The Black Desert, Western Desert, Nr Bahariya, Egypt

Kate Burnell

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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 back packing 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 team now regularly has me jetting (virtually) from Tajikistan to the wilds of Argentina, all in one day.

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

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Magpie Geese, Bamurru Plains, Mary River, Kakadu, Northern Territories, Australia
Magpie Geese on the floodplains at Bamurru Plains
Airboat Cruise, Bamurru Plains, Mary River, Australia
Air boating at Bamurru Plains

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.

Include Bamurru Plains in your holiday to Australia.


These are a few of my favourite travel experiences…

Rafting, Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica

Rafting Through the Rainforest

Rafting along the Pacuare River flanked by the sites and sounds of the Costa Rican jungle and arriving at our beautiful lodge in time for dinner by candle light.

Pacuare Lodge

Emerald Lakes, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

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.

Mitchell Falls & Mitchell Plateau, Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia

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.

Kate sat on log under palm tree against backdrop of lake and western desert.

Desert Silence

Travelling to Egypt during Ramadan and breaking the fast with my guide, gorging on dates from the trees above while looking out over the Great Sea of Sand in the Western Desert – truly magical.

Underwater shot of snorkeller on Ningaloo Reef.

Snorkelling on the Ningaloo Reef

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

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