April 23, 2013 @ 8:07 pm - posted by Liz

Adventure travel logistics expert and ex overlander Duncan Milligan from unusual Career Break and Sabbatical travel adventure company ‘Tour de Force adventure logistics‘ has never had a proper job and is proud of it.

In this video, Duncan Milligan gives an inspirational account of his many adventure travels through South America, Asia, India & Africa. He also reveals why the kids of Timbuktu mistook him for Chuck Norris….

From the Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate to the Altiplano volcanoes and even the Darvaza gas crater known as the ‘Gates of Hell’ in Turkmenistan,  Duncan has seen it all.

After listening to part 1 of ‘Things I wish I’d known before I went travelling’ you will know why travel is changing!!!  There’s a new adventure travel type out there.  The Boring bucket and spade holidays have been replaced by the thrill of adventure.

If you’re planning a an adventure travel trip of a lifetime, Duncan Milligan is your go to man.


More Videos of Duncan Milligan from Tour de Force Adventure Logisitics
#02 Round the World Travel Tips for the Adventure traveller with Duncan Milligan : Tour de Force – Filmed at the London Adventure Travel Show 2013

#03 Adventure Travel: Round the World Travel Tips for the Adventurous Traveller – Filmed at the London Adventure Travel Show 2013

#04 Adventure Travel: Round the World Travel Tips for the Adventurous Traveller - Filmed at the London Adventure Travel Show 2013

#05 Adventure Travel: Round the World Travel Tips for the Adventurous Traveller – Filmed at the London Adventure Travel Show 2013

Duncan Milligan  from Tour De Force, talking at the London Adventure Travel Show: Transcript part one - 

So I thought I would give a talk when they said ‘what do you want to do’ it would be on ‘Things I Wish I know Before I went travelling’ on my Career Break.

So basically this might be a good reason for you to learn from my  numerous Sabbatical mistakes and hopefully give you a bit of an idea about situations I’ve found myself in on my Career Break or the ways that I have used to deal with situations.

I’m keeping it very broad and very generic.  I’m not making it particularly vehicle dependent or cycling or walking or trekking or anything like that, these are really kind of general mind set things rather than individual detail.  If anyone wants to go through individual Sabbatical details we can do that afterwards.

Maybe I should start by saying why should you listen to me, what on earth have I done on my Career Break that’s of any use to you gap year guys, so it’s a kind of brief this is my life and where I’ve come from type thing.

So, previous life, I used to be an Overland driver [overlander].  When I say that most people look completely blank, they have no idea what that means.  For those that don’t know, there’s probably some people where that do, being an overlander involves driving a large truck that’s been converted to carry passengers and taking people on journeys all over the world.  It’s an amazing way, if anyone’s thinking of getting into travel I highly recommend becoming an overlander  as a method.  Go and be a tour leader, a tour guide with a company.  You’ll get paid absolute peanuts, your not there for the money, your there for the experience and everything I have learnt or that I now do is based on this kind of university of life that I did for five years travelling all over the world, which I’ll give you a little bit of detail about.

I spent a year in South America, so you get to kind of tick off all the big things like Machu Picchu, walking to the Inca trail, getting to the sun gate, seeing the sun rise, the Altiplano in Bolivia  which is incredible up at sort of 3-4 thousand meters with these active volcano’s and red lakes and  green lakes.  I’ve been to the Moreno glacier in El calafate which is just the most stunning, one of the last few remaining advancing glaciers in the world, I spent five days on a truck barge up the Amazon, me and six fat Brazilian truckers for a week; it was amazing.  One of the best experiences I had where we travelled from Belem on the coast all the way to Mallusk

I kind of did a two circuits of South America in terms of driving round and leading these trips.

I’ve spent time in India, driving in India which is an amazing experience, no computer game will ever live up to what it’s like to drive in India.  It’s fantastic.  I’ve also travelled through Central Asia which I highly recommend as an area of travel to go to.  It’s absolutely stunning, the silk road, Sandokan, Bokaro, keva and places like this.

Lesser known places, does anyone know, any idea where that one is because that’s a good put quiz.  There’s some heads nodding.  That’s the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan.  Its in the middle of nowhere, literally in the middle of no-where and its an enormous creator that was I think an old ex Soviet gas pipe line or it was somewhere where they were drilling for gas; and boy did they find it and it just burns day and night, it’s thirty years ago that they found this stuff and its this enormous hole in the ground that just burns…they call it the Gates of Hell.  Its amazing and then Everest you’ve got to have, oh, I’ve actually cut the top of Everest off [in the picture]…it’s the highest mountain in the world and I’ve cut the top off it, but yes, on the Tibetan side I was able to travel through Western China, Tibet, and quiet a lot of Central Asia as well.

Africa, I’ve spent a lot of time in Africa.  Most of it has been in West Africa which is one of my favourite parts of the world, which is of course going through a terrible time at the moment.  Its awful to think of these places that I’ve to are now turning into war zones.  This is Mauritania. This was before there was a road, actually at one point you had to drive your overlander truck along the beach for about 65k and hopefully get there before the tide comes in otherwise your in trouble; so it was a great experience.  East and West Africa are very very different places.  West Africa has very little in the way of Tourist infrastructure and that’s the best and the worst thing about it.  There’s nothing to see in West Africa, there’s no animals, there’s no white water rafting and there’s no great waterfalls there’s none of the other stuff, BUT its just every day life in West and Central Africa is fantastic.  Voodoo, going into these markets where you can buy your Voodoo fetishes, amazing beaches that are just…no-one there at all, pristine beaches

This is on the boat trip up to Timbuktu where you would go to places where…I know it’s the kind of holy grail that people talk about of going to places that no-ones been to before but it very much felt like that in these areas and in fact these kids just after this photo, they were all doing these Karate moves at me, and I couldn’t figure out what it was about, we had a guide and I said ‘why are they all doing Karate at me’ and he asked  them in local Bambara language.  They said they’re basically three things they know about the white man.  The first is that all of them are very very rich, if your white you must be rich, the second this is you must be a doctor, every white man they have ever seen has to be a doctor, and the third thing is that they’re all really really good a Karate and Kung fu.  And I was ‘why on earth is that’ and he asked them and it was because the only films they’d seen on really old bad VHS videos was Chuck Norris movies, 80’s Chuck Norris movies, so there idea of a white person was everyone was Chuck Norris, which I thought was an amazing flip on what they think about us as much as much as what we think of the locals.  So anyway, all of that  has given me this knowledge I know a lot about a little and I know stuff about travel basically and travelling in developing world, I’m not talking about going on a bucket and spade holidays or skiing and I finished that job, to be honest I got a little tired of the travelling public, its not a career you can do forever and when you get questionnaires at the end that say things like ‘the route to Everest base camp was too bumpy’ and the ‘Peruvian desert was too long’ you know its time to get out, and I loved every minute of it but its not something you can do for the rest of your life, so I thought what the hell am I going to do, how on earth am I,… I’m not going to get a proper job, I’ve never had one of those, I had to think about what I would do; what I was getting was a lot of people going to me ‘ you’ve been to this, how do I get around there or what way do you recommend, is a good place to go to’ etc. etc.

So I thought that maybe there’s something in this and I also think that the Zeitgeist at the moment is that people are looking for their own adventures.  I’m sure there’s quiet a lot of people in this room here, who although there’s a plethora of tours and great amazing stuff you can  do, but I’ve found there are more and more people looking to do their adventure, there way, in their style, their timeframe not with a group of other people.  And you know we have the likes of Mr McGregor and Mr Boorman to thank for that because there we all saw these guys jumping on their motorbikes and disappearing round the world having a great adventure.  The fact they had massive support group and all the rest of it is another story, but the point was I think a lot of people have seen that and thought ‘yes, I want to do that, I can do that’.

If there’s one thing Id like you to take way from today is that ‘yes you can’ because if a Muppet like me can do it you don’t have to be roughty tufty SAS Bear Grylls explorer at all to do this.  A lot of the people I’ve met on the road or I’ve talked to in the past are you, people like you who’ve decided right I want to take some time off , I want to go and do my big trip, I want to explore.


Check out Duncan’s Tour de Force Adventure Logistics company website if you fancy a different type of new adventure travel: click here

Ex overlander and adventurer

Duncan Milligan of Tour De Force speaking at the Adventure Travel Show, London








About Liz

At the age of 39, Liz quit the 'Corporate World', downsized her life and followed her heart. Upon her return she set up CareerBreak360 with Robert to help others achieve their Career Break dreams.

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