Where the Experts Holiday: Charlie Hopkinson of Dragoman

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Charlie Hopkinson of Dragoman

Charlie Hopkinson of Dragoman

What do you like to do on holiday?

I like to find out as much about the people and places I visit as I can; not just ‘holidaying’, but actively learning about local life, customs, beliefs and sampling the local food and brews.

Where did you last travel?

I’ve just come back from North India, doing part of Dragoman’s ‘Darjeeling and the Eastern Horizons trip’ with my wife and friends. Staying in the Himalayan foothills far from the trappings on modern life was an amazingly refreshing and humbling experience.

Do you know where you’re going next?

The Rio Carnival in March.

Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?

Zimbabwe was one of the first places I travelled to – I lead my first Dragoman trip there in 1984 – and, almost three decades on, it is still my favourite. It’s the welcoming, smiling people, the up-close wildlife experiences and stunning landscape that make it special. That, and personal nostalgia!

Which destination do you wish to travel to but haven’t been there yet?

Ladakh.

In your own area, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?

Set in the foothills surrounding Darjeeling, Karmi Farm is a clinic which helps local people access medical help that would otherwise be a 3 – 4 hour walk away. It’s a new project which we support (along with Nomad Travel) and visiting it not only means you’ll be the only western tourists there, amongst beautiful local people and surroundings, but you’ll also be directly contributing to a valuable community project. For more info click on http://www.karmifarm.com/kfclinic.html

How do you plan a vacation? (guidebooks/website/agents/friends etc)

Being an MD of a major adventure tour operator means there’s never really such a thing as a ‘vacation’. I’m always either visiting places that are already part of our Dragoman trips or places that may become one! Leader feedback or local contacts almost always informs what destination I’m going to visit next.

Where do you see tourism in your destination/attraction in 10 years time?

That’s a good question. I think that more and more large-scale operators will follow the lead of those in adventure travel and commit to a type of holiday that supports and sustains the people and places it visits; ‘responsible travel’. It’s in everyone’s interests to protect the environment and local communities for future years and generations. Responsible travel isn’t an option; it’s a must-do.

Dragoman will be at the Adventure Travel Live show at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Victoria, London

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