111. Ella Al- Shamahi; Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, Charismatic Tanzanian Animals and Yemenis in Birmingham - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 111
December 10 , 2020

111. Ella Al- Shamahi; Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, Charismatic Tanzanian Animals and Yemenis in Birmingham

Ella Al Shamahi is an archaeologist, explorer and stand-up comic who’s been described as the ‘real-life Lara Croft’ as she travels the world exploring some of the world’s most dangerous and remote regions. Ella talks about her Channel 4 show exploring lost kingdoms of the Amazon, growing up in a conservative Yemeni community in Birmingham, getting herself into scrapes with terrorists, stolen DNA, Australian aborigines, remote tribes driving big expensive cars and being an archaeologist and stand-up comic.

On this episode we cover:


Her conservative upbringing as a Yemeni in Birmingham

The support of the community

Yemen’s stunning and exceptional landscape

‘The Manhattan of the desert’ in Yemen

Yet the devastating war

Kidnapping risks and landmines

Wondering if she should cover up more

The real life Lara Croft

What to wear for exploring the jungle

Her arms getting ‘eaten alive’

Lisa getting caught out in the Maldives

Being a kidnapping risk

The most dangerous situations she has been in

Feeling quite lucky that the most dangerous stuff hasn’t happened

Danger being a concept until it actually happens

A bunch of guys around you with guns

Identifying which tribes will be hostile

And what terrorist groups operate there

Assessing the team based on the above

Her father currently being in exile

Female archaeologists or adventurers being celebrated

Her new Channel 4 show – Jungle Mystery; Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon

Going on a crazy archaeological adventure to Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia

The early explorers of the Amazon referencing massive urban environments

Meeting incredible indigenous groups fighting for their survival

Stolen DNA and its connection to Australian aborigines

The traditional indigenous villagers with huge cars and no loin cloths

Being meticulous about portraying people accurately

Her BBC1 show with Chris Packham

Waterhole Animals with charisma and The Elephant Dictionary

Losing the plot during lockdown

All her work being cancelled

Being in a long-term war with the local squirrel

Decamping to the Swiss Alps

Travel during Covid

Switzerland and their guns

Trying to avoid being shot in hunting season

Becoming a stand-up comedian

Needing to laugh after visiting places that ‘are a bit dark’

Dying and thriving on stage at Edinburgh

The mental health aspect of lockdown

How not going anywhere can change your perspective on the every day things

Lisa getting overly excited on the day lockdown was released

How the narrowing of the horizons can make you appreciate things even more

Scotch eggs and a substantial meal

Listening to Lizzo and realising the damage on her private life 

How it’s the worst time to be single

Levison Wood and being single