The Telegraph Adventure Travel Show
This past weekend saw the annual Adventure Travel Show in London’s Olympia and despite the unremarkable surroundings and decor of the conference centre, the speakers, tourist boards, companies and charities that attended the show managed to create an atmosphere of inspiration (it sounds cheesy, I know). But I honestly left the show feeling like I’m about to embark on something BIG, like climbing Everest or walking to the North Pole. No such thing is actually in the pipeline (yet) but I feel like I need to get planning. That’s what a bunch of incredibly brave, talented and adventurous people will inspire in you.
The theme of the show was unmistakably ‘Adventure’ and so the event was focussed around prolonged journeys (mostly off the beaten track), mindblowing feats of human endurance and life-changing experiences. I feel like I’ve been given a sharp warning to ‘start living’. This is just the motivation we all need, as it’s all too easy to simply postpone that trip of a lifetime with excuses, or to simply chicken out. The highlight of the show was the programme of speakers that the organisers had lined up: Dallas Campbell, Paul Rose, Dwayne Fields, Ben Fogle, Roz Savage and James Cracknell were among the many speakers. All of whom are now my idols! To achieved what they have all achieved is simply amazing and they are definitely role models to aspire to.
Dallas Campbell, presenter of the BBC1 ‘Supersized Earth’ TV series, talked about his vertigo on top of the Burj Kalifa Hotel in Dubai, 830m above ground (!), the tallest skyscraper in the world, and about finding a horse skull during his scuba diving in the sewage system of Mexico City, which is one adventure I certainly don’t envy… Paul Rose, an expedition guide who specialises in the polar regions, has spent his life in colder climes, even scuba diving under icebergs. He’s also dabbled in TV presenting, which is where I’m seeing the job opportunities for all these adventurers (virtually all of the speakers have presented or filmed a documentary/film). Dwayne Fields turned his life around after being stabbed twice and escaped a world of dangerous gangs to become a polar explorer, showing that anyone can change their fate. Ben Fogle is another TV presenter and his achievements include racing 160 miles across the Sahara Desert, rowing across the Atlantic in 49 days and racing to the South Pole, although you might be surprised to find out that he was hopeless at sport in school. But that hasn’t held him back one bit, just showing that anyone can undertake these adventures. Roz Savage was one of only 2 female speakers (shocking I know!) and holds four Guiness World Records for solo ocean rowing – proving that not all adventurers have to be men with beards. She was kind enough to give me an exclusive interview with her. And the last speaker I listened to was rower and Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell, who’s recovered from a cycling crash and subsequent brain injury to follow in the footsteps of some the bravest adventurers of history for his TV series ‘World’s Toughest Expeditions’.
Of all the companies exhibiting at the show, there was a recurring theme that I was very pleased to see: 99% of them operated solely outside of Europe. I do still like Europe – don’t get me wrong – but my New Year’s Travel Resolution no.3 is the following:
3. Get outside of Europe:
I’ve been worrying for a while that my travels over the past few years are far too Europe-centric. I’d like to widen the net in 2013 and visit some of the destinations on my wish-list such as Morocco and Russia.
I spoke to so many specialists from all over the world. Among all the interesting people I met, these stick out in my mind:
- Aqua-Firma: scuba diving in the Artic Wilderness
- Fitness Travel Company: fitness holiday in Senegal & all over the world
- Wild Frontiers: horse-riding trips over the Chilean & Argentinian Andes
- Pioneer Expeditions: rafting and trekking through Madagascar
While the show may have finished until next year, there is never a better time to start planning rour adventures and the show certainly gave me plenty of food for thought.