January is always a pretty busy time for us and it rattles along at breakneck speed. Then, before you know it, it’s time for the Adventure Travel Show again. So, on 23/24 January, we headed to London’s Olympia to find the latest Australian travel inspiration, travel tech and to meet some amazing people. Keep reading and you’ll also be able to get 15% off the brilliant Water to Go’s products!
We love the ATS. As well as stands covering everything from exploring distant and undiscovered places to travel advice and the must have gadgets, there are a wealth of talks, seminars and the Adventure Travel Film Festival.
We always go along on both days and still never seem to have enough time to pack in all that we want to do. It is a chance for us to catch up with some familiar faces and meet new ones.
This year we were able to get an interview with Hugo Turner, one half of the adventurous Turner Twins who give their all in the name of science… did he really say that those thermal probes were in all kinds of places in all parts of his body…? He gave a terrific talk on exploring cold places with his twin; but there’s way more to it than that.
We dropped in on a few talks and although they weren’t Oz-centric, they are certainly worth a mention. We thought that Ed Stafford would be letting us know why he felt that satellite communications were invaluable, but instead he told us about his trek along the Amazon from the source high in the Andes to its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean.
It was a trip that he estimated would take around a year to complete, but it took over twice as long (860 days altogether), and his travelling companion and team mate lasted only 3 months. I think you’d call it irreconcilable differences, and he never did say if they’ve made up since his return.
We still don’t have a definitive on whether or not satellite communication is essential but we reckon it is. Not only did Ed use it to map his route, he was able to download a diary, and when he ran out of money he was able to do a bit of crowdfunding. Perhaps most importantly he was able to get some psychological support when he needed to keep a positive frame of mind. Clearly, it worked.
Aye Up Me Duck
Watching the whale sharks
Another fascinating talk was Close Encounters with Ocean Giants given by Ralph Pannell of Aqua-Firma. We figured that checking this out was pretty much on the money for us as he spoke at length about whale sharks and we have long wished to swim with these big guys on the Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Western Australia.
What we didn’t realise is that the whale sharks can be found in tropical waters all around the planet but they are not permanently found in the same regions and we only get to see them when they spawn. No-one is sure where they go between times. What amazed us is that every whale shark has its own distinctive and unique spot pattern and the largest of them grow up to 11 metres in length. So why do we want to swim with them, eh?
Gear of the Year
We’re always interested in finding out about great bits of kit or useful gadgets – there is huge joy in a well-made/thought out thing – so the Wanderlust Gear of the Year Awards were a must. We loved the winner of the best accessory; the Goal Zero Venture 30 Recharger, a waterproof power pack that can be charged using a USB or with solar panels (bought separately). You can check out the full list of winners here.
Australia’s natural attractions
South Australia and Northern Territory had a stand this year and it was a huge joy to be able to watch a couple of short films that highlighted some of the glorious natural attractions in their respective states.
We have been fans of NT ever since we saw Crocodile Dundee. It certainly didn’t disappoint when we visited the Kakadu and Katherine a few years ago. When we arrived in Darwin our bus driver said “welcome to Paradise” and he wasn’t wrong. There is simply so much to see on a trip to Australia, it’s a tough call trying to narrow down your options; that’s why we have to keep heading back!
Staying alive with Paul Rose
Our final talk of the weekend was by Paul Rose, speaking about Staying Alive in the Pursuit of Science. He is a remarkable man who is a hugely experienced diver (he has worked extensively in the Antarctic), writer and broadcaster who has worked for National Geographic and is a former Vice President of the Royal Geographic Society. He’s also a funny and engaging raconteur – just hear him talk about his very close encounter with a polar bear.
Paul always knew that he wanted to be a diver after watching Sea Hunt on the television, and he left school at the earliest opportunity to follow his dream. You can find more about him here.
15% off Water to Go!
Between the show talks we took a look around the stands to check out the latest gadgets. We were really interested in Water-to-Go, a brilliant innovation that is capable of filtering water to eliminate 99.9% of all contaminants and originally developed for NASA and the space programme. We were pleased to link up with them; and if you want to learn more and get a 15% discount you’ll find them here.
Know Before You Go
We also dropped in on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office stand. GlobalGrapevine are one of around only 500 UK companies partnered with them in their Know Before You Go Campaign.
Know Before You Go 2016
Before we left we managed to grab a quick chat with Simon Roberts from AST about the amazing satellite technology that is available. It has never been easier to connect with the outside world from the most remote spots than it is today using solar panels, satellite phones, hubs and gadgets that turn your mobile into a satellite phone. They are also available to rent.
Ed Stafford used this equipment when walking the Amazon, as did one of our previous interviewees, Felicity Aston, on her trans-Antarctic expedition. Satellite technology was also essential for Russ Malkin when he worked with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on Long Way Down. We spoke to him about this last year and you can find the interview here.
Roll on 2017
Once again we left exhausted. And once again we left having intended to keep our visit Australia-related, only to find ourselves easily distracted. But that’s the thing about the ATS. Just like travel itself, it’s always best when you get off the beaten path.