63. Adventure Traveller Sam McManus; Ditching Corporate Life, Kalashnikovs in Remote Africa, Training in a Shaolin Monastery and the Amazon Jungle with Cigarettes and a Machete - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 63
April 10 , 2019

63. Adventure Traveller Sam McManus; Ditching Corporate Life, Kalashnikovs in Remote Africa, Training in a Shaolin Monastery and the Amazon Jungle with Cigarettes and a Machete

Having done what many people dream of – ditching a corporate career to travel, the proud founder of adventure travel company Yellowwood Adventures, Sam McManus, has created the life of his dreams travelling to remote parts of Ethiopia, Iran, India, the Himalayas, Mongolia and more. He’s been woken up by 30 men with Kalashnikovs in remote African mountains, shaved his head and worn orange pyjamas in a Shaolin Monastery and set off into the Amazon jungle with not much more than cigarettes and a machete.


On this episode we cover: 

Yellowwood Adventures, taking people on the world less travelled

Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Iran, Ladakh in Northern Indian, the Lebanon mountain trail

Working in financial media and corporate events 

Reaching 30 and ditching his city job

Backpacking in Ethiopia for three months

Tom Hall from Lonely Planet

Ethiopia being one of the ‘worst global PR disasters in History’

How the famine was a political famine

Lush banquets in Addis Ababa whilst people starved

The lush jungle where coffee originated from

Rolling golden fields of teff

Eating with pancakes instead of cutlery

95% of the population being farmers

Being one of the most beautiful countries in the world

Finding peace with Eritrea

100 million people and 82 languages

Deciding to start a travel company in a country he’d never been to

Staying in a stone house with villagers in Hashenge is a lake in the Tigray Region

Waking up surrounded by men with Kalashnikov AK47s guns

Being the first foreigner in the village in a year

Whether as a white male he has extra privileges when travelling

The remote Bale Mountains – the highest mountains in all of Africa

His British Indian friend’s reception in the remote hills

Working in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Iran

Living in Dubai

Spending time in Tehran

Ski chalets in the Iranian Alborz mountains

Getting to know the tantalising Persian culture

How Iran feels like a very foreign place

Persepolis, the ancient seat of the Persian Empire

How Persepolis beats the Acropolis hands down

Alexander the Great

The incredible detail of the carvings that haven’t been destroyed

How to get a Visa for Iran

Americans and their reception in Iran

The unexpected great skiing in Iran

1970s-esque ski resorts that parallel anything in the Alps

The stunning view of Mount Damavand – the perfect volcano

How Mongolia is one of the last great frontiers of the world

Million of 3 or 4 million people in a country the size of a good chuck of Western Europe

How communism was hard to stick in such a country

Staying in felt ‘gers’ with the Nomadic tribes

The harsh and unforgiving terrain’s effect on Nomadic life

Nomadic life being around preserving their animals

The stress of modern life melting away

Huge vistas of step and sky

The rewarding feeling of going back to basics

The strong sense of community and family of Nomadic life

The unbelievable snug and warm felt gers

Adjusting to normal life after an adventure

Travelling to China and the Himalayas in Nepal age 18

Finding it hard to adjust to an English supermarket after being in Himalayas

Lisa having travelled a lot but never been anywhere remote

Sam actively seeking out the most remote

Camping in Kyrgyzstan in the Tian Shan mountains

Seeing the huge starry skies and the Milky Way with no light pollution

Reading about the great explorers

Wilfred Thesiger crossing the desert in Saudi Arabia with the Bedouin

How the great adventures of past explorers but things into perspective

Megan Hoskin rowing across the Pacific

Ancient travellers and DNA showing migration patterns of the Vikings and more

How travel can reduce racism and change your perception

Reading about how the races have evolved

Lucy one of the earliest humans in the museum in Addis Ababa

Judging people on who they are not where they’re from

The times he has felt in danger when away

Having quite a good instinct for removing himself from travel

Learning to horse ride in the desert Middle East

Camping in the Tian Shan mountains with horses over no roads

Ignoring the warning bells at his own peril

Being attacked by a ferocious dog the size of a bear

The most exhilarating moment of his travels

How first trips make the biggest impressions

Trekking to Everest base camp age 18

The unbelievable colours and scenery in the Himalayas

The most powerful imagery ever scene

The bright purple sky and gold light of Everest at sunset

Studying Kung Fu and Kick Boxing

Joining a Kung Fu Shaolin Monastery in Northern China age 18

Shaving his head and wearing orange pyjamas

Running up stairs and around the lake

Having to fight every Friday

The strange dream that came true

Taking a beating by a big Dutchman who roundhouse kicked him in the face

The headaches that were cured by a traditional Chinese medicine man

Lisa’s world-changing mystical vision at the Kaiser Chief’s in the O2

How travel is about chasing this vision of life

Being younger and idealistic

Living in South and Central America

Being adamant that the old ways of the world were the best

Finding tribes in the Amazon jungle

Going into the jungle with nothing but salt, sugar, cigarettes and a machete

Living off fish from the rivers

The tribesperson struggling to keep his kids alive

Being realistic about what they you’re confronted with

Liking to experience the music of the country (this can go wrong!)

Some terrible music in the Iranian holy city of Yas

The magical musical moment in Iran

The how Ennio Morricone helps ease the hardships of travel