World record-holding adventurer Matt Prior has driven a taxi to Everest base camp and crossed Siberia on a WW2 motorbike. His latest challenge is a first-of-its-kind academy designed to inspire ordinary people with the spirit of exploration, challenge and self-discovery
I definitely wasn’t born a natural adventurer. But I’ve always been curious: wondering what else is on this planet, how different people live, what opportunities and challenges are out there. I wanted to see these things with my own eyes.
As a result I’ve ended up dedicating a large proportion of my life to adventure. I have driven a London Taxi to Everest base camp and hold the world record for the highest altitude a taxi has ever been – 17,143ft. I have driven a rickshaw from the southern tip of India to the Himalayas and taken several off-road motorbike trips around Asia and South America. As I write this, I have just returned from a pioneering trip to circumnavigate Lake Baikal in Siberia – which was just over 1000 miles and two weeks on the ice, in winter, using only an old WW2 Russian motorbike and sidecar – another world first.
There is no feeling comparable in this world to the experience of true adventure. My expeditions have given me perspective on life and helped me appreciate what’s really important. It taught me who I am, what I’m capable of and showed me how others live around the world. By condensing adversity and unknowns into a small space of time you can learn important lessons about yourself that otherwise may take a lifetime to master. Now I am no longer fearful.
“There is no feeling comparable in this world to the experience of true adventure.”
I think not, ‘why’, but ‘why not?’. I see the world as a place of opportunity and potential, confident that I can overcome any obstacles in my way.
Unfortunately, though, as the modern world engulfs yet more of our planet, life is becoming sanitised, safe and to be honest, boring. This is not the environment you need to flourish, learn, push boundaries and feel alive. In fact it is having the opposite effect. Life is becoming too easy. Look at nature: it never stops – everything is constantly striving to grow. Humans are going in reverse, becoming too comfortable and slowly stagnating in the process.
Adventures are a great way to break free. I understand the pressures of normal life. I need to pay bills and put a roof over my head too. But I try and go back to real living, real experiences as much as possible. I want to feel alive rather than just exist. The hardest part is taking the plunge, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and embracing the unknown.
I realised that what is needed is a way of helping people take that first step. It’s for this reason I’ve just launched a unique, one-of-a-kind workshop called the Matt Prior Adventure Academy. I want to give people the courage, inspiration and practical information they need to embark upon their own adventures – big or small.
We all have the same excuses running in our head: ‘I wouldn’t know where to start’, ‘It’s too dangerous’, ‘I can’t afford it’, ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘I don’t have the confidence’. Through the Academy I hope to provide a safe but challenging space for people to face those fears and change their life for the better.
The weeklong workshop is a no-frills, practical course designed to give you the tools and confidence to tackle your own expeditions whatever and wherever they may be. And reap the personal development benefits that come from that: self-confidence, self-esteem, stress-management and more. I will teach you how to adapt, plan, problem-solve, research and overcome adversity. I will share everything I have learned over the past fifteen years on all manner of expeditions and adventures, including how to get sponsorship to help fund your trip.
The workshops are held in Indonesia, which is one of my favourite parts of the world. We will explore several different islands together, hike up active volcanoes, discover hidden villages, soak in hot springs, ride small motorbikes and much more. In the evenings we’ll cover all the topics required to get the ball rolling on your own adventure and answer any other questions you might have. The course is designed to be pragmatic – you’ll be learning while actually on the adventure, which is what sets this Academy apart. You’ll get to see things first hand, practice what you’ve been taught and experience the highs and lows of a professional expedition in just under a week. There are only three people per course to ensure the proper amount of one-to-one time.
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I will also be donating a percentage of my profits to the NSPCC, which was a very important charity to a close friend of mine who recently passed away. He was the inspiration for setting this Academy up and the real driving force behind why I am doing this. He had no regrets and I don’t want to either.
If you are itching to see the world on your own terms. If you want to unplug and get off the grid for a while but don’t know where to start – this course is for you. We are all working harder for less. There is no time anymore to simply be in the moment. But beyond the veil of modern life, the world is filled with potential and opportunities for growth and excitement. Adventure can open a door to the world, and a door inside you. I wasn’t born a natural adventurer. But if you’re curious about the planet, then perhaps you could become an adventurer too. What have you got to lose?
Positive Travel is edited by Aaron Millar. He writes about adventure travel, and personal development through exploring the world, at The Blue Dot Perspective.