A true traveller's traveller, Jonny Bealby has intimately explored a staggering number of exotic countries. Thankfully, when he decided to undertake a daring circumnavigation of Africa by motorbike, Jonny made sure he wrote all about the many and varied trials and tribulations encountered 'on the road.'
The resultant book was entitled Running With The Moon, and it became a roaring success. Bolstered by the public's reaction to his way with words, Jonny went on to write about his next extraordinary 'trip' of a lifetime as he travelled through India, Pakistan and Afghanistan on foot.
He called it For A Pagan Song, and it painted the most revealing portrait of the politically troubled yet fascinating and beautiful area in exquisite detail. Silk Dreams, Troubled Road came next: a rip-roaring account of Jonny's travels on horseback along The Silk Road.
In the wake of having penned and published three highly original and hugely successful travel-orientated books, Jonny boldly set about establishing an adventure tour company of his own.
Eager for others to savour the types of unique experiences he had indulged in, Jonny set up Wild Frontiers, a versatile tour company with a huge difference.
Priding itself on taking adventurous travellers to countries as far-flung as India, Georgia, Turkey, Pakistan and Morocco amongst many others, Wild Frontiers actively encourages cross-cultural interaction like few other adventure tour companies.
Since founding the company in 2002, Jonny's 'Wild Frontiers' has been a genuine success story, attracting the attention of champion jockey Richard Dunwoody (who leads tours for the company) and much-loved celebrity traveller Michael Palin.
Book-writing and the day-to-day running of 'Wild Frontiers' aside, Jonny has penned innumerable articles for high-profile publications such as The Guardian and Wanderlust. What's more, he used to be heavily involved with the music industry, his work as a sound engineer leading him to form his own band called The Tin Gods in 1984.
An inspirational workaholic who has never shied away from the act of pursuing his dreams, Jonny is a remarkable character. In spite of his hectic work schedule, Jonny still kindly set aside time to answer Steve's questions, revealing all about a clutch of exciting new 'WF' tours pulsating in the pipeline.
Hello Jonny, how are things?
Fine, busy as usual...
You are a travel writer and an adventure tour company operator. Did you find that it was a natural progression for you to set up 'Wild Frontiers' in the wake of you having penned and published three beautifully written books set in far flung countires?
Yes I did - although I think it is a unique story. Travelling to the places I did as a writer and journalist opened my eyes to some extraordinary places... it was very natural to want to share them with others
Your first book was called 'Running With The Moon' and it chronicled your adventures on the back of a motorbike around Africa. Was it your intention from day one of the trip to keep a diary and ultimately adapt it into a book for publication?
No, absolutely not. I failed English O-Level five times so the idea of me becoming a writer was absurd to say the least. It was just the more I travelled the more I realised I was doing something different and the idea of writing stemmed from that. I did keep a diary and kept abbreviated notes and one thing I have been blessed with is a very good memory so it was not hard to remember. Once I started, I actually found I enjoyed writing - I still do.
Do you enjoy the process of writing, and of documenting in detail the trials and tribulations of your day to day life on the road?
Not so much on the road, but I do very little actual writing on the road. As I just said, I have a good memory and I found the smallest note will trigger a torrent of images. I find sitting looking at a computer screen, I can zone back into the moment and occasionally drag up memories I didn't know I had. It's very fulfilling as you get to experience the event all over again.
Your second book, 'For A Pagan Song' focused on a trip you made on foot through Afghsnistan. Had Afghanistan long fascinated you, and what is your overriding memory of that trip?
I read 'The Man Who Would Be King' in my early twenties. Ever since, Afghanistan had loomed large. I have been lucky enough to travel to nearly 100 countries, but it is by far the most fascinating. That said, probably my abiding memory was of leaving it! Standing on a high mountain pass, with Afghanistan and danger to my back, and Pakistan and safety to my front, was a wonderful feeling.
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