An introduction to Amar Latif, President of the Ramblers

Amar talks about his sight loss, travelling the world and his love of rambling.

An introduction to Amar Latif, President of the Ramblers 

I was so humbled to be asked to be the President of the Ramblers.  I didn’t have to think too hard about my answer.  I love walking.  I love being able to inspire others to get out walking and to feel the benefits.  So I was delighted to accept the role. 


Dealing with blindness at an early age 

When I was round the age of about 18, I woke up one day and I couldn't see the poster on the wall.  All I could see was a thick white cloud.  I couldn't see the faces of my mum and dad or my brothers and sisters. I realized that I was blind.  I remember thinking that my life was over.  For the next few months I was depressed. I was a prisoner in my room and in my own head.  My mum would say I couldn’t leave the house unaccompanied. And that was at the time when everyone's going out, taking on jobs, starting uni, dating, driving etc. And I just couldn't imagine how on earth I would be able to continue.

But then my mindset changed.  I realized that the world doesn't wait for you, and we've only got one life. And so within a short space of time, I just decided to start saying yes to things. I went to university.  Things were hard and I struggled, but I just kept going. And each time I conquered something and had a small win it gave me more confidence to go on.  Since becoming blind I’ve become good at overcoming barriers and preconceptions.


Travelling the world 

I did accountancy for many years and then I wanted to travel and see the world.  I faced so much rejection from group travel companies, so I started my own travel company called Traveleyes. For the last 20 years we've taken thousands of groups all over the world on holiday and we started offering walking trips for blind and sighted people.  I realized what a positive impact that was having.  

My best adventure so far was Nicaragua.  I walked from the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua in central America, right across to the Pacific Ocean.  220 miles through dense tropical jungle in 40c heat.  We crossed a shark infested lake and then walked up a 5000 ft volcano.  It was just so incredible.  At night the jungle just comes alive, and you hear noises in 3D, like nature’s own surround sound!


The joy of rambling 

People ask me how I can enjoy rambling as a blind person.  It’s actually incredible. I'm so curious because I can't see.  I love feeling the ground beneath my feet.  Smelling wildflowers or the sheep and the cattle. Hearing the wind whistling through the trees. Feeling the sun on my back.  When you start exploring the world with all your senses the world properly comes alive for you. I get my sighted companions to build a picture for me.  And that is just like reading a book.  You are building the picture yourself.  And often the book is much better than the film. And when you have been out there in the countryside, out in the wild it follows you back in your thoughts.  It has such a huge impact on your mindset.


Inspiring others 

I was so excited when I was offered the chance to be the President of the Ramblers.  It is such an incredible charity. I hope to inspire people who think, for whatever reason, that walking in the great outdoors isn’t for them.  I think that having an Asian blind guy as President of the Ramblers helps communicate that rambling is for everyone.  I grew up in a Pakistani household.  When my parents came to the UK in the 60s their primary focus was to earn a living and to support their family.  Going out into countryside for a walk was the last thing on their mind. 

People always say to me that I’m so positive all the time but it's not true.  When you have a disability, it's a challenge. Life presents you with problems every single day. You need to have a resilient, positive mindset. And whether you've got a disability or not, we all have our down days.  But as soon as you step outside and go on a walk there’s an incredible boost of positivity. 

So for whatever reason, people may not think walking is for them. Or for whatever reason people don’t feel comfortable in the countryside I’d like to inspire them to get out there and make the most of this beautiful island that we live on. 


A group of seven walkers on green grass looking off into the distance.

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