If you’ve somehow landed in this page without seeing my homepage then hello! And to briefly fill you in on what you missed there, I’m Antonia, a British travel writer with a fondness for solo travel in remote, little explored regions.
This current, prolonged attack of itchy feet dates back to a telephone call from my best friend Jo on a dark December night in 2005. ‘Do you want to drive a tuk tuk home from Bangkok with me?’ she said, without a hint of irony in her voice. Six months later I’d ditched my job on ITV’s South Bank Show and the two of us were thundering across China’s Gobi desert in Ting Tong, our pink tuk tuk, heading in the general direction of England. 12,561 miles later we’d raised £50,000 for Mind, set the Guinness World Record for the longest ever journey by auto-rickshaw, written Tuk Tuk to the Road and won Cosmopolitan magazine’s Fun Fearless Female Award. It was a far cry from passing Melvyn his comb for pre-shot coiffures.
Now hooked on mud, dust and deserts I spent the following few years setting up a series of extreme adventures for The Adventurists and producing the odd TV programme. I negotiated with baffled government ministers in Cameroon, Indonesia, Mongolia, Siberia and beyond; pulled small vehicles out of countless potholes, bogs and snowdrifts; was charged by a baby elephant in Tanzania, won The Wilderness Award, rode 3000-miles around the Black Sea on a zebra print motorcycle and nearly froze to death whilst attempting to reach the Russian Arctic on an old Ural.
But my dusty quill was calling and in 2012 I decided it was time for another book. A few months later – after endless sleepless nights spent imagining being eaten by a tiger – I headed to Vietnam to begin a solo motorcycle journey down the remnants of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. My second book, A Short Ride in the Jungle: the Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle (Summersdale, 2014) recounts the tale of this gruelling, thrilling and occasionally terrifying journey.
As well as the physical and mental endurance of this trip, what really excited me was the stories I heard whilst travelling alone in these little explored regions. I met illegal loggers, former US fighter pilots, eccentric bomb disposal experts, gold miners, wildlife traders and tribal chiefs. I experienced a region going through unprecedented change and saw the devastation wreaked by our insatiable desire for natural resources. Everyone I met had a story to tell, and I adored being able to tell it.
My third book, Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains: a journey across Arunachal Pradesh – India’s forgotten frontier, tells of a similarly thrilling journey through India’s mountainous, little known north-eastern corner. In 2016 I spent almost three months crossing the state by foot and motorcycle, meeting shamans, hunters and lamas, attending bloody tribal gatherings and uncovering little known stories from the Second World War.
When I’m not not travelling or writing, I do a lot of public speaking. I’ve spoken to a packed audience of 750 at the Royal Geographical Society’s Monday Night Lectures, given talks at schools, festivals and events all over the country and regularly write for a variety of newspapers and magazines, among them The Telegraph, The Guardian, Wanderlust, Geographical and more (see my media and journalism pages for more details).
I’m thrilled to say that I’m the recipient of the Royal Geographical Society’s 2019 Neville Shulman Challenge Award.
Enjoy wandering around my website and if you want to get in touch then drop me a line here.
A Frequently Asked Question
After ‘How many punctures did you get?’ and ‘What’s next?’ the third most common question people ask me is where my love of adventure came from. I could blame it on my wandering genes – that distant ancestor who voyaged to Demerary in 1809, the intrepid grandmother who steamed off to Peking in the thirties – but I’m sure my exploratory tendencies can be traced back to my childhood in the wilds of north Norfolk. Miles from any form of ‘entertainment’ I instead spent my days scrambling up trees, exploring the countryside and bolting across fields on a series of uncontrollable ponies (and one obstinate donkey). By my mid-teens I knew that that my future lay not in starched shirts and spreadsheets, but in distant lands and steamy jungles.
Within nanoseconds of graduating from Edinburgh University with a 1st class MA in history, I hot-footed it to Canada to co-author a guide book. There was no going back…