Adventure at its finest

Video highlights from Egypt With The World's Greatest Explorer

The most adventurous the majority of us get with our cousins is a wander around a shopping mall.

Alternatively, we tell them embellished stories of our adventures when we’re not with them but, most of us aren’t the Fiennes family. When your cousin happens to be the “World’s Greatest Living Explorer” Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the adventure tends to be ratcheted up a notch or two.

For his cousin, Joseph Fiennes, an opportunity to retrace his Sir Ranulph’s famous 1969 expedition to Egypt nearly 50 years later was an opportunity way too good to pass up as it is “every boy's dream to go on an expedition with the world’s greatest living explorer”.

Joe and Ran at the mechanic in Alexandria making adjustments and additions to the old Land Rover Defender head of the expedition.

As for Sir Ranulph, leading his younger cousin, the 48-year-old star of Shakespeare In Love and The Handmaid’s Tale, through Egypt was always going to be an eye-opener and a chance to see how deep the explorer gene runs through the Fiennes family.

The resulting three-part documentary screening on National Geographic, Egypt With The World's Greatest Explorer, sees the two of them take the ultimate road trip across Egypt in an action-packed retake of Sir Ranulph’s 1969 expedition.

Together they faced everything from dangerous snakes and spiders to traversing the dunes of the Sahara Desert and tracing mummified bodies. The documentary charts the course down Egypt’s main artery, the Nile. In three hour-long shows viewers get a real feel for Egypt and how it has evolved over the last 50 years.

Alongside the adventure, the cousins who only met back in 2000 for the first time because, as Joseph retells Sir Ranulph (or Ran as Joseph calls him) was “always out exploring”, get to know each under sometimes fairly challenging circumstances.

Aswan, Egypt - Joe and Ran reflect on their adventure at its spectacular final location: the impressive ancient temple complex at Abu Simbel.

Speaking recently to the Belfast Telegraph, Joseph Fiennes said he had “grown up with all these amazing stories of Ran through my parents, so I was desperate to meet him".

Now in his 70s, Sir Ranulph has packed more adventures into one lifetime than most people can ever dream of and is also famous for lopping off the tops of his fingers on his left hand after an expedition to the North Pole resulted in a case of severe frostbite.

Yet while he seems most famous for his adventures in the cold such as being the first man to the first man to walk across Antarctica, unsupported and being the first man to circumnavigate both North and South Pole, he says most of his adventures have been undertaken in extreme heat.

As for the Egypt expedition with cousin Joseph, one of the highlights was exploring a network of underground tombs, found at the Tuna el-Gebel site in El Minya, south of Cairo.

“The man we were following through the tunnels and tombs had only discovered them eight weeks’ beforehand,” Sir Ranulph said.

Sir Ranulph is a man who has spent his life in pursuit of extreme adventure on some of the most ambitious private expeditions ever undertaken and (beyond the documentary) Australian audiences will have a chance to see him on his first speaking tour of Australia in late March.

During the evening, Sir Ranulph will speak about 50 years of pure adventure. From time spent as an SAS soldier to the meticulous expedition planning involved and the highs and the lows of exploration as well as just what it takes for someone to cut their own fingers off when frostbite sets in – and so much more.


Egypt With The World's Greatest Explorer airs screens Sunday, March 31 at 7.30pm AEDT on National Geographic.

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