On the homepage of UK-based “travel” organizers The Adventurists, a deadpan warning clearly states: “Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high.” Still interested? The warning continues: “Individuals who have taken part in the past have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled or lost their life.” If this sounds like your idea of a good time, you’re in good company. Founder Tom Morgan along with managing director Dan Wedgwood have joined thousands of participants from around the globe on loosely planned adventures that sound more like the plot of a half-based buddy comedy than a month’s holiday. From traversing India in a rickshaw to crossing Mongolia, The Adventurists pride themselves on creativity when it comes to each event and ditching technology (save for a decent camera to capture the action) is all part of the fun.
“I was pretty lucky as kid as I traveled a fair bit,” Morgan tells CH. “I always found that the moments when everything seemed to be going wrong were the ones I looked back on most fondly, so I tended to gravitate towards more and more ridiculous ways of getting stuck and lost.” Visiting some of the planets more remote locales inspired Morgan to give back. Fundraising is a major component of participating in an event (in fact, it’s mandatory for most). Initially the organization raised money for charities supporting areas in and around the events, now Morgan has taken a more macro-level approach. “For the last two years, we have also been supporting an awesome project called Cool Earth,” Morgan explains, “They currently protect more rainforest than any other charity or even country on the planet. Basically I really like jungles and the world would be shit without them.” Over the years, The Adventurists has raised over $10 million for organizations around the world and shows no sign of slowing down.
Explorers and adventurers have always been driven by different motives, but Morgan appears to be inspired simply by the essence of experience—and sharing it. After a semester abroad in the Czech Republic in 2001, and a bit of time on his hands, Morgan embarked on an impulsive, poorly planned journey that led to the formation of The Adventurists. “A friend and I bought a shit Fiat 126 from a conman in the north of Prague and tried to drive to the most stupid place we could think of,” Morgan tells CH. “It happened to be Mongolia. We failed miserably when the Iranians refused to give us a visa—possibly because we stank—but vowed to try again. I set up a website and invited the whole world to join me on what had become the Mongol Rally.” While it took a few years to catch on (and a few years for more than a handful of cars to cross the finish line), the event is one of the most well-known of its kind.
Expanding from Mongol Rally, Morgan is constantly formulating new events to push the boundaries of The Adventurists. While the Mongolian steppe might have seemed uncomfortable, the Ice Run saw participants crossing Russia’s Lake Baikal (the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world) then continuing on through Siberia—all in the dead of winter. An upcoming event, Adventure 9, might be the most daring yet as teams from around the world take to the Indian Ocean for a 500 kilometer stretch of sailing off the coast of East Africa.
Still, Morgan’s take on travel isn’t necessarily a holier-than-thou perspective on luxury getaways. Like many things in life, the most enriching, memorable bits are unplanned. “Travel is travel. You go places and you see stuff, so I think you can have as genuine an experience of local culture in a five-star resort as you can in a hostel,” Morgan says. “Mostly people just want bragging rights, because either way our experiences are probably not contributing to the sum of human knowledge through an anthropological study. What flicks my switches is the amount of trouble you get into. On a luxury holiday you won’t get lost or not know if you will have all your limbs in the morning. So I suppose the merits are that there is no guarantee of safety or outcome.”
While you can’t foresee what each journey holds, you can be sure you’ll come out with memories and friends that’ll last a lifetime. That is, if you make it home. Check out the full line-up of The Adventurists events online and keep an eye out for new adventures.
Images courtesy of The Adventurists