Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Before I've Even Finished a Trip, I'm Thinking about the Next One. ; Wanderlust and a Love of Motorbikes Landed Charley Boorman with a Career Envied by Millions: Full-Time Adventurer. He's Seen Half the World, and He's Itching to Explore the Other Half, He Tells Paul Taylor

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Before I've Even Finished a Trip, I'm Thinking about the Next One. ; Wanderlust and a Love of Motorbikes Landed Charley Boorman with a Career Envied by Millions: Full-Time Adventurer. He's Seen Half the World, and He's Itching to Explore the Other Half, He Tells Paul Taylor

Article excerpt

AT the age of 46, Charley Boorman's life resembles a Boy's Own adventure. His latest expedition - chronicled in a TV series which began this week - took him around South Africa and included a close encounter with great white sharks, swimming with dolphins and fun with explosives down a gold mine.

"I got within two feet of these seven-metre-long great white sharks," he says.

"You go out on this boat and they put this cage in beside the boat which looks like a shopping basket, and they say get in, then they draw the sharks towards you.

"They bang against the cage. So if you've got your face up against the cage the shark's nose will hit the cage right in front of your face.

"You know in the back of your mind that it's safe because otherwise they wouldn't do it, but on the other hand, you're thinking 'this is just not right'."

In the four-episode series Charley Boorman's South African Adventure, which began on Wednesday on Channel 5 (go to channel5.com to watch on demand) we also see Boorman climbing to the top of snow- covered mountains in Lesotho, paramotoring over a game reserve and setting off an explosive charge down a gold mine.

"We were right in the heart of the mountain, mining for gold and we set these fuses and the guy said: 'Once you've lit it, don't run'.

"You light it and you hear this ssssssss, and every muscle in your body is telling you to run. But you have to calmly walk away.

"The problem is that if you run, you might trip over, hurt something and not be able to get out of the way in time. As you walk casually away, all you can hear in your mind is 'ssssssss'. Then this boom goes off."

One of the aims of the new TV series - and one of the points of his appearance at Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show at EventCity next Thursday - is to counter misconceptions about South Africa.

"It's a fun, beautiful place," he says. "Sure, bad things go on, but no more than anywhere else. For instance, in Washington DC, a mile from the White House is a place with one of the biggest knife and gun crime problems in the world."

Though his South African sojourn seems like a grand adventure, Boorman is at pains to stress that everything he does in this and every other expedition, dating back to his Long Way Round motorcycle circumnavigation of the globe with his friend actor Ewan McGregor, is doable by the ordinary man and woman.

Boorman is also anxious to point out that others - including Manchester-born Nick Sanders - were circling the globe on two wheels long before him and McGregor.

And all who set out on a long bike trip owe a debt to Ted Simon, whose 63,000-mile, four-year round-the-world trip yielded the 1980 book Jupiter's Travels - the seminal yarn of motorcycle adventure.

But it was Boorman's 2004 motorbike trip with McGregor - yielding the Long Way Round book and TV series - which kickstarted a travel revolution, boosting sales of adventure-style motorcycles and inspiring many to follow in their tyre-tracks. …

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