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Caroline Phillips

product-caroline-p-profileProgramme Manager – Walking and Trekking

Favourite holiday destination?

The Himalaya. From Pakistan to Tibet, they are quite simply one of the most beautiful places on earth and I find being among the world’s highest mountains an incredibly uplifting experience. The people of the Himalaya are also very special – hardy, warm, spiritual and somehow timeless

Where would you like to go next?

Iran – I’ve wanted to go for years but for political reasons whether you can go there has waxed and waned. At the moment it is very much open! I’ve heard nothing but positive accounts from other people and to me it fills in the gap between the cultures of Asia and the Middle East- fascinating!

Best piece of travel advice?

Always try and fit some walking into your travel plans. Whether you’re in a city or a remote rural location, being on foot allows you to really get under the skin of a country. It’s so much easier to interact with the locals and your connection with the landscape is immediate and intimate.

Best ever travel experience?

So many to choose from but one of the favourites would be night hiking through forests in the far south of Tasmania to a small cave opening - stepping inside to discover a vast chamber filled with swirling fireflies. A truly magical experience.

Best trip you have created and why?

Festivals of Guizhou (south-west China) trip must have been good as it sold out in a weekend and we have been offering exciting trips to join in off-beat Chinese festivals ever since!

If money was no object, where in the world would you go, what would you do and why?

There are ships which cruise along the coast off far eastern Siberia - from Chukotka to Kamchatka, this strikes me as an incredibly remote and difficult place to travel. I love remote places and spending time amongst the people who live there. 

What essentials do you pack before you go on holiday?

Thermals - they don't weigh anything and you don't want to be cold! Even when travelling to hot countries you can find yourself encountering arctic-like air conditioning.

Why do you think our customers love Explore?

For walkers and trekkers, Explore and its local partners will take you on some of the finest tried and tested trails in the world, many of which you would simply never be able to find by yourself. We take care of all of the baggage logistics so you don't have to cart a heavy backpack and get you to/from the walking which isn't easy in many of the remote locations we go to. Trekking in the company of like-minded individuals is a pleasure and on challenging trails, such as climbing Kilimanjaro, it's also a real morale booster.

What did you do before you became a Product Manager / Ops Manager at Explore?

In the (very) dim and distant past I worked as a solicitor. After three years of backpacking and working around the world, I swapped the legal profession for the adventure travel industry working first as an Explore Leader and then in the office. I can honestly say that I have never looked back!

What’s been your favourite food on your travels and where did you find it?

The coconut fish curries of Kerala are hard to beat - awesome use of spices and healthy (I think!) at the same time

What food have you tried (and where), that you wouldn’t try again?

Cold sheep brain as a meze started in Turkey - not so much the taste as the thought of it!

What’s your favourite drink and where would you find it?

After 6 months leading in Turkey, I found myself rather partial to a glass of raki - the national aniseed tasting firewater.

Favourite trek/walk?

For trekking, I'll have to say the Nepal Annapurnas, for the most awesome mountain views on earth and company of Kali, my mountain guide. Coastal walking of any sort is always a favourite, from the 'Seven Sisters' of the Sussex coast to Italy's Cinque Terre, there's something about sparkling sea views and breezes that is incredibly uplifting and refreshing.

If you could travel with someone from history, who would it be and to where?

He's still very much alive but I'd love to travel with Bruce Parry (of 'Tribe' fame). His full-on immersion style of travel is properly authentic and he just seems like such a lovely guy too.

Travel highlight/twist in 2016 & why?

One of our Italian partners took me to Puglia this autumn. It's the region in the 'heel' of Italy that hasn't really been discovered yet by mass tourism that Italy lovers will find incredibly authentic. We met loads of the characters that you can encounter on our 'A Taste of Puglia' easy walking and gastronomy trip and what struck me was their unequivocal passion for what they do. People like Nina who runs the brilliant Tre Archi restaurant in Altamura where we learn to make orechiette pasta or Giuseppe at the DiGesu Bakery where we see how the traditional Puglian bread is made.