Brad the Explorer - Licence to Thrill!
When I first heard about Brad and his story, I was amazed and thought "this is no ordinary traveller"! He's been to places you could never imagine and done things that would stretch anyone’s limits. He seems full of life and excitement, so I decided to interview him about his adventures and really found out what it’s like for this modern day “James Bond” (minus the spy bit).
Brad Parsk is an award-winning explorer and survival expert, originally from Yorkshire. He’s travelled over 50 countries across the globe, spent one third of his life abroad and made his mark in the field of exploration.
Brad recalls gaining his first serious appreciation of adventure as a young teen while exploring the snowy mountains of Alsace, France, during a family holiday one winter. This formative experience planted the seed that would lead Brad towards a life of exploration and discovery.
It wasn't long before he was venturing out alone. At only 19 years old, while most of his peers were still being coddled by their parents, Brad was at the other side of the world chopping his way through the jungles of Malaysia.
At 21, Brad canoed his way across western Canada, travelling a total of 350 miles through some of British Columbia's wildest backcountry.
The following year, he embarked on an ambitious overland 4x4 expedition across the Middle East, travelling some 1500 miles through Egypt, Jordan and beyond. During this time, he was fortunate to spend several weeks in Wadi Rum, living alongside Bedouin tribes and learning the art of self-sufficiency in a desert environment.
Parsk relocated to Alaska in 2010, where he lived and worked for 3 years assisting local conservation groups to conduct valuable wildlife research. During a difficult hike to a remote cabin one spring, Brad found himself in a humbling survival situation that forever instilled in him the importance of being prepared.
Vowing never to be caught out again, Brad dedicated himself to mastering wilderness survival techniques, training under some of the world's top names.
Amid numerous global expeditions, Brad's exploration of China's Yuecheng Mountains remains a high point in his career. Trekking over 200 miles through lush forest and traversing precipitous limestone cliffs, Parsk made an important find - an ancient tomb containing various cultural relics dating back to the Yuan dynasty. The discovery made headlines in Hunan province, making Parsk an overnight sensation.
Brad latest expedition, which he just completed 3 months ago, saw him lead a team of huskies over 500 miles across the arctic circle. Travelling through three countries; Norway, Sweden and Finland, the journey tested the endurance of both man and dog. While battling polar winds as low as minus 40 degrees, sleep deprivation, hypothermia and a dislocated shoulder, Brad pressed on to complete the trip in less than 9 days and received an outpouring of support from fellow adventurers for his resilience.
An elected Fellow of several esteemed societies, Brad is often found speaking in lecture halls or giving inspiring speeches at corporate functions. A regular guest speaker on UK radio stations, it's clear that Brad, who has been called "a heart throb" and "a Yorkshire treasure", is a multi-skilled gentleman with plenty to offer.
I decided to ask him a few questions about his adventures:
How many countries have you visited?
“All in all, 50+ countries. But some of my most memorable experiences have been in: Egypt, Jordan, China, Austria, Greece, Canada, United States (Alaska), France and Sweden”.
Are there any continents that you haven’t visited?
“The only continents I haven't visited are Oceania and Antarctica - and I'm sure I will get around to those at some point. Although, for me, it's never been a numbers game - it's about having unique and fascinating experiences in each new place and letting a country and culture leave its mark on you. I think, sometimes, travellers can often forget about that in their rush to see lots of places”.
What goes through your mind when preparing for an expedition?
"Lots. I think the biggest thing is ensuring that I have everything I need. Much like regular travel, its super important that you don't forget anything. I once heard of a lady getting to the airport, already late for her flight, and she had forgotten her passport! Could you imagine? So, I am quite meticulous when it comes to packing and planning. All possibilities and eventualities are considered".
What motivates you to travel?
"I simply couldn't imagine staying in one place my whole life without seeing what else there is. And, of course, once you start travelling it's hard to stop. The spirit of exploration is inside all of us - but I do think it's stronger in some people than others. To love travel is to love learning. Because, many times, when you visit somewhere you experience and learn so many new things. You become just a little bit wiser, more enlightened and more interesting as a result. You carry those experiences with you everywhere you go. Nobody can take them away from you. So travel is almost like giving yourself a gift. It's a gift that never leaves you".
If you were to summarise your career…
“My exploration career has always been more about adventure travel and embarking on exciting expeditions - each with a specific goal in mind. And I think that is what separates the term "explorer" from "traveller". While travelling is meritorious and pleasurable in itself, with exploration there is always some element of discovery or science involved. Now approaching my mid-30's, I have no intention of slowing down. In fact, I will probably prioritise exploration and adventure for as long as I live. It's just who I am".