracking by foot in Corbett country.

I left India five years ago and started working in London, where I have been for the last five years. However, the dream has always been to move out to the country (West Sussex), and I finally did it this year. I now love waking up in the morning knowing I am working for my dream company (NWS) and getting to put together wildlife holidays for passionate travellers – this is as good as it gets!

Q & A with Shalmali

Where have you travelled to in the last 12 months?

I've done four trips to India, with the latest an exciting off-the-beaten-track 3-week road trip traversing the Deccan Plateau this March. "Deccan Dalliance" – as I called it – took me from Mumbai on to Aurangabad, Bhuranpur, Maheshwar, Hyderabad, Bidar, Kalaburgi, Bijapur, Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Hampi and Goa. An earlier trip was in spring to Bhopal, Pench and Satpura National Parks in central India and Corbett National Park in northern India. A trip in winter was though Rajasthan – Ajabgarh, Karauli, Ramathra, Jaipur, Nagaur, Bikaner and Gajner.

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

Singapore in September and South Africa in December.

What is your first travel-related memory?

Age 5 ½ camping in Bori wildlife sanctuary (which borders Satpura sanctuary) in Central India with my parents. I have a faint memory of a tiger roaring in the early hours of the morning and my parents waking me up along with my brother and sister, taking us all outside of the tent to listen to it. One of my earliest and most joyful memories.

Aisle or window seat?

Window seat for a short or day flight and aisle seat for a night flight.

Do you have any travel habits or rituals?

Always carrying noise-cancelling headphones for the flights along with a shawl and a good book to read. Always carry my own coffee and tea for the perfect morning cuppa. Whilst travelling, always wake up really early to get to a spot with a view to see the sunrise. Giving myself a free day without a set agenda to go birding, walking or biking.

What are you most likely to splurge on while travelling?

Private safaris. Textiles, anything handloom and hand woven.

What’s your favourite thing about working at NWS?

The awesome team and everyone’s passion for the natural world along with the collective range and depth of knowledge!!! Always constantly learning something new and love it. The sense of humour and wonderful energy in the office.

What do you like doing outside of NWS?

Visiting the Royal Geographical Society as well as museums and exhibitions in London. I can happily spend a weekend afternoon wandering through a museum or visiting esoteric private collections. Birding on weekends in and around London. Currently obsessed about textiles and anything to do with handmade textiles. Walking – I particularly love the South Downs of West Sussex and parts of London, with a favourite being the London Wetland Centre.

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

Kamchatka Brown Bear & Volcano Safari.

Is there a standout destination in your mind?

Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas and the jungles of Corbett in northern India. Both these destinations have it all for me: wonderful birding, dramatic landscapes, great wildlife sightings and good hiking. Absolutely love them both.

What is your best travel souvenir?

The most beautiful handmade papier-mâché elephant I bought in Sri Lanka.

What is the best travel advice you have received?

Don’t have every day planned out and take a day/days to go off-piste. Explore the markets where the locals shop. Always have a sense of humour and just go with the flow, especially when things don’t go to plan!

What is your spirit animal?

Asian Elephant.

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

Being close to the South Downs, vegan food options, the wonderful graffiti and most of all the gulls!

Explore Shalmali's Top Travel Moments

Why book with us

We are destination specialists

Our team of specialists have extensive on-the-ground knowledge and have all lived, guided or explored in great detail the destinations that they sell. They will design your journey around you, at the right place at the right time.

We are wildlife specialists

As a leading specialist operator we have excellent partnerships with naturalists and conservationists. We know our wildlife and do what we can to preserve its natural habitat.

We really care about our destinations

At Natural World Safaris we frequently monitor the social, economic and environmental impact of our travel operations to ensure we are at the forefront of a sustainable and ethical tourism industry. 

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