On today’s Podcast, we have Benedict Allen. An English writer, explorer, and filmmaker known for his technique of immersion among indigenous peoples from whom he acquires survival skills. We talk about getting lost in the Amazon and having to resort to eating his own dog in order to survive. He talks about the most brutal initiation known on the planet amongst a tribe in Papa New Guinea.

Benedict’s Website

Benedict’s Instagram

Powered by RedCircle

Latest Podcast Episodes

  • lucy-shepherd-podcast
  • mike-corey
  • elise-wortley-iran

Transcript of our Conversation

Benedict Allen

[00:00:00] Benedict Allen: Hello, and welcome back to the modern adventure podcast coming up. He came after me with knives and I jumped into my canoe canoe, eventually capsized, and I was left on the riverbank having to walk out at the forest and eventually I got two sorts of malaria, almost starved death. I didn’t want it to mention it or not, but I had to eat my dog to survive.

And it wasn’t. This is a long, long time ago. And I felt this is the only way I’ll ever see my mum and dad to get my eating this dog. On today’s show. We have an English writer and Explorer known for his immersive expeditions into [00:01:00] indigenous tribes. And also he was the pioneer of the handheld camera for TV also named today as blogging. In 2017, he made international headlines around the world going missing in Papua New Guinea, but it was eventually rescued and found on today’s podcast.

We talk about that expedition and what went wrong. I am delighted to introduce Benedict Talon to the show. Hello, Benedict. Great. Benadette great to have you on the show and thank you so much for coming on. The list of adventures that you’ve done over the past 30, 40 years is truly remarkable. I suppose the best place probably to start is with how this sort of love of exploring sort of came about from such a young age.

I think it’s really due to my dad. I was very curious about the world. Perhaps [00:02:00] like you, I used to read all sorts of accounts by, I don’t know, you can get some Shackleton and Scott and Stanley and Burton and speak and living stern, captain cook. I loved all these tales, but what really made it real to me was my dad.

My dad was a test pilot and he was one of those people developing the Vulcan bomber. And other aircraft as well, but seeing this Vulcan bomber in particular fly over the back garden, this is huge aircraft with massive Delta wings. It’s very sort of charismatic aircraft. And of course this was in the sixties, it was carrying the British nuclear deterrent and incredibly exciting that my dad would be flying his plane.

And he used to tip the wings of this plane as he flew over. And I think that’s what made it real because. I wasn’t really a natural sort of Explorer. It wasn’t particularly. I wasn’t a great sportsman. I wasn’t an evening much of an [00:03:00] outdoor enthusiasts. Really. I just had this idea that I’d go off and, and see these bases that Scott of the Antarctic and so on had seen, but he’s all other dreamy.

So I had this idea of somehow going off to far off places, but having a dad who was a pioneer and seeing him do this for real, it made me think, wow, even I could do it. And I think it was that it. The sense that it was possible for even someone like me. We didn’t have all that much money. I know it sound quite posh, but we didn’t really, and my dump just had a pilot’s wages and it, anyway, it seems possible for me too.

And so it was quite vague blogger sort of whimsical sort of character. And my dad was too. I don’t have no. How he was okay. In the cockpit of a plane carrying that might carry nuclear weapons. I dunno, but people thought, well, I’m a bit of a dreamer, you know, but my dad was as well. So [00:04:00] somehow I thought I could do it because my dad could do it.

I think the answer was that when in action as it were, I am very focused, but normally I’m just dreaming of getting out of there again. Amazing. And so with that, you sort of had the confidence to explore the sort of remote reas regions. Where was the sort of first one that sort of triggered this sort of love of exploring in these remote places?

It, it, it was South America. I. Once to be like I would just be like sorta rally really? It’s a bit embarrassing really, because I was such a dream. I mean, I just thought it’d be amazing to, to go to the Orinoco where he got lost sort of Raleigh. And I thought this is amazing. You know, he had these dreams of finding Eldorado and I was really that naive.

I thought maybe I could. [00:05:00] El Dorado and it was that simple. And of course, as it got nearer, the point when I was going to launch out reality began to Dawn on me, but I don’t think anyone around me. Believed I would do anything of any consequence. They just thought, Oh, well, he’d go off. And then you’ll come back after a few weeks.

And it’ll all have been quite a good adventure, like sort of gap here. But it turned into something much, much bigger. And the reason was I be really. They quickly realized I was very vulnerable out there. I had no background training. I had no experience. Really. I’ve been on a few scientific expeditions, but this was my goal.

It was my chance to do something big. I felt, and I realized the only way I was going to achieve my journey, which became, it evolved really into trying to cross the land of Eldorado was from the Orinoco mouth to the Amazon mouth. The only reasons I, or any way I could do that would be to turn to the locals.

I didn’t have any [00:06:00] sponsorship, but I didn’t have any experience, but I knew that the local people didn’t see these places, which meant. Mangrove swamps or tropical rainforest as a threat. They saw it. These places simply as their home. And if I could learn to live with the locals, then I’d be okay. They could look off to me perhaps.

And the other thing is they didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any money either. I thought, Ooh, maybe if I can make this work, it could be a way of progressing my career because no one’s going to want to sponsor me. And so this is, this is the way to do it become like the locals. So credibly naive and yet it worked.

Just I, I was basically helped by a whole lot of villagers of various sorts, indigenous people who didn’t really want me to die on their hands, I think is what it was. And I got away with it crossed an extraordinary, a bit of Northeast Amazonia. Which no one else seems to have ever crossed [00:07:00] before it was new record of it.

And why would anyone? Frankly, but anyway, I managed to pull off this journey, which was very hard except that 65 miles before the end to go miners set upon me. I was chased in the night by two men with knives. I still don’t know why fully, but I assume they thought I’d started in that gold or they just didn’t want me reporting on them being there.

Maybe they were. Hi, keeping their heads down and robbed someone. I don’t know. Anyway, they came after me with knives and I jumped into my canoe canoe, eventually capsized and I was left on the riverbank having to walk out at the forest and eventually I got two sorts of malaria almost after death.

I didn’t want it to mention this or not, but I had to eat my dog to survive. And it wasn’t it, you know, this is a long, long time ago and I felt this is the only way I’ll ever see my mum and dad again by eating [00:08:00] this dog. And it was, it was, it was, it was a terrible ordeal, of course. But I.

I did survive 20, 22 when I started at switch and I was now 23, I staggered out of the forest with these well, with bad case of starvation and I’m there. So that was the beginning and it was quite a beginning, but if you’re gonna make mistakes, it is good to do them early on in your career. Because I realized now, I had to properly seriously understand this rainforest that it almost killed me.

The probably should have killed me because I was so vulnerable. Was there an experience and I, this initial thoughts, this naive idea of just starting from the locals, it became a. A sort of philosophy really that go to the local people because they are the experts. These [00:09:00] people are the people to turn to more than anyone.

They didn’t think it has a survival. They think of just living in these spaces because the rainforest gets into their food medicine shelter. And I now went to new Guinea. And I underwent a initiation ceremony to make me a man as strong as a crocodile. That’s that was a local phrase. For what young men had to go through and it was, it was horrendous.

I was beaten every day for six weeks with the local boys. I don’t think there’s that ceremony as brutal. On the planet. I mean, it was really, really bad. We were all given initiation, so skins or cut repeatedly and bamboo blades up and down a chest and back. So we had the marks of a crocodile, the sort of insignia really of the Yarra, the people I was living with finally that was done, but it was just sort of preparation.

And I now knew myself Of course, I [00:10:00] knew that culture a little bit more, but I also knew myself. I knew my strengths and weaknesses and that’s of course, what was at the heart of the ceremony. You learnt what it took to cope in a difficult environment. And that was a next stage, really in my career, I began knowing that I should always turn to the local people build on that experience.

But I now knew myself as well. And those two things, the philosophy and the sort of self knowledge would be much better for future journeys. How long were you in Papua New Guinea for, with this tribe? I was, I, Oh, I suppose. And it’s it’s so long ago now. It’s been 1984 spurs and I was with them probably at first time, only three months, four months.

I had been on the Island though, already for three months before I went with to them. So it was fairly. [00:11:00] Tuned in, but still can be naive. No, still only a 24 year old. Who’s just doing his best. I was rather worthy in a way as well. I was thinking an end to imperialism. We don’t want explorers anymore. Who planting flags and asserting themselves.

It should be all about. Listening and learning. So it’s quite sort of Pyre. So my little philosophy and art became my big thing that we have to start thinking again. And I had read environmental science and ecology and so on at university. So it sort of all seemed to come together that turn it’s time now to listen to the local people.

And yeah, so I did my best to do that, but I think it wasn’t essential thought really that actually being vulnerable isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We think we’ve got to go in as explorers, as adventurous as people who are strong. And this is always. The way on the tele, you [00:12:00] see explorers as triumphant and victorious but actually being more childlike or being more open, certainly to whatever’s out there can also be incredibly valuable and perhaps more valuable now than ever, because we realize what we’ve done to our planet and how much we got to learn.

And that spirit of humidity is actually essential. I think. Yeah, I think you were quoted as saying, if you go somewhere with a map, you will only come back with a more detailed version of that map. Yes. I worry about that phrase because I, I snaps myself and lots of defended on maps. But I think what I was trying to say was that you’ve gotta be registered discard knowledge that you come.

With. Yeah, and it’s a tricky, [00:13:00] it’s a, it’s a battle. It goes on in my head on every expedition. I come in there arrogantly in a way with my own agenda that I want to try and achieve something. I want to try and cross a certain place across the whole of dams and basin later on 10 years after my first Amazon expedition.

So you come in with your outsider’s agenda, inevitably. But you’ve also got to listen and learn, and it’s that tussle between the two. And I find myself always wondering how much I can discard and how much I can accept of a new place. I think that it’s necessary in a way to have that dialogue all the way through a journey.

Yeah, I think that was our first guest we had on the show who Charlie Walker under his favorite quote, that was his. Do you know what? I met him in a pub or we met, we went together for a nice little drink and yeah. Does he still own me a drink? I [00:14:00] think I owe him actually, because he was very generous.

But he equated that at me and I thought, Oh dear, that was a bit arrogant. Because you know, who am I to, of come up with these dictums? But I, yes, I think it’s, it’s just great to, to go without open spirit and that sort of knowledge that actually, if you’re like Indiana Jones, if you’re like, Hm, Stanley, if you’re like one of these people who’s going in there with your great quest.

Then yeah, you might easily succeed, but you’ll only succeed in our terms, which is the outsider’s terms. You won’t be an insider and you won’t be seeing these environments as anywhere other than something you’re backing against of, or, or trying to overcome in some way. Yeah. And so 30 years after your encounter with this [00:15:00] remote tribe in Papua New Guinea, you then went out in 2017, 2017 to go and reconnect with them.

Was that sort of spurred on by your previous documentary or series by heading out there? Yes. A few things had happened along my career path, career path. Is that good enough? I don’t know quite what my career is. I had been, I had a lucky break and I was talking to Charlie Walker about this those who want to become adventures or explorers.

Oh, it’s very difficult financially. It just, it’s definitely, isn’t easy. A few people get picked out and it made TV personalities effect essentially, but they difficult for them actually to do any true exploration with health and safety and all of that, but they can make money. The rest of us it’s very difficult.

But I had a [00:16:00] break after. How many years, 10 years or so I’ve written five books just scraping along, working in a warehouse, doing the best I could. The BBC gave me and a camera and they said, can you film what you do? So this became the beginning of self filming on tele. I was very lucky to have that sort of break, but it years had gone by.

And I was invited to go back to that community that I went through the initiation ceremony with, because I was. During the project with Frank Gardner BBC security correspondent, he wants to see birds of paradise. I knew new Guinea very well, and it’s wonderful. We went back to new Guinea. He’s all this village, Canon gay, where with that initiation ceremony.

And it was absolutely brilliant being reunited with them after generation. I hadn’t been back there for a long, long time. I felt I had to move on mentally from this community. And then extraordinary thing happened. I’d bumped into someone who’s called [00:17:00] Michael. And he said, do you remember me? I said, not really.

He said, don’t you remember? We climbed this mountain. We went up the central range together with the first people up there. Well, the first people to cross this mountain and he began telling me about this trip. I had done with him when he was only 17. He said, Oh, it almost killed me. It was terrible. I said, Oh, it was quite hard.

And we began, rememberings extraordinary expedition and a tickler, an encounter with the iPhone, the iPhone, where an uncontacted group up in the mountains, they were the ones who had helped me over that mountain. In fact, Michael had handed me on to them. And he said, do you know what the guy is still there?

No one in all these years, no missionary, no doctor, nurse, no outsider. None of us have done the journey that you did all those years ago. I thought this is extraordinary and the heifers are still there on this mountain. So I decided to go [00:18:00] back and find out what had happened to the iPhone. I just want to see if they’re okay.

And they had done this wonderful thing for me all those years before helping me over this mountain that. They themselves have never crossed. So off I went, I was landed by helicopter on the lowlands. Found Michael again, Michael, absolutely horrified that he couldn’t do this journey all over again, that he dreaded what he did.

He was any seem to be recovering from it all these years later. Not enough. We went after 30 years ago, but ice is our first journey and we found the iPhone and it was the most wonderful thing to find that these characters are known, who were so good to be Lydia to go as an innocent young man were still coping.

On their own, on the mountain, despite the gold rush that was all around. And despite all sorts of other problems that they faced. And so that’s, that’s the journey ideas with the lifer [00:19:00] or to find the iPhone. And unfortunately that journey all went wrong. I tried to leave the mountain.

I came over the central range towards the outside world and found my weight blocked by communal fighting. Our communities were battling it out. I couldn’t get out. I got malaria, I got dengue fever and it all was pretty bad. And. Later on. I discovered I become a center of international headlines, could explore a lost Explorer, keeping that by cannibals lists, these stories were coming out.

And eventually a helicopter came in sorts of by the daily mail and and did get me out. But it was an interesting episode if only because I was criticized quite a lot, because I hate. Was someone who hadn’t taken a phone, I hadn’t taken a GPS [00:20:00] or any backup. And a lot of people thought this is just really irresponsible in this day and age.

Why not take this stuff? And my answer. W at the time was the same answer I’ll give now, which is that for me, you know, I’m not a new, I’m not a beginner of this. I’ve spent my entire life doing its business without this backup. And it’s all about trying to. Explore the world on local people’s terms. So I explained to Michael, as we did this journey, look, you know, there’s, there’s new, there’s new backup, and that was going to come and help us.

Cause I don’t want to see you as a guide. I want to use a friend because you are a friend and you and the others who helped me. I can understand that if you want to do this journey, we’re all in this together. And the truth is they could get me out quicker than any helicopter bird. And. So it was, I suppose, [00:21:00] there’s a philosophy I didn’t want to abandon on that last expedition.

And it was in fact, a problem with the outside world, not the problem with the locals that have got me into trouble because essentially it was a gold mining activity that had created jealousy at their four walls. And that is what stopped me getting out. But I, I think it’s. I still stand by that philosophy that it’s, you’ve gotta be prepared to do the journey on the terms of the locals.

At least if you’re trying to understand their world in a different, if you’re on the polls and there aren’t people there. But if you’re someone who comes in as an outsider, you’ve gotta be prepared to live the life of the local people, which is what I did. And I wanted them. To be able to trust me and see me as a friend and one of them.

And I would have helped them as much as they didn’t that helped me. But I think there’s a bigger point without [00:22:00] going on about it too much, which is that. We are incredibly connected in our world. And people often say, what is the point of an Explorer nowadays? I think large part of what the Explorer’s point is is that these, the people go out into another world and bring back information that eye witnesses to another world, whether it’s the rainforest, a little out in the ocean.

Or, or anywhere else. And is that incredibly important to be disconnected, to not be connected to the world that we belong in and more important than ever, because we are so relaxed on our phones and all the rest. Yeah. I suppose it’s always nice to leave that behind. How did you feel when you sort of came to the knowledge of all the fallout that was happening?

I don’t know if you’ll confirm. Yeah. As I said, for me, is it, it’s more than nice. I [00:23:00] just felt it’s absolutely crucial that we separate. If we’re going on a journey, we have to do that journey mentally and physically. Yeah. I was quite shocked, very mind. I was ill. No one has ever shown much interest in my journeys.

I mean, I hadn’t been on telly for a long, long time. And even when I was on tele, I was never a TV presenter. I was an Explorer. I was an adventurer who was capturing that experience by camera. So it was the worlds of really that. Suddenly there’s all this interest in me and it was pretty bad. I think the newspaper coverage of me being lost was only about five days or so.

And I thought, how could it be such a big story with me just having been at a con tact, I suppose I’d been out of contact for about three weeks, but I hadn’t, I wasn’t behind schedule for more than about five days. That’s very brief amount of time too. Yeah, all sorts of things can [00:24:00] happen a small flood or sort of that.

And so it’s alarmed me that we’ve got, so the world has got so into such a state where people are so connected, we expect to be in touch with everyone that this has become such a story. Yeah. I, I S I suppose when, you know, yeah. When you were my age and you were sort of going out there wasn’t any, there were phones, but you’d have to sort of get a payphone spend about what a quit probably now per minute to phone home.

Whereas now you have it almost instant. You just send a message and within two seconds it’s gone. And I suppose people have become almost reliant on that form of communication. And so when that disappears, they always fear the worst. Yeah. And it’s become normal for adventurous to be in contact even on the summit of Everest.

[00:25:00] And I I’ll always be a bit suspicious of that because I’ll feel, but. The people who do this and what my peers, I suppose, or some of them are I feel that they haven’t let go mentally. They’ll always know that they can reach home. And of course the health reasons for doing that. But on the other hand, perhaps we have to be a bit braver and say, I’m not prepared to do the journey.

And that’s, I’m really, I’m going to commit to it. What do you think the future holds for the modern adventurer? Yeah, basically the modern Ventura, I mean, looking back on your 30 years of how you started to now, how do you sort of feel, or the future holds for people who want to go exploring? I think the journey is that I did has can’t be done.

I mean, there, isn’t the possibility of just. Walking day after day, week after, week into [00:26:00] a place that isn’t mapped. So there’s the classic journeys are finished, but I think that’s fine because there are other things to explore. What I try and do is emphasize that we are all explorers by our very nature.

Humans are inquisitive. They’re fascinated by the world, around them. And for some, it could just be. That was brought in the world through the internet, but we’re still driven by curiosity. So I think we don’t, we shouldn’t panic. We shouldn’t be too disappointed that there are all these big heroic journeys to do.

In terms of those, the classic idea of someone setting off and disappearing into the unknown. But I also think that is a role for


Adventure still people to head off and we interpret the world. [00:27:00] I’m sorry. It might sign it. It says your internet. You still hearing me? Yeah, I did something. You just don’t worry. I would just say that again. I think, I think there still is a role for people to head off. Into the world and experience it and interpret it for their time.

Because someone like David Livingston, we think of him as the classic Explorer there, he was in the heart of Africa searching for the source of denial. Actually, a lot of what he did was simply to bring back an idea of Africa to Europe. The Arabs knew central Africa incredibly well. And of course the Africans themselves knew it very well, but he’s bringing a picture of Africa back to us and that’s what we need to remember.

We all. Interpreting the world for our present era. I also think that there are a lot of this revolves about human experience. And that is why I think it’s important for us to disconnect because I think that is what [00:28:00] is the present it’s stifling exploration, and the fact that we’re not letting go emotionally.

Or even physically have them from our own companions from world coattails a lot of our adventures. If we can just have the courage to leave all this stuff behind and head off and disappear for a month. How often does anyone disappear for more than a couple of days out of? Hmm. I think these incredibly exciting experiences to be brought back.

The idea of just sort of getting out. Oh, I th I think there’s a sort of term now, digital detox centers. I think that’s sort of, Oh, that sounds good.

But yeah, I suppose the idea is to sort of get out in a, turn your mobile off, get, just get away, get, get out into a sort of wild situation [00:29:00] where you’re not sort of reliant on modern. What’s the word modern luxuries that you take for granted every day? Yeah, I think it’s, it’s been the same potentially Israeli that the idea of just stepping aside from the comforts of life, from the, from things that make you feel safe is incredibly important.

And that’s the same for anyone, whether you’re. Someone who’s going on a walk with your dog or a little old lady who climbs a Hill. I’m so much more excited often by so-called ordinary people who just push themselves to their limit rather than someone who’s climbing Everest. Because I know the person finds Everest in theory is a specialist.

The fact that anyone can just go out there and they may be really scared to go wandering in the woods. For an afternoon, but that’s okay. That, that is still an, an adventure. And I think that experience should be captured and shared. I think for all the [00:30:00] adventures, the exploring part of it is also part of the sharing part of it.

I think it’s that communicating back is incredibly important and valuable and It’s it’s what lifts us, all the feeling that there are people out there pushing our limits. Yeah. It’s, it’s quite a sort of funny how, I mean, you look at the sort of exploring all the traveling industry now, which some of them are on YouTube, but your sort of you pioneered the idea of just holding a camera to your face and filming it, which is now common.

All around the internet, all around sort of filming people, do it all the time. But back in your back, when you started, that was just completely unheard of. Yes. Well, it was yeah, I did the sort of first [00:31:00] I suppose brought the experience of an exhibition for the first one to tell it the real, everyday ups and downs and expeditions, there’d been people filming on film.

But not just keeping the camera going and giving you the full experience of what it’s like to be afraid or excited without a film crew. And so I feel bad about it as well because it’s, there’s this sense of self obsession as well. If you’re filming yourself, it’s a bit You know, I think we’re too obsessed with ourselves.

And exploration has always had this, this problem in a way of the Explorer using the landscape as a wonderful stage on which to perform their great acts. And there’s something not very nice about that. So yes, there’s bad side to that side, which I encourage her either. Going reached the very fact that I was out there sort of filming myself.

Luckily I think my incompetence in various ways also came [00:32:00] through and yeah, I think, I think that’s, it made it very human. The fact that I was actually recording everything from, you know, go off to the lose somewhere or have to, my adoption would be filming while I was brushing my teeth. I think Yeah, it was, it was lovely though.

It’s great to have a chance to do something that would move expiration expeditions on in a way. Yeah. Just sort of gives it the raw feel for the audience. And so how do you prepare for these? How did you prepare for, let’s say the Papua New Guinea expedition? Was it, are you, I mean, of course people prepare differently, but in terms of yours, was it very much, you have the idea and you just wanted to go and do it.

And so you went the original expedition. We went through the initiation ceremony. Yeah. Yeah, I, well, physically [00:33:00] I, what I do is run and do press ups and that’s my main activity back here. So I arrived in a fairly fit state. Mentally. I have things fairly open that was. A strange expedition. I was still rebounding in a way from this extraordinary experience of being in the Northeast, Amazon.

When I, I knew I had survived by luck and that’s a terrible thought, no one should be conducting an expedition by luck. You know, you can’t learn luck coming your way all the time. And so I knew I’d been lucky to get away with it. And I knew I had to educate myself fast if I was going to carry on. So I went back to the warehouse, worked again, stacking books in his warehouse, went off to new Guinea with an open mind, but knowing that I wanted to deposit myself in a remote bit of rainforest, I knew I didn’t want to get back to the Amazon where it almost died.

That’s not a good [00:34:00] idea. Go somewhere else. So we went to new Guinea and yeah, first of all, I live with vague remote people in West Papua that across the border, I was looking for someone to settle down and educate myself. And this found myself with this community and the middle Seabeck. There were about.

Well, they, they desperately wanted to hold an initiation ceremony, which they hadn’t done for 10 years. And a lot of the elders were very, very scared of holding this ceremony. Again. They hope this spirits might be angry and that sounds terrible the way I’ve said it, like some sort of Hollywood script, but actually there was reality that their ancestors have a sort of presence there.

They believed. And they were worried that. They had neglected them for years. When I came along, it just was one of those things. I, I tipped the balance. I made the other thing, Oh, it’s an outsider. Who’s not calling a stone age or backward or primitive. And he [00:35:00] values our culture and it. The ceremony happened discuss, I had turned up.

Yeah. And then I had to sort of surrender to it, but I was sort of, you know, say 24, I was up for anything really. And I’ve got a, quite a high pain threshold, luckily. So that, wasn’t sort of, in the foremost of my mind, I was just thinking what a privilege, what a chance to learn, what keeps this culture going through the ceremony.

And become a man and strongest crocodile. I mean, it sounded brilliant. I thought. And then because the whole thing was secret and sacred. I didn’t know that about it would be, I mean, it was terrible. At first day, my head was shaven and I was led into the so-called crocodile nest, a big arena. It was erected around the spirit house.

We were led into this arena, me and 16 other initiates with our little grass skirts. It’s about an in, we went [00:36:00] and all the elders set upon us with sticks. I just began clubbing us. Luckily that first day we were protected by our uncles. But then I had an honorary uncle. But then yeah, after that it got worse really, because they were no longer there to protect us.

And yeah, in the cutoff skins, that was bad. That was, I think we lost about two points of bloody, you know, having our skins cut with these bamboo blades. Yeah, that was, as I say, bad But anyway, it wasn’t as bad as the beating, which happened five times a day and went on. I mean, after a couple of weeks of this, you know, you’re getting sick of it.

And then it went over another full week. And yet, you know, I still felt it was a privilege and because it was, I’ve been given the chance to see a sacred ritual there’s no one else had [00:37:00] an outside world recorded or suddenly gone through Yeah. When I came away with this extraordinary self knowledge, I suppose.

But also feeling of. Pride. And also preparation. Does that mean preparation for young men to go out and make something of themselves, obviously for the sake of the village, but also for the sake of themselves. And that now was my preparation, not just in terms of one sending out culture, which I did go back to a couple of years later.

But also in life, I felt, okay. Now it’s time to be an Explorer. And do it in the same fashion. Go listen for the load to the locals, and then using that ad off on our testing journey. I don’t think we’ve had anyone on the show who’s had quite the travel story or [00:38:00] experience or like that. Well, it’s, it’s different from say Sean Conway, who I think you’ve heard all who’s doing exploration in a different way.

I think for him. I can’t speak for him, but his journey isn’t inspiring to me because he’s, you can see he’s pushing himself, he’s pushing himself. And it’s not only just doing that. He’s drawing others with him. He’s pied Piper of of the of the running track or the, the roadway because he sort of sucking a huge amount of people along with him.

And I think there are all sorts of different explorers out there. And as I say, I think we all know explorers by nature. So the more people are out there encouraging others the better. Yeah. Well, there’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week. Ooh. I think I mentioned.

[00:39:00] I only went to rehearse this or something. Anyway, I should do my best, you know, to the first one. Th th they’re very easy. It’s sort of on your trips. What’s the one item or gadget that you always bring with you. Oh, do you know it isn’t easy. Yeah. Sorry. I often see you say you bring nothing. I’m sure.

Yeah. That’s why it’s not easy. I always have a survival kit on my expeditions because this varies from place to place habitat to habitat. But my mum, when I close it out to the keynote, we having a survival kit. She’d read somewhere. That’s all exposed as a slide looking. And I suppose. It’s changed.

Now, the most valuable thing for me is a photo of my family. I’ve got three little children and and the wife, I should say. I think that is the most valuable thing I have. [00:40:00] With me on journeys now, because it reminds me when times are bad, but this is that I got to get back in it. This is not about me.

It’s about others out there and there is a world out there. So two or three years ago when I was stuck in new Guinea and I was. Yeah, I was going to die if I didn’t get out because I had thank you. Even when they’re trapped by warring factions. I get, I’m looking at this photo, particularly one actually of my boy, Freddie and Natalia, my older daughter.

They were running at me in this photo with such a glee in their faces and they had snowballs and the hands they’ve just about to throw these nibbles at me, it’s just seeing them vulnerable needing me to get out. That was incredibly important. Yeah. So I think that would be what I would take a photo of them.

What is your, sorry? What is your favorite adventure book or travel [00:41:00] book? Hmm.

Yeah. Yes. I would have thought I would have one but I do I don’t really know. I I’ve got the hundreds of travel books and I reviewed travel books. I sit on panels do will prizes for travel books. There’s one that Springs out, which is in Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin and. I mentioned it simply because it was a early influence on me. It was just at the time when I was stacking books in the warehouse for my first expedition gathering myself together.

And this one was selling like in a thing and it made me think, wow, maybe I can document my journey. So yeah, in Patagonia by Bruce chaplain, he’s not an Explorer in ways. [00:42:00] Quite a fantasy list. But nonetheless, I knew his mum and dad and again, it was a sign that it was possible to do these things.

Yeah. Okay. That’s a good one. I, I haven’t haven’t come across it yet. Hmm, no, no. Are tweeting you why are adventures important to you?

I think because they show us what is possible and inspire us to do the same in our own way. And we live carelessly through them. We think, ah, that’s great. I can never do that. But we also uplifted and hopefully we also encouraged to do the same in an environment that suits us. What is your favorite quote?

[00:43:00] Am I allowed to choose one of my own

very self-indulgent, but it’s all I can think of. Just off the top of my head. I’m trying to think. There’s another one out there. Hmm. There are lots out there. And in fact, I do an Explorer coach of the day on Twitter every day, but I can only think of something I have on my website, which is to me exploration isn’t about planting a flag or concrete nature or going somewhere in order to make a Mark.

It’s about totally the opposite of that. It’s about opening yourself up, allowing yourself to be vulnerable. And allowing the place to make its Mark on you. Very nice. Well, I’m sure you can’t even say that was a bit of rubbish. Anyway, it is meant it’s about how important it is [00:44:00] to not just assert yourself, but try and learn from it.

After your trip in Papua New Guinea, you came into quite a lot of flack by the guardian from the UK. Yes. I thought it was almost racist and scent in the sense that it was all about how a white middle-class person who’d gone off almost like a sort of Playboy to, just to sort of have a jolly out in new Guinea.

And it was an old trope really that the white man has to be an imperialist, but my entire career. As I’ve gotten on and on about it with you it’s meant to be a raging. That idea that’s actually I’m very aware of the imperialism that has been in expiration and that I think we have to do the opposite.

We have to listen and learn. So it was very [00:45:00] ill-informed article in particular that I’m thinking of in the guardian. Because yes, there is a tradition of him. It’s a thing. Your Willem places, but it wasn’t what I was about. And so it was very lazy thinking. So there we are. I think she came into quite a lot of stick for us as well.

Well the thing is that I had a lot of support from lovely people and even not very nice people fellow explorers who, some of them who were being quite really to about Oh, I’d try to be kind and everything, but, but really. I had lovely response from a lot of them. And they stepped in and said, look, this is not fair.

So it was fairly nice, actually it be heartwarming. So a lot of people stood by me who I thought, Oh, just using aspirations as a career. And they’re not [00:46:00] interested in places and people at all. So they, it’s a lovely thing. Lovely thing, actually, that came out a bit, which was Yeah. There’s not a great people out there.

As the Humphreys had some big kind of things around fines yeah, the bloke whose name. I do know incredibly well, but I’ve forgotten and walked down the Nile. Bruce knows me. No, not him not. I love her some word. There was some word. Great. He said some other things that was very heartening, they heartening.

And I think yeah, was a swipe patchouli at the whole, the whole idea of the white band going out rather than me. I just represented the the, the typical sort of adventurer generally is fairly privileged, but it’s, it’s too lazy just to say that we’re all doing it for our own benefit. But I [00:47:00] think there’s a role, but all sorts of explorers.

And it’s, it’s too easy just to criticize people because they have gone out there and done things. Yeah. People listening are always keen to travel and go on these big granted adventures. What’s the one thing you would recommend for people wanting to come and explore or explore? Yes. And by the way, have we got to the end of your five questions or have you given up with this?

I didn’t ask them very well. The last one. Okay. Yeah, I I’d say start not too big. It’s. Yes. It’s very hard to get a chance in life to go away for a whole year, for example, to step aside from the job and pay the mortgage. And it’s just hard ordinary life for most people. But try [00:48:00] and do something small.

First cause then you can put your foot in the water, see what your strengths are, what you start and what you really want to do. I think it’s very easy to come up with a great idea, like a cycle around the world, or I read somewhere some people who are on a tandem bike, a man and woman, a couple going off around the world.

These are great, but I think it’s simply important to us to take a step by step and do a trial to. Fuck up damn Scotland. A couple of times, just to see how you, if that’s really what you want to do. Because yes, you work, you get a few chances to do a big adventure. So it’s better just to just give it a practice first, before you set out to see if that’s what you want to do with this valuable chance that you cool.

Okay. Yeah, I did feel you’ve, I’ve convinced you there. Know. I completely agree. Yeah. I think before I, well, I actually [00:49:00] sort of just jumped into it straight by cycling across America, but for one of my trips to sort of plan everything I cycled up to Edinburgh came back just to sort of, I didn’t didn’t know that I’ve got right country.

That’s true. I mean, The other thing is I think making mistakes early I would house David naive. And I was lucky as I’ve said to get away with it. And on my first Amazon expedition, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Luckily I was helped along by various people, but if I had made those mistakes early, if I had joined the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, or if I had been a boy scout or just went off on a lot of camping trips I would have been better prepared and there’s nothing like making mistakes early.

Cause that’s the time you learn. And [00:50:00] yeah, I was, I was very fortunate, but I, it might easily have gone badly wrong. Yeah. And so what are you doing now and how can people follow your journeys and adventures? Oh, well, I’m, I’m stuck like all of us sort of moments due to the barriers lock downs and and binding.

So gathering myself. But I haven’t quite chosen the next exhibition. There will be something happening and it’s the question of what country is safe to visit from point of view of the locals with COVID. So for example, Papua New Guinea is closed now to entirely to outside Indonesia pretty well.

It is. And so I don’t know what is, what will transpire, I do want to go back to back and you need to finish the journey that I didn’t manage to complete because of. It’s warring factions and it’ll be challenging, possibly dangerous because [00:51:00] humans have am reliable. And I meant to be an expert at rainforest.

Travel. But that’s not to do with the human factor of people. Who’ve got a gun you know, anything can happen. So I’ve got to be careful about that. That’s what, that’s what I’m I had this foremost in my mind. And I hope to do that this year, but we shall see. I, yeah, so my website is Benedict

And I try and tweet every day, some sort of inspiring thought motivation through exploration is that I think I should call it that, that sounds really good. And so I try and try and be positive on Twitter and Instagram once a week as well. Do a little video. Amazing. Yeah. I’ve been following your Explorer of the week on Instagram.

Ooh. Oh yes. Oh, good. All right. Let’s follow it. Surely the more that for people listening, you can check, check [00:52:00] Benedict out on Twitter and Instagram and I mean, your stories are absolutely incredible and I can’t thank you enough for coming on today and, and telling them. Oh, that’s okay. Ooh, I’ve got a book coming out Explorer, it’s called Explorer.

And it, I’m not saying that just to get it back to me again. Conversation, but it’s just, it’s quite insane. It’s something we’ve touched on quite a lot, which is what in, what is the role of an Explorer? That’s what the book is about, but it’s I think it’s, as I say, the central idea. Of the book, but mainly just in our conversation today is that we all are explorers.

I just think it’s important to remember that because it’s so easy to think, Oh, it’s already well for them out there, these people who’ve got money or time or, or the inclination. What about us with our busy lives? You know, but you can get away. Even if it’s for a [00:53:00] day, just to have just get outside yourself and your world and find another one.

Yeah. Well when it’s the book out or is it coming out soon? No, I wouldn’t show it. Say shamelessly plugged it if it was already available. No, it’s a it’s I think August is the latest assessment has been put off for a year publication. They’re sitting there waiting to, you know but yeah. Well, well, when it’s we’ll put it up on the website and you can buy it.

Yeah. Do you have, and for your friends and family and yeah, by 50. Well Benedict, thank you so much for coming on today. Yeah, no, thank you. No, I’ve enjoyed our chat. Yeah, well, it is it for today. Thank you so much for watching and I hope you got something out of it. Hit that like button and comment below what you thought.

Subscribe. If you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video.

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google