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Dave and Angela (Polaris Overland)

Today's Explorers

Dave and Angela (Polaris Overland)

June 26, 2022
6
min read
by
Charles Forman
England
Scotland
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Where are you from?

England, Scotland

When did you start your interest in exploration?

2006

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

Dave has travelled extensively throughout his working life in the Royal Navy as a Weapons Engineer and Ships Diver then both the Oil/Gas and Merchant Shipping industries as a Service Engineer.

Dave met Angela whilst working in Aberdeen and the two developed an enjoyment for spending weeks and weekends away, walking and climbing munros, camping and travelling around Scotland and particularly the Lake District, where they also enjoyed mountain biking and kayaking.

After moving out to Cyprus the opportunities for diving led to Dave completing his PADI qualifications to Master Scuba Diver Trainer and his interest in history led to opportunities to explore Cyprus and principally search out the abandoned villages from the troubles of the 60's and 70's.

Sadly his work only allowed him the opportunity to experience a very small part of each country he visited and now he likes to go out and see more of the world and immerse in it. His main inspiration for an overland trip came in 2006 whilst flying by chopper over the Skeleton Coast of Namibia to work on a drillship operating offshore. The idea sprouted that he wanted to come back to Namibia and drive the Skeleton Coast and at this point he caught the Overlanding bug.

In 2016 that dream of driving Namibia and the Skeleton Coast was realised and this stimulated a change in what was important in life and Polaris Overland is the ultimate result. Overlanding gives Dave the chance to combine Adventure, Camping and Travelling which sounds about the perfect match.

Angela

Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland where Angela juggled bringing up three children and working as an office administrator.

After meeting Dave in Aberdeen they both enjoyed spending long summer weeks and weekends camping in the Lake District and Scotland whilst walking mountains and Munros .

Angela and Dave moved to Cyprus where Angela has taken advantage of the warm clear waters achieving PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification.

Continuing to take further advantage of the opportunities to go out and explore the island using the Land Rover Defender, camping in the mountains, on the sandy beaches and rugged coastlines whilst researching the rich and diverse ancient and modern history of Cyprus.

Whilst having not travelled extensively in her younger years when Angela has travelled, she enjoyed experiencing the different lifestyles and cultures immensely.

Now that her family are all grown up and building their own lives it is a chance to explore the world, have new challenges and adventures and make lots more great memories.

Her hobbies are sketching and photography which she uses to document our experiences of the overland adventures.

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

Our navigation skills have been developed having spent many winters climbing and walking in the Scottish mountains and Lakes District of England.

Dave is a qualified Emergency First Responder Trainer and his military background means he is able to cope well in most stressful or difficult situations.

By no means would Dave call himself a Mechanic, but an ability to logically fault find means that where he might not have the skills to repair the vehicle he can help to identify the fault.

Angela has an ability to make friends and her photography skills in getting just the right angle mean she is the primary focus of logging our journeys. Angela has this innate skill of making the most bland ingredients into a meal, fit for royalty, an important skill on a long journey.

Where have you explored so far?

UK, Europe, North Africa, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Namibia, Jordan

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

Our first big trip covered Turkey, Eastern Europe up to Scandinavia and Nordkapp returning south through Europe to Spain, Portugal and Morocco before heading back to the UK. There then followed months of obtaining visas before setting off from Aberdeen to Mongolia via the Silk Road, Stans and completing the Pamir Highway.

A medical emergency in Uzbekistan cut the trip short with Angela requiring emergency surgery to have 70cm of bowel removed. Once well enough Angela flew home and ultimately Dave drove back to the UK from Almaty in Kazakhstan.

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

Our next trip was supposed to be the Pan American Highway taking over 2 years once Angela had recovered enough, but Coronavirus raised its ugly head just after we had purchased a 4motion VW Camper specifically for that trip.

Where would you recommend others visit?

Namibia, Morocco, Mongolia and Russian Altai specifically spring to mind. All places that are overlanders' dreams.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

We still have our 2001 Land Rover Defender 90 with RTT that we took to Mongolia and back and we now added a VW T5 4motion Transporter that we have upgraded for overland remote off-grid travel.

What are five pieces of equipment that you always travel with?

Coleman Dual Fuel Stove, Ipad to download books and maps, SPOT Tracker with distress function. iPhone and Huawei E5577 Portable Mobile Wifi Hotspot.

What inspires you to explore more?

Sense of freedom where the only concern is the vehicle, so stress is non existent unless you break down. We love history, exploring ancient cultures and meeting the people along the way.

We are also very aware that global conflicts and political changes are resulting in areas being lost or damaged forever and the ability to visit can be severely restricted.

How do you engage with others?

We are always happy to stop and talk. By being on the road you are close to the people and the engagement happens with no real effort. We eat and shop locally wherever we can.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

The media do many countries and cultures a disservice by using scare tactics to stop people travelling. In all the countries we have visited, especially outside Europe and where the media were less than encouraging to visit - we have met nothing but friendship and respect, with many local people thanking us for taking the time to visit their country.

And after making the effort to visit these countries, it is only right that we try to appreciate their culture with respect and understanding.

What are your goals when you explore?

To travel, to experience and to enjoy the journey.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

We have had breakdowns where the intercooler blew in Turkey. The head gasket went to Greece. We were forced to replace a broken UJ in a flooding campsite in Morocco.

Angela's medical emergency in Tajikistan / Uzbekistan , if it had happened 4 or 5 days earlier we would have been in the middle of the Pamir Highway and there is a very good chance she would not have survived.

We had drunken Georgians try to climb into our RTT at 2am and numerous border crossing issues. Dave was also arrested and threatened with deportation in Russia when driving back on his own, which was only resolved after a call to and the intervention of the British Embassy in Moscow

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

Crossing the border from Russia into Mongolia and thinking "Shit" we made it.

How has exploration changed you?

A bigger understanding that "stuff" doesn't make you happy but experiences do.

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

Nothing is impossible without a bit of research, some effort and the courage to go.

How do you explore locally?

We continue to travel throughout the UK. As members of Overland Bound, of which Dave is the Regional Director, we get to go out on trips and meet throughout the UK with like minded people. But we also enjoy the opportunity to explore on our own doorstep whether that be an overnight trip, a weekend trip or an even longer trip, such as the Outer Hebrides Trip we did in 2021. We are always looking for new places to visit.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

Before we went out on our trips we took inspiration from other people’s stories of doing the kinds of trips we were dreaming of. This is another means for inspiration and opportunity to learn and not make some of the same costly mistakes, the rest of us have already made.

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

You don't need a fully set up 4WD with RTT winch, recovery boards etc. Use what you have and go out and explore.

On the Pamir Highway we passed a London Double Decker Bus doing the Mongol Rally. We met French Citreon 2CV's doing the Sahara in Morocco.

Don't let things get in the way of stopping you seeking your adventure. Travel whilst you can in what you can and as you gain experience your vehicle and equipment choice will evolve, but don't let lack of equipment hold you back.

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