Meet the Boss: Fi Lowry, Kudu Travel


Each week at 101 Holidays we meet one of the people behind the UK’s finest travel companies. This week we speak with Fi Lowry, Director of the cultural walking tour specialist, Kudu Travel.

Fi’s role at Kudu is very much ‘hands on’, still leading some trips herself. Brought up overseas, she has done ornithological research in Senegal, Israel and Ascension Island, played in the National Symphony Orchestra in Baghdad, taught English in Greece, nursed in Iceland, guided tours to see gorillas in Uganda and Zaire and spent two years in the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces. After 9 years as a freelance tour leader, she set up Kudu Travel to put all this experience to good use. Fi lives in a winemaking village near Lake Orta in Italy.

* Where did you go on holiday this year, and why?

I went to Lake Skadar, which straddles the border between Montenegro and Albania, for birdwatching, wine-tasting and exploring the mediaeval monasteries on rocky islands in the lake.

* What is your favourite holiday in the UK, and why?

Skokholm island in Wales – for its remoteness, peace and quiet, the sea, walking and birdwatching. It’s also one of only three places in the world (the others being South Africa and the French West Indies) where I have managed to catch the elusive ‘green flash’, the perfect excuse for sitting gazing out to sea at sunset.

* If you could spend a long weekend in any city abroad, which would you pick, and why?

Cape Town (pictured top left) because of its incomparably beautiful setting, the marvellous Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens, fabulous restaurants and wines, good opera and ballet and excellent museums (including the Cape Malay heritage and Nelson Mandela’s prison on Robben Island) – and because you can climb Table Mountain and go whale-watching on the same day and still fit in some live jazz on the Waterfront in the evening.

* Please tell us three items that are always found in your luggage.

Binoculars, my iPod loaded with Handel’s operas, and walking poles (years of mountain walking have given me very creaky knees).

* What one thing would most improve people’s overall holiday experience?

Being clear in their own minds about what they want to gain from their holiday so that they choose a destination, a standard of accommodation and an activity range that will meet, or exceed, their expectations and hopes.

* What has been your worst holiday experience?

Yemen, almost 30 years ago, when during a single month exploring on my own I was shot at twice, arrested three times, narrowly avoided kidnap and ended up ill with Giardia for weeks.

* Tell us your favourite hotel: in the UK; in mainland Europe; in the rest of the world.

I haven’t stayed in a hotel in the UK for years so cannot comment; Schloss Kapfenstein in Austria; the Chedi in Muscat.

* What is the most exciting project your company is working on right now?

A new trip to Bolivia (pictured top right) to attend the Baroque Music Festival in the Mission churches – members of the indigenous Bolivian tribes performing music commissioned by the Jesuits during the Spanish colonial era – plus visiting the reed boat-building villages on Lake Titicaca, witnessing mirages on the extraordinary salt flats and staying in the improbable salt hotel, tracking jungle wildlife and walking in the Andes.

* Thank you, Fi.

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