Inside Treck

New York’s best pain au chocolat, a Gambian river adventure and Mali jazz – travel industry insiders reveal their favourite things on the planet.

Words Hannah Thompson

Ever wonder how some people seem to travel without a fuss, know exactly where’s hot before the rest of the world’s heard of it and collect the kind of rarefied memories the rest of us only dream of? Wings has found the intrepid blogger, hotelier, photographer and tour operator who have made travel their trade and the little-known corners of the globe their office – We’ve asked them for their expert advice on how and where to travel.

The Travel Snapper

Jason Florio is a New York-based photographer and winner of the 2010 International Photography Award.

What’s your favourite moment captured in a photograph?

I was up early one morning while staying at my friend’s place, The Mandina River Lodge in The Gambia, when I saw an old fisherman paddling down the river in a dug-out canoe with a crocodile tied across the bow. I asked if I could make a portrait of him holding the crocodile, which he agreed to, and it’s now one of my favourite images.

Where will the next stamp in your passport be from?

The Gambia. My wife and I are going to make a 1,130km photography expedition following the course of the River Gambia from its source in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea, through the Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal and back through The Gambia to the Atlantic.

What item can’t you live without on the road?

My lunghi! Basically, it’s a tube of fabric that Somali and Burmese men wear around their waists instead of trousers. I sleep in mine, use it as a towel, it works great as a scarf and is a privacy shield when changing on the beach – essential.

Where’s your secret spot in New York?

It has to be Patisserie Claude’s on West 4th Street in my Greenwich Village neighbourhood, hands down! It’s a very lo-fi French bakery. The pain-au-chocolates there are my daily addiction (187 West 4th Street, Manhattan, (212) 255 5911).

The jet-set Blogger

Julie Falconer is a US travel blogger based in London. She has visited over 90 countries from Albania to Vietnam.

Where’s your all-time favourite travel destination?

That’s tough – My favourite place for culture is Senegal, and for music it’s Mali.

What’s your top tip for London?

Trafalgar Square – it’s right in the heart of the city and is surrounded by beautiful architecture and the National Gallery, which houses a world-class collection of art.

What planning do you do?

I usually try to seek out blogs and websites that are authorities on the destinations that I’m going to visit. I’m particularly interested in cultural and culinary travel, so I try to seek out as much information about those topics as I can.

What travel essentials are always in your suitcase?
I’m always a very light packer, so I try to only bring what I need. I once travelled for three weeks with just a small carry-on! Usually my list includes my passport, clothes, toiletries, a good book, and noise-cancelling headphones if I’m flying long-haul.

The Hotelier

Peter Aucamp, is a hotel owner in Johannesburg. He used 10 interior designers to address the shortcomings he found in hotels across the world, to build Ten Bompas.

What’s your must-do experience in Johannesburg?

The Constitutional Court on Constitution Hill, Braamfontein. It was built on the premises of the Old Fort where many activists including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Walter Sisulu were imprisoned.

Where’s your favourite destination?

I’m a great fan of New York – for its diversity and pace. New York has fantastic boutique hotels such as The Mark on Madison Avenue at 77th Street or the Chambers Hotel on West 56th.

Where’s Africa’s next hotspot?

I recently became a convert to Mali jazz, so I’d really like to go to Mali soon.

What’s always with you on the road?

My phone with its TripAdvisor and Michelin Guide Apps, so that I can always get quick recommendations for restaurants and places of interest nearby.

The Travel Agent

Rebecca McKernan is the manager of Intrepid Travel’s My Adventure Store, specialising in off-the-beaten track adventure. Intrepid has recently started running an overland trip that visits Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Tell us – what’s the next big thing in travel, worldwide?

West Africa. It’s such a vibrant, unspoilt region of the continent, and has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

What’s your ultimate packing tip?

I always pack some photocopied pages from the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. It’s my checklist!

What planning or research do you do before you travel?

I always buy a copy of the Lonely Planet guide for my destination. I like to think of myself as an independently-minded traveller, but it’s nice to have a copy to fall back on.

Where’s best in the world for culture?

London. It’s so rich in history and there’s a huge range of ways to experience the city. Whatever you’re interested in, you can find it in London.

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