The World According to Ben Fogle

Adventurer, TV presenter and now ambassador for barefoot beaches, Ben Fogle reveals his take on travel and why Antarctica is cool

7 mins

Mountain/ocean/jungle/desert – which are you?

Desert. I have been lucky enough to spend time in all of those environments. The jungle is my least favourite. It is probably why I keep being sent back time and time again because it is the environment that pushes me the most. I love the desert. The dry heat and the endless rolling dunes are so romantic.

What was your first great travel experience?

When I was 19 and I left for South America for the year. Bolivia was unbelievable. I still dream of Bolivia.

What was your favourite journey?

Difficult. Papua New guinea was pretty special as was Haiti.

What are your top five places worldwide?

The Azores, Antarctica, Botswana, Bolivia and New Zealand.

Name a special place to stay.

There is a beautiful little hotel on the outskirts of Marakech in Morocco in the old Palmeria that my wife and I have been to time and time again. It is a quiet little hotel called the Jnane Tamsna. We used to escape between my heavy filming commitments.

What three items do you always pack?

A good book is essential for long journeys. As is a photograph of my family for myself but also to share with people I meet. I always travel with a small pillow just in case.

Which passport stamp are you proudest of?

Antarctica is pretty cool (I've got two of those), but I think my Sealand stamps win (I have three of them).

Which passport stamp would you most like to have?

I don't think they give them for the North Pole. Madagascar?

What is your guilty travel pleasure?

I always need a good cup of tea. I travel with my Typhoo wherever I go.

Which do you prefer: window or aisle?

Window. I always sleep the entire journey and can't stand people waking me so they can go to the loo.

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

My wife of course, and our children, Ludo and Iona.

Best meal on the road? And your worst?

Ethiopian food is surprisingly tasty, as is Haitian. Worst has to be the Cuban food they feed their tourists. Awful.

Most surprising place? And your most disappointing?

I loved Ethiopia, it was a buzzing, creative place. Most disappointing was probably Libya, it was pre-war and so dirty and untidy.

Where do you NOT want to go?

Somalia. In fact I would love to go there but I would never take such a risk.

Who/what inspired you to travel?

My father. He travelled to England from his native Canada and never left.

What do you listen to on the road?

I quite like my chilled music but I also try and collect music when I travel. Current favourites are Fat Freddy's Drop and Gorillaz.

Does any song take you back to a particular place?

There is a Mexican band called Mana and it takes me straight back to my gap year in Ecuador (as does the Fabuloso Cadilacs).

What do you read when you travel?

I always like to take a novel about the country in which I am travelling and a good guide book.

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity?

Too many. I love meeting people, they are the main reason I love travelling as much as I do.

What's the most impressive/useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

"Si Prega Di Non Jettare Nel gabineto che prosono provocare uturizione."

That is probably the worst Italian spelling but for some strange reason it was on the back of our bathroom door at home, having come from a hotel in Vienna and means "Please don't throw tampons in the loo as it will block it". I spent my childhood staring at that sign.

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

If I'm honest I prefer flying on my own. I do it so often that I have a routine.

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?

Anecdotes and stories from my life. Oh and running outside naked for a snow-bath (I've been there and done them both).

When are where in your travels have you been happiest?

Family holidays in Portugal, in Caiscais.

What smell most says 'travel' to you?

Piz Buin suncream.

Given a choice, what era would you travel in?

1900, by ship, with Shackleton.

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, which would they be?

The beaches and location of Cape Town. The buzz of New York and the heritage and architecture of London.

Ben Fogle is the ambassador for the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project. For information, visit

Join Barefoot Wine and Ben Fogle to keep Britain’s beaches ‘barefoot friendly’ in 2012, which kicked off on 14 April in Bournemouth. The Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project will run throughout the spring and summer with environmentalist and adventurer Ben Fogle as ambassador. Ben will also be personally hosting several of these coastal events alongside environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

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