A BRITISH explorer is set to regale audiences with tales of his adventures at the Borders Book Festival this summer.

Benedict Allen has spent the last 40 years travelling to some of the world's most remote places and meeting the indigenous communities there.

Inspired by his father's unconventional job as a test pilot for planes such as the Vulcan Bomber, and encouraged by his mother, Allen set out on his first adventure in 1983 to the north east Amazon when he was just 22 years old.

And during his adventures he has learnt many lessons in how to survive and also discovered the enviable resilience indigenous populations have in the face of hardship.

Allen said: "I had my little dream of being some sort of explorer and I just thought I would give it a go once.

"I worked in a warehouse and got enough money just to get myself to South America.

"I knew nothing about the rainforest, I called it the jungle and imagined all the snakes and creepy crawlies."

Benedict has fought off Malaria and Dengue Fever; outran drunken, knife-wielding gold miners; and recovered after weeks of a brutal, yet culturally significant, ceremony.

Border Telegraph: Benedict AllenBenedict Allen (Image: Martin Hartley)

On his first expedition he said: "I went off there in total innocence really and turned to the local people who did help me – they knew what they were doing and they looked after me, perhaps they just didn't want me to die on their hands.

"But eventually I almost did die. I was attacked by two gold miners in the night.

"I ran from these people down to my canoe and sped off to escape these gold miners.

"My canoe capsized, I lost everything and I had to walk out of the forest.

"I don't know how long it took me because I got two sorts of Malaria, but I staggered out after days, weeks."

After battling Malaria and fending off attackers in the South American jungle, many people would not want to return to the unknown and would stay with their home comforts.

Not Benedict Allen.

His natural curiosity is a true driving force behind his explorative nature.

He said: "That [first] experience, now looking back, I think that's what set me up in a weird way.

"It made me really want to understand that forest that almost killed me.

"And that curiosity is what keeps me going."

Border Telegraph:  (Image: Martin Hartley)

A year later, in 1984, Allen set off for Papua New Guinea where he met the Momwina, Obini, and Niowra communities.

It was with the Niowra that he was given the chance to experience first hand an initiation ceremony.

"I had seen from my first expedition that indigenous people they are the ones that saw the places as a home, and I wanted it as a home as well," he said.

"And that led me to going through an initiation ceremony in Papua New Guinea – a traditional ceremony, turned out to be a nightmare.

"Every young man who went through this ceremony had to become a man as strong as a crocodile.

"As a young person I thought I'd give it a go, because I was at that age when you think you're immortal.

"I went through this ceremony, I was very grateful to be allowed to, no outsider had gone through it – it was a secret ceremony.

"I ended up with all these scars up and down my chest and back, hundreds of little marks were cut repeatedly with bamboo blades.

"And then came the next bit when we had to earn these crocodile marks and we were beaten everyday, five times a day and had to sing happy songs while all of the old men came out and whacked us with sticks. It went on for six weeks.

"It was pretty bad but, of course, it was a privilege to be allowed to see something that the local people felt was necessary to help make their next generation strong."

It has been on his travels too where Allen has seen the real effects of the climate crisis.

He said: "I started [exploring] four decades ago and I have seen a lot of destruction of the environment.

"I've come away disheartened at the great loss of habitat and communities, but on the other hand been reinvigorated seeing how robust so many people are.

"For indigenous people pretty well everywhere I have been, there is no such thing as, nature is just everything, it's not a separate thing.

"What we regard as nature we've fenced off and tried to make a human habitat that excludes nature, and that's been a great error.

"We have become blasé, we've become indifferent to what's going on out there, when what's going on out there does affect us as we're discovering now with climate change."

Border Telegraph:  (Image: Borders Book Festival)

Allen will join the Borders Book Festival on Sunday, June 16 at 5.15pm to discuss his life as an explorer, as detailed in his book 'Explorer: The Quest for Adventure and the Great Unknown'.

"My hope is that people believe that they too are explorers," he added.

Allen also hopes that youngsters will join his talk and be inspired by his stories.

For more information, and to book tickets for Benedict's talk, visit: bordersbookfestival.org/event/benedict-allen