Benedict Allen - explorer, author, filmmaker, public speaker
 Benedict Allen - explorer, author, filmmaker, public speaker. Forum
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Benedict Allen's Official Website

“Benedict is part of the history of television.”
Mark Thompson, Director General, BBC

download larger format - Benedict Allen portrait
Benedict Allen
© Steve Watkins
Into The Abyss : new book by Benedict Allen
Latest book . . .

Explorers on the Edge of Survival.
(see Books page)



Benedict Allen, author, explorer, TV filmmaker-presenter and international motivational speaker, is best known for his arduous expeditions to remote corners of the globe, journeys famously achieved not with a satellite phone, GPS or any of the usual “backup” but by undertaking a testing journey after a period of training alone with a remote indigenous community. These and other ventures are depicted in his ten books - including two best sellers - and six BBC television series.


benedict allen filming
Benedict Allen while filming
The Skeleton Coast series for BBC 2

© Adrian Arbib

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Already established as one of Britain's most prominent explorers, Benedict Allen went on to pioneer the filming of authentic journeys for television. By not using a film-crew, he has allowed millions of people around the world to witness for the first time adventures unfolding genuinely in inhospitable terrain. Few people alive have been so long isolated and alone in so many different potentially hostile environments.

In 2010 Benedict became a Trustee and member of council of the Royal Geographical Society.



– answering your questions.


‘Hello and welcome to my website. I hope you’ll find something of interest here – whether you’re a seasoned adventurer, an aspiring explorer, or simply an armchair traveller who shares my passion for finding out more about the least understood corners of this planet.

To introduce myself: sometimes I’m described as an “explorer” other times an “adventurer” or “writer,” or just as a “cat who’s used up six of his nine lives.” As I see it, though, I’m just the son of a test pilot who shares his dad’s desire to get out there on a challenging mission, then report back. But I believe that we all, in our own way, share this explorer instinct to investigate the unknown. It’s what makes us human.

So I also hope that this site in some way encourages you if you are facing challenges nearer at hand, whether at work, school or home. Nowadays we tend to think that our planet is fully explored, but of course we understand very little about the world even at our doorstep.’

"To me exploration isn't about conquering natural obstacles, planting flags... It's not about going where no one's gone before in order to leave your mark, but about the opposite of that - about making yourself vulnerable, opening yourself up to whatever's there and letting the place leave its mark on you."

Benedict Allen, quoted in Nature's Connections: an exploration of Natural History, The Natural History Museum, London, 2000

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download larger format of Benedict Allen / Radio Times CoverBenedict Allen’s approach is best exemplified by his decision aged 24 to undergo a harrowing “crocodile” male initiation ceremony in Papua New Guinea in order to understand something of the forest world of the Niowra. He and indigenous initiates were locked away, force-fed, extensively scarified over their chest and back and beaten everyday (often four times a day) in the traditional manner for six weeks.

His belief in not using the usual back-up systems might seem to make his expeditions precarious – but they also help him tune into the resources available locally in “hostile” or unfamiliar terrain. Likewise, his technique of not using a camera-crew to record his journeys has meant he’s achieved unrivalled authenticity; he’s probably the only adventurer that viewers ever see in such genuine isolation and jeopardy.

According to a Radio Times cover feature "television's most fearless man," Benedict Allen happily admits that actually he’s often afraid – indeed, fear is healthy, he says. He’s more proud of having immersed himself quietly and for many months at time among indigenous people to learn from them.

download larger format - Benedict Allen while undergoing the crocodile initiation ceremony
Benedict Allen while undergoing
the "crocodile" initiation ceremony
(New Guinea).
© Benedict Allen

Benedict Allen is best know for:

A 600 mile crossing of the remote NE Amazon by foot and dugout canoe aged 23 – during which he was forced to eat his dog to survive.

The first recorded crossing of the Central Mountain Range of PNG, then continuing by canoe to Australia - during which he and his Papuan companions were shipwrecked and survived by eating limpets.

Being the only Outsider to have gone through a ceremony to make him into a “man as strong as crocodile" – arguably the harshest male initiation ceremony in the world. (He was beaten four times a days for six weeks, and his back and chest permanently scarred with “crocodile” skin patterns).

The only known crossing of the Amazon Basin at its widest point – a 3,600 mile journey of seven and half months, after training from the Matses Indians. During this he was shot at by hit men from Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel, and later robbed by guides and left to die.

Making "first contact" with two threatened communities - the Yaifo and Obini - before gold miners and missionaries moved in.

Becoming the first TV adventurer - when he pioneered the use of a hand-held video camera on expeditions, this for the first time allowing viewers to witness genuine adventures unfolding as they really happened. His approach has since been widely imitated, adapted and adopted, although almost always accompanied by camera crews or health-and-safety restrictions.

Being the first known to walk the 1000 mile Namib Desert (“Skeleton Coast”) of Namibia – something he did with three reluctant camels.

A 1000 mile lone crossing of the Gobi Desert, a six weeks trek that was probably the longest ever solo traverse on foot.

Writing and presenting the first major TV series on indigenous healers around the world - the BBC series Last of the Medicine Men.

A thousand mile trek with dogs through Siberia (Russian Far East) in the “worst winter in living memory” as preparation for an attempt to cross the Bering Strait alone with his dogteam. He got half way, before retreating after having lost his sledge and dogs in a blizzard team and almost died.

Sewing his chest wound up with his boot mending kit, and without anesthetic - after having been abandoned by guides in the Sumatran forests

Lasting more than 3 minutes in a tent of CS (“Tear”) gas – three times longer than the toughest of the “Unbreakables” - while presenting the Channel Five TV series

Benedict Allen during a Vodou purification ceremony in Haiti
Benedict Allen during a Vodou
purification ceremony (Haiti).

© Steve Watkins

“Allen is the best guide to the world’s wilder and weirder cultures.”  
Radio Times, August 2005

“In an age of false television and celebrity culture, it’s a relief to encounter the real thing.”
Time Out Magazine

radio times magazine - - - - sunday times magazine - - - - telegraph magazine - - - - mail magazine

Benedict Allen is proud to be associated with Save the Rhino Trust, of which he is a Patron - the organisation took on his three camels (including the redoubtable Nelson) after his Namibian trek for their anti-poaching work.

Save The Rhino

He's also a patron of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) EJF

Benedict has also supported over the years Friends of Conservation, The Orang-Utan Foundation and Survival International.

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  © Benedict Allen 2009
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