Over the past 7 years I’ve undertaken many challenges and adventures throughout the world. From cycling in Vietnam on a £10 bike, learning how to survive in the Jungle with a Burmese Hill Tribe, trekking the Himalayas, competing in the martial art of Muay Thai in Thailand and becoming a scuba diving instructor. My insatiable appetite for testing my limits and exploring the unknown has never waned, in fact it just gets stronger and I’m in the process of planning my third world expedition.
My first expedition saw me walk 1500 miles across Mongolia from Olgii to Choybalsan, solo and unsupported, pulling 120kg of provisions in order for me to survive this extreme trek through the Altai mountains, Gobi desert and Mongolian Steppe. My second expedition saw me walk 1600 miles through Madagascar’s interior on its mountainous central ridge, reaching the summit of eight of its highest mountains, and becoming the first person to do so.
I knew staying clean on these expeditions at times would be a challenge in itself, but felt it a necessity, given the high temperatures and humid environments. The fresh feeling of cleanliness was something that set me up for my difficult day ahead. I could not always wash due to lack of water but would never miss an opportunity to clean if it arose. When I found myself near a settlement I would take the opportunity to wash down and shave or trim my facial hair, and whenever I was near a water hole or shallow river I’d jump in.
I remember coming across a mighty waterfall cascading down 20 metres of a sheer rock face. This water was so refreshing as I’d been walking in 40 degrees that particular day and, as you can imagine, was dripping with sweat which slowed my pace and frustrated me at times. Of course I’d have to be very careful there were no crocs lurking. On one occasion my guide and I were enjoying wading into a body of water to wash down, when locals came running over shouting in Malagasy to get out of the water because there were crocodiles in there.
Going to the toilet was not quite so straight forward at times especially if I’d eaten something that had upset my stomach, which happened on numerous occasions. There would be no notice at times and basically I’d have to drop my pants there and then. When I was suffering with malaria there was a time that I woke up to activity happening outside my hut, as people stood watching with amusement at a family of Ringtail lemurs playing close by. I had this sudden urge to go and knew I’d have to leave my hut to get to the toilet block a few yards away. I felt so fortunate to witness these beautiful creatures but could not stay to observe and enjoy them, and had quite an audience of people watching me make a very quick dash in the opposite direction.
Another occasion was in the Gobi Desert, miles upon miles away from any other human. I had to dash out of my tent completely naked to let loose; this was awful, and I had an audience of wild camels in the distance as I used nothing but a small bottle of water to clean. It’s times like these where you appreciate a good fully functioning bathroom with privacy!
About Ash Dykes:
Ash is a British Adventurer, Extreme Athlete, 2x World First Record Holder, TEDx Speaker, speciality master scuba diving instructor, Muay Thai Fighter and in 2014 became the first person ever to complete a solo & unsupported walk across Mongolia, over the Altai Mountains, Gobi Desert & Mongolian Steppe, covering 1,500 miles in 78 days knocking 22 days off the predicted time.