Event Detail


Exploring Amazonia

Robin Hanbury Tenison
Monday, 21 Mar 2011
British Council, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty
Robin Hanbury Tenison returns to Hong Kong to entertain and enlighten, this time on South America

There will be two lectures for this evenng neither require pre booking, members HK$100 non members HK$150.

6.00pm onwards drinks
6.30pm – 7.30pm Lecture 1 8.00pm – 9.00pm Lecture 2

Book signing prior to lecture 1 and between lectures 1 and 2

Robin HanburyTenison, perhaps the greatest explorer of his era, having led some 30 international expeditions on every continent, who has saved more than 500 minority ethnic groups around the world through his charity, Survival International, is the author of some 20 books and holds the Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal talks on "Exploring Amazonia: The Great Explorers of South America ". He traces the history of the exploration of the wonders of the South American continent from the great explorers of South America to his own early pioneering travels across the continent. There can perhaps be no one better in the world to lecture on this topic, since Mr HanburyTenison himself made the first land crossing of South America at its widest point and the first river crossing of South America from north to south from the Orinoco to Buenos Aires.

Early European exploration started with the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors, in particular Hernando de Soto and Francisco Pizarro, with whom the lecture begins. Despite the colonisation and development of the coast of the continent though, by the end of the nineteenth century, much of South America had barely been explored. It held few roads to connect major cities, relying instead on waterways for travel and trade, frequently blocked by hostile peoples along the riverbanks or by whitewater rapids.

In the first three decades of the twentieth century, however, several adventurers made extensive treks into the heavily forested and often treacherous interior of this continent. Their work offered a glimpse of South America's glorious flora and fauna, along with a view of its human cultures and past histories. Among the many discoveries of the era, Percy Fawcett surveyed country boundaries and mapped rivers, including the Rio Verde, from 190610. In 1911, Hiram Bingham discovered the ruins of the Incas at Machu Picchu, and three years later Theodore Roosevelt and Candido Rondon travelled the mysterious "River of Doubt " to prove that it did in fact join the Amazon.

Mr HanburyTenison was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1957, he made his first expedition driving from London to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Just a year later, he made the extraordinary achievement of making the first land crossing of South America at its widest point, for which he was awarded the Ness Award of the Royal Geographical Society. In the 1960s he made Saharan camel travels with Tuareg, the first river crossing of South America from north to south from the Orinoco to Buenos Aires and the Amazonas Expedition by Hovercraft, from Manaus to Trinidad. In 1969, he led the TransAfrican Expedition by hovercraft from Dakar to Lake Chad to the Congo.

In 1971, Mr HanburyTenison became the founding chairman of Survival International, the worldwide movement to support tribal peoples. He was Chairman until 1981, when he received an OBE for his work, and he has since been President. On Survival International's behalf he has led innumerable overseas missions assisting in the saving of remote tribes and indigenous peoples in South America, Africa, SE Asia, India, Siberia and Canada.

In 197879, Mr HanburyTenison led the Royal Geographical Society's largest expedition ever, taking 140 scientists to the interior of Sarawak in Borneo for which he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Patron’s Gold Medal in 1979. The research from this expedition, and his book, "Mulu: the Rainforest ", started the international concern for tropical rainforests. Since 1980, Mr HanburyTenison has been on innumerable expeditions including walking across the Kalahari Desert with Bushmen, expeditions in Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela, lived with the Yanomami tribe in Brazil, rode two Camargue horses across France, rode along the Great Wall of China, led a mission to investigate the arrest of Malaysian environmentalists and innumerable other expeditions.

Mr HanburyTenison has been a Council Member, VicePresident and Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society, an International Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellow, is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, a winner of the Krug Award for Excellence, holds the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, was Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, when he organised the largest peacetime demonstration in British history and was Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. Mr HanburyTenison is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to many magazines and newspapers and is also a frequent broadcaster both on television and radio. Mr HanburyTenison is the star of 11 films made of his expeditions and is also the author of some 20 books, many of them bestsellers, including "A Ride Along the Great Wall ", "Fragile Eden ", "The Oxford Book of Exploration ", "Land of Eagles " and most recently "The Great Explorers ", published in 2010.

See other events in 2011