With my travels, I see myself as trying to emulate the explorers of old: it was reading the accounts of individuals like Sir Francis Drake or Alejandro Humboldt as a teenager that inspired me to want to travel in the first place. Fast forward a couple of decades and I am a travel writer specialising in the South American wilderness (the Andes and Amazon Basin primarily).
My travel writing has appeared in the Independent, Telegraph, GeoSaison, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Avalon Travel Publishing, Insight Guides and many others. My debut novel, Roebuck, is set in the South American jungle during the 1590s, and follows the misadventures of real-life gentleman explorer Anthony Knivet.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"As a novelist: Historic Fiction
As a travel writer: Andes, Amazon, South America, Caribbean, Eastern Europe, UK, Adventure Travel, Hiking, Culinary Travel"
How did you get involved in travel?
"I always dreamed up travels as a child, tracing imaginary routes on atlases. As soon as I finished university, I headed off to Canada and spent the following 18 months travelling from there overland down through the Americas to Tierra del Fuego. Afterwards, I started writing about it: initially for local newspapers, then for Lonely Planet, and finally for other publications from BBC Travel through to the Telegraph, the Independent and national newspapers/ leading travel publications everywhere from the US to Sweden and Germany."
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"The first time I ever took the bus in the Andes from Ayacucho to Huancayo, I didn't realise the main highway was a track barely wider than the width of a truck that followed the rim of a very sheer valley. After several hours of heart-in-mouth moments, we reached the half-way point where the villagers had just decided to close the road because they wanted to have a fiesta. We were left with no choice but to get off the bus and join in for the next six hours or so. The locals had rarely set eyes on any foreigners before, and we were given seats of honour alongside the mayor!"
Featured trips & expertise
December is a mixed bag on the Inca Trail. The rain is coming down on an almost daily basis, but the flowers and plants are thriving, beautifying the trail views. Crowds can be very low (at the beginning of the month) or very high (over Christmas and New Year). A few memorable festivities take place this month to spice things up pre- and post-hike, too: read on for more about what to expect.
Wet season is here—but the rain does not stick around all day in the Sacred Valley. If you're one of the relatively few travelers coming to the region this month, you will enjoy sightseeing at the least-crowded time of year and probably still see the sun quite a bit. Trekking is wetter and muddier than usual, but flora is thriving and rising water levels increase the appeal of rafting. An activity that combines both, such as the Inca Jungle Trek, is ideal around now.
October is still officially dry season, and sunny weather persists despite more frequent bursts of rain as the month wears on. Trekkers still descend on the region to make the most of the last spells of dry weather before the wet season kicks off at the end of the month. There are also, as always, important festivities in Cusco—read on for more on October events, weather, and more.
The end of the dry season is a great month for hiking: crowds in the Sacred Valley and on the Inca Trail are down, while bright, sunny weather predominates. Although the chances of rain are increasing, temperatures are sneaking up, too. Altogether, this is one of the best months for outdoor activities in the Sacred Valley before the rains commence in earnest next month.
August is the final month of high season and a popular time for North American and European holiday-makers to converge on the Inca Trail (and all Sacred Valley sights, for that matter). The Inca Trail will still likely be at capacity for much of August. If you want to escape the crowds, there are plenty of hikes apart from the Inca Trail to enjoy the great weather and beautiful landscapes in solitude.
You'll be hiking the Inca Trail in dry, sunny weather this month, and the Sacred Valley resounds with the color and clamor of near-constant festivities. No wonder July is such a popular time of year to visit the region—this is when the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu regularly meet their maximum visitor capacity. Read on for more about weather, crowds, and activities.