The author of 'Bearback: The World Overland' gives us his diagnosis on the world of travel
Mountain, ocean, desert, jungle... Which are you?
Having ridden around the world I’d have to say all of them. Mountains for their perspective, an ocean for its solitude, a jungle for its staggering diversity of life but for me it’s the desert that will always provide the ultimate challenge, especially on a bike.
What was your first great travel experience?
The bus journey into Delhi from the Indira Gandhi Airport. I was nineteen and intoxicated by the strangeness of everything I saw. I think for the first time I realized how differently people in other parts of the world lived, how foreign their lands, how intense their climates – it was a life-changing ten miles.
What has been your favourite journey?
Crossing Africa by motorcycle, Cairo to Cape Town, in 1995. I fell in love with a continent that was wild, raw and real. To be crossing such a vast land under one’s own steam, on a vehicle that allowed such intimacy with its people and its landscape was immensely satisfying, and exciting…like first love. It’s what gave me the confidence and determination to ride around the world, 100,000 miles, as featured in my book Bearback: The world overland.
Which are your top five places worldwide?
For me this divides into places and cities – cities will always come second.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Flat Dogs Camp on the banks of the South Luangua, Zambia.
Cape Leveque in Australia’s far northwest.
Lake Turkana, northern Kenya.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
Cape Town. Rio de Janeiro. Esfahan. Tarifa. Siena.
Which passport stamp are you proudest of?
Timbuktu, it has its very own passport stamp (at a price). After four days through the desert, a near sinking in the Niger, and brushes with the fabled Tuareg it’s where I proposed to my long-suffering pillion.
Which passport stamp would you most like to have?
Papua New Guinea, I want to see the Birds of Paradise.
Where or what is your guilty travel pleasure?
A cigarette. Preferably a Camel, no filter, shared with a border guard on some wild frontier.
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