Go Away With … Todd Carmichael

Todd Carmichael_Host of Travel Channel's Dangerous Grounds_credit Travel Channel

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
January 21, 2014

On the Travel Channel’s “Dangerous Grounds,” adventurer Todd Carmichael scours the world looking for the best coffee beans to supply his high-end clients. His line of work ensures that he visits some beautiful, but also perilous destinations. Fans may keep up with Carmichael and his treks on Twitter.

Q. You’ve been to the South Pole. After that experience, do all other trips pale in comparison?

A. The Pole was unique and could never be recreated, but then, every big adventure has its interesting side. I mean, I surfed the Nile. And I got locked up and held hostage in drug territory.

Q. Where were you locked up?

A. On the border of Bolivia and Brazil in the thick of the Amazon. There is a lot of trafficking along the river border and I was confused as one of those (trafficker) types. I can’t say that was the first time. In fact, I’m afraid I’ve lost count over the years.

Q. How do you get out of those situations?

A. The best thing to do is relax and settle in and hope no one has any agenda against you. After a full day on my haunches, a few tough guys came in, cut the zip ties and pushed us out the front door. The most heart-pounding experience was laying on the ground in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico. A local armed group held us for an hour at gunpoint until the boss was radioed. My face was in the ground. Finally, we were cleared, confirmed as coffee buyers and released. My wife hates to hear those stories the most.

Q. What adventure trip — that you haven’t gone on yet — would you like to do in the future?

A. I want to climb Annapurna, a beautiful mountain in the Himalayas.

Q. For people who love the idea of going on an adventure trip but need a gentle start, what are your tips?

A. Start in areas where there is not a lot of war and gunplay. Say you’re interested in (the continent of) Africa, opt for Namibia. It’s an adventure, but you won’t be shot at.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. I’m partial to Northern India, Punjab, along the Pakistan border. If you are up for an adventure, this is a prime place.

Q. Did you travel a lot when you were growing up?

A. Strangely, I traveled little as a child.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I dream of the day I can freely travel in Cuba and buy coffee.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. Traveling light is important to me. Everything must be carried on my back. A must-have is a bedroll, a knife and, finally, gum.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. I love food and my guilty pleasure food is deep-fried stuff. When on the road I eat absolutely everything deep fried, with both hands.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. Research is key to any good trip. If it’s a survival trip, your life will depend on it. If it’s a coffee-hunting trip, your business will depend on it. And if it’s a vacation, your experience will depend on it.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. My wife and I now have four kids, whom we have taught to travel pretty well. This means, three times a year we pick up and go the distance, from (parts of) Africa, to France, to Australia. Any of those are my favorite. The worst was getting malaria in Zimbabwe. This is not something I would ever like to relive.

© 2014 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (3)

  1. The best coffee beans and a great show!!

  2. Penny Swan says:

    Love the show and coffee and can’t wait for the new shows.

  3. Kaye Turnbow Graves says:

    Mom doesn’t like those stories either~

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