Tag Archives: adventure travel

Adventure Travel Show 2014

Ready for new adventures!

Ready for new adventures!

Well, it’s a new year and it finds me flying into London after a couple months in beautiful Granada, to scope out new opportunities for the coming months.

If in doubt, I find getting together with like-minded, adventurous people always helps – and this weekend has been no exception! By chance, the Adventure Travel Show’s been on at Olympia – a great opportunity to hear some inspirational speakers and catch up with some UK-based adventurer friends.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes delights a punter at his book-signing

Sir Ranulph Fiennes delights a fan at his book-signing

And if I was looking for inspiration, I certainly found it after listening to some of the show’s speakers, who reminded me that life really is short and we have to make the most of every moment. Sir Ranulph Fiennes was definitely a highlight – talk about a guy who’s lived life to the full! Aged 70, he’s planning his next intrepid expedition! I love his attitude to life: no matter what obstacles you come across, there HAS to be a way to get where you want to go. His trademark sharp humour and no-nonsense approach had the packed auditorium well and truly captivated.

Finding peace at the Grand Canyon in 2013

Finding peace at the Grand Canyon in 2013

Dave Cornthwaite also got the audience going with his Say Yes More philosophy – another guy who doesn’t let difficulties stand in the way of a good idea! His determination to stay off the sofa and get out in the world on amazing, self-propelled adventures is truly infectious. And Russ Malkin – my former Sahara trek buddy! – gave a really interesting perspective on adventure travel as a form of meditation: an idea I absolutely subscribe to, as I find that travelling is when I feel most happy and at peace.

Hearing adventurers speaking on subjects as diverse as cycling a pedal bike thousands of miles round the world (Josie Dew) and scaling one of Antarctica’s most challenging peaks (Leo Houlding) has given me a much-needed boost to continue pursuing my own adventures this year.

Last year saw me having motorbike adventures in Australia and the US, setting up a community film initiative in Uganda, down by the Rwanda/Congo border, and re-discovering Spanish life in gorgeous Andalucía. Now I’m cooking up even bigger adventures for this year…Watch this space! 🙂

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Adventure Travel Film Festival 2012

Mondo Enduro's Austin Vince regales us with his wit and charm at the opening drinks!

Hey there! I’m writing this from the Adventure Travel Film Festival in beautiful Bright, a small country town in Victoria’s Alpine region about four hours out of Melbourne. For three days in this picture-postcard setting, the air has been filled with the sound of people talking adventure, regularly punctuated by the vroom of yet another motorcycle rolling into town to join the throng.

It’s the first time the festival’s been held in Australia and if this weekend’s anything to go by, I really hope it comes back next year. It’s being hosted by the affable Austin Vince of Mondo Enduro fame and his adventure motorcycling other half, Lois Pryce, and has been a veritable smorgasbord (I never use that word, but it’s absolutely appropriate here!) of adventure films, talks, and general waxing-lyrical about all things adventure.

This weekend, I’ve met some of my adventure heroes: Lois Pryce, whose motorbike travels in Africa inspired me to get my bike licence; Tim Cope, the Aussie adventurer whose travels through Mongolia, Russia, Kazahstan and Siberia have long had me wanting to visit those parts of the world; and Jon Muir, legendary mountaineer and explorer who amongst many feats has walked solo and unsupported across Australia. All gave inspiring and entertaining talks about their adventures – their motivations, the highs and lows, the rewards and the challenges. All had one clear message: you have to grab life NOW, don’t wait for “the right time” or worry you’re not good enough, JUST DO IT!

The Festival organisers sported these very fetching Italian Job-style jumpsuits throughout the event - where can I get one?

I’ve seen an amazing array of films here. My favourites are Riding Solo To The Top of The World, about an Indian guy who rode his Royal Enfield Bullet to the highest motorable road in the world, and Back Of Beyond, a classic film about a crazy truck journey across the remote Aussie Outback. Austin Vince’s Mondo Enduro and Jon Muir’s Alone Across Australia have also been brilliant viewing.

Soaking up the vibe in beautiful Bright over the long (and scorching!) weekend, it’s been wonderful to mix with adventurers of all shapes and sizes, amateur and professional, from weekend biker to long-distance expeditioner. You can tell everyone here has been really inspired by the films and the speakers – and for my part, it’s been brilliant spending time with like-minded people who are all adventurous spirits and have the wanderlust riddled through their souls like I do!

As the festival comes to a close and we head to Bright Brewery for one last witbier, I’m absolutely sure many new adventures will be hatched as a result of this inspiring weekend.

Desert Road Trip: Namibia

On the road in Namibia, January 2012

Well here I am on the road yet again in glorious Namibia – an intriguing, vast and utterly remote country. And I’ve gotta say, I’m loving every moment of this challenging desert road trip.

Namibia’s gravel roads have proved – yet again – to be endless and unforgiving. I’ve already had a major tyre blowout crossing the Namib Desert. Thankfully I was able to limp the car on its three good wheels into a village about 15kms away called Bethanie, where a friendly white Namibian called Phillip spotted my problem and helped me change the mangled tyre in scorching 40-degree heat – watched by an ever-growing crowd of locals enjoying the ensuing excitement in their dusty, sleepy old town. It was a timely reminder that the desert needs respect at all times. I’d gotten confident driving on the gravel – picking up speed to lessen the shudder-effect of the corrugations – and one lapse of concentration combined with a moment of ill luck cost me dear this particular day.

Showing off my new set of wheels (!) at the Canon Roadhouse, Namib Desert

Back on the road, the desert’s charms have been captivating me just as they did on my first visit. Out here, it’s so quiet – apart from the sudden gusts of warm desert winds – and the remoteness is all the more striking for being out here on my own. It’s by turns exciting and terrifying to realise just how far from civilisation I am. Well worth a busted tyre any day of the week.

I could wax lyrical about the mighty Fish River Canyon, the sheer orange dunes of Sossuvlei, or the eerie, misty majesty of the Skeleton Coast, for they are indeed incredible natural wonders to behold. But in fact it’s the simple experience of crossing the desert – this raw land full of ever-changing colours and terrains – that is perhaps the most captivating of all. For sure, there are sights to see – albeit thousands of kilometres apart! – but more than anything I’m revelling in simply travelling across this remote desert wilderness, alone and unfettered. Just me and the mighty desert.

As usual, I’m hamstrung by time – the bane of all of us who must work to fund these sporadic adventures into the wilderness. After a few weeks on the road, it’s time for me to turn my wheels back towards South Africa to head back to Cape Town, and thence back to Australia. Till then, I’m going to savour these last days on the road – they’re what keep me alive when I’m office-bound once more.