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‘It’s something more important and more profound, too. Tapping into your sense of adventure, feeding it and letting it grow, can make you a better more humble, version of yourself. Travelling to some of the worlds most extreme places; testing my body, mind and soul in challenge conditions; and learning how to get through them, has shaped my entire life.’
Adventure books are often considered to be designed for children or gap year students, and it’s very rare that they are genuinely beautiful, photographic and grounded in experience. Ed Stafford takes us on a journey around the world, following his adventures as he attempts to tempt us towards finding our sense of adventure.
Ed Stafford is a known adventure himself, being the first person to ever walk the Amazon River from its source to the sea back in 2010. Stafford hasn’t stopped there, as this accumulation of tales illustrates. He has been around the world to take on new and deadly challenges. He has travelled across the world’s hottest desert on foot, been marooned on a desert island, and navigated his way through a jungle never navigated before. Some of these adventures have been captured on the Discovery channel, and the rest have been
This book also has a highly practical element to its composition. The text itself is jam-packed with tips and tricks on how to be adventurous in a responsible and safe way. It’s those basic common sense things that people forget in the wilderness that so often causes the problems. Stafford’s ‘Travel Manifesto’ covers these perfectly in an easy to understand manner, with everything from the dangers of overdressing in the outdoors to the importance of training before any expedition.
The photographic element is what really brings this book to life. There is an incredible range of photographers from Stafford’s range of expeditions that enliven each of the locations and create that craving for adventure on every page. In particular, the full page spreads of Dallol Lake in the Danakil Desert or the immense underwater shots of Miyakojima Okinawa in Japan come to mind. They not only highlight that these explorations are out there but that they are also possible.
Saying all this, I can’t help but feel that this book is between two places. It’s both trying to be serious travel writing, with survival and expedition guide elements, being slightly undermined by the lighthearted picture-book feel with simplistic illustrations and manifestos that make it feel more like a book you would give to a potential gap year student rather than a serious traveller.
This book will make a great Christmas present, a beautiful ornamental book for people to read and go ‘wow, isn’t that amazing’ at. For serious hardcore adventurers out there, you might want something a bit more substantial, but for those of us that are happy imagining such exploring or simply motivating yourself to go explore the world outside your front door- it’s perfect.