Forms of identification: Ellie Cobb
Ellie Cobb on safari in the Serengeti, Tanzania
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Name: Ellie Cobb
Title/bio: Digital producer, Lonely Planet
Born in: London, United Kingdom
Currently living in: Melbourne, Australia
1. Where would you rather be right now?
In Mauritius, visiting my nephew and niece
2. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must skip”:
For me it’s going up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve spent a lot of time in Paris and am always in awe of the iron tower holding court above the city. I love the way it appears from around corners when you least expect it. However, I would not ever go up it again. It’s simply impossible to experience its majesty from the top, when being jostled by 100 other tourists.
3. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
4. You’d be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
I hitchhike. I know it can be dangerous, and at work this is something I have to advise against doing, but I still do it when I travel. I spent nearly a year hitchhiking around France way back when and it was one of the most amazing, liberating experiences of my life.
5. Your most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel moment:
Breaking down in Tanzania near Lake Manyara National Park. We were stranded on the side of the road for hours. Cars kept pulling up next to us – we kept thinking they were stopping to offer assistance – but then suddenly driving off again. It took us a while to figure out why… there was a bull elephant wandering around about 20m behind our car and people were just stopping to have a look! It turned out that there was a hole in the car radiator and a long time later, with many locals putting their heads together to come up with a solution, it got patched up with zebra poo until we could get back to civilisation.
6. If someone was visiting your town, what’s the one thing you’d show them?
I’d take them down Melbourne’s laneways to show off some of the amazing graffiti and street art we have here.
7. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
A very nice tuk tuk driver in Mumbai let me drive his tuk tuk all the way back to where I was staying.
The one I want to take The MV Liemba, a large ex German warship that has been converted into a passenger ferry, from Kigoma in Tanzania all the way to Zambia. The ship was built nearly a century ago and will soon be taken out of service unless money can be found for repairs, so it really would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
8. The place you don’t want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
Pemba, a small island north of Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa. While Zanzibar is all about beaches, tourists and partying, Pemba is lush, renowned for its voodoo and traditional healers, has hardly any infrastructure let alone tourists and is one of the most beautiful places I have been to.
9. Most unique souvenir:
A Masai nativity scene, with a black Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and the three wise men all dressed as Masai warriors
10. Travel-related film or book that inspires you to pack your bags:
Wiliam Dalrymple’s The Age of Kali inspired me to go to India, which was my first big trip.
11. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom: