Michael Asher - Britain's greatest desert explorer
Michael Asher who has travelled more than 17,000 miles by camel leads our Southern Morocco Camel Trek. A fluent speaker of several dialects of Arabic, he has lived for three years with a traditional Bedouin tribe. In 1987 he became the first person ever to cross the Sahara desert from west to east by camel and on foot - a journey of nine months and 4,500 miles. There is little that he does not know about the Sahara and the people that inhabit it. In short, he is the perfect guide for this type of expedition.
Michael even has his own Wikipedia page! Not many tour leaders can say that...
Exodus' Robert Dixon spoke to him from his summer residence in Sardinia....
1. Best destination you have ever been to?
The Sudan. It's head and shoulders above anywhere else I've ever been. The country has more than 100 languages, and there is every type of different terrain you can think of.
2. Worst place you have ever been to?
India. I don't like crowds and busy streets. I enjoy wilderness so the crowded cities of India are the opposite of what I like. I have been to the deserts of India and I enjoyed that, so it's really the cities that I have a problem with. The reason I love Africa is because of its vast open spaces. Give me Africa any time, that's why I live in Kenya.
3. What are your top three places in the world?
The Sahara desert; rainforests of Papua New Guinea; and the mountains of Sardinia.
4. What do you always make room for in your bag?
A compass! I do carry a GPS when I'm exploring but I always carry a compass as well. If you get lost in the desert you have no idea where you are unless you have a compass.
5. Next country I would love to go to.
6. What's your best travel tip?
Learn the local languages. If you can speak to the local people the more you will know about what is going on around you. People do forget about this. It's a very important part of travelling, especially in remote locations. I am fluent in Arabic and this is always a great help for me when I'm guiding in countries such as Morocco.
7. The one that got away; when do you most wish you had your camera ready?
Sinai desert 10 to 12 years ago. I was alone on a camel and suddenly I heard a hissing sound which came from nowhere. All of a sudden the sky went black and it was thousands and thousands of migrating cranes. The hissing sound was from their wings flapping. It was amazing. No I didn't have my camera with me....
8. When was your most deserved beer?
Aswan, Egypt. I arrived there having made the first west-east crossing of the Sahara desert by camel and on foot in 1986/7. Passing through Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and the Sudan, my Italian wife and I made an unbroken journey of nine months and 4,500 miles. I enjoyed an ice-cold Stella at the famous Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan...
By Robert Dixon.
Michael Asher will be leading for Exodus on the Southern Morocco Camel Trek (AMC) 10 October and 14 November 2009, plus 21 February, 10 October and 14 November 2010.