We'd love that job - Explorer - Benedict Allen

What do you do?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I've lived with tribes in New Guinea (and got cut with bamboo blades in their initiation ceremony), and driven dog-sleds off cliffs in the Siberian night. I'm usually away for six months at a time, learning skills from people, winning their trust and getting passed on to other, even more remote groups. And I film my experiences for the BBC. The rest of the time I'm at home, writing it up.

- How did you get the job?

I'd always wanted to be a Raleigh or Shackleton. As a naive 22-year-old I thought I'd give it a go, and headed for the Orinoco Delta. Some fishermen took me to an Indian village. The kids were fascinated that I was so useless, and took great pride in teaching me things. I was lucky to survive that trip - I got lost in the jungle, caught malaria and had to eat my dog. But that gave me impetus; I wanted to understand the place that had almost wiped me out.

- Does the reality match the dream?

Not really. It's a hard life to sustain. I've been lucky - I wanted to write about adventures like the old-fashioned explorers, and I haven't had to compromise on that. But it took 12 years of grind to make enough to survive. I was living with mum and dad till I was 27. It's still exciting, but I'm 46 now - what if I wanted to have kids? I'm losing that desire to take risks.

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