Book Review: Llama Drama by Anna McNuff
When I was sent this cool adventure book to review from the Outside And Active shop, I was over the moon. The travel memoir, which won the Amazon Kindle Storyteller award, is written by adventurer and author Anna McNuff - such an inspirational lady who has run through Britain in her bare feet, cycled through every state of the USA, run the length of Hadrian’s wall dressed as a Roman Soldier, and the length of the Jurassic Coast, dressed as a dinosaur!
These are just some of her adventures so I was eager to read her exploits in South America. A two-woman, 5,500-mile cycling adventure sounded like the perfect escape to read about as it was the furthest thing away from something I would like to try! But surprisingly by the end of the book I found myself thinking wistfully how I wished I could take six months off and find a cycling partner...!
As you would expect from such an adventurous escapade, there were multiple things which went wrong. From being attacked by ants in the tent to being stung by a scorpion, not to mention dealing with dog bites and gastroentiritis. But what shines through the entirety of the book is the rapport and friendship of Anna and her travelling companion Faye Shepherd (who she affectionately calls Faye-Bomb). Anna says herself that she has tried to be honest in the book and not romanticise it too much, so she describes the arguments they have on the road and how they overcame them. She really describes the relationship between the two women and the difficulty of having only each other to rely on. Anna says in the book, "It's hard to explain the kind of relationship that develops through that level of intensity." Their closeness shines through Anna's writing.
One of my favourite parts of the book was the naked cycling on the salt flats of Bolivia! I won't spoil the book if you haven't read it but trust me it's a highlight.
Sense of adventure
The feeling of freedom and adventure is so evident in the book. I loved, for example, the the description of riding the switchbacks on the way to Santiago and the pure exhilaration they felt doing it.
It made me want to cycle 5,500 miles through South America and I barely ride!
Connection to nature
As well as the friendship, the other 'character' in the book was nature. Anna's description of the beautiful scenery and landscapes really made me want to experience it myself. The heat of the Yungas jungle, the thrill of riding down Death Road, the salt flats and the majestic, beautiful mountains. The parts about wild swimming made me very jealous as I'm a swimmer and that would really appeal to me. There is also a very amusing part about being starving hungry and the stove not working so they used a tampon to light a fire. Note to self for camping, carry emergency supplies of tampons.
As well as this there are animals they encounter along the way. Including seeing llamas and flying Andean flamingos, tarantulas, condors and Patagonian cavies. Of course there was some downsides to the creatures; bugs bites, dog bites, scorpion stings and more!
The weather also features a lot. I really resonated with Anna liking the extreme weather, which included storms, sub zero temperatures, 40 degree heat and 50mph crosswinds. She says, “Just like with the lightning storms and altitude, there was something about the extreme conditions that reminded me I was alive. To be out there in nature, and so connected to it, was addictive.” I just love this as I am the same.
In conclusion both Anna and Faye are bad-asses. Anyone who can cycle 5,539 miles through 3 countries, making 10 border crossings and 107,753 m of ascent through the Andean mountains is officially amazing.
Anna McNuff is an adventurer, speaker, author and self-confessed mischief maker. Named by The Guardian as one of the top female adventurers of our time, Condé Nast Traveller included her in a list of the 50 most influential travellers in the world. She is also the UK ambassador for Girl Guiding.
Anna's travels include cycling through each and every state of the USA, running the length of New Zealand, exploring The Andes mountains on a bicycle. She is best known for an adventure in which she set off to run – a 2,300+ miles (90 marathons) run through Britain… in her bare feet. All the way along, she gave talks to the young women of Britain about taking on challenges of their own. She has also spent a month cycling across Europe directed entirely by social media, run the length of Hadrian’s wall dressed as a Roman Soldier, and the length of the Jurassic Coast, dressed as a dinosaur. As you do.
Outside and Active Shop
You can buy Llama Drama (C) 2020 by Anna McNuff from the Outside And Active shop. Whether you want to get a new running top or inspirational adventure book, if you love being active check out the shop. It offers a curated selection of their favourite books from adventurers, runners and explorers for you to enjoy.
To get a discount, just use promo code NATASHA to receive 15% discount on anything in the shop! Visit https://shop.outsideandactive.com/discount/NATASHA