Cycling To The Ends Of Europe, Africa & Asia

Charlie Walker Podcast


In the second episode of The Adventure Diaries, Season 2, Chris Watson hosts Charlie Walker, a British explorer, writer, and speaker who has traversed continents on bike, foot, and canoe.

Charlie’s tales are not only captivating but also a testament to the spirit of adventure , but human powered adventures and resilience.

The episode kicks off with Chris Watson sharing an anecdote from Charlie’s travels —camping on the riverbank in the Congo, a hippo wandering between the tents.

This sets the stage for Charlie’s remarkable stories, filled with adventure, risk, and cultural immersion. Charlie, who is a member of the Royal Geographic Society, has cycled over 43,000 miles across 60 countries, braved Siberian blizzards, and paddled through the heart of the Congo.

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Charlie Walker – Background & Upbringing

Chris discusses Charlie Walker’s unconventional background compared to other adventurers.

“I had an outdoors upbringing, but not an outdoorsy upbringing.”

Charlie Walker,

Growing up in a village in southwest England, his childhood was filled with simple rural activities rather than structured outdoor adventures. It wasn’t until his late teens, inspired by adventure books and a desire to break free from the mundane, that Charlie embarked on his first real adventure.

From Humble Beginnings to Epic Journeys in “Through Sand and Snow”

Charlie’s book, Through Sand and Snow, chronicles his epic four-year bicycle tour across 60 countries. What stands out is his lack of preparation—no plan, no budget, no maps.

“I was young, full of hubris, and a little bit of ego,” Charlie admits.

Charlie Walker

This spontaneous approach led him to some of the most remote and challenging environments on earth.

Tales of Survival and Humanity in Tibet

One of the most harrowing stories Charlie shares is his time in Tibet. Caught in a blizzard with temperatures plummeting to minus 30 degrees, Charlie describes stumbling through the snow, convinced he was going to die.

Miraculously, he stumbled upon a Tibetan family’s hut, who took him in and saved his life.

“People are a lot more friendly and helpful than we often perhaps cynically allow ourselves to believe,”

Charlie Walker

Charlie reflects, highlighting the global default of human kindness.

Cultural Encounters and Perspective Shifts in Iran

Charlie’s travels are not just about physical endurance but also about cultural encounters and perspective shifts. In Iran, he experienced immense hospitality despite the country’s political turmoil.

Iran remains the friendliest place I’ve ever been,”

Charlie Walker

he asserts, challenging the often negative perceptions shaped by geopolitical narratives.

Wildlife Encounters and the Thrill of Danger

From Tibetan Mastiffs to hippos in the Congo, Charlie’s adventures are also rich with wildlife encounters. One particularly amusing incident involved a fox attempting to steal his pannier in Egypt, containing all his vital belongings. The stare-down between Charlie and the fox is a testament to the unpredictable nature of travel.

Reflections and Future Adventures in West Africa

Reflecting on his adventures, Charlie finds joy in the solitude and peace of remote, open spaces. He advises listeners to read travel books and talk to strangers, fostering a deeper understanding of the world and its people. Looking ahead, Charlie hints at an upcoming bicycle journey in West Africa, continuing his tradition of human-powered exploration.

Episode Takeaways

  • Charlie Walker has cycled over 43,000 miles across 60 countries.
  • He faced extreme challenges, such as braving Siberian blizzards and sneaking into Tibet.
  • His adventures emphasize the kindness of strangers and the beauty of human connection.
  • Charlie’s experiences reveal the contrast between geopolitical perceptions and on-the-ground realities.
  • Wildlife encounters, like hippos and Tibetan Mastiffs, added unpredictability to his journeys.

Call To Adventure

  • Call To Adventure From Charlie Walker:
  • Read travel books.
  • Talk to strangers, even if it starts with the weather.
  • “One of the things that I’ve most relished and probably have taken away from the trips I’ve been on is the habit of being that person on the train, for instance, who just starts talking to the person next to them.
  • And maybe three times in four, you’ll piss people off. You’ll speak for two minutes, not piss people off, mildly irritate people. You’ll speak for two minutes and that’s that. But the other one time in four will easily make those three slight awkwardness worthwhile because you’ll, you’ll get chatting, you’ll meet people, you get to know people and they won’t necessarily be from the same town at the end of the line that you’re going to. they may well be from, you know, the far side of the country or the far side of the world or the far side of the town that you’re going to that you never would have encountered anyway”

Pay It Forward

  • How To Pay It Forward – From Charlie Walker
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders):
  • “MSF are always there, absolutely on the front line, risking their lives to save people, regardless of who those people are, what side those people might be on. And so I’ve never really come across a better, more universal cause.”


To stay updated on Charlie Walker’s adventures, visit his website and follow him on Instagram and Twitter/X at @cwexplore.

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