Our People
  • Amy snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

  • Chris Packham Our Tour Experts

    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

Joe Parkes Ladakhi India

Joe Parkes

  • Europe, Middle East and Indian subcontinent

My Expertise

  • India
  • Bhutan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Nepal
  • Romania
  • Iceland
  • Georgia
  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Armenia

As a child I read voraciously so the seed of travel was planted by none other than Enid Blyton. Family holidays ran the gamut from icy dips in the early summer seas of Cornwall, to camel rides in north Africa, from Times Square to Tenerife. A GAP year upon leaving school cemented the travel bug. After graduating University and before stumbling, happily, into a career in the travel industry I spent a couple of glorious years exploring southern and east Africa, large swathes of South-east Asia, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Travel highlights include driving from Oxfordshire to Banjul in a decommissioned ambulance, an hour with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, kickboxing with a monk at Angkor Wat, trekking in Iceland, any trip to India, and that first sip of cold beer at sunset.

I travel because of an unquenchable thirst for new experiences, to meet new people, and to learn. I also like collecting fridge magnets.

Male Leopard, Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka, India
Nagarhole National Park, India

Nagarhole National Park

With some really positive feedback spreading about Nagarhole National Park I decided to visit and see it for myself. The park is home to a very healthy population of tigers, as well as leopards, sloth bears, and wild dogs. It was the latter that provided one of my most memorable wildlife experiences when I was lucky enough to witness a hunt.

Read my blog

Stepantsminda gergeti georgia
Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia

Journey through the Caucasus

The snow, light as I closed the curtains for bed, was at least two feet deep by morning. The ground and sky, both white, merged together with just small slithers of mountains dimly visible. I was in Kazbegi, in the north of Georgia, and about to trek to Sameba. In the snow. It was brilliant.

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Morungs Tribes,Kohima, Nagaland, India
Kohima, India

India's final frontier

The stand-out travel experience of the last couple of years was my time in Nagaland visiting the Konyak tribe. I have a long-held fascination of tribes and their ways of living and am also very interested in the history of tattooing. The Konyak are best-known for headhunting and easily identified by their boar’s teeth necklaces and tattooed faces. They are happy to receive visitors but the experience feels less voyeuristic than meeting tribes in other destinations.

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Enroute to Ushguli, Upper Svaneti, Georgia
Georgia

My Favourite Experience

Visiting Ushguli in Georgia on a beautiful, crisp snowy day. The light was magnificent and there was a very real sense of being in the middle of nowhere.

Flags on Tiger's Nest Temples, Bhutan
Tiger's Nest Temples, Paro, Bhutan
Naga Boy, Nagaland, India
Mon, India

Get to know me

Why do I travel?

Because of an unquenchable thirst for new experiences.

What inspires me to travel?

I love it all. Dreaming, planning, being at airports, seeing new cities at night, meeting people, trying new food, learning a few local words and phrases. It’s all such fun.

What does luxury travel mean to me?

Having someone interesting guide me. You really understand a destination in the company of a good guide. To me that is a luxury.

Favourite travel books, films or documentaries?

I have read On The Road by Jack Kerouac more times than I can remember. Every time I read it I want to travel.

My most memorable travel experience and why?

Bungee jumping in New Zealand with the flu. I felt rotten but jumped anyway.

 

My most adventurous/thrilling/exciting travel experience?

Driving from West Oxfordshire to Banjul, the Gambia with some friends. Our fleet comprised a 1987 VW Polo, a Volvo Estate circa 1990, and a decommissioned RAF Ambulance complete with gurney and working siren. Travelling deep into the desert in Mauritania with a guide who was Morgan Freeman’s doppelganger was a memory I shall never forget. That siren had a way of turning heads in remote Senegalese villages.

Most memorable wildlife experience?

Can I have three? Trekking to see Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Close second, watching a large Orca pod in Iceland. Third, a lioness stalking a wildebeest in the Serengeti while her two tiny cubs watched on.

Who is the most interesting person I have met when travelling?

A guy called Jack from County Cork. I met him at a Bia Hoi stand in Hanoi, Vietnam and went on to travel with him for two months. I have never laughed so much.

The trip or experience I still talk about?

Very happy to waffle on about the 3 month’s I spent backpacking through India.

The most remote place I have been to?

Banc d’Arguin National Park, Mauritania. We slept in a large bell tent that was presumably used by local fishermen and had to huddle together for warmth as it was freezing overnight!

The coldest, the hottest, the windiest, the driest, the highest…

Coldest was  -15 deg Tallinn, Estonia. Hottest 46 deg Jaipur, India. Windiest = Summit of Catbells, Lake District, Cumbria. Driest – Sahara Desert.

Something I have achieved on a trip that I am proud of?

I did a magnificent hut to hut trek through the highlands of Iceland a few years ago. I am proud that I didn’t get lost despite having the worst sense of direction and a most basic grasp of navigation.

My favourite hotel and why?

Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan because it is comfortably stylish, unpretentious, and in a wonderful location.

My favourite city/town/village/national park/region and why?

The place I want to go back to the most is the region of Svaneti in north-west Georgia to do some trekking. I love Kanha National Park in India, the whole of Sri Lanka, and my favourite big city is Mumbai.

My worst travel experience?

I was mugged at knifepoint in Spain when I was sixteen.

My best piece of travel advice?

Relax and embrace the unexpected.

My one travel essential you can’t leave home without?

Ear plugs.

In what place am I happiest?

At home with my son.

Where next?

Nepal and Bhutan

 

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Experiences

The Northern Lights

Experience the mesmerising display of the Northern Lights, best viewed from September to April.

Trekking in Bhutan

Go trekking in pristine mountain terrain, visit remote lakes and fish for trout, reach remote communities and learn about mountain life.

Croatian Cooking Class

Experience a private cooking class to explore the huge variety of flavours of Croatian gourmet cuisine.

Meet the Rumuri Indians

Encounter the Rumuri (Tarahumara) Indians who live in the caves within the canyon system.

Iconic Indian Railway Journeys

Ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Experience the foothills by Indian rail.

Sri Lanka Village Experience

Take a guided village walk into a nearby village with a naturalist. A chance to interact with the locals and visit a school and learn more about traditional daily life.

Meet the rest of the team

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?


Why Steppes