Charley Boorman encounters Extreme Frontiers

The traveller speaks to us from the USA, where he’s filming his new Channel 5 show, wrestling alligators, cliff-hanging and camping on live volcanoes…

Avid motorcyclist, explorer and Ewan McGregor’s pal Charley Boorman (Long Way Round) has set off on his eight week adventure, where he will complete an 8,000 mile motorbike journey across 20 American states, experiencing extreme survival in Alaska, camping on a volcano and sky diving in Death Valley.

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Boorman takes some time out from his trip to speak to us about the new show…

How exactly will Extreme Frontiers USA be different from your other adventures, will you be doing it harder and faster?
From volcanoes and sky diving to tall ships and the Deep South, it’s going to be an amazing experience to delve into all the adventure of this massive country. The idea of the Extreme Frontiers series was always to go back to places that we’ve been through on previous trips, but didn’t have the chance to really spend some time there. The USA was always one of those, it’s such a huge country that we really wanted to spend some time there and get to know the place. When I was a kid I lived in South Carolina and Los Angeles, it would be great to go back there and take a trip down memory lane.


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What will be the most dangerous part of your trip?
Camping on a live volcano, and camping out with the big bears. Pretty scary stuff! There will also be sky diving in Death Valley, which will be a bit scary. We are also camping on the side of a live volcano, sailing tall ships into Boston, doing extreme arctic survival in Alaska and hopefully heading to the Indy 500 – the birth place of Nascar racing. Camping in the wilderness with bears will be pretty crazy too, we want to really get under the skin of America and American people who live there and have all these crazy adventures.


What’s been your most thrilling adventure to date?
It’s is always the one I’m just about to do. I’ll never forget the Road of Bones in Siberia or travelling through Mongolia or going travelling in a dug-out canoe to a remote village in Papua New Guinea. All of them are unique experiences.


What’s the hairiest situation you’ve ever found yourself in abroad?
In my most recent TV series, we travelled to South Africa and took a jeep up this precarious road in the Drakensberg Mountains called the Sani Pass. It was so slippy and the car just started moving backwards towards the edge of a massive cliff, the director Russ [Malkin] was ready to bail out of the side of the car – it was absolutely terrifying. We managed to get up to the top on foot and it was well worth it for the incredible views.


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What do you never travel without?
Baby wipes and a sleeping bag firstly – if you’re clean(ish!) and have somewhere warm to sleep that’s half your battle over. I also never leave without my Bremont watch and iPhone to keep me in good time and connect me with my family – it’s also great for music and audio books.

What’s been your favourite place to visit?
One of the places I remember most of all would be Mongolia, and how big the place is and how remote it is. It was so difficult to cross, but one of the wonderful things about it is how friendly the people are.

Who’s the most inspirational person you’ve ever met on your travels?
Two people who are inspirational to me are my Dad John Boorman (director of films such as Deliverance, Excalibur, Hope and Glory etc.) and Ted Simon who wrote Jupiters Travels, the book that inspired me and Ewan [McGregor] to take on our first adventure. Actually on my travels, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met is when Ewan and I did a UNICEF project in north Uganda where we met this little 14-year-old girl who had escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army. She had been taken when she was eight years old and had a baby by one of the war lords, she had been taught how to kill and how to steal, and had been raped many times. She lost her childhood completely, but UNICEF had helped her to re-integrate back into her village, to learn a skill and start a new life. To see this girl’s determination to get her life back, was humbling and a very poignant experience of realising that most of us don’t have that many problems. We should just get on with it without complaining.


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How can people follow your travel antics en route?
I’ll definitely be tweeting, blogging and getting video clips up online and we will end the trip in LA and a huge biking convoy – so if anyone’s around, make sure you follow me on Twitter @charleyboorman @extremefrontier #EFUSA

Watch Extreme Frontiers in January 2014, on Channel 5


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