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Join us for an evening in conversation with Hilary Bradt, chaired by Tina Lees-Jones, Chair of the Cheshire and North Wales committee. The evening will be filled with insights into Hilary’s fifty years of escapades, surprises, mishaps, disasters, and triumphs.

Taking the risk is her engaging memoir, weaving together insightful reflections, humorous anecdotes, and sometimes heart-stopping moments from her serendipitous adventures in both travel and publishing. There will be an opportunity to purchase the book at the event (cash only). 

Barely into her twenties, Hilary thumbed lifts around the Middle East for three months before spending four years working and travelling in the US. Between 1973 and 1976 she explored, and worked in, South America and Africa with her then husband George, often journeying through literally uncharted territory in their quest to find new hiking routes. The discovery of an ancient trail to Machu Picchu inspired their inaugural guidebook, Backpacking along ancient ways Peru and Bolivia – which included the very first descriptions of the Inca Trail. Their 11-month journey by public transport and hitchhiking through the often volatile countries of southern, east and northeast Africa formed the basis of Backpacker’s Africa. From 1977 to 1980 the pair wrote several backpacking guides and set up Bradt Guides. Finding herself single again in 1980, Hilary continued publishing guides while working as a tour leader, heading treks to South America, and creating wildlife tours in Madagascar and occasional safaris in Kenya.

Join Hilary as she relives in detail the rigours of travel before the days of the internet or mobile phones including journeying through war zones, or soon to be war zones, near-death experiences, smuggling her husband across an international border, and frequently getting arrested despite efforts to be responsible tourists. Share Hilary’s delight at the abundance of wildlife she encountered, from mountain gorillas in Rwanda to rockhopper penguins in the Falkland Islands and poison dart frogs in Ecuador. Learn how Hilary’s lack of experience made the early days of publishing quite unlike those of any other successful publisher. Cringe at her disastrous tour-leading experiences, and laugh (or cry) at her ability to court media disasters while seeking the limelight.

Taking the risk is the story of an inveterate, intrepid traveller whose joyous exploration of the world has helped to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people – anyone who has travelled with a Bradt Guide over the last 50 years.

Today, at 82, Hilary Bradt continues to hitchhike. She reflects:
“Writing my memoir brought home how extraordinarily lucky I - and my contemporaries, Lonely Planet and Moon - were with the simplicity of self-publishing in the 1970s. This was the decade of lightweight equipment, low-cost travel and a hunger for adventure, and we all wanted to share our discoveries with like-minded travellers.”

About the speaker

Hilary Bradt’s career as an occupational therapist ended when potential employers noticed that the time taken off for travel exceeded the periods of employment. In 1963, she hitchhiked to and around the Middle East. In 1969, she spent six months travelling from San Francisco to Rio de Janeiro. With her former husband George, she self-published her first guidebook in 1974 - Backpacking along ancient ways in Peru and Bolivia – during an extended journey throughout South America, thus founding Bradt Travel Guides.

Booking information 

Advance booking for this event is required. Tickets are £5 and free for RGS-IBG members and under 18 year old's (use promotional code Student2024 at checkout). Please book by midday on 22 April. If you have any questions or require assistance with your booking, please email 

This event has been organised by the  Cheshire and North Wales committee  with Bradt Guides

If you would like to hear more about our events, please sign up to our events mailing list.  

Venue information 

This event will be held at Goostrey Village Hall, Goostrey, CW4 8PE. 

Doors open at 7.00pm.

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Key Information

Open to all
22 April 2024, 7.30pm-9.00pm

Member £0.00, Non-member £5.00
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