When the search for new discoveries takes scientists to some of the very darkest and dangerous regions on Earth, it is up to an elite group of survivalists to lead and protect them during their mission. On April 20 the Facebook page for “Trailblazers” provided a photo and a link to some information on one of these guides saying, “Gary Humphrey uses his vast expertise around the world to lead scientific expeditions and protect high-profile TV and movie productions.” Humphrey is one of three trailblazers who will battle harsh elements, dangerous wildlife and deadly terrain in order to accomplish their task, while at the same time making sure everyone on their team stays safe.
Humphrey has quite an impressive and fascinating background. After joining the British military at the age of 20, he spent the next 17 years serving in the Royal Marines and the UK Special Forces. His perfectly honed survival skills have served him and others well as he led scientific expeditions, performed black ops security engagements and protected TV and movie productions such as Top Gear and Robin Hood. He has worked as a bodyguard as well, protecting many well-known celebrities such as Matt Damon and Anthony Bourdain. No stranger to the camera, he has also worked on Australian-based Discovery shows “One Car Too Far” and “Car vs. Wild.”
In this exclusive interview with Examiner, he shares a little about what it takes to successfully lead a team into the largely unexplored jungle of Papua New Guinea. He stated that in order to reach their destination, they had to spend 10 days in the country prepping and getting everything ready, and then it took seven more days for the team to reach the area where they could actually begin the expedition. Humphrey did run into some problems with his visa when he first arrived, but fortunately that was quickly cleared up.
Once they were headed out, he was responsible for leading the expedition, and was constantly watching for hidden dangers within the flora and fauna of the jungle. When arriving at their camp site he did a thorough sweep of the area for snakes, insects and other dangers. Safety is at the forefront of everything he does, and Humphrey stated that if he needed to, that he is able to contact the outside world. “In the jungle things can go wrong very quickly. You only have to step over a log without looking. We always have to check in. We have a sat phone, sometimes we have two. We have GPS, a compass and a map, and we have to check in every 24 to 36 hours.” He went on to say that they work to stay on schedule and try not to get into situations requiring outside assistance.
Humphrey, who is also known as “Swiss Army Knife” because of his ability to do almost anything, shared that there are certain items he always carries with him on this type of an assignment. Besides a military blanket called a woobie and his trusty machete, he carries a fire-stick around his neck. He also carries a flashlight, lighter and a small knife. “If something goes wrong then I can always survive with what I have with me,” he explained.
On a personal note, Humphrey talked about taking his two sons on a trip to the Serengeti in Africa. He remarked that his family is used to what he does, but this was something he was able to share with his sons, and that it was an amazing experience for them all. “We went for three and a half weeks and we had a blast,” he said. “It was awesome to see them make fire and things like that. They loved it.” For those who would like to learn more and to keep up with what Humphrey is doing now, he encourages everyone to check out his Facebook page.
According to Red Carpet Crash, each hour-long episode of “Trailblazers” will follow the three teams as they trek through some of the most dangerous, hostile and inhospitable locations found anywhere in the world. Besides Humphrey and his team, the series will follow two other teams as well. Former Marine Nick Koumalatsos, along with professional snake wrangler Chris Gillette, will brave the harsh and hostile jungles of Bolivia in order to get their team safely to their camp site. Shaun Keilen is a former Navy Seal, and he will be leading his team into the heart of the rough, volcanic landscapes of Ecuador.
Although the expeditions are extremely dangerous, every team has a job to do. The three teams seek to accomplish something incredibly important by searching for clues and hopefully the scientists will make discoveries that could lead to major scientific breakthroughs. Although the stakes are high, the rewards could change the world as we know it.
Will you be watching Gary Humphrey and the other trailblazers in this new series? Leave your comments, thoughts and opinions below. The “Trailblazers” premiere airs on Friday, April 29 at 10 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.