To say Reza Pakravan has a thirst for adventure might be an understatement. He gasps, it seems, to find outlets for his ominous actions.
The 46-year-old cycled 18,000 miles from Norway to Africa, fought thieves and malaria along the way, cycled through the Sahara and traveled 4,000 miles through the Amazon rainforest. That would be enough adventure for most to last a lifetime. But not Reza.
Last year he found himself on the wild frontiers of travel again – this time traveling across the breadth of Africa from Senegal to Somalia via the Sahel, a strip of land stretching across the southern border of the Sahara. It’s an amazing odyssey chronicled by the new four-part show The World’s Most Dangerous Borders. And the title is no exaggeration.
Rez is pictured here climbing the rock-cut Abuna Yemata Guh Church in Ethiopia
Rez talks to a Malian hunter, who helps protect the local population from terrorists
At one point he was held at gunpoint.
He told MailOnline Travel: ‘I was held at gunpoint in Niger. I was in the desert on the outskirts of Agadez filming migrants on their way to Libya and then to Europe. While I was interviewing them, a few men suddenly came up to me with their faces covered. They were people smugglers and didn’t want us or our cameras there.
“They threatened to shoot me if I didn’t leave immediately. It was terrifying. ‘
Being handed over to Sundanese intelligence was another ‘dark moment’.
He said: ‘I entered Sudan via Darfur and, despite all permits and relevant papers, was arrested by the military and handed over to Sudanese intelligence.
‘The country was going through a revolution and they didn’t want us there. I was arrested for four days, completely cut off from the rest of the world, not knowing what they would do to us. It was a very dark moment. ‘
A ‘beautiful old’ village in Burkina Faso with traditional architecture and home to the Kasana people
A funeral in Dogon Country in Mali, the place Rez visited on his journey that he would most like to return to
Tense boundaries: soldiers in the Malian army on their way to fight al-Qaeda
The purpose of the three and a half month journey was to tell the untold stories of those living in the wild lands of this tense frontier.
To do this, Reza traveled with the locals as they do by any means available, whether on animal carts, in the back of pick-ups, or on foot.
He also ate the same local foods from the same bowls.
The result is a ‘unique insight’ into some of the most diverse and fascinating cultures on Earth.
And he risked his life several times to bring it.
In addition to his terrifying moments in Niger and Sudan, Reza was caught in a deadlock between the Malian army and Al-Qaeda and narrowly escaped the attacks of Boko Haram in Diffa, one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Towards the end of his epic 5,000-mile journey, Reza traversed the hottest place on Earth, the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, at the hottest time of the year, with temperatures reaching 50 ° C.
Rez is pictured here on the ‘incredible’ sandstone Sindou peaks in Burkina Faso, which he says he encountered after ‘widespread terrorist attacks and violence’ pushed his group off the main road into rural areas
Somaliland offers some of the most amazing trekking experiences, Rez said
A member of a militia in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Here Rez was arrested and handed over to the intelligence services despite the correct papers
The Niger army is on its way to battle Boko Haram. Rez was held at gunpoint in Niger
The World’s Most Dangerous Frontiers is launching today in digital HD on all digital platforms and starting November 27 on Amazon Prime Video
He had to fight for his survival when the water ran out, only to be rescued by Afar people, who call the depression their home.
However, Reza did not spend the entire 5,000 mile journey on the brink of death.
There were many moments filled with uplifting wonder. Many arrived in Mali.
Reza, who lives in Maida Vale, London, added: “Everything about Mali is unique. The tribes, landscapes and places are frozen in time. The people are warm and friendly, the traditions flourish and the way of life has remained the same in many parts for centuries.
‘The plastering of the mosque ceremony in the city of Djenné is something I will never forget. Three days of plasterers and parties, it felt like Notting Hill Carnival in the middle of Mali. ‘
The most dangerous borders in the world launches today in digital HD on all digital platforms and from November 27 on Amazon Prime Video.