Richard Smith runs a business where visitors literally sit back and enjoy the view. He gets to places often far off the beaten track that celebrate the wild tranquillity of Wales and includes a local history lesson along the way.
Motivated by a passion to share the hidden delights of “the biggest undiscovered secret in Britain”, Richard set up his tour business, Cambrian Safaris, in rural Mid Wales six years ago.
Cambrian Safaris offers guide-driven tours of some of the most spectacular countryside anywhere in Great Britain. In today’s fast-paced world, Mid Wales is an area where visitors can jump off the daily treadmill and chill. The pace of life is altogether slower, the scenery is simply stunning and the hospitality warm and welcoming.
Richard manages to get to places in his beloved Land Rover Discovery that most motorists have never explored – even when directed by a wayward satnav!. He has lived in the region long enough to know most of the hidden gems and Mid Wales has an abundance of them.
Organising half and full day tours, he’s happy to provide bespoke adventures if visitors have a specific request. He also provides longer tours covering the whole of Wales and can pick up and return customers to an airport if required.
His selection of tours includes one based on the popular Welsh TV detective series ‘Hinterland’, which was filmed in the Cambrian Mountains near Aberystwyth. There’s also another themed ‘The Mines’ that delves into the rich mining history of Mid Wales.
Other tours major on a scenic mountain road, the Elan Valley and the intriguingly named Bomber Lane, South Snowdonia. There’s even a ‘picturesque tour’ focused on historic estates of the Ystwyth and Rheidol Valleys, an off-road tour of the Ceredigion uplands and evening tours combined with either stargazing or a ride of the Vale of Rheidol Railway from Aberystwyth to Devils Bridge.
“The areas we cover are beautifully diverse and enjoy spectacular landscapes, views, scenery, local history and wildlife,” says Richard, who lives near Aberystwyth. “We aim to show visitors places they will want to go back to again and again.
“The tours are designed to be flexible and we customise each one depending upon my customers’ interests and prior knowledge of the area. They come for a relaxing day out with no pressure of time and no rushing from place to place.”
Richard has studied and lived in Mid Wales for around 25 years and previously worked as a guide atDolaucothi Gold Mines and Llywernog Silver Lead mine. He met his Dutch wife, Hester, at Dolaucothi and she now works at Devils Bridge Waterfalls
“The idea of Cambrian Safaris came about because we both like to share the secrets and hidden delights of Mid Wales with visitors to the area,” explains Richard. “It’s an area rich in not just spectacular landscapes, but also the stories which go with it. Yet it’s the biggest undiscovered secret in Britain.
“We discovered that many people were passing through without understanding what the area has to offer and some of those we spoke to were delighted to be given a few hints and pointers.
“A theme I like to expand upon is how the place where you live – the landscape in particular – influenced people and their fortunes in the past.”
Visitors of all nationalities have been passengers in his Land Rover, including a current head of state and his family. In the last couple of years, he has seen a trend for more foreign visitors but says the tours are designed to suit anyone wishing to discover Mid Wales’ secret places.