Explorer Mikael Strandberg

I think it will be very hard for any future projects to compete with your Kolyma expedition

“I think it will be hard for any future projects to compete with your Kolyma Expedition”

This is what the legendary Shane Winser told me in an email I wrote her regarding assistance to find people with knowledge of camel travel.

The planning for the next major expedition has begun. Shane knows. She has had to do with more Expeditions than probably any other human being on earth. I agree, of course. When I reached Ambarchik Bay in April 2005, I felt like I had done the Expedition of a life time. It turned out bigger than I ever could have dreamt about once upon a time as a kid. In this email to my friend Shane, I also asked her to evaluate my new Expedition, by camel through Arabia. Meaning the Arabian Peninsula. Her answer was:

“I think it will be hard for any future projects to compete with your Kolyma Expedition”.

At the same time I received an email from one of my best friends, Ollie Steeds, one of the globes most adventurous blokes, and among a lot of positive wordings, he wrote a warning:

“Your plan sounds epic but I can see huge problems being allowed to travel through Saudi and Yemen is still incredibly unstable and potentially dangerous – even if you are travelling as and with the Bedu.”

Now, this is where you mentally start to prepare for all the obstacles waiting, because it is always the same story, every unique Expedition is full of obstacles mainly in the shape of bureaucracy, and of course, some physical hardships. But I know, from 25 years experience, especially in the situation I am facing and going through today, I have only one chance to turn things around, especially for myself, I just need to make an Expedition on the same scale as the Kolyma Expedition. Even though the Arabian Peninsula offers a very challenging and very difficult environment, it will not be on the same scale as the Kolyma. So, what then does a real explorer do? First of all, he asks himself, what is it that I want to do, more important than anything else?

 Well, what I want to do, the foundation of the Expedition, the main reason, is to build a bridge between the Moslem East and the Western World. It is probably the most important mission I have ever had. I want the Arabs to tell their own story. Just as the Russians, Even, Evenk and Chukchi during the Kolyma Expedition. I want to put a face on the Arabs for the west, so that we can kill all this animosity which occurs at the moment. I want to make a film, a book, lectures and an Expedition to show the rest, very ignorant at times, of the world, this great part with some of the most fantastic people on the globe – Arabs and Arabia.

Secondly, you bring out the maps. Today on the Internet. Now, when you look up Arabia on the net and on the same time, check a map of the worlds deserts, we do get a different picture. And a different expedition. Woow! Now, when I as a professional explorer look at this new Expedition and evaluate it, the Kolyma Expedition looks like a warm up.

By the way, looking at the same map, I realise that I have actually passed through some of them on the ole push bike. The Thar Desert, Iranian Desert, The Sahara, The Atacama Desert, The Mojave and Sonoran Desert and also, on horse back, the Patagonian Desert. The photo is from the Sahara desert, which I crossed on a push bike in the 1989-90, the Tamanrasset Route. I did the most difficult part, the stretch between Tamanrasset in Algeria to Agadez in Niger together with two excellent chaps, Charlie, on te picture, and Mick James. I´ve lost touch with Charlie a long time ago, but I communicate with Mick on and off, who lives in Scotland. Now, what o you think about all that?

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