Meet Charlie Smith, a British explorer and in his day-to-day life, a keen designer. When an ankle injury tore him away from his obsession with rugby, he found embarking on expeditions across the world was the answer to filling the void. He has journeyed to some of the worlds most hostile places. His first expedition took him through northern Sweden and Norway on dog sledges, and every year he continues to set himself some new challenges and in doing so is becoming recognised as one of Britains next generation of explorers…
Tell us about your most meaningful memory of travel...
There’s a pretty incredible moment when you reach a realisation ‘point of no return’. Heading off to Greenland from the small one-runway airport or Akureryi in north Iceland, as you take off over the fjord you see these tiny buildings getting smaller and smaller against this mountainous blanket of white and I specifically remember thinking ‘this is probably the last time you’re going to feel genuinely warm for the next few months’. I love those moments- it’s like a beginning from an end.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH WILDLIFE? ANY CLOSE SHAVES?
A polar bear stopped us in our tracks in Greenland – that’s something that I’ll never forget. We were in a caravan of snowmobiles heading out to this remote cabin at the foot of the ice sheet, we’d seen evidence of polar bears in the area – tracks, leftover seal carcasses etc but hadn’t actually seen one. We were about 1km out from the cabin driving over the frozen ocean – we could practically see it on the shoreline – and then out from behind a small iceberg popped a polar bear standing directly between us and our destination. As a camera op – the first thing I did was get out my camera to start shooting. It became patently obvious that people were a little on edge considering the rest of the team were reaching for flares and guns…
What’s your idea of a perfect family holiday?
There is nothing more that I love than getting a group of family and friends together in a big house, great food and just to genuinely relax so I’ve got to say villa.
IF YOU HAD YO CHOOSE WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE ON EARTH (SO FAR) ?
This is a tricky one. It’s got to be landmannalaugar – although – in the middle of winter. It’s these series of geothermal hot pools as the foot of this lava flow in Iceland – it’s insanely difficult to get to unless you go on foot (ski) and there is no one around for hundreds of miles. But, once you get there, you can be sitting under the northern lights in -20C in your swimming trucks so it’s definitely worth the effort.
Looking back on your successes what piece of advice would you share ?
I try to live by the idea that when things get tough, work harder. It means you push yourself through the difficult times and can enjoy the good times – in a way. It’s a great way to build perspective when it feels more difficult the next time.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF CHARLIE SMITH