Sophy Roberts is a British writer whose work focuses on the wild places from Papua New Guinea to the Congo.
Reporting on wildlife conservation, threats to eco-systems and fragile cultures from remote corners of the world is travel writer Sophy Robert’s passion. She cut her journalistic teeth with Jessica Mitford then ditched an enviable job at Conde Nast Traveller to ‘tell those stories often untold’. She’s diced with danger in Papua New Guinea, protected elephants in Chad, fallen in love with the forests and people of the Congo and for her debut book crossed the wildest parts of Russia in her quest to tell the fascinating stories of The Lost Pianos of Siberia.   On this episode we cover: Growing up with a fish farming father The lust to see what was beyond the horizon When all the worlds she had imagined began to come alive Books having the power to transport Wanting to tell the stories that aren’t told India age 18 on a dollar or two a day Feeling very safe in India as a single female traveller How India stimulates the senses in a profound way Hotels where the windows don’t open How being able to really feel a place gets the blood flowing Luxury travel sealing you off from the real world Cutting her journalist teeth with Jessica (Decca) Mitford (the non-fascist one who went to Spain during the Civil War) Learning from Jessica Mitford that risk and bravery are important Jessica Mitford’s son being one of the world’s great piano tuner Quitting Conde Nast Traveller to travel more Using her writing to go ‘closer and closer to the edge’ Collaborating with brilliant photographers opening up a whole new avenue Stepping into the areas where there is fear The areas marked read on the map Going to Chad to report on an elephant conservation project The matriarch elephants that would circle the baby elephants to protect them being shot African Parks Chad being incredibly poor and having huge challenges Yet also moonscape mountains and ancient rock art Travel being a force for good; economically, philosophically and in creating connections Working in the Congo People increasingly travelling ‘towards issues’ The scary encounter with Russian bikers amid indigenous people in the far north of Russia Papua New Guinea being tricky and risky Being witness to a rape Falling in love with the Solomon seaside of Papua Travelling to Mongolia with her children Being inspired to write The Lost Pianos of Siberia by a local family in the Orkhon valley a few hours drive from Ulaanbaatar The search for the pianos that travelled from the cities in Russia to all corners of Siberia Travelling from the Ural mountains all the way to the Pacific Spending 158 days on the road in Russia How tracing the journeys of the pianos allowed her to tell human solace in times of darkness The mysterious piano in a volcanic caldera in The Kamchatka Peninsula is a in the Russian Far East Piano culture runs through Russian society like blood The Princess who dragged a piano across frozen lakes on a sledge to visit her revolutionary husband in prison The Social Life of Things a book about the how object design can reflect politics and culture The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal being of key influence Combining adventuring with family life The environmental impact of the conflict in Yemen Falling in love with the forests and people of the Congo How one has to learn to watch the trees moving past The Russian priest who sang Russian choral music      
Today, I’m joined by one of the world’s leading travel authors and journalists, Sophy Roberts. Formerly the editor-at-large of Conde Nast Traveller, and Departures Magazine, as well as a columnist at the Financial Times, Sophy’s focus now is primarily on remote parts of the world, reporting on fragile cultures, wildlife conservation and threats to eco-systems.I hope this episode grabs you and transports you to the wild and wonderful ends of our planet. It’s a long haul, feature length episode and a love letter to travel, which will take you to some truly far flung locations from deepest Siberia and wild Papua New Guinea, to the deserts of Chad and the lakes of Kashmir. I really hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.Destination Recap:UzbekistanAryll, Dumfries and Galloway, ScotlandLeger, FranceIrelandEcclefechan, Scottish Borders RussiaDelhi Old Town, IndiaKashmir, IndiaDrive from Kashmir to Ladakh Siberia, RussiaMongoliaNepalNew York City, USANew York Public LibrarySylvia’s, New YorkNihiwatu - Now called Nihi Sumba, IndonesiaHotel Trasierra, Andalucia, SpainChadPapua New GuineaYeotown, SomersetThe Canary IslandsSt Tropez in AugustMozambiqueKolyma, Siberia, RussiaRwandaArctic polesSocotra Island, YemenMississippi River, USA‘The Lost Pianos of Siberia’ by Sophy Roberts, is out now. You can follow Sophy’s travel on Instagram here. Thank you so much for listening today. If you haven’t yet left a 5 star rating or a review, why not do so now! Your support is so greatly appreciated and most importantly, helps others to discover the podcast. Don’t forget you can listen on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Castbox, Stitcher and pretty much all other podcast apps. To find out who’s on next week’s show come and find me on Instagram, I’m @hollyrubenstein I’d love to hear from you.And visit for everything podcast-related.This episode was produced by Holly Rubenstein  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Sophy Roberts is a travel writer who focuses on remote parts of the world. Her first book, The Lost Pianos of Siberia, charts her incredible search for an instrument in Siberia worthy of a brilliant Mongolian pianist.
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2 hours, 5 minutes
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