Journey of Tea and Mountains
May 02, 2022
Jeff Fuchs
Journey of Tea and Mountains

Jeff Fuchs’ journey has been mapped by a long winding loop. His human interest stories and photos have appeared on three continents in publications such as National Geographic Traveler, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Conde Nast, Financial Times and the South China Morning Post amongst others. His work and life were the inspiration for the award-winning documentary, ‘The Tea Explorer’. For a decade he lived in ‘Shangrila’ at 3200 metres, in northwestern Yunnan Province, and became the first documented westerner to walk the entire length of the Himalayan trade route, a journey taking 7.5 months and was the subject of ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ book, published by Penguin-Viking.

It was his journeys and living in the Himalayas that embedded the twin essentials of a sense of ‘place’ and curiosity. This transferred into taking school groups (amongst others) into the Himalayas and providing tangible and engaging experiences immersing in the spaces, in the cultures and by extension into the self. National Geographic Traveler magazine named his guided journey along the Tea Horse Road with Wild China, one of their “50 Trips of a Lifetime”, which still runs annually and is all about experiential travel and engagement.

In 2013, Jeff was invited to Hawaii’s East-West Center as a Scholar-in-Residence to mentor, speak, and listen. He has remained, though he travels much of every year.

Jeff was voted one of Canada’s 100 Greatest explorers by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society based upon working with locals to get stories told. To that end, Jeff has spoken all over the world to organizations and student bodies alike to encourage more time outside, being curious, and connecting. Much of the focus of his talks is on how the worlds of exploration and expeditions are inextricably linked to that of growing up: it is about finding out and finding a way. In 2017, he was part of an initiative along with the Royal Geographic Society to speak to inner city schools in Hong Kong to help promote students getting and engaging with the outdoors, wherever and whenever possible.

In his words, “It shouldn’t be youth that we blame for not engaging or feeling disconnected. It is us the guides that should endeavor to encourage them not ‘what to see’, but ‘how to look’ and offer up options.”

Jeff is the Director of Programming at the Akahiao Nature Institute on Hawaii’s Big Island, where the focus is on immersing youth in the outdoors and encouraging them to innovate new models of living their present and future.