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Signs of Life: a 53,000-mile Bike Ride Around the World with Doctor Stephen Fabes

Follow travel author and doctor Stephen Fabes on a six year, 53,000-mile journey from his home in London across Europe, Africa, The Americas, Australia and Asia. He will cross deserts, jungles and the highest mountain ranges in the world; he will face the freezing winds of a Mongolian winter and the stifling heat of an Indonesian summer. In Peru, he is held up at gunpoint; in Nepal, a deadly blizzard strikes; in Kenya, he dodges shifta bandits; in Portland, he joins a naked rave. This is a story about slow travel, no fixed plans, time to absorb the shifting rhythms of everyday life, time for serendipity, for adventure, exploration and risk.

But it’s also more than that. It’s also a story about us. Stephen had a good job as an emergency room doctor, working at a prestigious hospital in London for the NHS. His many years of training had just finished, his career was poised to take off. But he wanted more. He saw the years of his life unfolding before him, and though he was proud of what that life would be, it felt too predictable, too safe, not enough uncertainty, not enough adventure. So, he left. He cycled away from the hospital he worked at and didn’t return for six long years. He traded a comfortable city lifestyle for a $10 per day budget, wild camping by the side of the road. And guess what: he loved every minute of it.

But the more he travelled, the more the doctor in him began to resurface. He visited medical clinics, mental health facilities and refugee slums. He volunteered at some of the poorest, and most war-torn regions at the planet. And the more he did, the more he began to realise that health is far more complex than simply what’s happening inside the body. It is part of an intricate web of social and political forces; it is influenced by everything from geography and climate to belief and economics. By seeing the world through the eyes of a doctor, he shows us humanity at its most cruel, but also its most compassionate. He shows us that we are inextricably bound together, that we affect each other no matter how different or distant we may seem. In the margins of the world, he finds the connections that bind us all. He finds our common humanity, our Signs of Life.

Highlights include:

· Cycle around six continents, a whirlwind journey through some of the planet’s harshest, most beautiful and awe-inspiring places.

· Ride across Europe in winter, dodge lions in Botswana, scale the Andes and the Himalayas, bike across China and Mongolia, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

· Visit some of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities on Earth, hear their stories of cruelty and compassion desperation and hope.

· See the world through a doctor’s eyes, learning about the broader forces at work that affect global healthcare, from politics to climate change.

· Be inspired to break out of the mould and set off on your own big adventure, wherever that may be


all images (c) Stephen Fabes (

Who’s the Guest?

Stephen Fabes is a medical doctor with a bad case of wanderlust and no sense of direction. He finally found his way home in 2016 after cycling the length of six continents – a six-year adventure across 75 countries and 53,000 miles. Stephen uses human stories to explore the landscape of health and disease. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, the Telegraph, Geographical, CNN and the BBC among others. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an inspiring public speaker and a regular at live storytelling nights. He currently works in the Emergency Department at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Signs of Life is his first book. It’s inspiring, hilarious, insightful and a great read. Check it out on Amazon and other booksellers., @stephenfaves (Instagram), @drstephenfabes (twitter), @cyclingthe6 (Facebook)


Want to see Stephen having a lot of fun cycling across the Bolivian Salt Flats? Yeah, it's awesome, of course you do ...

Here's a couple videos from Stephen's blog during the journey ... first up, the good times

But every adventure also has some tough times too ...

Book This Trip!

OK ... maybe not this exact one. 53,000-miles is a little extreme for most of us. But you can book trips inspired by the show. I have set up an adventure travel agency where I use my 15-years experience as a travel writer for The Times of London, National Geographic Traveller and others to help you plan out and book your dream trip. Just drop me a line - let's make that adventure happen!

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