I’m totally wild about danger
ADVENTURER Hazen Audel loves his job so much he keeps risking his life for it.
The survival expert, 44, regularly goes to some of the most extreme places on the planet.
And he has lost count of the times his passion has put him in peril.
Hazen said: “I don’t go out looking for danger. I just try to find the wildest places because that’s where the wildest animals are. And to get to those places you have to do unorthodox things.
“I have gotten myself into some hairy situations. I’ve had near-death experiences. But I’m still alive so I don’t really know how close I came to dying.
“A lot of the places I’ve been to don’t have roads, so to get from one place to another you have to make cables out of bamboo to swing across a canyon or a river.
“I’m not trying to be dangerous – it just comes with the territory.”
During recent trips cheated death yet again.
He said: “One of the hairiest situations I’ve had was while I was harvesting honey in China. To get to the beehive we had to climb a 300ft cliff.
“There were 5,000 bees and I was getting stung constantly while I was on a ladder way up high. So I could have easily fallen to my death. It could have been horrific.
“It was even more dangerous when I was in Africa. I was with some hunters at a watering hole waiting to see what animals were around.
“We saw an elephant on the horizon. They kill a lot of people there, so the men were on high alert. And then suddenly there were five elephants and we became scared.
“Pretty soon it was a herd of about 80 of them coming towards us at full speed because they wanted water.
“If we had stayed we would have been trampled to death. We ran for our lives.”
Even when he is face to face with deadly animals, US-born Hazen isn’t fazed.
In fact, he seeks them out.
He said: “I have always loved snakes and I’d always wanted to see a cobra. And on a recent trip I came across one in a rice field.
“I also saw a rare snake called a bamboo viper. That was really magical. When we were in Africa we were being stalked by hyenas. That was cool.”
While exploring the Dulong Valley in China, Hazen also faced bears.
And in the Guyanan jungle he survived piranha-infested waters and dodged biologist Hazen crocodiles. Hazen added: “People might think I’m a sicko for wanting to be near a cobra. But I just get tunnel vision when I see things I’m really passionate about.”
Hazen has wanted to see wild animals since he was young.
He said: “I’d always wanted to become a biologist. When I was 19 I went to Ecuador and stayed for seven months. I enjoyed learning about the native people. I was interested in how they live their lives.
“I went back every year for the next eight years and now I explore the world for a living. It’s a dream job.”
Hazen runs a successful web series about wild animals and leads guided trips through places including the Amazon.
His craziest jaunts can be seen in an eye-popping series for National Geographic – Primal Survivor.
Hazen said: “This series shows how natives live and co-exist with different animals, and the challenges they face to bring up their families and to survive. “I want to show that there is half of the world where people have an amazing relationship with nature. And I want to show how skilled they are. This is so important to me.”
Series four of Primal Survivor is on Thursday at 8pm on National Geo. ■SOME FIN SCARY: Hazen comes face to face with a shark ■TOP OF WORLD: At altitude in Mexico. Above, Canadian chill