Travel Talks: Charley Boorman on exploring the world atop a motorcycle
by by Elizabeth Finney
After circumnavigating the globe both longitudinally and latitudinally on a motorbike with friend Ewan McGregor, adventurer, actor and author Charley Boorman continued to explore the world. From hitchhiking around the world for two series of By Any Means and navigating Alaska in BBC series Most Dangerous Roads, to racing across Canada in Channel 5's Extreme Frontiers and exploring the States in Charley Boorman's USA Adventure, he has certainly done his fair share of travelling.
Here, he shares his experiences in some of the most challenging and extraordinary spots on Earth.
Do you have a favourite coastal town?
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful and dramatic coastal towns and if you’re into food and motorcycle riding it is the perfect place. There is incredible wine in nearby Stellenbosch and Franschoek, delicious food and it feels quite European in some ways. It’s a really cool place to spend Christmas and New Year too, there’s always lots going on.
What is your favourite memory from filming in Alaska?
Heading up the Dalton Highway to Dead Horse was amazing. I remember we finally got to Dead Horse, after driving along an ice road in a big pick-up truck and almost being crushed by a massive ice road trucker during a blizzard! It was so cold up there you had to plug your car into a heater in order for it not to freeze.
Alaska [– one of the best adventurous destinations to visit by superyacht – ] has a lot going for it. There’s Mount McKinley and a beautiful glacier that you can get to on a small plane. If you like the wilderness, it’s a stunning place to go in summer or winter.
What did you love most about Newfoundland and Labrador during Extreme Frontiers?
It’s one of the most beautiful places, bizarrely that little bit of coast used to be owned by Britain until just after World War II and was then given back to Canadians. We went lobster potting with a family who had been doing it for three generations and lifted 240 cages in one morning. We got 300 lobster, which was amazing. They were really fun, nice people and we had such a good laugh.
It's one of the most amazing parts of the world to ride in. It's got every kind of terrain you can imagine and the people are very biker-friendly, very keen to know where you’ve come from. At times it can be challenging, so make sure you take a really good waterproof! Always be prepared, have lots of layers — it’s a bit like Europe, the weather is changeable so it’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything.
Where along America’s eastern coast that everyone should visit at least once?
Riding into New York over the bridge into Manhattan and Downtown is really cool, you can see the Statue of Liberty as you’re riding. You can then go to New England and Martha’s Vineyard where they filmed Jaws – it’s a beautiful area and has quite a lot of history. Then you’re not too far from North Carolina and South Carolina and Georgia so why not head down there for a great barbecue?
Where in the world, in your opinion, are the best roads for motorcycle adventures?
I think one of the best tar roads in the world is on the Island of Tasmania just off the coast of Australia [the perfect place for once-in-a-lifetime-adventures]. Hobart is the capital and almost directly west on the coast is a place called Strahan. It’s got an awesome country road that goes up through the mountain and trees for about 150 miles — there's not a single straight section of road, it’s just amazing.
For off-roading the most intense experience I've had was probably the Road of Bones (Kolyma Highway in Russia). Go for its river crossings and for being in the middle of nowhere, which is so cool.
What is special about Indonesia and Papua New Guinea?
That whole area around Indonesia, Bali and Papua New Guinea is so beautiful and incredible fun. Papua New Guinea is quite a wild place and not for the faint-hearted, but it has some stunning deserted islands – it’s a place that hasn’t been ruined by tourism but you do have to have your wits about you!
Name one place that still remains on your bucket list.
I’m really fortunate to have travelled to a lot of places but one place I’m fascinated by is the Darién Gap in Central America and the whole area between Panama and Colombia. I was so close to going and having an adventure there but then sadly had my motorbike accident and had to cancel. I still haven’t been but I was so close… and it’s made me want to go even more!