Extreme survivor: explorer Hazen Audel tells Tempus about his community-driven adventures
The presenter, explorer and biologist chats exclusively about his National Geographic TV series, Primal Survivor, for Tempus' Travel Edition
Travellers aren’t looking to visit museums and sights as they once did: instead they want to explore local neighbourhoods, meet natives and experience how they live. It’s this authentic travel experience that viewers get a glimpse of in Hazen Audel’s TV show on the National Geographic channel, Primal Survivor. While Steve Urwin hunted crocodiles and Bear Grylls puts his own survival skills to the test, Audel immerses himself in local communities.
A trained biologist and survival instructor, Audel has long held a fascination with nature. His TV show, now in its fourth series, sees Audel travels to some of the most extreme places on Earth to discover how locals live in harsh and unforgiving environments, before venturing out on his own to put his survival skills to the test.
In this excerpt from Tempus’ upcoming Travel Edition, available from 1 February, Audel speaks exclusively to Tempus about his most memorable adventures and what they can expect from the show, airing in the UK on Thursday evenings…
Why is it so important to document the lives of these remote communities?
What I get to see is very precious. The world is changing incredibly rapidly, so if I'm not there today, it's all going to be lost tomorrow. I have to try to document what I can. These people know information that's valuable to us as human beings, from plants and where to get food from to the power of living together at units, as tribes. I'm fortunate that I have a television show that I get to show the rest of the world how amazing these people are. I hope is I can broadcast some of that information, viewers might be able to glean something from these shows.
What have you learnt from your time spent with tribes?
We don't need to be that awesome if we put all that energy into our communities. If I go into a tribe, there's no one self-made person that has it all figured out. They have their whole family there – they don't need to be the superhero. They can be humble and happy with everybody else. They don't need to be better than anybody else, and I think that's what we're really lacking. This idea of self-growth is insatiable because we can never be that amazing, but if we can learn to value our own communities, and get empowerment from the people who appreciate us, it gives us the self-esteem that we need. It gives us the right direction to hopefully empower that to others as far as becoming an elder of the village. >>
Was there one village or community you met while filming this series that really inspired you to think this way?
Yes, in Vanuatu. I loved that I could be in a village and everybody's uniquely different. One person is the strapping young lad who’s an amazing fisherman and brings home food. Then you've got women that care for the children and take care of the gardens and making sure that there's function, sustainability and normalcy in the household. You’ve also go the men that are out there, sacrificing themselves for the betterment of the community.
In Western culture, you don't have to be trusted, you can still be a successful human being and make lots of money, but you wouldn't trust them with your kids. That doesn't exist in these communities. You can trust every single person because here because the whole community is raising the children. People have to become better people and that's better people for the whole sense of community.
Which were the most challenging places you visited?
The most physically challenging was Vanuatu because it rained the entire time. The mud was relentless. We all had serious infections. The film crew were crippled with trench foot and couldn't walk. It was tearing us apart, but we can reflect on how happy the people were despite the demanding environment they live in.
Kenya was another extreme. It’s the hottest place on Earth. The sun is relentless and there's no water. To see how hard it is to survive out there was horrifying but then you see how these people manage to live in these communities – they’re like havens.
What’s your advice to people who want to do this kind of travel?
The biggest thing is just being really humble. You can go to a third-world country and have such pity for them because they don't have what we have but be open minded and you will start see how happy a lot of these people are. Many of these people have things that they can teach us, too. You might not be able to speak the language, but a smile will take you a million miles.
Primal Survivor Most Extreme is now airing on National Geographic UK Thursdays at 8PM and is available on catch up. Read the full, exclusive interview in the Travel Edition of Tempus, available from 1 February 2019