Think you're a real explorer? A true adventure traveller? Then see how you match up to these guys - from the Amazon jungle to Antartica, they they're the very best in modern-day adventure travel. And they know a few things you could learn from...
If someone says you can’t – then prove them wrong
When Laura Dekker was 13 she decided that she wanted to sail around the world, solo. Not in the future, not on her bucket list, or when she was thirty – but right here, right now. She figured it wouldn’t be a big deal – she was born on a boat and spent the first four years of her life at sea, and she’d even recently sailed from her native Netherlands to England without help. However, the Dutch child welfare authorities had a different opinion - they thought it was a reckless, dangerous idea and bound to end in disaster. They banned her from attempting it, and even the Guinness World Book of Records tried to discourage her by dropping its recognition for the youngest person to sail around the world.
So, what did Laura do? Grumble about the lack of support? Give up and go back to school? No, she actually embarked on a 10 month court battle with the Dutch authorities, to prove that she was ready for the trip. Eventually, after agreeing to buy a bigger boat and take some intensive courses, Laura was able to embark on her dream. At 7pm on Saturday night, on the 21st of January 2012, she safely docked her 38 foot yatch in the harbour – the youngest person to ever sail round the world solo. But don’t think she went to all that trouble just to avoid school – she still did her homework whilst she travelled!
Sometimes it’s not the physical that’s the challenge – it’s the mental
As a member of the first all-female team to compete in the Polar Challenge and the leader of the largest all-female team to ski across Antarctica – Felicity Aston is no stranger to icy climate adventure travel. So, when she decided to ski solo across Antarctica, without aid from any kites or machines, she’d already had a lot of expedition experience.
However, nothing could have prepared Felicity from the mental challenge that solo travel brought with it. As if freezing temperatures, a harsh environment, and 1744km to travel weren’t challenges enough – Felicity was going to have to cope with being completely alone for 59 days. Felicity has said in interviews that she became so lonely, she actually made friends with the sun, and she even had days when she believed that sun was cross with her. She has also said that every morning was a challenge to continue – she just didn’t want to get up and face another day. However, after an extra half hours sleep or a burst of some music, she was able to push herself forward – and on the 22nd January 2012, she became the first woman to ski solo across Antarctica.
Age is just a mindset – you’re never too old
In 1978, at 28 years old, Diana Nyad attempted to swim from Havana in Cuba, to Key West in Florida. Although she covered around 76 miles, strong winds battered her off course and she was forced to stop her attempt. So, in 2011 – now aged 61 years old, she decided to try again. Naturally.
This time she was aiming to be the first person to complete the swim without a shark cage. Nyad was a veteran long-distance swimmer – by this point in her career she had broken a number of world records, and was part of the National Women’s hall of fame and the International Swimming hall of fame. She started out well, carrying on determinedly, even after bad jellyfish stings to the face. But later, as the winds and waves became bigger and less favourable, she began to suffer from bad asthma attacks and a sore arm, which threatened to jeopardise her trip. At one point, she even had her doctor in the water with her, trying to give her relief with an inhaler. In the end Nyad was only able to complete an astounding 30 hours of the sixty hour trip, but it was mother nature who got in her way – not age.
You never know what will happen on the road – so embrace it
When Ed Stafford set out with a friend to walk the whole length of the Amazon River, from source to mouth, he couldn’t have known what state he’d be in when he finally arrived at the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from being the first person to ever attempt the journey, much of his territory was going to be un-mapped and un-chartered. He didn’t even do much training for the journey – he thought he would get fit along the way.
860 days later and much had changed. His original walking companion, Luke Collyer, was no longer on the journey – instead he was joined by a man named Cho. He had also underestimated how much food he was going to need – he was burning off more than he could consume, daily. This eventually lead him to adapt to a survival mode in the jungle, which included breaking his ‘no hunting’ rule. But Ed had the courage to try something that had never been done before, and 200,000 odd mosquito bites and a few parasites later – he was victorious.
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