They say the age of the adventure and explorer is dead – no say we! Let us introduce you to a man, a man like no other – Charlie Walker. Charlie has spent the last 1,606 days and 43,630 miles cycling the world. He is the living embodiment of the spirit of adventure that drove those botanists, who came to explore Africa in the 18th and 19th century and would come in turn to inspire the creation of Elephant Gin.
A travel writer, Charlie had initially planned to cycle from the Dead Sea to Mount Everest, but as the miles went by it occurred to Charlie that this rather seemed to limit the limitless opportunity in front of him. In the end, the journey was four times the original intended length, cycling through 61 countries and covering a distance equivalent to twice circumnavigating the globe. The was no plan, no route, just an insatiable curiosity and spirit.
The physical challenge was of course immense: “There were times when I was fast and those when I was slow. Weather, length of day, visa expiry dates, mood and interest in region all contributed to how much I cycled each day and how many rest days I took. I had no system in particular.”
He cycled in Afghanistan; was questioned at the Iranian border under suspicion of being a spy; and was even charged by an elephant in Botswana. “I pedalled hastily away and didn’t look back.”
In Tibet, he was forced to sneak past the check points under the cover of darkness. While there, Charlie braved extreme cold and the altitude of the mountain passes, some of which were over 5,000m above sea level. “My problem wasn’t so much getting enough air but remembering to breathe out. I would suddenly realise I had subconsciously been sucking hard at the thin air and had a painfully packed pair of lungs, fit to burst.”
In the Congo, he resorted to a dugout Canoe to navigate the waters of the Congo River. “My friend and I bought a hollowed out tree trunk, loaded in our bikes and set off on a river with no maps. There were plenty of waterfalls and rapids and then, later, crocs and hippos became a threat. I got severe malaria and Typhoid at the same time at the end of that leg, so that was hard to recover from – especially in the middle of Congo.”
This is but a taste of Charlie’s remarkable adventures. In any walk of life the exploration of the unknown takes courage and it is courage above all else that Charlie posses in abundance. Charlie, we salute you – heres to the spirit of adventure!