AOA 098 | Carl Hoffman | Cannibals, Dangerous Journeys, And Adventure Writing

“The role of an artist is to open people’s minds” – Carl Hoffman

I caught up with this weeks guest at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival here in Bali to talk about adventure travel writing.

Carl Hoffman is one of the greatest modern adventure travel authors. He is the author of Savage HarvestThe Lunatic Express, and Hunting Warbirds, as well as being a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler. Carl has traveled to more than 75 countries on assignment for Outside; Smithsonian; National Geographic Adventure; ESPN, the Magazine; Wired; Men’s Journal; Popular Mechanics and many other publications.

Savage Harvest was a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times “editor’s pick.” named it the best non-fiction book of 2014. For the project, Carl learned to speak Indonesian and lived in a remote village amidst 10,000 square miles of road-less swamp with a tribe of former headhunters and cannibals on the southwest coast of New Guinea.

In this episode shares come great stories about how he wrote Savage Harvest and how he approaches writing books and journalism. It was great to hear Carl’s process of uncovering the story and understanding the situation.

Another one of my favorite moments of the interview was the story of his bus ride across Afghanistan where the bus breaks down in the region of a dangerous warlord.

So if you are curious about how you can become a travel writer, or are a fan of intriguing stories about far off places, this is the interview for you!

Carl Hoffman Art of Adventure


“I’m overcome constantly with ideas for stories” – Carl Hoffman

“What draws us to tribal people in the first place?” – Carl Hoffman

“When I’m reporting, I put aside my personal needs” – Carl Hoffman

“Good journalism is trying to perceive the soul of a place” – Carl Hoffman

“The way to be a good writer is by reading” – Carl Hoffman

“Books resonate with you when you need them” – Carl Hoffman

“The role of an artist is to open people’s minds” – Carl Hoffman

“Writing a book becomes an effort to understand” – Carl Hoffman

“Try to write as simply as you can” – Carl Hoffman

“Adventure is doing something unexpected” – Carl Hoffman

“I have an antenna up at all times to find the end of my story” – Carl Hoffman

What you will learn:

-How to choose what stories to write about

-What it takes to produce a NYT bestselling adventure travel book

-How to be prepared as a journalist

-The Evolution of being an Author as a career

-How to get paid as a travel journalist

-How to approach reading as a writer

-How to navigate the farthest, most remote places on our planet

-How to fit in in any culture

-How to find the right people to be your journalistic sources

carl hoffman Art of Adventure

Continue the Adventure (Resources from this episode):

Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art

The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World . . . via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes

Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II


Reading recommendations from Carl:

Tony Horwitz

Wilfred Thesiger

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft (Enriched Classics)

Thanks Carl Hoffman!

If you enjoyed this session of The Art of Adventure Podcast, let Carl know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out on Twitter:

Click here to thank Carl on Twitter

Support the Art of Adventure!

This podcast is supported by listeners like you! Become a patron of the Art of Adventure on Patreon

Patreon Art of Adventure

Subscribe to The Art of Adventure Podcast for free in iTunes or Stitcher. If you enjoyed the show, please help us by leaving a 5-star rating and review!

You might also like these episodes:
AOA 067 | Matt Prior | Adventure Academy
AOA 074 | Colin Wright | The Future Of Publishing
AOA 069 | Kimanzi Constable | How To Sell 100,000 Books And Move To Hawaii

This episode is brought to you by the Travel Wisdom Podcast!

Ladan talks to all sorts of people (check out my episode here) and asks how travel has improved their lives. He’s and interesting dude who has spent about $30k to travel to 80 countries because he believes like I do that travel is an investment into your future.

Go to Travel Wisdom Podcast or find Travel Wisdom in iTunes or Stitcher or your favorite podcasting app. I love listening to the show and you should give it a try – I think you will as well.

Travel Wisdom Podcast Art of Adventure

You will also like:
The Best Art Of Adventure Podcast Episodes
AOA 050 | 50 Shades Of Adventure: The Best Ideas From The First 50 Episodes

AOA 096 | Monty Hooke | Increase Your Leverage With A Virtual Team

Monty Hooke Art of Adventure

"There is a ceiling to what you can make on your own" - Monty Hooke Monty Hooke is the founder of EZYVA, theBali Entrepreneurs Resort, and the author of Business Hacker. After observing the likes of Richard Branson and marveling at how one man … [Continue reading]

AOA 095 | Marc Freccero | The Musical Expression Of Adventure

Marc Freccero Art of Adventure

"Right now we are in the most creative period in human history" - Marc Freccero Today's guest on the Art of Adventure is an Electronic Music (EDM) artist, DJ, and Parkour athlete. He spent most of a year traveling the USA and writing songs about … [Continue reading]