Nick Laing

Aside from the odd family ski trip and enduring the ever-present clouds of midges in Scotland, my first real adventure did not occur until 1975 when, at the tender age of 23, I obtained seven months leave from the army and drove a car from London to Singapore. No phone, no internet, no maps but we did have four cases of whisky which proved an invaluable asset on several occasions.

By a circuitous route, that journey led to my involvement with Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Nepal from 1977 which ultimately led me to the Altai mountains of Russia in 1988 where Steppes Travel (or Steppes East as it was then) was born.

Since then I have been lucky enough to visit many countries and to have met some extraordinary people. I am frequently asked which is my favourite destination to which the answer is always difficult. For me travel is all about people. We have so much to learn from other cultures – it is frequently humbling to listen to the wisdom of the poorest and to see the pride and manner in which they conduct themselves.

Young boy in hat, Madagascar

My travel advice

  • Take a small polaroid camera and distribute photographs. It will break the ice for your photography.
  • Type up the words to three traditional songs and tuck them away for those moments when you are called upon to perform.
  • Pack a lot of patience – anger and frustration rapidly lead to a loss of respect and inevitably prolong the problem.
  • I suspect the old adage of packing a linen suit just in case you are invited to an embassy party is probably outdated.

Looking back with Nick Laing

In the spring of 1989, sitting on a rough bench in the foothills of the Altai mountains in southern Russia, listening to folk songs playing on a guitar, I sat looking at some of the most beautiful mountain scenery I had seen anywhere in the world, hundreds of miles from civilisation. It was at that moment I realised that there were people out there, like me, who would also like to visit these remote areas of the world. And so Steppes Travel was born.

Watch Nick’s video

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