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Into the Wild meets: the man behind the Most Epic Selfie of all Time

If his name doesn’t ring any bells, his video surely will: Alex Chacón, 26, from the USA, is the author of the "Most Epic Selfie of all Time". He poses in front of a camera while a carousel of the most fascinating places in the world spins behind him. The 3 minute video is a collage of the almost 126,000 miles covered to travel from Alaska to Argentina through 36 different countries. Alex is more than a tourist; after graduating in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas, he sold all his belongings, jumped on to the saddle of his motorbike and left his house in Texas to travel. During his trip through Latin America, he worked with the less fortunate children of countries visited. His experience recalls so much the young Guevara portrayed in the movie starring Gael García Bernal, that Alex himself named his website “The Modern Motorcycle Diaries”. 

Video courtesy of the Modern Motorcycle Diaries

How did you come with the idea to travel all over the world by motorbike? Did anyone inspire you or it is a life-long dream?

It was an idea I had as a little kid and that developed over the years. When I was younger, I would always look at a map and globe, and be curious about what the world and its people looked like, how they were surviving, how we were all different or similar. After I graduated from my college, I sold everything I had - including my TV, car, clothes and video games - and set off, without knowing if I would ever return. I was inspired by my intense curiosity to understand different people, countries and cultures to see how were all similar and different. 

How do you raise money to finance you trips and charity initiatives? 

Initially I sold all my belongings, and then I was helped by the people I met.  They would see me, hear about my travels and would be very kind and house me, feed me, and help me along the way. I would sleep in parking lots, jungles and camps, everywhere I could. I continue to do the same now to some extent.

All images courtesy of Alex Chacon

Is there anything that you couldn’t sell and  live without? 

The whole idea of the trip was to leave everything behind and start my life in a new way, develop without stuff from the past and proceed into the future. I could have lived without anything I had.

What was your first trip and which lesson did you learn from it?

When I was 17 years old I drove my motorcycle 30 days from California to Florida and New York crossing over 43 states in the USA just to see if I could do it. This really started my travels.

Where has been your favourite place to visit?

The Northern Lights in Alaska, the Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia, the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, the Himalayas and driving to Leh from Manali. Alaska to Argentina was very amazing, and my trip through India was very unique and extreme as well…..I don’t know, it is impossible to pick just one.

Do you plan exactly your trips? What’s the most important thing you take with you?

A camera was the most important thing to take to document the trip. I would get ideas of what I wanted to see or go, but how I got there and what route I took is the adventure.

Tell us more about the “All around the world selfies video” that you’ve become known for.

I started filming these 3 years ago, when the selfie didn't exist yet. I was just trying to capture the world in a unique way on video to share with everyone, to show the beautiful and positive energy and places everyone should see around the world! Today it has become a cultural phenomenon as the "Most Epic Selfie of all Time".

Talking of your selfie: what are the positive and negative aspects of travelling alone?

It's great to be able to go where ever you want, whenever you want. But it's great to have company to share the experience with for a lifetime.

How friendly were the people that you met during your trip?

Incredibly friendly, some of the friendliest people were the poorest.

What has been one of your hardest moments on the road?

Navigating the roads and countries, sometime there are no signs or indicators which way to go, including the signs that can be in a language I can't read. Worst experiences: driving through landmine fields in Chile, getting a parasite in India, stranded in the Patagonia for 4 days without food or help, and being lost for 6 days in the desert between Bolivia and Chile.

Have you ever thought to leave everything and come back home for good?

I think the world will always have a home for me no matter where I am.

Finally, any tips for your fellow travellers?

Follow your passion and your dreams will come true.

By Cristina Nanni

Frontier runs over 300 dedicated conservation, community and adventure projects worldwide. Find out more about great ideas for your gap year, and opportunities to volunteer across the globe.

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