Walk This Way
This generation’s answer to TE Lawrence, Levison Wood has undertaken epic walking expeditions in Africa, Asia and Central America.
A writer, photographer and explorer, Wood’s nine-month, 6,830km expedition along the length of the River Nile was featured on British television and documented in his bestselling book, Walking the Nile. An elected fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, Wood’s latest book, Eastern Horizons is available through Amazon.
A huge amount of it is timing and I’ve been caught out in the past: perfect light, the ideal composition and then ending up fumbling around with low batteries or the wrong lenses. You’ve always got to have your camera ready – which for an iPhone is pretty easy, but it’s harder with my Leica SL, so I make sure it’s on my hip as much as possible when I’m on expedition. But I’ve also been really lucky. One of my favourite photos that I’ve taken while travelling is of a Mundari cattle camp in south Sudan. The sun broke through the dense cloud cover at just the right time and sent heavenly shafts of light down onto the little settlement.
I’m an avid collector of first-edition books. I have beautiful first-edition signed copies by Rudyard Kipling as well as an early edition of Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I’ve also collected antiques from around the world, including a Bedouin broadsword from the Battle of Omdurman, a Megalodon tooth from the Darien Gap and a silver dagger from the wilds of Dagestan.
I need a watch that’s going to withstand the rigours of different environments. IWC Schaffhausen’s Big Pilot has survived some of the harshest terrain on earth, including the humidity of the Darien Gap’s jungle in Central America, the freezing slopes of the Himalayas and the searing 55-degree heat of the Empty Quarter desert.
I’m a fan of single malt whiskies as well as a gin and tonic. Ophir Oriental Spiced Gin is a current favourite.
If money was no object, I’d go for an Aston Martin DB5, although I’m thinking about doing some motorcycling and would love to own a Triumph.
As a former soldier in the Parachute regiment, I’m a keen advocate of veteran welfare. The Endeavour Fund does great work in supporting veterans in overcoming injury through outdoor activities, adventure and expeditions.
Circumnavigating the Arabian peninsula was challenging in a new way. Rather than the physical endurance of walking, the challenges were political: crossing borders, gaining visas and permits, navigating complex bureaucracy, and getting safely through war zones. I met the people who live in these places and our aim is to tell their stories, which are often so different to the media narrative shown across the world.
At the end of a long expedition, if I get the chance, I like to put my feet up and enjoy a jacuzzi at a nice five-star resort. On our recent Arabian adventure, our travelling team occasionally broke up the nights in the wilderness with stays at Rotana’s hotels. They provided the perfect oases to unwind and plan the next leg.