Life Before Travel
There isn’t really a life before. We travelled a fair bit as a family and as a baby I was often in the back of a van for long road trips and growing up being posted off to see relatives in far-flung places. But it was a theology school trip to the Sinai desert in 1994 with a very charismatic headmaster that really got me hooked... We trekked on camels through the desert, made bread with the Bedouin around a fire and slept under the stars. It was a formative experience and as soon as I returned home I knew I had to get back out there again. After a year bimbling around the world solo, I started working for a specialist travel company in the Sinai throughout University and my love affair with the desert began in earnest. I found myself accompanying my old school back to the desert as a guide and began running a regular annual Expedition for a month every summer to the Sinai working on projects for the Bedouin communities (irrigating mountain gardens, painting schools, building dams) and trekking through the mountains up to Mt St Catherine’s, the highest in Egypt. In 2004, Libya was in the news with Blair visiting Gadaffi and the famous ‘handshake in the tent’. Curiosity and the knowledge that Libya held Roman treasures and a vast unexplored desert led me to travel there in late 2004 with the idea of setting up a company as the first UK tour operator to do so…
Life in Travel
Simoon Travel started in 2004, primarily in Libya. Hardly anyone knew anything about Libya and as the country opened up the business started to grow. And the Libyan Sahara doesn’t disappoint…Some of the most memorable experiences have been in the south travelling with the tuareg and exploring the Acacus mountains which hide galleries of rock art some 12,000 years old. And there are the Ubari lakes which you can swim – or rather float (they are incredibly salty) - in surrounded by 100m high sand dunes. Naturally other countries soon beckoned to be explored and so I turned my attention to Iran; a fascinating country much maligned and so different from it’s perception in the West. Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Oman followed on and I’ve enjoyed getting under the skin of these countries to develop original and unique itineraries, some led by expert guides. The most recent countries I have ventured to have been Mali and Ethiopia, and by joining up with Original Travel there are now further opportunities in working together to create exciting experiences to all these countries and many more.