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Wednesday 29 April 2015

Solent graduate goes on 'Once in a lifetime' trip

Ant Hill, a graduate of our BA (Hons) Outdoor Adventure Management course, decided to spend the summer after graduation getting as far away from the UK as possible by going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We didn’t take it personally though – instead, we looked on with pride and envy as we learned of his intrepid adventures.

Ant is a success story, graduating with first-class honours while taking on the additional challenge of studying as a mature student. He has since returned from his expedition and has gone on to secure a full time position as a course manager and lecturer in public services at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset. Ant is also pursuing a master’s in education, so there appears to be no stopping him!

Here, Ant shares his memories of a well-deserved post-university adventure.

This summer, a few friends and I decided to take part in the Mongol Rally. We had the idea to drive across Europe and follow the Silk Road all the way into Central Asia, and from there head up to Russia and then finish off in Mongolia.

All this sounded far too easy, so we decided to buy an old car that my grandmother would have been proud of: a nauseatingly yellow Volkswagen Polo. Built in 1982, the car came equipped with the all the ‘modern’ conveniences including a short/long wave radio and rear wipers – if anything could make this journey, ‘BOB’ could.

Ant visited some of Kyrgyzstan’s highest peaks

There were many highlights of the trip, enough to fill a book, but I’ll talk about just a few here. Bulgaria was a country that took us by surprise – we spent an amazing few days here visiting the Varma beaches, enjoying the countryside and exploring the castles of Veliko Tarnovo, where we had the pleasure of wining and dining with some of the locals.

This was followed by a visit to an abandoned communist building called the Buzludzha (pictured above), a ginormous UFO shaped building that has been left to ruins. We found exploring its depths to be surprisingly creepy.

Turkey was next. The hustle of Istanbul was followed by a trip to Cappadocia in central Turkey where we had the pleasure of watching hundreds of hot air balloons set off into the sky in front of an amazing sun set.

Turkey gave us one of the most dangerous and challenging roads of the trip, which we (accidentally) decided to tackle at night. This perilous mountain crossing, which only spanned a few kilometers, took hours to cover due to the treacherous path. Once on the other side, the locals suggested we were suicidal to attempt the road in that car, let alone at night!

This trip was finally capped off with a couple of weeks in Kyrgyzstan, a country with amazing natural beauty. We wild camped in the mountains next to alpine lakes and trekked peak Ucitel at 4527m, which offered amazing views over the Ala-Archa National Park.

Sadly, the trip was soon cut short due to visa issues in Kazakhstan. Perhaps this was universe telling me to get back to the UK and start putting that university degree to good use at last!