Charley Boorman, an actor, adventurer, and motorcyclist, is up to something again!
Having done the Long Way Round and Long Way Down series, Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor might be preparing for a Long Way Up – a motorcycle journey across South America.
Although it’s still more of an idea than a plan and Charley isn’t willing to reveal too many details, he says he loves the thought. “Neither Ewan nor I have ridden much in Mexico, Central, and South America so it would be super exciting”, – Charley said.
Right now, Charley’s leading an adventure motorcycle tour in Africa. Talking from a base camp in Namibia, Charley told me patience, and cable ties are your best friends on the road – and it’s always the journey, not the destination, that matters.
We chatted about what it’s like to prepare for a long motorcycle trip, and why there’s no right or wrong way to go on an adventure.
Lessons on the Road
For Charley, adventure motorcycling is life itself: when he’s not riding with friends at home or getting involved in work with UNICEF and Movember, the Long Way series co-star is leading tours in Africa or planning the next adventure.
But what’s Charley’s single most important lesson learned on the road?
“Patience! Which I’m still struggling with”, – Charley said.
“In Ted Simon’s “Jupiter’s Travels,” the opening chapter is about him in India: his bike has just broken down. He’s sitting under a tree, safe and confident in the fact that someone will come along and help. Eventually, someone does show up, helps him and invites him to their house, and Ted ends up going to their daughter’s wedding and has this amazing time.
I think that takes a long time – to learn to rely on others and to understand that most people in the world are good, most people are willing to help. And you can’t learn that lesson unless you’ve done it.
So yes – patience! And an umbrella, in case it rains while you’re waiting for help. And a silk liner! Those are priceless when you end up in horrible little hotels and look at the bed and think, whoa, that doesn’t look good. Bed bugs can’t get through silk, so with a silk liner, you’re safe in a little cocoon. And they pack small”.
For Charley, one of the most powerful experiences while traveling is to see the reality of poverty some people have to survive day in and day out.
“The sewer children in Ulan Bataar was one of the most impactful experiences. Ewan and I still do a lot of work with UNICEF which is a real privilege. The kids affected by Chernobyl… it’s extraordinary. Kids are so important, and we need to look after them. Hopefully, we can help make a difference. If we can just show it in some way, then that’s a good thing.
I also do a lot of work with Movember. I had testicular cancer a few years ago and because of the money Movember raises and the work they do, it made my treatment much easier, quicker and very successful so I work with them. Women have done exceptionally well with health – breast cancer, checking yourselves, keeping an eye out, going to the doctors – whereas men are useless at it. There’s a lot of work to be done for men’s health, and mental health. Getting men to talk is good”.
The Making of an Adventure
Apart from being aware and trying to give back while on the road, Charley said that for a great adventure, it’s not the miles that matter – it’s the experience.
“The key of making a plan for an adventure trip is to look where you want to go, choose all the things you’d really like to do in all those countries, and then just make a route to connect all those things together. Don’t be too rigid about the structure of your trip.
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to do too many miles each day. You end up just riding to get those miles done. I think you’re better to do fewer miles every day and maybe just don’t go as far if you don’t have the time.
I have a friend who can’t afford to go off for six or eight months at the time, so he flies into South America, rides for a month, leaves the bike and flies home to work, then goes riding again. I think it’s a great idea”.
According to Charley, the preparation work never gets easier – even if you’d done it countless times before.
“An SAS guy in Afghanistan once told me, if you can survive the prep, the rest is easy! It’s true in many ways. You sit down to plan your journey and there’s always more work than you think. Everyone always leaves so much to the last minute, and then suddenly there’s no time left and you’re rushing around trying to make everything work.”
What about being a little older, a little more experienced?
“With time, everything’s changing. Technologies change, it’s a new world now and it’s super interesting.
But I don’t think getting older stops the thirst for adventure in any way”.
Want to go ride with Charley? Check out his Africa adventure motorcycle tours! And while you’re at it, tune in to this awesome interview with Charley:
What adventure motorcycling legend would you like me to interview next? Let me know in the comments below!