Our People
  • Amy Waters 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.

  • William Dalrymple 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.

  • Liz Bonnin Heroes and Heroines

    The people who lead the way when it comes to those things which matter to us: exploration, the environment, women’s empowerment and education.

Kate Burnell

Kate Burnell

  • Asia, Australasia and Oceania

My first true travel adventure was in my late teens when my parents waved me off from Victoria coach station, bound for France. I spent the next 18 months working as an au pair and immersing myself in French life. I discovered a love for languages. Spain followed where I resided for five fun-filled years, interspersed with winters spent skiing in the Alps. After backpacking from Fiji through New Zealand, Australia and southern Africa I returned to the UK to pursue a career in tailor-made travel and joined the Steppes team in 2006.

Nowadays I am instinctively drawn to wild landscapes with as few people as possible, just the unparalleled beauty of nature which never fails to astound and inspire me. Since working for Steppes I have been lucky enough to travel to countries as diverse as Jordan, Japan, Costa Rica and Australia. My product role within the Asia team now regularly has me jetting (virtually) from Tajikistan to Papua New Guinea, all in one day. Next adventure? The wild landscapes of Mongolia or maybe Wa Ale, a remote island retreat where tourism and conservation work hand in hand.

Kate Burnell
Drinking games with geisha, Kyoto, Japan
Young Geisha (Maiko), Kyoto, Japan
Geisha, Kyoto

My Meeting with Geisha

Many ancient cultures are slowly changing or disappearing completely, so on my first visit to Japan I was excited at the chance to enter the mysterious world of the geisha. During a fascinating evening I met two young geisha in training, known locally as maiko, a third generation okiya owner or ‘mother’ plus an experienced older geisha with a playful air.

Read my blog

Water glistening with reeds and air boat silhouetted.
Air boating, Mary River floodplains, Australia
Close up of hands holding fluffy magpie goose chick.
Magpie goose chick, Mary River floodplains, Australia
Magpie Geese, Bamurru Plains, Mary River, Kakadu, Northern Territories, Australia
Magpie Geese, Mary River, Australia

Crocs and Magpie Geese at Bamurru Plains

I awoke to the sound of kookaburra and cockatoo, with buffalo grazing metres from my terrace. Boarding an airboat, we headed onto the floodplains. Flocks of black and white magpie geese (after which the lodge is named) took to the air in their hundreds. Chicks were hatching, crocodiles lingered, and our guides knew just where to look. We moored amidst a carpet of water lilies for a cold beer before returning to the lodge to laze in the infinity pool and dine on freshly caught mud crab, emu, buffalo and kangaroo pie! A truly unforgettable and Australian experience.

Stay at Bamurru Plains.

Shibuya Shopping Street, Japan

Tokyo - One of my Top 10 Cities

I am not normally a ‘city’ person, preferring wilder and more scenic locations, but Tokyo seduced me. It’s vast, I mean huge and it’s hot and bustling, as most capital cities are, yet it is also calm and orderly. Within three hours of landing I was walking the streets, hopping on and off the bewilderingly efficient local transport networks and when I did get lost (often!) no one seemed too busy or to have too little English to try and help. The result is one of the most relaxed city explorations I have ever had, knowing if I did get lost, all is not lost.

Include Tokyo in your holiday to Japan.

My Favourite Experiences

Snorkelling on the Ningaloo Reef

Walking 50 metres from soft sand into another world to snorkel with turtle and ray on the Ningaloo Reef.

The Thrill of a Helicopter Flight

Soaring across Western Australia’s Kimberley landscape by helicopter, landing for a swim at the top of Mitchell Falls – simply awesome.

Completing the Tongariro Crossing

Completing this iconic one day walk and being lucky enough to do so on the most glorious day – the lunar landscape of turquoise lakes and red craters was out of this world.

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Some of my favourite holiday ideas

Here are a selection of my favourite holiday suggestions. These include places I have been lucky enough to travel to, wish to visit or have helped create based on new and exciting experiences that we wish to introduce our clients to.

Why Choose Steppes?

These may be uncertain times but they are, without a doubt, still full of opportunity to discover the extraordinary safely. Through knowledge and expertise, we can connect you to those destinations embracing travellers with the added confidence of flexible booking and decades of insight.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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