Where the experts holiday: Robert Barber, director of Golden Africa and professional guide of Botswana

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Guide and owner of Golden Africa, Robert Barber, talks travel

What do you like to do on holiday?
I like to head to different destinations within Botswana and Africa, as well as outside Africa in Europe. In Botswana I love to visit the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans area. It is such a beautiful part of the world, so desolate yet so full of life as well. Within Africa, I love Zanzibar, the Zambezi River and the Garden Route for different reasons: the first two are great for chilling out and reading a book while taking in your surroundings and maybe doing some fishing. The Garden Route in SA is great for gastronomy and it’s incredibly scenic too: beautiful and delicious all in one.

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Where did you last go?
My last holiday was to Franschhoek, one of the wine growing areas of the Western Cape in South Africa. It is like a small European town, trapped in the valley floor of some spectacular mountains and covered with vineyards. It’s also home to some amazing eateries. You could spend a year here and probably still not have tried and eaten everything there is available. I love this little corner of Africa and I’ll be going back as soon as possible!

Do you know where you’re going this year?
Often plans emerge at the last minute, but I may be in the south of France for a wedding in July. Our season finishes around early November, which is just before the best time to head to South Africa, so probably around December 2015, we will head to the Western Cape again. It’s a lovely area!

Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
Zanzibar is and always will be one of my favourite places to visit. It is a really beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, and the food will very quickly show you why it is known as the spice island. One of my other favourites is where I live: The Okavango Delta in Botswana. It’s without a doubt one of the most incredible places in the world.

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Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
I really want to see the Pantanal in South America and I also want to visit the Mendoza and Patagonia areas of Argentina.

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
A traditional cattle post. This is the heart and soul of Tswana (tswana is the adjective used to describe anything from Botswana) culture. No guide book can ever get you to one, but if you find the right one, you will be made to feel very welcome and may be treated to some great local specialities.

How do you plan your holiday? (Guidebooks/website/agent/recommendations etc)
Working in the travel industry, I know most of the travel resources out there, so use them accordingly. For accommodation and food, I tend to use a combination of extremes –  both word of mouth and Tripadvisor. Often however, as I know from experience, you should only plan so much of your holiday. It’s good to leave some of it to chance, once you are on the ground at your holiday destination. This way you’ll be able to try something or visit somewhere that may not be in a guidebook or online resource.

How often do you go away?
I travel intercontinentally three to four times per year mainly for work, but even then, I’m using reviews to decide where to eat and stay. I will then have one proper holiday every year and usually about three or four mini breaks for a few days at a time.

Who do you travel with?
I travel with my partner, fiancée and best friend Charlotte. We both love travel and are great companions. What is especially great is that we are both huge foodies as well, so love to try the local cuisines of the places we visit.

Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
I see tourism increasing in Botswana. People are waking up to Botswana more and more: it is a very beautiful destination in an amazing country, and fortunately we have a government who cherish the natural history of the country. With a continuation in the existing tourism policy and marketing direction, things can only get better for Botswana. I am very lucky to call is both my home and office!

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Robert Barber from Golden Africa will be speaking at The Adventure Travel Show, appearing in The Discover Africa Theatre on Saturday 17 January 2015  from 9.15-9.45am. Advance tickets to the show are now on sale! Get your tickets for only £6 (that’s saving £4 off the door price!) by quoting ‘JUSTABOUTTRAVEL’ when booking tickets online at www.adventureshow.com.

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