In conversation with: Ben Fogle, a modern-day explorer
We spoke to the well-known English broadcaster, adventurer and author about his challenges, travels and fears:
What inspires you to travel?
I have always had a curious and open mind. I love meeting people and understanding different cultures.
Of your many adventures, do you have one that is particularly close to your heart?
There are so many – but Mount Everest, which I climbed last year, was an extraordinary experience. It is far more than just reaching the summit. It is the sum of its parts. The people. The landscapes. The sunrise and sunsets. The weather.
What did it feel like to stand at the summit of Everest?
It was the fulfilment of a childhood dream. People say that it is like going to Disneyland. It isn’t. It is still a challenge.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Rowing the Atlantic was one of the hardest things I have done. It took nearly two months to row 3,000 miles.
How do you keep your morale high when things are tough?
I have had enough experiences now to understand how to control my own mind. If you let doubt take control, then you have lost the battle.
Are you afraid of anything?
I am afraid of failure. I experienced so much failure as a child that it still scares me, but I have now learnt to confront it and take control of it. I don’t want failure to define me as it did when I was a child.
What is your favourite country and why?
If you could take your family to visit one country in the world, where would it be?
I am lucky to have taken my family to some beautiful places already but there are plenty of places left. I’d like to go on some adventures. My son, Ludo, wants to climb a big mountain, so we are training to climb the 6,000m-high Cotopaxi in Ecuador.
Is there a country you haven’t yet visited – and would love to?
I have still never visited China. I can’t wait to explore this massive country. I’d like to visit with my children, Ludo and Iona. I’d love to walk the length of the Great Wall of China.
Tell us about a funny incident you’ve had on your travels.
I got arrested on Pitcairn. It took me weeks to get there and when I arrived I was arrested on suspicion of being a spy and for incomplete paperwork. I was deported less than an hour after arriving and had to sail all the way back to Tahiti. It wasn’t funny at the time!
Who is your idol and inspiration?
Michael Palin is ‘the Godfather’ of travel. I have been lucky enough to meet him a few times and he is as charming in real life as he is on screen.
You have been on television many times. Do you have a show that you have especially warm feelings about?
Animal Park has been on screen for 20 years now. There is a great nostalgia in returning to Longleat with Kate Humble and all the keepers and animals that we have got to know over the years.
Do you have any more adventures in the pipeline – and what is next for Ben Fogle?
I think the greatest adventure of all would be to sail the world, non-stop, single-handed. Let’s see…