Television host Richard Wiese has skied to the North Pole, climbed Tanzania's Oldonyo Lengai volcano (while it was erupting) and led the daring Explorers Club, whose ranks have included Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong. His latest challenge, though, is on television, attempting to bring a cultural perspective and a touch of humility to the adventure travel genre that so often relies on testosterone-fueled antics.
The program, "Born to Explore," kicks off in Australia, where Wiese visits not just Uluru but also Kakadu National Park, a nearly 8,000-square-mile wild expanse in the Northern Territory, and the Tiwi Islands, where locals still practice traditional fishing and hunting techniques and share with Wiese the native culture -- including a "smoking ceremony."
Huffington Post Travel spoke to Richard by phone about his new show, which airs Saturday mornings on ABC, before he jetted off to his next destinations of Botswana and Uganda.
HuffPost Travel: What makes Born to Explore different than the many other adventure travel shows out there?
Richard Wiese: It's an adventure show for sure, but it's so much more inclusive of people and cultures. The difference we're trying to make is that I've taken a lot of my personal testosterone out of the show. Whether it's Everest or the North Pole, the most memorable aspect of a trip is the people you meet along the way. It's not some "going for the glory" adventure. When you have time to talk to and listen to people, you come out with little life lessons.
Wiese: One observation is on the question of "What makes people happy?" I find it always comes around to sense of community. Just as an example, I didn't even know that there were still active Mayan communities. But recently in Belize, I discovered there are active, wholly Mayan communities there.
HPT: Why film in Australia?
Wiese: Australia has always been in my consciousness. And this project was in a way hatched in Kakadu. We were flying over and I thought, if we ever do our own show, this would be a great place to start. The reason I find the Northern Territory interesting is it's exotic, it's very pretty and it's got an intact culture that's the oldest in the world. From an explorer's perspective, there are still things to discover.
HPT: Many travelers know Uluru, but what's the story of the Tiwi Islands, which you visit in your show airing today?
Wiese: Melville and Bathurst are two islands in the Arafura Sea [just north of Australia]. Talk about a place that's so off the radar for travelers. This would've been one of the first places that Aboriginal people would've come through when they came to Australia. People have been there for 60,000 years.
HPT: Any other memorable experiences in Australia?
Wiese: Watching the sunset with 200 other people in Kakadu National Park. It was the perfect ambient temperature for being in a T-shirt, the air smelled nice and we watched this amazing sunset. You don't realize how much stress you have until you remove it. The sunset was a moment to reflect on and say, this is neat.
HPT: Where to next and later this season?
Wiese: I just got back from Iceland, which is a pretty amazing place. We went herding sheep with a group, riding these Icelandic horses. Later, on the way to the airport, we were late because we got stuck behind 3,000 sheep clogging the street. Next, I'm going to Botswana and Uganda for gorilla trekking. We're hitting some neat places, but there's a lot of world left to see in 26 episodes.