THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Umesh Panicker, a city-based traveller, found his passion a little later in life. The 41-year old, says it was his travel abroad which changed his outlook towards life. Initially, an introvert, now the passionate explorer has traveled across 60 countries, and climbed challenges including the Kilimanjaro, Mount Kinabalu and Mount Elbrus.
Though he started travelling only in his 20's, he said the seeds were planted at a very young age. "It all started at the age of 6 years. My favourite teacher was sick and I went to meet her. She said she was going on a journey. The teacher passed away a week later. I refused to eat or drink saying I want to meet her. I went even to the extent of searching the globe at my house to find the places where she might have gone,” he said.
Having a lot of friends who were from abroad also inspired him to want to travel. "I was not able to stop myself once I started to enjoy the travel,” said Umesh. "My aspect of travel is not just a vacation but it is also about learning. Exploring is entirely different from travelling,” said Umesh. “Twenty years ago I was shy but today, my travels have made me bold," he said.
He travelled for the first time while studying his B. Tech Level 7 at the Management College of Central London.Umesh is a solo traveller. He has gone trekking, cave hunting and cave exploration. The idea of travelling to the deeper parts of the jungle has always thrilled him. “I went inside a jungle in the north tail of Thailand for cave exploration. There's a river flowing through the cave. The day I reached there, the water level had increased. I had to spend a day without food and water,” said Umesh. “The incident changed me and I felt we need to face similar challenges," he said.
He took seven days to climb the mount Kilimanjaro. “The Kilimanjaro climb changed my perception towards travel. With that, I started to concentrate more on mountain climbing. Climbing the Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe was an amazing experience. It was also very challenging as I was face to face with a situation I had never experienced before including an electrical storm,” said Umesh.
Umesh is now preparing to go to Alaska, a trip that has been inspired by the movie ‘ Into the wild’. “I have been preparing myself to withstand the extremely low temperatures of Mount Denali. I have trained to survive without eating for seven days,” said Umesh. “Crossing the river Teklanika is a suicidal attempt. I’ll have to cross the river and be prepared for bear and wolf attacks. But I am still rearing to go," he said.
His set of survival skills include handling a knife and martial arts. He is also taking an endurance training for the Alaska trip.Currently, Umesh is working as a Training & Development Professional at Abu Dhabi.