Levison Wood, my new favourite explorer

If you are anything like me and love travelling and exploring new places then you will love this one. First thing’s first, if you don’t already follow Levison Wood then you should. Ex army officer turned explorer, writer & photographer, his story is one of a kind.

I first discovered Levison Wood when I saw his latest series, Walking the America’s, advertised on TV. It immediately had me hooked. I made sure I was at home on the Sunday evening to watch the first episode and I am so glad that I did. I completely fell in love with the adventure, the challenges, the journey and the people. 1,800 miles through 8 countries, from Mexico to Columbia, walking off the beaten track and into the unknown. What’s not to like? Nothing says gripping tv like that.

You know when you start following something new, you end up noticing it everywhere? Well this happened. I heard about his theatre tour on Twitter and had to buy tickets immediately. Catherine in my team at work and her boyfriend Dave agreed to come being the only ones who knew what I was talking about, also big fans! The evening fell the day before my birthday so a great pre-birthday celebration excuse (not that I need an excuse). We went to a lovely pub in Islington for a bite to eat and shared a bottle of wine  before heading over to the venue, first beer garden of the year too!

An evening with Levison Wood

Watching the documentary was one thing but hearing first hand the motivations behind why he chose the adventures he did and the challenges he came face to face with was another. It was almost like listening to a bedtime story, silence filled the room as everyone fell captivated by his words. We were in a beautiful old chapel that served tea and biscuits, all that was missing was a blanket and some cushions to make this the perfect storytelling setting. Beginning at the start, he took us through his career and explained his ambitions to be an explorer from a young age, resulting in where he is today. Having only watched the third documentary I learned so much about all three adventures, not just that of Central America. To wrap it all up he brought Alberto, his travelling companion and friend, out onto the stage. It was so unexpected which made it brilliant. If you have seen the show then you’ll know that Alberto is such a lovable guy. He had everyone in fits of laughter immediately. Two comments have stuck in mind. The audience were asking questions and someone asked, what did you miss the most whilst being away? Alberto’s answer; the toilet! Having travelled myself I understand the pains of not being able to use a proper toilet for weeks on end so I completely understand where he was coming from but I mean it was a pretty funny answer. And then they were discussing music on the road. Lev explained that he had called Alberto to join him on one of his trips but asked him to make a soundtrack for the journey and bring it along. So Alberto arrives with a mixtape of African themed songs such as Toto Africa (which we sang along to on our way out) and Shakira’s Waka Waka, both great songs but perhaps not quite what Lev had meant. What’s worse the CD player in the truck got stuck so they were listening to Africa on repeat. Imagine that, especially when it’s such a singalong, a bunch of guys driving through the desert singing “It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you” at the top of their lungs. That’s what I’m picturing anyway, hilarious! It was a really thought-provoking evening, not shy of its dangerous twists and turns and of course humour too but that’s what makes this exciting.

I think there is a lot to learn here but there are a few things that I would start to think about if I was to embark an adventure of this sort.

Planning – wherever your adventure may take you a certain amount of planning and consideration is required before setting off, especially something of this scale!

Understanding the risks is vital to planning effectively and preparing for uncomfortable situations, although you can never fully know what lies ahead.

And then more importantly, chose your travel companion wisely. You want someone who can react well to different situations but it’s also important that you enjoy their company. If you’re going to be walking for days on end you want someone who will lift your spirits and someone you can have a bit of fun with.

So there you have it. Levison Wood is a great explorer and a role model for anyone who wishes to embark on a serious adventure, although at your own risk. I think there are few of us without training who would survive what he did, it takes a certain skill but you have to start somewhere right. And, if you’re like me and want to revisit his journey from the beginning then be sure to add his book series to your summer reading list. I’m currently reading Walking the Nile and 30 pages in I already feel as though I was on the adventure too. Where will your next journey take you?

Book series

“There is no adventure without risk”

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