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Lucy Shepherd (Explorer & Filmmaker)

On today’s Podcast, we have Lucy Shepherd. Lucy is is a British Explorer at the forefront of modern exploration from the Arctic to the rainforest. She has pursued all sorts of expeditions around the world.

She has just returned from the Amazon where she and her incredible team of Amerindians crossed the entire Kanuku mountains from East to West. This pioneering expedition was over 250 miles, took 50 days and was full of epic tales as you will hear on the Podcast today. This protected, uncharted and arduous land put her through their paces.

Today on the podcast, we talk about this expedition in the Kanuku Mountains

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Transcript of our Conversation

Lucy Shepherd Explorer

[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to season two of the modern adventurer podcast. I’m your host, John Horsfalll. I’m an adventurer and photographer. And each week I’ll be talking with a new guest about their latest adventure from around the world for all the new listeners and subscribers who have joined. I speak to adventurers and explorers who do remarkable things in the field of exploration and endurance.

This is an immersive podcast. So this season, their story is cut to music and cinematic. As we immerse ourselves into the heart of their adventure. My next guest is a British Explorer and filmmaker who is at the forefront of modern exploration from the Arctic to the rainforest. She has pursued all sorts of expeditions around the world.

On today’s podcast. We talk particularly about the rainforest and the hostile environment that she had to encounter on her latest expedition in the. Our story is out there and to tell it [00:01:00] firsthand, I am delighted to introduce Lucy, she to the podcast. Thank you very much for having me. Well, it’s an absolute pleasure to get you back on.

We had you on episode 18 talking about your, one of your latest expeditions and today you. Fresh fresh back from your, uh, other expedition out in south America, which we will talk, talk about, uh, later on in the podcast. But, um, before for people who haven’t listened to that episode or who don’t know you, who are you, what do you do?

And how did you get into this sort of life of adventures? Yeah. So who am I? I’m Lucy. She, yeah, I would best describe myself as an Explorer. Um, I think it’s, uh, we don’t hear that term very much anymore. The what term Explorer, but I most definitely think we should use it unapologetically. Now. I think we can all be explorers in our own, right.

Um, for me personally, um, I use the term Explorer because well, my most recent [00:02:00] expeditions, it’s the best way to describe, um, and explain what I do. So I’ve been doing expeditions for over 10 years now. I started when I was 18. Uh, I was lucky enough to be picked, to be one of 10, to go off to the Arctic of Salba for 10, whole weeks.

So we were completely trained up. I had to learn the first taste of fundraising, which is anyone who does adventures knows that it’s pretty much the hardest. About doing anything like this it’s the fundraising, but that was my introduction to, that was my introduction to the wilds. Um, after that 10 week exhibition, it was just one of those feelings that that’s the best version of myself.

And how can I just keep doing this? Um, I just loved every aspect of it, really. Um, the challenge, the camaraderie with the team, the being sort of so connected to the environment. And, uh, yeah, from then I just made it my mission to try and get on as many expeditions as I could started hanging around the raw geographical society, uh, politely pestering people.

Um, and it worked, it started sort of getting more skills, high attitude, mountaineering, and things like that. And [00:03:00] I’ve been so professional Explorer for a number of years now, but I’ve gone full time Explorer, uh, since, since, uh, last mid last year. Um, and it’s looking like I can stay that way, which is, which is amazing.

And that really is, I suppose, a chartered dream when I was 18. Um, thinking that maybe with that one day I could. Lucy she Explorer and like be full time. And so now also actually say it’s pretty, pretty great. And it’s been a bit full circle actually, because yeah, I’ve recently got back from, um, south America, but also I was just guiding, um, myself in Alba.

Um, so where it all began. Um, so 11 years later I was guiding myself and we had an interesting encounter with the polar bear, but everything was fine, but it’s, uh, it’s great to sort of see things everything’s clicking. Looking together and, uh, yeah. Looking forward to sharing more of Guyana and south America, uh, on the podcast today.

Well, I’m sure, uh, people have a lot of questions which hopefully will answer today. [00:04:00] So, I mean, like when we spoke last, it was your trip in the Amazon and you were talking about going out there again, mm-hmm , which is a story you’re going to tell today. So in terms of the planning for this trip, how. For people who don’t know you or how or anything about sort of expedition planning, how did this sort of come about?

This expedition. Yeah. Goodness. I mean, the expedition planning with this was huge. Um, it started, so my previous expedition, um, uh, in the Amazon that I did in 2020, I finished that trip and I thought there was, it was clear that there was so much left to explore in that area. Uh, it’s a very unknown area, the KCU mountains.

Um, there’s not much about it online, half of it’s protected. Um, so that’s when you Google it, that’s what you’ll find most of all. Um, but in terms of people actually going into the ground into the deep jungle people, don’t do it. Um, it’s replaced, filled with myths and legends. It’s got a lot of, uh, a lot of fear surrounding [00:05:00] it as well.

Um, the sort of, uh, fair. Knowledge of UN uncontacted tribes and things like that, whether or whether or not that’s true, uh, mythical creatures that live in the jungle, all that sort of thing. And, uh, the only maps that the, that we have access to are 50 years old, but they’re very unreliable. So basically a, a Canadian 50 years ago flew over.

It was a pilot, took some pictures and then just did some drawings from those pictures. So as you can imagine, When you’re looking down at a canopy with using a camera, that’s 50 years old, it wasn’t accurate. Um, so I looked at these maps and I finished this expedition and talked to kind of like a mentor, Ian Craddick, this guy who ex special forces lived out in guy.

Finished this last expedition in 2020 and said, look, I really wanna do something big. And he sort of just looked at me and said, we, you you’re gonna have to cross the whole thing now, aren’t you meaning cross the whole KCU mountains and the whole, technically a whole KCU mountains goes further than it looks like it does on the map starts [00:06:00] from the Skiba river.

So the mighty qui river close to Sur and border, and it goes all the way to the Brazilian border. Um, so all the. West to the Brazilian border. And it’s a huge, huge distance. I mean, it’s like, it, it spans, I mean, we ended up walking over 400 kilometers, but it in as the Crow flies, it’s about 200, 250 kilometers.

And, um, Everyone thought this wasn’t gonna be a PO, it wasn’t gonna be possible. They thought it wasn’t it. Wasn’t not going to be, um, viable at all. I was sitting here in a hotel in Georgetown in guy, you know, each these, uh, the, the, the beeping from outside as you get in all of these south American, um, hot countries of humidity.

And, uh, I just thought, well, that’s got to be it. This, the impossible is gonna be made possible. And so I went home, um, Ian and I started planning. We started planning this trip, but just a couple months later, he tragically and sadly and suddenly, um, passed away, uh, which was, [00:07:00] which was big blow, obviously lost a friend, but also lost a sort of this key, this wealth of knowledge.

He had so many contacts in guy that was gonna make the planning so much easier. Uh, he had government contacts. You, it’s not like you can just go to the. The canoe mountains or most places actually, and just walk, um, you have to get permissions, you have to get permits, uh, all sorts from, from the likes of tribal chiefs who technically own the area to the, the protected area committee.

So it’s just endless. I mean, these countries love paperwork. They love paperwork and permits. And so when he passed away, it was kind of like, what is. Is it gonna be viable? Is it just too much to ask for me to organize it? Luckily, one of my good friends and also Ian’s good friend as well, um, uh, and is Anderson.

Who’s a good friend, Danish Danish guy. Uh, he said, he’ll come on board and he’ll, we’ll do it in sort of Ian’s name and we’ll work together to make this possible. Um, which was incredible. So it was a two, two man band. It was myself Anders who [00:08:00] organized this and it took months. It took, took, I mean, we probably spent full time.

On it for about six months. But as, as everything, as it got closer and closer and closer, it was just, it was a tidal wave of organization and everything went, everything was thrown at us. We had, um, had to deal with a lot of authorities. We had to deal with, um, last minute changes we had to deal with COVID of course, um, so much preparation from, so we had two resupplies that we had to organize.

There was only two options to have resupply that were economical. And that were the two major rivers that we would cross. So we would have, we, we had to plan the end as we’d have a. Um, come from a boat. If couple of days, journey from the nearest village and drop off a barrel full of food, then leave, leave them at coordinates and let us know the coordinates.

And then we would, we would find it there. So there’s all that sort of thing is plus the rescue, um, organizing. Sort of a rough route. Um, yeah, it, the, the list went on and [00:09:00] on and on, it did feel like Anders and I just constantly had a tennis racket and problems that were, the tennis ball were thrown our way.

We just kept having to battering battering. And it was, it was, it’s a fun experience. Uh, if you’ve been on expeditions before, you know, that nothing ever goes to plan and it’s, you have to be so reactive and you just have to think, okay, how are we gonna sort this? How are you gonna sort this once you’re there, there’s no choice you’re gonna do it.

Um, but yeah, it. It was a mammoth, uh, task. And I’m very proud to have even got to the start line, to be honest, because your expedition before was also up in around guy in Guyana. Yeah. So in the Amazon, so surely with that knowledge and that wealth of experience that surely helped with the planning of this trip, did it.

100%. So previously I’d done a shorter route through the Kaku from south to north. And what that had done is it had almost given me a bit of, uh, I guess, credit in the bank for the [00:10:00] authorities, for the governments there and also for the indigenous Indian people to know that. What we were doing, you know, I could do it and I could lead a group there.

Um, it also introduced me to so many contexts of, uh, my team. So what the expedition we were proposing most recently was so mammoth that it wasn’t like I could just take anyone that was strangers. Um, luckily cuz I knew people, I had trust, I knew their capabilities. So I took people who were, you know, my friends already from previous expeditions, um, which, which was a.

Gave you a head start, but yeah, no, I don’t think I could have just gone without any, uh, past experience within the country doing expeditions. What was the sort of moment, because you obviously, as you said, with all the sort of funding with all the, uh, sort of paperwork, visas, uh, government officials that you had sort of put in was sort of a moment where it sort of all came together and you’re like, right.

We’re. Not until the boat dropped us off [00:11:00] at the insertion point because we had right up until we were even dropped off every, I think we might come to that in a little bit, but right up until we were dropped off, we were having things going wrong, where it could have been the end of the expedition and, you know, uh, the expedition itself, anything could happen on any step.

So, uh, I don’t think I really realized that this. Possible until finally got out of the jungle safe, um, all those, you know, months later and realized, okay, okay, now I can breathe. And as I can breathe aside of, uh, relief, because although I was in the jungle, constantly, Anders was in this, in civilization, on the edge.

Um, a few days contact away with a sat phone, hoping nothing. , nothing came his way. Well, let’s, uh, let’s jump into the story and let’s head over to the Kaku mountains. And so the idea was probably to fly from the UK over there. [00:12:00] And it sounds like there was all sorts of challenges that erupted along the way.

Yeah. So in late September, it was time to finally leave. Uh, I, I flew from the UK. Uh, Anders was already out there. He’d been out there organizing things for a couple weeks. Um, you land in Georgetown, Georgetown’s a very vibrant city. It’s, um, quite, uh, quite Caribbean esque. Um, there’s those people from all over really?

So there’s Caribbean people. There’s. So Brazilian tech people. Um, there’s a lot of, there’s some Dutch people from Surinam and, um, it’s very, very multicultural. Um, and it’s a very fun city, but you arrive late at night and the, uh, the airport’s full with people trying to offer you taxis as usual and, um, jump in a taxi and finally meet and as, and there’s.

There’s just so much excitement in the air that, that what we’ve been planning for months is starting to starting to happen. And after a few [00:13:00] days of getting sort of last minute supplies, we had to arrange all the resupply for food. Um, we were finally meeting, meeting the team in Letham. So Letham is a very.

Letham is our last point of civilization. Really? Uh, it’s a, it’s a couple hours journey from, from Georgetown and Letham, it’s a town, but it’s a very basic town. There is kind of wild west, like it’s, uh, no, no time at roads and just dusty roads and very, very hot. And, um, on the side of Letham you look out at the KCU mountains and you can see just the vastness of them and you realize that you’re gonna cross them.

And it’s funny when you look at jungle, um, from a. Just greenery, but you know that inside it’s so D dense and deep and damp, and it’s just so unknown. Um, it feels it, you start to feel a little bit overwhelmed as you, as you look at the scale of what you’re about to, about to go into, but meeting the team and meeting my friends of, uh, [00:14:00] Chinese and, um, and, uh, Lionel, uh, some of the, some of the team for the first time for, in a couple of years was so exciting.

And it was funny actually, because I hear from them, I start talking to them about the trip and they tell me that their family and their friends from their village. Had said, why are you doing this? Why are you going on this expedition? Um, and cuz they thought that they would never return. Um, and so I felt very honored and uh, trust trusted that these guys were putting their faith in me.

Um, and Anders to sort of make this expedition a, a, a success, but it really shows you that they all had the adventure gene. And they wanted to be a part of this, which was quite an honor, really. Um, and they’re such, such great guys, but was, it was great for them to all meet. Um, we all looked at the maps, these maps.

So I said they’re 50 years old, but because of the distance is so vast, um, lying them out, um, on the floor to have a look at our rough route. So we, we have a root, um, Knowing where we’re gonna [00:15:00] meet the resupply. But the problem with the jungle is that you don’t know how long it’s gonna take. You can look at resupply one, you can look at resupply two, but it might take three weeks.

It might take four weeks. You don’t know what’s in there. Um, the terrain is just, you have to be feet in the ground and you kind of have to adjust it every day. Um, you can’t plan the route more than that. Um, but it was cool. We laid out all the maps, there was 12 maps. So it went, it was about, uh, 15 meters of maps that we were looking at, um, which quite daunting, um, as we sat there looking at them.

Um, but after a lot of admin, I mean, there’s so much admin and all these expeditions, uh, it was finally time to depart for our insertion. And to get to our interaction point. It wasn’t easy and nothing, nothing is easy. So it would take, uh, it took a day and a day and a half and a four by four. Um, no roads just sort of getting through, um, the Savannah.

So, uh, the KKI mountains are surrounded by the [00:16:00] hot Savannah. Um, so we drove through there and then we reached our, uh, reached the rainforest and would jump into a boat. And this boat was a two and a half day journey. And this is where the adventure really began. Because the boat, the boats that we were using, these two boats, they’re long, thin aluminion, um, aluminion boats and they’re very, very old.

They’ve got dense, they’re full of dense and they, you basically, you, you pack them full of all your kits. You, you have your life jackets. It’s very hot. You it’s very, very flat on the water at this point. Um, and you jump in and you start going, making your way, um, into the jungle. And as you are, we’ve got a very small motor of 15.

Horse power motor that we are using to, to go upstream. Uh, it’s very hot on the water if you’ve ever been in the rainforest. Uh, it’s a beautiful place to be when you are, when you are on rivers, but it’s so, so hot. Uh, and I always think that when you’re on the river, you see the pristine [00:17:00] side of the jungle.

Um, and it’s the place that it is the idea. When we think of a jungle, we think of, uh, full of life and we think of, uh, colorful, uh, wildlife jumping, uh, fish jumping outta the water wildlife, and the trees, things like that, which you do get on the water. But as we’re sitting in this boat, as it’s going along, you look over to either side and you look into the, into the canopy and it’s just black and, you know, In a couple days after the boat ride, you’re gonna be stepping off and you’re gonna be cutting trail into there.

It’s a very, very different story, um, to actually be walking rather than, um, on the river. And, um, the river that we were going on is the mighty Skiba river. And it’s called mighty because it’s known for having a lot of rapids. So our insertion point would be at the point where the rapids just got so ridiculous, a place called king Williams pools and.

It’s here where other than portaging the boats, um, a little bit on the way it was, [00:18:00] they couldn’t go any further than this. So this would be our start point, but as we were, um, just sort a day away from this. We start hitting some rapids and they’re, they’re fine. A bit of white water. Uh, we Portage the boat a little bit and then you get back in the boat.

So portaging, if anyone doesn’t know means you drag the boat, it’s pretty hard work either by walking in the river or by getting it on land and pulling it. but, um, on one occasion we see some rapids and I’m in the boat, the first boat going ahead and we, it doesn’t look too bad, but as we approach, um, they look much worse or they become much worse.

And it’s obvious that they’re worse than we thought. And the cap, we have two, we have a boat captain and then sort of basically an assistant. And for some reason, the assistant was driving this boat at this point. And the engine stalls just at the wrong moment, but we’ve committed at this point. We’ve committed.

So we have to keep going. So the engine starts. We don’t have the speed that we had. We are only using a 15 horsepower engine, which is absolutely [00:19:00] nothing. Um, we’ve got the wrong, wrong engine on, on this occasion and we take on the rapids and it is much bigger. It was all hidden from the water. It’s much bigger rapids.

And we thought the boat flies up into the air. Uh, and doesn’t we get air, but it doesn’t clear the rapid. And, um, we are basically stuck. The front of the boat is, is clear the back of the boat. We’ve got white water coming. Um, there’s a well pour on the left there’s rocks on the left. Uh, white water is hitting the side.

Um, and we, we, we are stuck and we’re trying to use our weight. We’re trying to rock it. We’ve got an, a, we’re trying to paddle. Because if we flipped the left, then it’s a real serious scenario. This is, these are some big rapids. And, um, we, we could get either pined or the rock, or we could just get sucked in and, and stuck.

these spokes are not meant to capsize S worth mentioning that they don’t capsize. It’s just the thing that they, they do. They don’t do. And after a few seconds, well, actually I say seconds, it was a couple minutes. Um, felt like eternity. Um, I, I was filming part of this [00:20:00] actually, and I realized that.

Something was really seriously gonna go wrong. Put the camera in. Um, my dry bag, thankfully. And after just a moment, the water caught it. We got catapulted out. We got flipped into the water. We were tumbling down. Luckily we got flipped onto the right side. If we’d gone the left, it would’ve been, would’ve been.

Seriously bad. Uh, we were tumbling underneath. We were trying to hold each other’s hands. Uh, we couldn’t, it was just too powerful. The water I was holding onto, uh, a Camry dry bag, which gave me some seven buoyancy. Um, and after a few seconds of just sort of trying to grasp the air, uh, we popped out the other side miracle.

We popped out the other side, uh, and, uh, no one was injured. Amazing. And the other boat came to rescue us. They came to rescue us, pop us, popped us on the rock in the middle of the river, and then went to start to retrieve, um, to retrieve the boat, retrieve the engine that had gone, uh, and also bits and pieces that had had that were in the boat [00:21:00] that were floating.

And you know what it was, it was crazy because if we had lost even one thing, uh, one bag of that, everything we have, you know, we don’t take anything unnecessary. So everything. Something important, the sat food, any food, the first aid kit, um, maps, we’d lost one thing that would’ve been the expedition over with, cuz we’re such a small expedition really?

There, it. And as, and I, with a very small amount of sponsor, well sponsorship compared to the, what the grands grandness inside of the actual expedition. Um, and so it was a reminder that we are very much in the mercy at the mercy of the, of the jungle. And as I stood on that rock, um, some of my teammates were quite shaken up.

Actually they’re pretty, pretty, um, shocked to have, have experienced that. I mean, these, these guys have amazing swimmers, but I. They knew the remoteness of what we were about to do and any it’s just us, it’s just us out there. And, um, we, yeah, we had [00:22:00] to really respect it. Um, and the water especially is, is, is a, is a ful ful place.

But yeah, we, yeah, no one was hurt. We started portaging the boat until we couldn’t anymore. And then we were finally, finally dropped off. We said, wave goodbye to, and isn’t the boat guys. Um, and then I stood there. I stood there finally in the damp and wetness of under the canopy. Um, on one side I had four guys, so my, my tea, we were a team of five.

Um, and I had four, four guys wearing our 35 40 kilograms R sex. And they’re looking at me to sort of navigate their way, um, our way through the jungle. And on the other side, I’ve just got this wall of forest and trees and, uh, it’s a very. Jungles can vary very much in their denseness, but what we experienced for those first month or so was just, um, just so many such dense.

And when I say dense forest, I mean, um, [00:23:00] lots of small trees, lots of binds, lots of, um, lots of roots. So it’s not just like, you can use your machete to just cut once and then you step forward, you have to cut from all. Uh, and it’s it’s anything, but walking is what we realized. So we started, started heading, heading into the jungle and I remembered very clearly why it take, so it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust for you to get used to being in the jungle.

Um, and I remembered that from before, but it’s everyone says it’s hot. Everyone says it’s sweaty. It certainly is. Um, but you don’t, what you don’t realize is just how slow it is. It. It takes a lot of, I think, mental resilience to just realize the pace that you’re going at is slow. Um, and you just, you’re streaming with sweat, especially to start with, as your body starting to adjust, but, um, yeah, you are crawling, so you’re constantly having to crawl under, um, into the floor and the forest floor it’s you can never [00:24:00] see the forest floor really.

It’s a bit, I, I describe it a bit, like being in a compost heap. So, you know, compost bin, um, is very squishy and it kind of smells that rotten smell. Um, and it’s, we. So it is, you’re constantly squish, squishing down, and then you’re crawling on the floor underneath, uh, underneath trees. And, but also you are always having to keep so alert.

Um, there are obviously snakes that you’re always watching out for, but scorpions that you’re watching out for and spiky trees, uh, we’re constantly having to warn each other about spiky trees because they’re needle like trees everywhere that just. That just splinter you in PSU that you spend the whole night getting out otherwise.

Um, and yeah, it was, it was slow progress for those first few weeks. Um, every night I would lie in my hammock and I would just stare up into the darkness and you’ve got the, how the monkeys in the, in the distance. Um, you’ve got the frogs, making their, [00:25:00] their big bellowing noise. Um, and I would. Think how long am I gonna be here?

Because I tried to maintain some sort of control, but there was no point in trying to do that. There was no point in trying to think, well, maybe we’re gonna average two K a day from now on. Maybe that means we’ll get to our resupply in five weeks and then yeah. Oh gosh. Will I be home for Christmas? I try.

This would all be going round in my head at night, but until I actually realized, there’s no point in doing that, I have to embrace the unknown. That’s why I’m here, then that wasn’t until then I could actually get some, get some peace from it. . Was there a particular moment on that trip because you’ve sort of spoken about the sort of hardship that you’ve been going through.

And I imagine four listeners thinking. Cool. And I suppose, is there a sort of particular moment that you can remember on the adventure where you sort of sit back and sort of found this amazing moment along the way? Yeah, absolutely. There are a couple moments of that. It’s for such a long trip and I’m thank, I’m thankful that there were, there was, um, in the middle [00:26:00] of the, in the trip, the rainforest really changed and it became, I sort of describe it like, uh, you know, tomb, Raider rainforest that.

Big rocks with lines coming down. Um, and actually the, some of the light, some of the sunlight could actually shine their rays down onto the floor. So you could actually feel the heat of the sun, which previously we hadn’t had. We’d just been in the dark the whole time. Um, it felt very much like how you would draw a jungle as a child.

And it was a few few times, but we’d have a break and we’d be next to these huge rocks. I’d sort of be climbing the vines and things like that. And you, in a way you felt safe. You’re never safe in the younger, but, but because the sun, you feel felt the sun on your skin, you felt a little bit, uh, of like relief.

And there was moments like that where we were just sort of playing really, which was, was just so much fun and other times, whereas we got towards the mountainous section, um, We would be, we would have such, it was a slog to climb up mountains in the jungle. Uh, you try and grab hold of trees or rocks, but [00:27:00] because the, the, the ground is so wet, anything just falls apart.

You have to be very careful when you climb up and, uh, it just falls out of your hand, but we’d get to the top and we’d occasionally have like a tiny view through the trees, um, and be able to see where we’d come from and just see these rolling, uh, forest. Uh, filled mountains. And, uh, one of my team, Vivian, he just goes up and he sees this and he goes, oh boy, you know, I never ever believed that I would be this high up in the KCU mountains, but here we are.

And there was that sense of sense of achievement that we would get, um, that was towards the end as well, where it’s like, well, maybe, maybe this is within reach now, which was, uh, was amazing. Cause we had so many times where it was close call and it could have ended so differently and tragically. I really felt like we got away with a lot, uh, a lot so much could have happened.

Da daily challenges we’ve we faced. Everything is a challenge. I mean, even, even just, um, walking is hard [00:28:00] because let’s, let me try and explain what it’s like to, um, to go through when you’ll, you’ll get to a very thick undergrowth bit and you’ll start moving. You’ll realize your feet. Aren’t actually on the ground.

You are on the some large Bush, you’re some last tree, um, walking. Walking on lots of different branches that if one of these breaks, you’re just gonna break a leg or anything like that, that would’ve meant the end of an expedition, the expedition cuz you breaking leg there only so much you can, you can do with that.

But also, uh, I mentioned snakes briefly, the Bush master snakes they’re meant to be quite rare. They’re definitely not rare in these, in this area. Um, Bush master snakes are, they can grow up to 10, um, 10. Well, no, they can grow up to 12 feet in length. We would see them in about 10. Um, huge and very, very wide as well, but their camouflage is just, um, so good that they’ll be on the canopy floor and you just won’t be able to see them or, or to the untrained eye.

It’s very difficult to see them. And that’s the biggest threat that the team, if you ask [00:29:00] them what they were scared of, they would say the Bush master snakes, they’ve got. In the am Indian culture, they’re feared hugely. Um, they, they, they whistle these snakes whistles. So they have a two-one whistle, uh, when they hear you coming they’ll whistle and they’ll tell each other, um, in the mountain they’ll often live in the mountains in the Rocky areas and we would be passing and the whistles would just start and they would be everywhere and they’d be very close as well.

And, um, so they were very much around, but then they also tend to get quite aggressive. So they’re seen as quite aggressive snakes and they’ll defend their territory. And of course, this is a place where humans, uh, it’s, it’s been, it’s said that humans have never really, uh, been before. So it’s very unlikely that these Bush master snakes have ever experienced humans.

So they’re scared. Um, they’re chasing, they they’re meant to chase you as. You’re travel in pairs. Um, at night they have been known to curl underneath your hammock, um, for your warmth. And then they strike when you least expect it. So they, they [00:30:00] haven’t got the best reputation. Uh, they also have, um, a little pin, like one of their, their bone comes out of their tail.

And, um, they have been known that once they’ve bitten you, they jump on top of you and then whip you with their venomous, uh, bone bony tail, which. Lovely. Um, but we, we had quite a few moments where we’d be stepping one moment in particular. I’d describe is, uh, so I was, I was going third. Vivian was cutting trail to the cutting trail with the machete.

Um, cutting, cutting as much as she could, then it was Lionel and Lionel and I were chatting and we would, you always go in a single file, of course. Um, and you leave a couple meters, um, Distance between you, because if one person has sees a snake or there are wasps or bees, which there always are, uh, then it gives you time to make a decision of which way you’re gonna go.

And, uh, Lionel and I are chatting, you know, oh, well, what are you most afraid of in the jungle? And Lionel says, oh, venomous snakes. Um, [00:31:00] because you can’t, you just can’t see them. A lot of the other things, the Jaguars, um, even the spiders you’ll, you’ll see them cause they move. But the been mistakes, you just, you do not see them soon as he has said that.

Vivian just yells screams. He almost falls down. He drops his bows and arrow bone arrow and his machete. And he luckily falls in the right direction, but there was a snake and the snake went for him. He had. Gone into sort of survival mode and dropped everything next to it. And he just get shouted Bush master, and we start having to run back where we come, come from, cuz they, they strike and they can jump quite, quite big distance.

And it was just okay, heart, heart, throbbing moment. This was the first time. So this was a, a couple weeks in the first time. We’d actually. Seen one as we were moving when we were moving. So we hadn’t seen it. Um, first and, um, the problem was that he dropped his, his tools right next to it, and we needed to get these tools.

We couldn’t just leave them. Um, so we had to make a [00:32:00] decision. Um, this snake was being very aggressive towards, towards us and towards, within. And we had it, his partner one. So they have, they have this partner and this partner, we couldn’t see it, but it was in the bushes. So they, they like to live in, uh, uh, lots of, um, like bushy thickness.

And you could hear it in the distance. Uh, or close, close by actually. And, um, it was whistling away and we had to, uh, use our bone arrow to get it away, um, to get VI get Vivian’s tools, but it was so, oh, Vivian was sweating. He was. He was really shaken up because, um, yeah, it, so almost got him. Um, I was there ready.

I, I thought he’d been bitten to start with, so cuz I went, are you okay? And he went, no, no, I’m not. So I was like ready about to start, start cutting trip down trees to get the, get signal for the satphone and get the first aid kit out and things like that. But. Yeah, luckily, luckily he was okay. And unfortunately he had quite a few, quite a few close, [00:33:00] close calls with, um, with Bushmaster snakes.

He, I don’t think him, he’s not a fan of them. That’s just saying that , he’s playing place. They’ve, they’ve toyed with his life a little bit too much. Um, Bush master snakes. Wow. God and geez. What are sort of moments sort of have, and, you know, you had that throughout your entire. Your entire journey. And so we’re sort of, um, moving along to sort of towards the end, you’d been almost 50 days out in the jungle, you know, having to sort of deal with this on a daily basis.

How, when you were sort of getting towards the end, what were the sort of feelings like within the group? And where were you? Yeah, so as we got towards the end, we didn’t, we never sort of counted our kind of our chicken, so to speak until we were really, really close to the end because every step is something can happen.

Um, and you know, we’re, we’re also fighting things like skin infection, things like that. And it’s. It does become a point where every step is painful. Uh, you can [00:34:00] manage it as much as you want, but when you don’t have access to just rest and drying out things, um, it’s just, it takes its toll. So every, every minute seems like a long time um, but the last, I would say probably where we got to the last night, when we knew the next day providing nothing, no accidents happened, then we would get to the.

Um, that was a big moment because , we all, we we’d run out of food again. Um, cuz again, you don’t only take as much as you as much as you can possibly, but um, we’re all laying in our hams that night you go to bed quite early in the jungle. Um, in fact, you go to bed very early in the jungle because it gets dark very quickly.

It’s suddenly it gets dark rapidly. Um, and as soon as it gets dark, you should really be in your hammer getting off the ground from the snakes and the things you can’t see. Um, and it’s a safety thing really. In the KKI mountains, especially towards the end of this whole trip. It was very cold. Um, surprisingly very cold at night, and we’d all be, we’d all be sleeping at hammocks on this last night.

And I heard one of, one of the team [00:35:00] get up and start stoking the fire and that he was just standing there next fire. And I thought, well, I’ll get up. Cause I’m, I’m freezing. And it, we don’t actually need sleep tonight. And then it ended up that a whole team got off and we all just spent the whole night around the.

Um, kind of this buzz of excitement and euphoria that we were actually gonna do this, and this was actually gonna happen. I think we, we stayed until around 4:00 AM and then we couldn’t couldn’t wait any longer. We just decided let’s just, let’s just go. Let’s just, let’s just make our move and start making our way to the end.

And, uh, it was a little, there was a little bit of, um, hesitation as we started because we’d created this such family. Uh, just unusual family dynamic here I am. This the one that you might see is the odd one out, but, uh, in a way on, on some of them, they were, um, looking after me, but in a way I was looking after them and being an, almost like a, a mother hen to some of the younger ones.

And we had a funny relationship, an interesting relationship. I respected them. They would look [00:36:00] after me, but then. Look after them and tell them the decision of what we, what we were doing each day and where we were going and things like that. So it was very special. And I think they started to realize the way , I’ve got used to this routine so much, and this jungle the way of life.

Um, because of course, these guys spend a lot of time in the jungle, but they don’t. They, the max time that any of them had spent in the jungle, um, in one go was 12 days and that wasn’t even moving every single. So they live in the edges of the jungle and go in for different reasons, um, uh, frequently, but this was moving every single day, um, for 50 days, uh, in just nonstop, no rest.

And I think they got used to it and they’ve got used to just how we were doing things and the idea of going back into being with their families and, uh, having the uncertainty of the world again. Um, yeah, it gave him quite hesitation sadness, I think a little bit just as it did to me. What was gonna come.

Yes. I couldn’t wait to have the relief [00:37:00] and be in safety, but yeah. I mean, anyone who does these sorts of things, you do it because you love it and it’s addictive and, uh, not to have it again was quite a scary scenario. Yeah. And so what was the sort of view looking out and when, when it all sort of came to an end.

So we, as we approached the end, uh, just our. Part really was. Um, so we got to the top of this, the high point of, of the day, and we could finally see the Savanna for the first time. So this, we were finally out of the jungle, we could also see left. Um, so that was actually where we, where we started. We could see it again.

Um, cuz we’d, we’d gone backwards in a way. And uh, yeah, that was the first sign of civilization. We. Um, so what the end, really? And then after that, we just started making our way down for a few hours to, to the Savanna out of the jungle. And it was coming out of the Savannah out of, out into the Savanna. You felt that heat onto you and the [00:38:00] crunchiness of the grass.

And rather than this wet and darkness and humidity, and yeah, it just felt, just felt such a, such a relief really. Wow God, what an amazing adventure and God do. I mean, do you keep in touch with the four guys that you went on this trip with you still in contact? I do. Yeah. So some not all of them are easy to contact.

Some of them are don’t have any technology or, um, don’t even know how to, I mean, some of them are, we call them bushmen, bushmen. Um, so they, you give them a phone and they have no idea, no idea what to do with it, but. Couple of the others. Um, Vivian and Mike younger, younger guys. Yeah. I’m in touch with them regularly.

Um, so they’ve installed wifi in their, in their villages. It’s a government scheme. Um, so I can actually talk to them. And I’m actually, I was speaking with Vivian recently because we are collaborating with doing a. A virtual talk together for something, um, which is, which is great to give him, give him that [00:39:00] opportunity as well.

So, yeah. Yeah. I, I’m definitely gonna be back doing things with them. I think, um, I think we’ve got some adventures up after leave. And how did the 50 year old maps compared to the real thing they were, they were pretty accurate on the mountainous areas because it kind of makes sense, cuz if you, you could see the, the contours and things like that, but.

Low low down when we were in swamp, like areas and trying to know where the creeks were. They just really weren’t accurate. Um, I think there’s gonna be, I, I expect within the next year or two, the LIDAR technology, um, is gonna improve so much that they will be really good. Uh, cuz. They, I mean, Google maps tries with their contour lines and things like that, but I think LIDAR should be able to show us where the water is.

That, I mean, that’s the biggest thing. Um, when you’re in the jungle, you need water source every night in order to wash in order to get water. And, um, if you kind of know where that is, you can base, right. We’re gonna try and walk. Two kilometers today. Again, doesn’t sound very much, [00:40:00] but that’s kind of a good day in that jungle.

Um, so yeah, I think in the next couple years it’s gonna be pretty good. Yeah. I, I think everyone sort of underestimates just, you know, like when we look at a Google map here and we think, oh, you know, walk 20 miles. Okay. That’ll probably take about a day or something in jungle. Everyone always underestimates.

Definitely definitely. And I think you, you just shouldn’t have a number in your head for the day. Otherwise expect it’s much worse to be like, have sort of high expectations and not get there for your mental health as bad. So just think right. I’m gonna walk. Eight hours for today. I’m just gonna see what happens.

I think that’s the best way to approach any jungle jungle. And did it take long to sort of come back to the UK and sort of recover after sort of 50 days of being in the jungle ma chattering a way? Is that the word ma chattering? Yeah. I mean, I suppose macheing yeah, I reckon we can get away that with, um, yeah, no, it was a bit of a whirlwind and I got back.

Um, I sort of [00:41:00] finished. We had a lot to do in the country in terms of go and see people, shake, shake lots of hands and do interviews and things like that. And then the same, same happened when I got back. So it wasn’t really, I had, I had sort of three weeks of nonstop just talking about an exhibition. I hadn’t even had time to digest yet and reflect.

So I was just repeating the same. I sort of selected three stories, um, that I could remember. It’s funny when you finish an expedition. You’re thinking, well, what the, what happened? Um, because you haven’t had time to actually think what happened. So I just picked a couple, couple things and then few weeks later I actually had time to stop, reflect and think.

Okay. Wow. Wow. We did it. Yeah. I, I think when you sort of get back from these trips, you need that sort of time to reflect on the sort of feelings, because when you’re fresh out of it, you’re sort of either on a massive high. Massive low mm-hmm . And so that sort of reflects in what you sort of, um, portray very early on, but actually [00:42:00] once you go back, think about it, think about what you’ve done.

You sort of have time to sort of gather your thoughts and actually be able to sort of tell the actual story in the way that you want to tell her 100% and also gives you time to understand what you’ve learned and why you did it. And, uh, uh, Yeah. Not, not trying by reflecting. I think you are, um, less likely to get that low that we talk about.

Um, it’s very easy to get low after a trip. Um, but if you can think, take the good, good bits that you learn out of it. And how can you do you know, not that again, not, you’re never gonna do the same trip again, but how can you. The things that you loved about it and the things that you really want to, um, emphasize and harness in the future things and what what’s that gonna entail.

So I think that’s what I’ve been doing, uh, ever since I got back from that trip and why I haven’t sort of jumped in to deciding exactly what I’m doing. Uh, next year until, until now as I start to hone in on it. Well, what an [00:43:00] incredible story and, um, you know, for people listening, I’m sure there will be more intrigued about the guy on and rainforest and heading out there in no time at all.

Absolutely. No, it’s a, it is a beautiful, beautiful country. Well, there’s a part of the show where we ask five questions to each guest each week bit different from last time you were. Absolutely. Yeah. Looking forward to it, uh, with the first being, what does it mean to have purpose? I think to have purpose is it’s a reason to get up in the morning.

Uh, it drives you and it also makes you feel like you’re doing exactly what you should be doing. Um, personally, ah, amazing and might be slightly different from, uh, the last episode that you were on. But what is your favorite? I think it’s probably the same quote. Um, I’m gonna say it’s yeah, I believe it’s the same quote, AME Amelia Earhart, which is, [00:44:00] uh, the quote of adventure is worthwhile in itself.

And for me, I think you, you can just do adventure for yourself. It doesn’t have to have lots of other reasons as well. Um, so if you wanna do an adventure, just, just go for it. You don’t have to have to answer to anyone. Very nice. And what is your favorite travel book and. My favorite travel book. And why?

Um, maybe, uh, maybe it’s an unusual one. Maybe it’s not, it’s mad, bad and dangerous to know. I dunno if that’s a travel book, but it’s ran off fines and it was a book that is a, is a book that changed me because it’s sort of just filled with so many different stories and it shows you that you can have so many different adventures in a lifetime.

You don’t just have to have one and they can come in all different forms and sizes. Um, so that inspired me person. Amazing. And why are these sort of adventures that you undertake so important to you? These adventures are important to me, um, for lots of different reasons for myself personally, I [00:45:00] think it’s, I am the best version of myself when I do these adventures.

And I know without a doubt that I am a better human being when I do these, these, these expeditions and these adventures and that grow with it. Um, so that’s one reason, but also I hope that by sharing what I do, um, can inspire other people to get outside. I think be by being outside, we have more of a connection.

To the outside world and maybe just, maybe you’ll want to, uh, protect it and share your passion for it as well. Very nice. And in your lifetime, what is the most memorable place that you’ve been and why? Most memorable place I have been. And why in my lifetime probably spell bad, spell bad up in the Arctic is where it all started for me.

Um, and it’s a place that when the, when the sun is shining, there’s vis a hundred percent visibility and you’re just skiing along with the PO with the sled behind you. It is nothing quite like it it’s just spectacular to blind scenery. And you just feel [00:46:00] so at. It sounds quite, quite hippy and cheesy, but I can’t.

Yeah, it’s, it’s an incredible place. And to go back there recently, again was a very humbling experience. So if you can, if you get the chance to go to try and go, when you’re sort of skiing along, is it a sort of silence that sort of greets you? Or is it just a sound of the wind? What can you sort of hear when you’re up?

Skiing along. So when you’re skiing along, you, you have this very specific sound of your skis it’s so your skis moving, um, back and forth and yeah, you’ll have a, you’ll have a little bit of wind coming through, uh, as through your, through your hat, um, and through, up and down mountains. Um, but it’s, it’s that crisp snow that you are gliding through, um, really comes to mind when I think of S art and think of up optic ping.

Very nice. And finally, how can people follow you and find you Lucy and follow your big adventures for the future? So people can find me on Lucy shepard.com and I’m [00:47:00] Lucy shes on social media. Very nice. Well, Lucy, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting you on again and listening to your stories. No, thank you very much.

It’s been there. It’s been a huge pleasure to share it and it is always nice to relive going back to the jungle. Yeah, absolutely. And hopefully, uh, we will have you back on scene for your big adventure next year or the year after. Whenever it may be. Absolutely. Yeah, no, I’ve got lots, lots up. Lots. Um, lots to come.

So yeah, I look forward to sharing that too. Amazing. Well, Lucy, thank you so much again. Thank you. It’s been really, really appreciate it. It’s great to talk. Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed the show and don’t forget to subscribe and review the podcast. If you’re listening on. A massive, thank you to those who reviewed it.

And I hope to see you next week for another fascinating tele adventure, but till then have a great day wherever you are in the world and happy adventures.

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