Interview: Air Miles with Alice Morrison

31 Jan 2020 by Hannah Brandler

Alice Morrison is a Scottish adventurer, author and TV presenter based in Morocco. We caught up with her before she set off on her next thrilling adventure: a 2,000-kilometre trek across the Sahara.

What attracted you to a life of adventure?

I was CEO of a media development agency and had a great job, nice clothes, a car and a lovely home. Then everything changed when I had to fold the company and was effectively made redundant. It was a really difficult time, even more so for my staff, and I was bruised and battered by it so I chose to do something really positive. I signed up for the longest bike race in the world and cycled 12,000 km from Cairo to Cape Town, and that was it. My feet were on the path.

How has climate change affected your travels?

This year, I became the first woman to walk the entirety of the 1,500 km Draa River in Morocco and was confronted with the effects of climate change in the most physical way possible. The last few hundred kilometres of the journey was over land that had previously been barren but able to support nomads with their camels and flocks.

Now, it is completely dried out. Even the tiniest, scrubbiest little plant was dead. We had to carry food for the camels as well as ourselves. For days and days, I walked across a landscape burned to nothing.

How do you remain safe?

I always take a guide if I’m going to a new place in the mountains or desert. Both are easy to get lost in or to slip and break something, and if you are on your own that can be disastrous. I carry basic first aid, a thermal blanket, a mobile, walking poles, a whistle and a mirror for signalling.

What are you most looking forward to in the Sahara?

Walking with Brahim, Brahim and Addi, and our camels (Hunter, Hamish, Alasdair, Callum, Murdo and Sausage) for three glorious months across the wildest terrain on earth. I love being with my team and being totally immersed in nature. I feel like my truest self.

How are you preparing for the extreme weather in the Sahara?

I am most worried about the cold at night. The heat is doable. I am a Craghoppers ambassador and they have kitted me up with new merino base layers and a fantastic warm jacket, the Expolite – which is sustainable and doesn’t wear down.

Is it hard to settle back into reality after an adventure?

Yes, and that is one of the few drawbacks to my wonderful life. Adventuring definitely is addictive and going cold turkey is a nightmare.

How do you equip yourself for dangerous species?

The Sahara is home to the Deathstalker Scorpion and the Horned Viper, so I will be carrying anti-venom with me and wearing high-ankle boots. Top tip: never turn over a stone with your hand in the desert as scorpions live under them, use your feet.

What has been your toughest experience abroad?

My job means I am doing tough things all the time so this answer may not be what you expect. If you want to open yourself up to a country you are travelling in, you have to take risks. You have to swallow your embarrassment and try to meet and talk to people. I always learn a bit of the language and then give it a go. It is actually really challenging every time but worth the effort.

What has been the most rewarding experience of your career?

Running across the finish line of the Everest Trail Race was amazing. It was a six-day ultra-marathon around Everest with around 15,000 metres of climbing which was a total stretch for me. I moved my whole life into the mountains to train for it and had to transform myself mentally and physically. When I actually completed it I was empty but, a year later, I still look at my medal and smile.

Is it difficult to travel with equipment?

It can be – especially things like Swiss army knives and fuel tablets. However, I would rather that the airlines were strict and kept us safe.

What are your dream destinations?

My list is long but I really want to go scuba diving in Sudan and also adventuring in Saudi Arabia.

What are your indispensable travel gadgets?

My tiny Esbit stove and titanium cup. You can boil half a litre of water with one cube of fuel and it weighs nothing and the stove fits into the cup. I do love a cup of rooibos tea in my tent.

What’s your in-flight entertainment pick?

My book 1001 Nights, and I’ve just started watching The Morning Show on Apple TV Plus and absolutely love it. I used to work in TV news and so the characters are very recognisable.



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