Not long ago, WildLives.co published an article about Over the Horizon, a new travel show that we think every travel and adventure-lover should be watching. When this article generated a positive response from readers, we decided it was time to get in touch with the star of the series, adventurer extraordinaire Ellis Emmett.
To our tremendous pleasure, Ellis was willing to take some time out of his busy schedule for a quick Q&A with WildLives. Keep scrolling for the full Q&A, during which Ellis shares some of his wildest stories, some information about Over the Horizon, and some great advice for young travellers.
WildLives: When was it that you first realized you were destined for a life of adventure? When did the urge to travel and see the world really get into your bones?
Ellis Emmett: Ever since I was a kid I loved exploring and learning. Nothing unusual in that, but what changed things for me was the realization that the bigger the challenge you face, the stronger you become to take on the next. Simultaneously [I realized] that fear does not have to be a personal barrier, rather a mere stepping-stone to overcome. From this came the understanding that most of the richest experiences in life are on the other side of that invisible line of fear that we all have. All you need is the courage to take that first step. These simple realizations set things in motion for a lifetime of travel, adventure and discovery.
WL: Once you had realized you were an adventurer, what was the first big adventure you set out on?
EE: I don’t think of myself as an adventurer. I look up to people who walk unassisted to the South Pole, climb K2, or big wall climb, as adventurers. I just do what I do because I’m passionate about it. It’s just who I am. I’m nobody special, I’m really a pretty ordinary guy, I’ve just developed a few tools to help me overcome certain things like facing my fears, enduring when all I want to do is give in, and the determination to never give up on my goals and dreams.
One adventure that comes to mind was travelling through South East Asia when I was in my 20’s. I travelled solo and off the beaten path as much as I could, riding a scooter most of the way. I was arrested 7 times (3 times at gunpoint) for camping or sleeping in unusual places, from ancient temples in Cambodia to remote jungle villages in Vietnam. Once I was taken to jail and interrogated for a day in Vietnam, they thought I was a military spy!
WL: I know this an almost impossible question to answer, but what would you say is the coolest thing you’ve seen in your travels? Feel free to pick a few things.
EE: Honestly, there are too many things to choose from, so I will have to pick a few. Diving with great white sharks in South Africa, swimming with Humpback whales and their calves in the South Pacific, great feats of human engineering and ingenuity like the temples of Angkor Wat and the Pyramids of Giza, being in the open ocean with no land for hundreds of miles in any direction, diving the wreck of the Umbria in Sudan or the SS President Coolidge of Vanuatu, being greeted like you are the only European to visit a remote village, or sitting on top of a mountain in New Zealand. Our planet is so rich and diverse it is impossible to pick just one favourite.
WL: So, how did you come up with Over the Horizon?
EE: Ever since I was about 10 years old I had this dream to go out and discover the world by sail. For me it was all about freedom, to sail the open ocean using nothing but the power of nature and have the freedom to visit and explore remote destinations. As we neared the end of filming [our previous project] Descending, [cinematographer] Andre Dupuis and I started talking about what to film next and I shared my dream of sailing with him, and that I thought it would make a great TV series. The idea grew from there.
WL: What’s been your favorite thing about being a part of the show?
EE: Seeing a lifelong dream slowly come to reality. From conception, it has taken over 5 years and countless huge obstacles to overcome and challenges to solve. Along with this, seeing our small team come together and take this idea on as their own dream to make this series a reality.
WL: Fantastic. And why do you think people should tune into the show?
EE: Hopefully to be captivated, educated and inspired.
WL: We’re confident everyone who watches the show will feel these things. So how do people find the show?
EE: In the US, viewers can watch Over The Horizon on Outside TV Features; a free app is available to download. Internationally the series airs as My Pacific Quest on National Geographic channels. Check out local listings.
WL: So, Ellis, do you ever get tired of the adventurous life you lead? Do you ever expect to slow down, or is the way you plan to live forever?
EE: I never tire of travel and adventure; this is food for my soul, and I have a real passion for inspiring others to live their own dreams. But for every day I spend doing something adventurous there are several days spent in the office dealing with organising funding or logistics. I love being back home between my travels too. My wife and I have built our own house (The Tree House) on our small farm in North Canterbury, New Zealand, so there are always new projects on the go and lots to do. This is a good balance in contrast to the time away and allows time for reflection and consolidation, which is important after any period of expansion.
WL: How do you think you’ve benefited from all the travelling you’ve done over the years?
EE: I have benefited in so many ways it’s hard to describe, some deep and personal while other ways are more external. But if I had to sum it up, I can do that in one word: appreciation! I have so much gratitude for every experience that I have had, even the bad ones. These experiences have shaped who I am and what I stand for. They have given me the strength to face and overcome many personal challenges. They have taught me to be humble and grateful and to always appreciate what I have, rather than what I don’t have.
WL: Amazing. Ok, a couple more questions. Why do you think it’s important for young people to get out and see the world?
EE: For three main reasons, firstly to understand how lucky we are. If you have the ability to travel you are one of the lucky ones, not everyone is that fortunate. Secondly, for self-education, to learn about yourself, find out who you really are and what you are passionate about. When you broaden your horizons you can better decide how you want to live your life. Lastly, we are currently facing massive global challenges and there will be many more in our lifetime. To see and experience the world first-hand increases our emotional attachment to these places, creatures and cultures. The more emotional attachment we have the harder we will work to protect them. It will only be a collective effort that makes a real and lasting difference.
WL: And what advice would you give to young travellers – many of whom have been inspired by your exploits? Any bits of wisdom you can impart to travellers and adventurers who are just starting out? Things they should keep in mind?
EE: Travel is the best school you can ever go to. So many real world lessons can be learned, so much from other cultures and history. But it’s not like reading it in a book, it’s hands-on, it’s dusty, gritty and sometimes scary, and it’s invigorating. But equally, as much as the external learning that goes on, you learn about yourself. You have to face hardship and fear and venture forth into the unknown. All of these things build character and resilience that you can call on for the rest of your life. Adventure is the same, just on steroids. And when you combine the two … well it just doesn’t get better than that.
With that, we’d like to thank Ellis Emmett for his time, and wish him safe travels on his next grand adventure. Give Ellis a like on Facebook, and a follow on Twitter, and don’t forget to tune into Over the Horizon!
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This article debuted on WildLives.co on 8/22/2017.