From the Amazon to Antarctica, Céline Cousteau on travelling with purpose

The granddaughter of perhaps the world’s best known adventurer, Céline Cousteau is based in New York state, but is always on the move.  The Patagonian wilderness, Amazon River, and waters of Antarctica — she’s seen them all, whether it be for her documentary projects or as ambassador for the Treadright Foundation. Launched by the Travel Corporation, parent company of Trafalgar Tours, Insight Vacations and more, the foundation supports sustainable tourism projects around the world through conservation and local community support.

What’s your favourite place on Earth?  “The Amazon holds a special place in my heart. My first visit there was when I was nine years old and I accompanied my grandfather for a few weeks on [his boat] Calypso while his crew was filming. For this reason, it has taken a familiar place in my life, though at the same time it remains as wild, foreign and intense as ever. It’s not a place I go to relax, it is a place I go with purpose.”

Where are you headed to next?  “In June, I will be joining my father in the Sea of Cortez to film a documentary with the Mantello brothers (two French directors/producers) about the secrets of the oceans. Being able to see a close-up view of macro life under the lens of camera, projected onto a big screen, is a fascinating perspective of the underwater world.”

What’s your favourite souvenir of all time?  “Any object that has been given to me and connects me to a people and a place, such as a necklace an indigenous Marubo man gave me in the Javari, Brazilian Amazon.”

Do you have any packing advice for our readers?  “Usually I try to pack light and think ahead. In your carry on: Bring small sizes of all your favourite skin and hair-care products in refillable packaging, one change of clothes and your essentials — whatever they are (phone, journal, book, camera) and copies of your passport. Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs — you’ll regret having to pay for extra weight or an extra bag. Bring one non-wrinkle dress that can go from day to night with just a change of accessories and shoes, pack your favourite jeans, shirt and jacket — you will be happy you have them. If you have clothes you might give away, wear them for the last time on the trip and leave them to someone who might need them.”

In your work with TreadRight, which trip has had the biggest impact on you?  “The journey to Mexico to meet and film the work of the MAR Leadership Program [Mesoamerican Reef System] was incredibly inspiring. The fellows of the MAR program receive training ranging from grant writing to presentation skills, networking to conservation strategy. It was inspiring to hear the stories of the fellows and of the organization, whose approach to environmental protection is a systemic one, providing crucial skills and therefore empowering the researchers and organizations working on the ground.”

For more information, visit the TreadRight Foundation.

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