Adventure junkie Bear Grylls (Man Vs Wild) has been a busy man. He’s nearly finished shooting his latest TV show Get Out Alive for NBC – a survival reality show, which will see two teams go head-to-head in the wilderness (due to air on July 8) – and has recently launched Bear Grylls Survival Academy courses in Scotland and Surrey. Radio Times Travel caught up with him to talk man-eating crocodiles, getting diarrhoea up rock faces and his favourite place to holiday…
If you were on your own, without camera crews and experts in the dangerous scenes from your shows, is there any point where you’re sure you wouldn’t have made it out alive?
Yes. I have learned over the years that I am not as strong as people sometime assume. The wild is often very humbling when it gets angry. It takes a proud man that says he never slips up or needs a helping hand, and many times my buddies have helped me.
You’ve recently launched the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in the Scottish Highlands; surely the UK is too easy? There will be no poisonous snakes, scorpions or yak’s eyeballs like in your shows, what life-saving skills can people learn here?
Scotland actually can have some of the harshest terrain and weather on the planet – it is that grizzly combination of hard steep mountains, steep ravines and wind and rain. Never underestimate such an environment. I chose Scotland for that purpose. Survive proficiently in the highlands in bad weather and you are in great shape for then adapting those skills to multi-terrains.
How can people use what they’ve learned on your course in their everyday lives?
It is all about what if. What if I had to use these skills for real? Plus every man and woman should know how to light a fire with no matches or lighter, make an emergency shelter, cross ravines and rivers and descend cliffs with minimal gear, right? Not to mention a bit of unarmed combat, first aid and key life values such as cheerfulness in adversity, positivity, leadership and resourcefulness.
What’s been your most challenging challenge?
Probably both SAS Selection and [climbing] Everest. Both test resolve under pressure and an ability to look after yourself when the chips are down.
What goes through your head that moment before you’re about to eat something revolting for the camera?
Man I am hungry… let’s pretend it’s chicken satay.
How many of the creatures you ate for Man vs Wild actually made you sick?
A few and it is always awkward getting diarrhoea half way up a rock face a few hours after discovering that the goat’s testicles were rancid.
What kinds of holidays do you go on when you’re not doing adventurous TV shows?
We go as a family to our little island hideaway in north Wales. It’s 20 acres and one small cottage. It is my heaven on earth.
What’s your favourite climate and terrain?
I have always loved the mountains and the sea – they bring out the best in me, and it is that rare part of me that is clear and focused and strong. I miss that connection when I am away from either for too long.
Is there anywhere on earth you’d never go back to?
The black swamps of Sumatra were tough – full of man-eating crocs feeding off the 65,000 human corpses that were left after the tsunami there. It is a dead ravaged mossie-infested toughie of a swamp.
What’s your shelter of choice mud hut/ five star hotel/ yurt/ caravan/ hammock or igloo?
Those Siberian yurts can be amazing refuges and have saved me a few times in mid-winter unexpectedly.
What are your five top tips for holidays on the wild side?
Be prepared. Go with good friends you trust, who are relaxed people. Have a back up plan. Have back up comms. Pack a sense of humour.
Would you rather be approached by a bear or a crocodile?
A bear. They’re more predictable.
What’s the most common way people get in trouble in the wild?
Ego often means that people underestimate how fast the wild can turn nasty if you drop your guard, get injured or get lost.
Who do you most idolise in the travelling world?
My late father: the man who taught me to climb and sail and to have the courage to make a few mistakes and follow my dreams.
Get Out Alive airs 8 July on NBC