All posts


Levison Wood stands as a distinguished explorer, photographer, bestselling author, and acclaimed documentary maker.

Date posted: 06 May 2024, 11:00am

Article length: 8 minutes

Levison Wood is widely celebrated for embarking on world-renowned expeditions through some of the planet's most challenging terrains and issuing captivating visual storytelling. 

With a former position as a Regular Officer in the British Parachute Regiment, he boasts a lifetime dedicated to traversing the globe. Passionate about supporting causes close to his heart, he aligns with organisations such as UNICEF and the Soldiers Charity.

His commitment to pushing boundaries and fostering a deeper understanding of humanity resonates with our ethos. We are excited to welcome him as a Brand Ambassador for Emerald Stay and eagerly anticipate sharing this journey together. 

Read our complete interview with Levison Wood below.

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

How did it all begin, and which achievement are you most proud of?

It all started with my career in the Army. I spent 5 years in the parachute regiment, serving in Afghanistan, and that really set me up for life, fueling a thirst for adventure but also equipping me with the skills to pursue my boyhood dreams. However, I think the biggest achievement for me was walking the entire length of the River Nile, 6500 kilometres over 9 months. It wasn’t just an incredible adventure but also a huge learning experience for myself, revealing what I could realise and opening my eyes to many things in the world. That expedition kicked off my whole career I guess.

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood


I think I have wanted to be an explorer since I was 10, and joining the Army was like a stepping stone to achieve that. I read all the stories of explorers from previous ages and it deeply inspired me. I loved Hemingway of course, and Eric Newby also, a post war writer, one of my favourites. But while I initially desired to be an explorer, I now know  that I had always wanted to be a writer as well. Crafting a book about exploration turned out to be the perfect fusion of my aspirations. 

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

Many would ‘label’ you as an explorer. What does that term mean in today's context?

Exploration has undoubtedly changed. We have Google Maps, we’re no longer putting flags on the earth anymore, wearing pith helmets and khaki shorts! I think nowadays it is about documenting moments in time, conducting scientific research and saving the planet. Anyone who works in the field of exploration today is a conservationist, facing the evidence of the enormous changes and trying to address them.

In your opinion, what makes a trip truly extraordinary? Could you share some cherished memories and essential lessons learnt on the road?

For me, what makes journeys extraordinary are the people I meet along the way-the characters who make you laugh and get you through the tough times. I've met plenty of amazing people, including the Dalai Lama when I walked the Himalayas, but also normal people in villages, such as shepherds and fishermen, who invite you into their homes and offer a cup of tea. These gestures of hospitality you wouldn't expect to receive in places like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, just change it all. 

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

Photograph by Simon Buxton

Looking ahead, what's coming next? Is there a particular route or mission still missing on your dream map?

Well, there is one particular project I'm currently working on that I'm really proud of. As I mentioned earlier, we explorers now are inherently conservationists. Having explored every natural environment across the globe, I've seen the effects of climate change and one of the biggest tragedies, in my view, is the habitat loss for wildlife. I'm writing a book and making another documentary, both centred around trees this time, in the Amazon, Congo, Alaska, Africa, and other regions. I am looking for historical trees in literature, the tallest tree, the oldest, everything. 

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

Photograph by Simon Buxton

As a UNICEF UK Ambassador, you’ve been photo-documented stories of refugees and children formerly associated with armed groups. Returning after that must be quite an experience. Where do you find renewed energy and a sense of home? 

I believe the reason I do this is that I really value the power of education. Actually, both of my parents were teachers, and this background may have instilled in me a deep understanding of the importance of protecting and inspiring the next generation. That's what gives me hope, especially after returning from these places where I've seen war, poverty, and tragedy. There are so many inspiring young individuals out there, resilient kids who are doing amazing positive things. 

In addition to my involvement with UNICEF, I work with several organisations and universities, including the one where I studied myself. I personally fund a school for young girls in Afghanistan, even if it is not allowed. I am an Ambassador for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, an initiative that greatly influenced me when I was a kid and continues to inspire millions of children worldwide, and I am a mentor at the Explorers Club in New York. What motivates me the most in all this is that we haven't lost hope yet.

We've already caught a glimpse of your personality, but to clarify further, who or what inspires you? Do you have a guiding philosophy or motto?

You know now that when I was younger I was drawing inspiration from the great explorers, like Shackleton, Robert Scott, Jacques Cousteau, David Livingstone. I also look up to modern ones like Ranulph Fiennes for example, and those currently acting in the field of conservation. But I admire more humble people as well, who are working on the ground. When I was in Congo with UNICEF, working with these children who had been involved in atrocities, I was highly impressed by the families serving as surrogate ones, welcoming the kids and looking after them for a year or two so as to get them back into society. It makes me feel very humbled. 

If I were to choose a motto, since I like to take calculated risks, I might borrow a quote from Joseph Campbell, a main literary analyst and philosopher, who said that “In the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek”.  

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

Photo: Tom McShane

Switching gears, can you still travel purely for leisure? Any favourite spots or ideal vacation?

That's a question I've been battling with for the past 10 years as I've turned all of my hobbies into my work, which might be dangerous sometimes. Yet, 6 months ago I decided to live like a digital nomad for a while. With a single bag, I set off to travel to amazing places and it was great fun. So, yes, I can! 

At Emerald Stay, we offer our guests to "Experience the luxury of space".  As a world, nature, culture, and life explorer, what does "THE space" spontaneously refer to for you? 

Firstly, having a sense of community, ‘space’ evokes a place where you can bring your people. This actually aligns with the question I’ve had all my life: what is home? To me, it’s a general feeling that can manifest in any space that provides me comfort, where I can relax, enjoy some privacy with friends or family. Then, ‘space’ is where I can truly be mindful of the present moment, get into the flow of whatever activity I'm doing, whether that's writing a book or doing yoga, dedicating time to myself. That's what space is to me, a sense of presence. 

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

Photo: Simon Boxton

And lastly, what defines your personal “luxury”? 

Time is my personal luxury I think, time and freedom-freedom from being constrained by other people's schedules. In my view, the ultimate luxury is being able to spend my time wherever I want. Of course, I do have a few other luxuries, such as a very nice watch from a Swiss brand, and my fantastic Leica camera that is always close by! 

Adventures, anchors, legacy: conversation with Levison Wood

Related Articles

Property Management

Entrust us the management of your property

Emerald Stay's true value lies in the combined experience of its leaders in the technology, hospitality and real estate sectors. We bring all our expertise to the task of providing a highly digital, hassle-free solution for the monetization of premium homes in lifestyle destinations. We call it Smart Ownership, a simple idea fulfilled through an avant-garde execution that requires no effort from your side, other than enjoying your home when you want to, and earning yield while you are not there. We take care of everything else. Everything


Stay up to date

Sign up