Tag Archives: inspiration

DAREDEVILS: Famous Explorers


When you hear the words “famous explorer”, who springs to mind? Christopher Columbus? Francis Drake? Dr Livingstone?

But what about modern explorers of the 21st century? Now we’re talking. These days, there aren’t any unknown countries or uncharted expanses of ocean to discover; it’s not about sticking flags in a map anymore.

Instead, a new breed of explorer has come to the fore: navigators and pioneers who accomplish unfathomable feats of mental and physical endurance. And these are the ones who really excite and inspire us, as they stand for everything we at Go Ape believe in: they dream big, they push the boundaries and, without a shadow of a doubt, they live life adventurously.

We can’t name all the great explorers who have inspired us, otherwise this would turn into a book (now there’s an idea?!), but we can let you in on a few incredible human beings who prove that adventure is still very much alive and well…

Ed Stafford

Ed’s first programme with Discovery, entitled ‘Walking the Amazon’, saw him embark on an 860-day trek along the (you guessed it!) Amazon River. His daredevil walk made headlines all over the world, and it was officially deemed “the longest jungle expedition ever attempted”. His latest series with Discovery, ‘Into the Unknown’, is proving to be just as enthralling to watch – this time, Ed’s on a mission to investigate our planet’s newest mysteries. When strange, hard-to-classify markings crop up on satellite photos of Earth, Ed uses his experience of coping in extreme conditions to find out just what they are. Fascinating stuff.

Levison Wood

Dubbed as “ten times tougher than Bear Grylls” (now that’s tough!), Levison has said he’s not interested in “doing stuff that looks dangerous for the cameras”. Instead, he’s following his childhood dream of becoming an explorer (see, we told you they “dream big”). Inspired by classic explorers such as Richard Francis Burton and Henry Morton Stanley, he embarked on an expedition to walk the length of the Nile. The trek took him a year, and the four-part documentary series ‘Walking the Nile’ that aired earlier this year made for truly inspiring TV. Levsion also speaks very wise words:

“You need to constantly challenge yourself to evolve as a person. To not take any risk in life, no matter how big or small that risk might be, means you’ll be at a standstill.”

Jessica Watson

At the ripe age of 11, Jessica heard how another young lady, Jesse Martin, had become the youngest person to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe – sailing solo. The story clearly resonated with her as two years later she told her parents she wanted to do the same thing. And she did. It was by no means “smooth sailing” – she had to deal with a collision with a bulk carrier and a ferocious Atlantic storm – but, after sailing for 210 days straight, she completed her circumnavigation three days before turning 17. Yes, she was just 16-years-old when she did this!

So, has all this talk of adventure sparked something inside you? If you want to challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone, zipping through the trees at Go Ape is the perfect way to get the adrenaline going!

Meet the UK’s Modern Day Adventurers

Modern Day Adventures

There’s not much we humans haven’t done in the name of adventure.

We’ve scaled the highest mountains, crossed the wildest rivers and trekked the loneliest of deserts. We’ve walked on the moon and explored the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean. You’d be forgiven for thinking that there aren’t many adventures left to be had.

…But oh how wrong you’d be! Adventure is still very much alive and well (“long live adventure!”), it’s just the concept that’s changed a little bit. Whereas before adventure used to be about exploring the world and putting uncharted territory on the map, now it’s about exploring the world and testing our physical limits to see what we’re truly capable of. It’s about revisiting old adventures and doing them, well, better!

In our opinion, the following Brits epitomise what a modern-day adventurer should be – willing, courageous, committed, slightly crazy, etc. You may not have heard all of their names, but we guarantee you’ll be impressed (and perhaps inspired) by their stories.

Ed StaffordEd Stafford

The mighty Amazon Rainforest is around 4,000 miles long. It twists and turns through mountains, rainforests and miles upon miles of unexplored terrain. Back in 2008, ex-British Army captain Ed Stafford started walking down the river and didn’t stop – for over two years.

Stafford’s amazing feat landed him a spot in the Guinness World Record book as the first human ever to walk the length of the river. He met with anacondas and crocodiles, contracted severe illnesses and at one point was captured by a tribe, all in aid of raising global awareness about deforestation.

Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper

School friends Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper became the youngest Brits to climb Mount Everest in 2006, aged just 19 at the time. A couple of years later, the National Geographic Society crowned the duo ‘Adventurers of the Year’ after they completed a 22,000-mile journey from the North to South Pole using only human and natural power. They travelled by bike, dogsled and sailboat, and cycled parts of their journey. Rob Gauntlett sadly died after in 2009 after falling while ice climbing in Chamonix.

Mollie HughesMollie Hughes

Back in May 2012, Mollie Hughes joined the likes of Gauntlett and Hooper to become one of the youngest Brits to summit Mount Everest, aged 21. Described by King Adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes as a ‘unique young lady with a genuine passion for adventure and achievement,’ Mollie is returning to Mount Everest next year when she will attempt to become the first British woman to climb the mountain from both sides.

Tom Avery

Less than ten people in the world have completed the polar trilogy (the South Pole, North Pole and Greenland crossing), and Tom’s one of them. In 2002 and aged just 27, Tom became the youngest Brit to reach the South Pole on foot in a gruelling 700-mile journey that took him and his team 45 days and 6 hours to complete.

Since then, Tom has broken a number of world-records. In 2005 Tom and his team became the fastest team in history to reach the North Pole and in May this year, they set the record for the quickest coast-to-coast crossing of Greenland. They beat the previous record by a more than a week. Impressive stuff.

Reuben Wu

Reuben Wu is a British music producer and film-maker. Wondering why he made our list? Well, Reuben also travels the world taking photos; on his website he claims that he is driven by ‘a desire to explore new places as if they were unknown territory, constantly open to serendipity and with an eye for the unnoticed and the hidden.’ Sounds like the words of an explorer to us. Check out his ‘An Uncommon Place’ collection and prepare to be amazed.

Inspired? Ready for an adventure? Check out #ShareAdventure and discover more real-life adventures from people all over the UK. Plus, by simply sharing an adventure with your friends you will win a prize! We’ve got goodies from Cotswold Outdoors, Forest Holidays, Salomon, Sunnto and more to help prep you for your next great adventure.

#ShareAdventure and win now.

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