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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Sarah Marquis

Sarah MarquisSarah Marquis, born on June 20th, 1972 in Montsevelier, a village in the Canton of Jura in northern Switzerland. Marquis is a Swiss adventurer and explorer. For three years from 2010 to 2013, she walked 20,000 kilometres (12,000 mi) alone from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, into China, Laos, Thailand, and then across Australia.

In her youth her father worked as a watchmaker for Swatch and her mother was a housewife, and she was raised with two brothers. She began exploring at a young age, and at sixteen years old she took up a job with a European train company so that she would be able to travel for free.

When she was age seventeen she traveled to Turkey, where she rode a horse across the Central Anatolia Region. In 2011, she gave a TED talk and in 2014 she was named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year.

Marquis remembers a trip she took to New Zealand in her twenties as the first time she "actually got in touch with the wild" when she spent a month in Kahurangi National Park without bringing any food.

Her later travels included canoeing through Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, camping in Patagonia, and hiking the United States' Pacific Crest Trail.

In 2000, she walked border-to-border across the United States in four months, and she spent seventeen months of 2002-03 walking across Australia, covering a total distance of 8,700 miles (14,000 km).

She hiked through the Andes of South America for eight months in 2006 where she followed part of the Andes from Chile to Machu Picchu 7000 km for those eight months. She received the help of a guide and her brother to place water caches along parts of her route.

Sarah MarquisIn 2010, Marquis began a three-year-long solo walk from Siberia through Asia and, traveling by boat from Thailand, across Australia. During this time, she maintained little human contact and pulled a 120-pound (54 kg) cart that held her clothes, spare equipment and supplies.

She was forced to evacuate her route in Mongolia in 2011 after developing a periodontal abscess, but returned to her exact location where she continued her journey.

Along the route, she was harassed by a group of Mongolian men on horseback, threatened by Laotian drug dealers, and contracted dengue fever. For reasons of security, she sometimes disguised herself as a man and tried not to leave tracks so as not to be followed.

She completed her journey in May 2013, when she arrived at a particular tree in the Nullarbor Plain that she had identified on her previous trip to Australia. In total, she walked for approximately 20,000 kilometres (12,000 mi) on her three-year long journey.

Marquis wrote a book, Sauvage par Nature ("Wild by Nature"), in 2014 and was awarded one of the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year prizes for 2014.

In 2015, Marquis walked 500 miles across Kimberley in Western Australia where she passed three months and survived by herself in the wilderness

"You don't become an adventurer: you are one. Above all else, adventure is a state of mind, a way to see things. It's often a solitary process that awakens people's fundamental principles, choices and curiosity."

Setting off on an adventure is going beyond your limits, it's feeling through your body, your senses and your spirit the foundations of your being, your very nature."

Sarah MarquisThe fire that had always burned inside her would become her passion, her job, her life. She enjoyed a wild childhood in the countryside, climbing trees and watching birds for hours at a time.

When she was a child, she burned with an intense curiosity. This inner thrill for discovery would shape her, make her flexible but strong. She emerged from childhood ready for the next step.

With no pocket money, Sarah started the thankless task of slug-hunting in the family vegetable garden at the age of 7 where she earned 1 franc for every 100 slugs. No matter the weather, she worked and saved to have the 8 francs she needed for a copy of her dream magazine, National Geographic.

When she was eight years old she took off with her dog to spend the night in a cave and didn't tell anyone where she was going.

At seventeen she crossed the Central Anatolian plains in eastern Turkey on horseback - at the time not really knowing how to ride a horse.

Her taste for travelling brought her to Australia, but it was in New Zealand that she encountered the full experience of walking and made her decision: she would walk to fulfil her desire for discovery and her need to try and understand Life.

She spent time in Patagonia, where kilometer after kilometer she explored the land. She stayed in Moorea (French Polynesia) where she was attracted to the beauty of the islands and their inhabitants. She then explored Canada by canoe.

Sarah MarquisIn 2000 she crossed the United States, from the Canadian to the Mexican border: 4,260 kilometers in four months and six days on a path full of obstacles.

She then thought she had reached the limit of her abilities until the Australian bush beckoned her once again (over the years she would always return regularly to Australia to rejuvenate): From up in her snowy mountains in Switzerland, she thought up a wild plan of crossing the Australian deserts alone on foot.

In 2002-2003 she walked 14,000 km in the Australian outback in 17 months. She started alone and then on the way she saved a red cattle dog whom became her companion ever since.

17,000 months later she would come home with him. Her brother, Joel, had met her in 4 points along the way to change out her gear and feed her with good quality food.

Joel, her brother, became indispensable when on her west leg on the canning stock route crossing the worst drought in years struck. He helped Sarah with food and collected the water ahead for her for this section. Her arrival in Alice Springs was very emotional when she found her familly was there to greet her.

In 2006, she walked on the land of the Incas, from Chile to Peru via Bolivia. Her footsteps follow the top of the Andes Mountain range for eight months - 7,000 kilometres.

In 2010 - 2013 she walked alone from Siberia to Australia meeting the wisdom of Central Asia, the tale-telling forces of the winds of the Mongolian Plains, and the moodiness of the administration in China to finally arrive on the 17th of May 2013 in south Australia (Nullarbor Plain) The exact location where she promised her special little tree many years ago that she would return.

Sarah MarquisIn 2015 Sarah felt ready for the ultimate challenge - a survival expedition. She had always wanted to survive off the land like the aboriginal people have been surviving for more than 60,000 years.

She got dropped by helicopter in the wildest part of Australia in the Kimberley region far away from humans. Three months later and 750 km further south she emerges from the Australian wilderness with a big smile on her face but very emaciated. Her first words at that moment - "food please, give me food."

National Geographic Explorer Sarah Marquis completed her solo traverse of the Kimberley's in Western Australia. Over a course of 3 months starting on June 6th, 2015.

Sarah walked 500 miles through the wildest part of the country while living off the land and arrived at her finish point on September 6th, 2015. Sarah survived the harsh conditions of the drought, close calls with saltwater crocodiles, bushfires and other dangers of the Australian bush and lost 12 kilograms of her bodyweight in the first section of it. This had turned out to be much more than a expedition, she had basically fought for her life in the Australian wilderness.

The solo walk from Siberia to Australia through the Gobi desert in winter. "It's the end of the day, the temperature has dropped to - 30C, and I'm getting ready to put up my tent. This horseman appeared from nowhere, sat down and lit a cigarette, all in total silence. Once he'd finished he nodded to me and left, soon I was consumed by the whirling snow..."

It was in 2010 Sarah travelled from Siberia to Australia, alone and on foot. From freezing cold to the desert heat, from high mountains to the jungles, 6 countries to cross, 6 different languages. More than an expedition, it's consistently going further than you think you can. This extreme walk lasted 3 years. Obstacles of all kinds had pushed Sarah beyond her limits.

Sarah Marquis"Walking in north Mongolia towards the Gobi Desert encountering life on the steppes. It's summer, the least harsh 3 months in the Mongolian year - I pass by people while pulling my cart, then stop to take a photo. Not a single head is raised. Life on the steppes goes on."

Sandstorms, hailstorms, and mudslides destroyed her tent more than once. Her camp was regularly visited at night by drunk Mongolian horsemen. In the South of Gobi Desert, Sarah had to be evacuated because a tooth infection was making her seriously ill.

When she came back to resume the walk the extreme temperatures (-35C) and deadly blizzards made progress impossible. In the end, her third attempt was successful, and she continued her journey.

"The Gobi Desert on the Chinese border. The nomads don't travel this far, but here I am, alone. I've collected firewood, and I can hear wolf howls in the distance. The next morning one circles my tent before sunrise, howling loudly."

"I am in the northern Gobi Desert. I'm getting dressed this morning when I hear small, high-pitched, plaintive sounds outside of my tent. I silently open my tent, and see them approaching while grazing on the sharp grass. They pass a few metres from my tent. I feel so close to Nature at these times."

"Walking through the Gobi Desert, 100km from the Chinese border. I was sick this morning, but I had to keep going. I didn't have enough water to wait even one more day before reaching the next water source. Life here always hangs by a slender thread."

"China was refreshing. Walking without a map (forbidden) or a GPS (forbidden), I walked through the Szechuan Mountains with my compass and years of experience as my only companions. Finally I was arrested by the military special forces and I was forced to leave the country."

"I was walking from Laos to Thailand, and at the border with Burma I plunged into the blissful water, only then spotting an elephant on the other side. I would need to light a fire that night to let these jungle creatures know I was there. Normally I hide myself away to stay safe, but here the threat weighs several tons."

Sarah Marquis"I was struck down by dengue fever in the middle of the jungle in Laos, then attacked at night by rifle-wielding drug dealers. Although shocked, she was able to avoid a tragedy."

"Crossing the ocean I travelled from Asia to Australia as a passenger on a cargo ship. I spent tense 13 days at sea alongside the crew to reach the shores of Australia."

Arriving in Western Australia the beauty of living outdoors is living with the light, and the joy of witnessing every sunrise and every sunset. Sarah was revelling in her return to this red earth that she now knows so well.

She happily shared her everyday life in the blazing heat of the wilds with crocodiles, venomous snakes, wild pigs and buffaloes. Her journey to South Australia ended in the middle of the Nullarbor Plaine. "Where land stops and sea begins".

During her incredible Australian journey ten years ago, she slept under the only tree for kilometres, which became "her tree". She promised she would come back to this tree.

And so it was that she ended her amazing expedition under this tree on 17th May 2013, 3 years after her departure. "More than an expedition, it was a constant adaptation to my environment and to all kinds of danger".

"In Northern Australia on day 836. I was overjoyed to be back in the bush, where every plant, every tree, every noise was familiar. But I would still need to pay attention to everything around me, as the bush holds constant danger from unseen threats such as crocodiles, bison and snakes."

Sarah MarquisSpending 8 months alone in the mountains in 2006, Sarah started from Santiago in Chile to travel 7000 kilometers where she would end her expedition in Peru, on the top of the majestic Incan city of Machu Picchu.

While walking through the Andes, Sarah suffered from altitude sickness for almost the entire journey. The cold weather (more than 2 months at -25C), the altitude, and wind slowed down her progress.

Her brother Joel, head of the expedition, left food and water in hiding places on the route for Sarah to find with her GPS. Even though it was meticulously organised, Sarah wondered if animals or the weather wouldn't ruin the food in the months before she reached each cache. But in the end, thanks to her brother's careful work, only one hiding place had been invaded by mice.

Sarah finished the Machu Picchu ascent at dawn. An emotional moment that didn't last long, since the adventure didn't stop there. After a few minutes at the site the authorities expelled her from the site, despite the special authorisation she had received.

"Trekking through Chile to Laguna Verde - The freezing cold, the winds and the altitude sickness were constant on my 7,000 km expedition. In Bolivia I encountered difficult living conditions at altitude."

"Going through Chile a wheeled cart and a backpack allowed me to carry my food and water until the next GPS point, where my brother Joel had buried, several months prior to my arrival my new supplies. In northern Chile I faced many moments alone in which to face the harshness, but also see the beauty of nature."

Sarah Marquis"In Bolivia I followed the footsteps of the Inca ancestors. In my possession I carried the valuable topographical maps that lead me to this perfectly aligned cordillera."

"In Peru at Machu Picchu my early arrival to the summit in the morning - from the back, on an unauthorized trail. The permit was obtained after months of negotiations. My last two expedition's nights were magical, with a full moon as my witness."

Sarah spent 510 days wandering through the Australian continent alone and covered 14,000 kilometers over 17 months. The thought of abandoning her mission never even crossed her mind. Faced with Mother Nature's un-forgivingness, she humbly confronted her destiny by pushing beyond both her physical and her mental limits.

Her basis for survival was her experience. She used her flair, her tricks and some leading-edge survival techniques borrowed from the US Army. Most of the time the animals she preyed on were faster than her.

Sometimes nature pitied her and allowed her to satisfy her appetite. Her only points of reference were her precious topographic maps and a compass that never left her side.

"At the Great Sandy Desert I still had 800 red sand dunes to cross. It was a mesmerizing place."

"Walking the Canning Stock Route I feel the isolation around me; 2,000 km of desert with no signs of life. It is a rare thing to experience a part of the world that has not been invaded by humans. And thank you to my brother Joel for this 2000 km of dry spell where he provided me with logistics - food and water."

Sarah Marquis"It was very difficult to survive. I ate roots, plants, bush fruits... but I also had to hunt. As a diligent vegetarian, it felt like I was betraying Mother Nature."

"When my dog, Joe joined me, it changed my life. He carried his water and food with pride and determination in his own backpack, for all of the 10,000 km."

"After having spent a few months without bathing, my brother Joel found me at a GPS predetermined location. I was finally able to wash myself with water from jerrycans he brought for me."

"I discovered at my own expense that my walking shoes could not be used beyond 2000 km."

Sarah crossed the United States on foot alone, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border - 4,260 km in 4 months and 6 days. It was a journey filled with lots of obstacles, forest fires, bears and police, who subjected Sarah to her first ever arrest.

"In the Mojave Desert With infernal temperatures, I faced my first crossing of the desert alone and in the state of Washington alone in the woods, I hung my food up in the trees, in hopes that the grizzlies won't steal it overnight."

"In the High Sierra in California I experienced my first mountain scare having narrowly escaped an avalanche up north. I had to wait six days at the top, before being able to finally get down one cold morning at 3 am when the snow became hard enough."


Photography copyright by Joel Marquis


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