The Long Riders' Guild

Benedict Allen

Benedict Allen began his career as a British travel writer and went on to host a Big Brother style reality show where he oversaw contestants being taken into the Amazon jungle, where they were bitten by ants and whipped by bamboo. Allen’s television antics did not go unnoticed. In November, 2006 Tom Stacy, in The London Times Literary Review described Allen thus. “He is not an explorer. He is a stuntman in remote places, a latter-day Munchausen with satellite phone and a video camera.”

What wasn’t discussed was Allen’s tarnished reputation with animals. While searching for “El Dorado” in South America, Allen reported how he used “a machete to kill my dog and eat him.”

In a similar South American episode, Allen once again used the death of his animal companion as a juicy story for a subsequent book. “I once had a terrible mishap with my pet monkey, Mono, who used to sit on my shoulder, when I visited an Indian village in South America. I tried to ask them if they could rustle up something to eat and I rubbed my stomach. Mono disappeared. Half an hour later, the smell of cooked monkey came floating across the air and I was presented with a wooden platter. I’m afraid to say he was delicious.”

Yet it was Allen’s bungled ride in Mongolia in 1997 which landed him the Hall of Shame. Having left his horses unguarded, Allen met a Mongolian who warned him that in his absence the animals were being slowly slain by stinging black flies. He returned and found the rumour true. Yet instead of removing the animals from danger, Allen decided, “there was nothing I could do today.” He decided instead to go with Mongolians to celebrate the Nadaam carnival instead. “I agreed to go along to the festival and try to forget the dying friends on the hills.”

After the party, Allen returned to find his horses had been killed by the carnivorous pests. They had been dead since morning. What a waste,” he lamented, as the saddle sore on one of his now dead horses “was healing nicely.”

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