Charlie (Hatch-Barnwell)

Today's Explorers

Charlie (Hatch-Barnwell)

November 23, 2021
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

Born in London, Father is half Irish/half English and my Mother is from Indonesia.

When did you start your interest in exploration?

My parents pushed me to travel on my own from a very early age. I did my first journey on my own at the age of 16.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

Just a very curious and energetic child. Loved to explore on my own from the time I could walk. Did all the sports and joined the CCF (army) at school at age 13, where we were pushed to our limits as teenagers through physical outdoor pursuit. This and my parents pushed me to become incredibly independent and thirsty for adventure.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

Navigation savvy, but also not shy to get my hands dirty or literally sleep anywhere. I'm also a professional documentary and conflict zone photographer.

Where have you explored so far?

Too many to list! 42 countries so far...

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

Appreciate what you have. Be humble. There are the kindest people on earth everywhere and no matter how hard you think your struggle is, there are people that are going through worse and still smiling! We are privileged. 

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

All the -stan countries! Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan following in the footsteps of Wilfred Thesiger.

Where would you recommend others visit?


How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

On foot.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

My cameras. Leatherman wave. Jungle hammock (heavy duty proper one!) My Danner mountain light 2 boots ( not always appropriate but always have them). Notepad and pencil. Proper maps of the area and compass. Small medical kit. I know it's more than 5, but that's what my go-to-bag has in it, amongst other things.

What inspires you to explore more?

The beauty of this world!! There is so much mystery and amazing people and things to see! It keeps me up at night sometimes thinking what you could stumble across in the heart of the Papuan jungle Highlands! (just an example).

How do you engage with others?

How I expect to be treated... You respect them and follow their cultures and traditions and they will in turn appreciate that and be more receptive to you...

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

Education. If we all understand each other's way of thinking, if only just a little, it makes it easier to communicate on a balanced and friendly level with the world.

What are your goals when you explore?

Fill my mind with beauty, horror and seeing things completely unknown to me. I say again, as a traveller I am privileged and to be humbled by other cultures and the beauty of this vast world, makes me try to better myself and understanding of life.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

I've been stabbed, bitten by a very poisonous snake. Held at gunpoint on a number of occasions. Beaten up by Venezuelan police who thought I was someone else. Held in a cage blindfolded... I dropped an axe through my foot whilst in primary jungle. The list goes on...

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

I was in Aleppo at the height of the conflict and was in a makeshift hospital. I was talking to a 16 year old boy who had lost one arm and one leg. His family of 6 was travelling in a mini bus that tripped an IED on the side of the road. Everyone inside was killed except him. It was nearly two days before anybody found him in the wreckage. Whilst he was telling me his story, he was smiling more and more. I asked why, and his response was: Even though I have lost everything, everything... By God's grace I am alive and will be ok. I couldn’t control my tears and had to leave to collect myself before carrying on with our conversation. I still get goosebumps when I tell this to anyone.

How has exploration changed you?

Makes me appreciate everything that I take for granted that little bit more.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

You can't be shy.

How do you explore locally?

Walk through wherever I am and try and talk to the locals. Buy small items of food and eat/try everything.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

Educate yourself about the world through first hand experience. Don't be shy and try everything. Be brave. go to places that guide books have no information on. Don't be a slave to doing what others have done before, just because you think other people will like the pictures...

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Just go. People nowadays only want acceptance from others on social media platforms. Get this out of your head and live the dream of exploration for yourself. If you constantly need acceptance and confirmation that what you are doing is good from people on Instagram or other platforms, you will never truly understand the importance of experiencing and understanding other cultures.


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