by Levison Wood, The Telegraph, February 20, 2019
"What’s next?" That seems to be the question I get asked most frequently. People often send me their own suggestions. Walk across Australia; tramp the length of the Great Wall of China; paddle down the Zambezi, and so on and so forth…
It’s assumed, given that my last decade has been spent trudging through some of the most inaccessible regions of the world for several months at a time, my next trip has to be more dangerous, more unthinkable, more "adventurous".
But even explorers need a break from exploring and, that aside, a journey doesn’t have to involve sweating it out through deadly jungles to be considered an adventure. Not everyone has the means or inclination to disappear off for years at a time to live in swamps and deserts.
That’s why I always like to assure people that adventure can be found everywhere – often in place much closer to home.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the word adventure. When people think of it, hardcore activities like mountain climbing, white water rafting and paragliding spring to mind… and the questions associated with them: how far? How fast? How high? Yet adventure isn’t just about the distance you have swum, or the height you’ve trekked. We don’t need to compare our travels with others for them to be validated. Adventure is personal, and the true rewards of travelling are often a sense of inner discovery. Edmund Hillary himself said: "It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." And you don’t need to climb Everest to achieve that sense of inner understanding.
For lots of people who partake in adventures for a living, or just for an annual challenge, it can inevitably become about reaching extreme goals, and bettering what came before, but that’s no rule of thumb and the world of adventure encompasses so much more; it’s multidimensional. Just because I relish the hot, dry, peaceful vastness of the Empty Quarter desert in Oman with only a guide and two camels for company, isn’t to say I don’t also enjoy a spot of camping in the Scottish Highlands.
My expeditions might take me to far-flung and distant corners of the world, but there’s a lot to be said for just booking a last-minute trip to Morocco to go and immersing yourself in the culture of the Tuareg or just choose a random easyJet destination and go see what’s there without booking any accommodation.
You don’t have to go all the way to the Himalayas to climb a mountain. A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend following Le Chemin de la Liberté – "the freedom trail" over the Pyrenees. It’s the route that Allied soldiers and airmen used to escape occupied France in the Second World War to get to Spain. We were treated to beautiful sunshine, pristine mountain air and swimming in the cool lakes. It wasn’t Everest, but it was an incredible adventure.
If I were to choose my top choices for a short-haul adventure in 2019 they would have to include the following: Trying a new activity – maybe a spot of via ferrata in the Dolomites or some sea kayaking in west Sweden. Joining a mini expedition – let someone else take care of the admin and organisation and make new friends with a trek in the High Atlas mountains. Doing a trip with a goal in mind: learn photography, cycle 100 miles (160km), see how far you can get on a budget of 50 quid… whatever it is, adventure is around the next corner. Plan less, discover more.
Adventure is how you define it. Don’t let someone else’s idea of adventure deter you from yours. I truly believe that it has never been easier to go on an adventure than right now, so what are you waiting for?