Published: Eye Books (May 2020)

ISBN: 9781785631948

Walks on the Wild Side

John Pakenham


Exploring an unforgiving land

Are you ready to take a walk on the seriously wild side?

In the early 1980s, John Pakenham walked a total of 1,200 miles through the volcanic desert around Lake Turkana in northern  Kenya in the company of local Turkana and Samburu tribesmen  and their long-suffering donkeys.

Repeatedly beset by extreme thirst and dehydration, blistering  heat, bitterly cold torrential rains, poisonous spiders, vindictive  mosquitoes and the ever-present threat of bandits, not to mention a fatal fight between two of his companions, he was lucky to live to tell his tale.

Pakenham’s account provides a rare glimpse of a tough terrain and its even tougher inhabitants, where every day was a battle for  survival. This is extreme travel that, four decades on, still packs a powerful punch.








John Pakenham

John Pakenham was born in Zanzibar, where his father was a colonial officer. He was still a small child when his family returned to England.

After schooling in Bath, he studied theatre design and spent several years working in provincial and West End theatres. He then moved into the film industry as a special effects technician. He was one of the team responsible for the robot R2D2 in The Empire Strikes Back.

Fascinated by the journeys of past adventurers, he befriended the last of the old-school explorers, Wilfred Thesiger, who encouraged him, between movies, to travel without modern comforts, using only map and compass, donkeys and camels. That created the foundation for the treks described in Walks on the Wild Side.

He believes passionately in the need to protect the planet and its wild creatures from the damage caused by humans.

He and his wife now live in Norfolk.

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