S. Dillon Ripley likes to combine pleasure with work, and admits he sometimes has to have a taste for roughing it, particularly when he finds himself in a small tent in the rain with lots of mosquitos, and leeches and ticks. "It can be pretty romantic," he says. "You have to have peculiar tastes." Some of the places he singles out are:
* The eastern valley of northeast India and Bhutan: An area of wonderfully romantic settings, it has marvelous rivers and mountain scenery and tremendous trees all around. When we were there this past December and January, the weather was crisp and cold at night, and up in the low 70's during the day. It is especially nice if you have your own elephant.
* Nepal: On the Tibet and India border, Nepal is where Mt. Everest is. The Smithsonian had a project in the Nepal lowlands for six years studying the life cycle of tigers; I joined the camp. We went out every day studying. But I usually saw only tall grass closing behind the tigers, and loads of rhinos and leopards.
* Island favorites: Solomon Island in the southwest Pacific; the mountains of New Guinea you can either see from the sea or climb are very beautiful, and filled with a different population of trees, plants, insects, birds and some mammals. The Papuans and Melanesians are fascinating people as well. I love the Indonesian islands east of Bali, the remote islands. Bali is heavily populated by tourists now, but the east islands are just as beautiful.
* Machu Picchu, in Peru: One of the most beautiful places in the Western hemisphere.
* The Cha teau de Cle res in Normandy: Just to sit on the terrace of the cha teau with my old friend M. Delacour and look out at his lawns covered with antelope, walabees, geese, peacocks, ducks and pheasants wandering down through the gardens is really one of the most pleasurable things to do.