What's your earliest holiday memory?Sitting in a one-piece bathing suit somewhere in Cork with my cousins on a sandy beach, freezing cold, having apparently just fallen into the sea. The sand was everywhere. I can't recall, but it was probably a day just like this awful summer.

What was your worst holiday?

Cycling to Brittas Bay, in Co Wicklow, with some of my pals when I was a young lad. We set off from Goatstown in Dublin, where I lived, and it took all day to get there. It then rained all the time we were there.

What was your best holiday?

On my 50th birthday I travelled the Inca Trail in Peru with someone very close to me. It took four days to walk. Machu Picchu, our final destination, is one of the most remarkable places on the planet. You time it to arrive at dawn and enter by the Sun Gate. As the sun rises it illuminates the city before your eyes. It was a remarkable experience.

If budget was no restriction, what would your dream holiday be?

I recently spent three and a half weeks in the Canadian High Arctic, working on a television documentary. I would love to go back there to spend time with the Inuit community in Grise Fiord, a haunting and remarkable place with amazing people. They have lived for thousands of years on practically nothing, in six months of darkness and six months of light in a stunningly beautiful landscape. They are also the people on the front line in terms of climate change. Every pollutant created anywhere in the world ends up affecting them.

If you had your pick, who would you bring on holiday?

Charles Darwin. Can you imagine a better person to bring on your travels? For me he is the man who cracked it for us. Look how much he taught us about ourselves. He would be a fantastic companion.

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands. If there is heaven, then the back of Inis Oírr, facing on to the Atlantic Ocean, is where it is.

What book would you recommend on holiday?

John McGahern's That They May Face the Rising Sun. He was a remarkable man, and it is a remarkable book. I would also slip Brian Keenan's An Evil Cradlinginto my pocket for a rainy day. He, too, is a remarkable man with a remarkable story to tell.

Where will you spend your next holiday?

The South Pole.

• In conversation with Sandra O'Connell. Charlie Bird is RTÉ's chief news correspondent