Meet Bond Girl and Fearless Adventurer Rachel Grant

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Bond girl and adven­tur­er Rachel Grant is no stranger to dan­ger. In fact, she thrives on it. Grant has trav­eled to almost 70 coun­tries and done every­thing from hik­ing active vol­ca­noes to div­ing with sharks. She is also a cav­ing expert and in 2012 led a team down to a cave and under­ground riv­er in the Philip­pines that had nev­er been entered.

Grant has much to say about her love of extreme sports and about acting—and how and where her two pas­sions cross paths.


The Clymb: How did you get start­ed in adven­ture sports/exploring? What’s your back­ground and were you always adven­tur­ous as a child?

Rachel Grant: I was born on the island of Luzon in the Philip­pines (where my moth­er is from), raised in the Unit­ed King­dom, and now live in the US. As a lit­tle girl, I was fear­less and always up to some­thing; I’d climb trees, dig holes in the gar­den, and run into the house with my hands full of worms shout­ing “Look Dad­dy, SNAKES!”

Grow­ing up, we trav­elled to the Philip­pines often, where I was exposed to all sorts of things: vol­ca­noes, coral islands, caves, unusu­al foods, indige­nous tribes, trop­i­cal heat and humid­i­ty, even typhoons. The dif­fer­ences between Britain and the Philip­pines were so extreme and it excit­ed me so; I want­ed to trav­el to every coun­try in the world, tread on all sorts of ter­rain, meet locals, eat their foods, and learn their way of life.

My father, Baron Dr. Michael Charles Grant de Longueuil, says my wan­der­lust is an ances­tral fam­i­ly trait. My ances­tor, Charles le Moyne, and much of our fam­i­ly are explor­ers and great trav­el­ers. It’s in my genes.

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The Clymb: You’ve done an impres­sive amount of trav­el for your adven­tures. Can you tell us a bit about it? Any par­tic­u­lar des­ti­na­tion that you love or that you feel has the most to offer to those who love adven­ture?

RG: So far, I’ve trav­elled to six con­ti­nents and near­ly 70 coun­tries. My rea­sons for trav­el have been a com­bi­na­tion of act­ing on loca­tion in film and TV, explo­ration vaca­tions, trav­el host­ing, trav­el writ­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, vis­it­ing fam­i­ly and also beau­ty pageants! When I was 19 I saw an advert in the paper look­ing for con­tes­tants for a beau­ty pageant and the win­ner received a free trip to the Bahamas. I had nev­er been to the Caribbean and entered just for that chance to trav­el. I won, and that year I went on to do more pageants all over the world.

How­ev­er, I’m quite hap­py to ditch the high heels for hik­ing boots—expeditions to far-flung remote cor­ners of the world are my favorite kinds of jour­neys. I love the wild, exu­ber­ant jun­gle of the Ama­zon rain­for­est and think it’s a must for the super-adven­tur­ous. The Gala­pa­gos Islands also tops my list, par­tic­u­lar­ly for those inter­est­ed in unique wildlife, mod­ern ecol­o­gy, and con­ser­va­tion.

For those who real­ly want to get lost and be far from tourists, I’d high­ly rec­om­mend the Philip­pines. It’s an arch­i­pel­ago of 7,107 islands with hun­dreds of them still unex­plored and you won’t even find maps for some areas. The diver­si­ty of marine life and coral reefs are won­drous and there are scores of unchart­ed caves and under­ground rivers wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered. In fact, many of the des­ti­na­tions I have been to in the Philip­pines can not be found online or in any guide book.

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The Clymb: Although you do a lot of cav­ing right now, you also love oth­er extreme sports and being active in gen­er­al. Can you tell our read­ers a bit about some of the extreme trav­el­ing you’ve done and some of the adven­tures you’ve been in?

RG: I seek extreme activ­i­ties on all my trav­els! I’ve scu­ba dived through World War II Japan­ese ship­wrecks buried beneath the South Chi­na Sea, swam along­side scores of sharks in the Gala­pa­gos, canoed through ancient Mayan sac­ri­fi­cial caves in Guatemala, com­muned with naked tribesman in the Ama­zon rain­for­est, and have trekked along a cat­e­go­ry 5 erupt­ing vol­cano in the Philip­pines. To me, how­ev­er, an extreme adven­ture is every aspect of trav­el­ing to the fullest—not just a phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. If you trav­el for a par­tic­u­lar sport you should also hang with the locals, try some unique tra­di­tions and break out of one’s culi­nary com­fort zone.

The most expe­ri­enced caver in the world who ignores local life, unique foods and tra­di­tions, is the not the great­est trav­el­er.


The Clymb: How did you get start­ed in cave explor­ing? What was the first cave you ever explored and what was the expe­ri­ence like?

RG: My father used to take my sis­ters and I to the Blue John caves in Der­byshire, UK. Blue John is a semi-pre­cious min­er­al with bands of pur­ple-blue and yel­lows. The Blue John cav­erns and tun­nels felt cold and were cov­ered with all sorts of glit­tery bits; it was like step­ping into a fairy tale or vis­it­ing anoth­er plan­et. I recall the unique feel­ing of being in total dark­ness. Since then I’ve ven­tured into many caves around the world, includ­ing ancient sac­ri­fi­cial caves, caves with pre­his­toric art, aban­doned mines, unchar­tered caves, and under­ground rivers.

My next cave explo­ration is La Ver­na in the Pyre­nees, south of France. It’s the largest cave in the world where vis­i­tors are per­mit­ted and the size of the under­ground nat­ur­al dome is mind-blow­ing. It’s a stu­pen­dous 253 metres long, 220 metres wide and 193 metres high. My father and I will take a jour­ney down the same route the first explor­ers went along.

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The Clymb: You were part of the first team to ever explore a pre­vi­ous­ly unknown cave in Bani, Philip­pines in 2012. How did the trip come about and what was the expe­ri­ence like?

RG: Yes, I was part of a dar­ing sub­ter­ranean riv­er explo­ration that revealed and pub­li­cized the unchart­ed “Angel Cave” in Bani, Pan­gasi­nan in the Philip­pines. This cave explo­ration was sur­pris­ing­ly not pre-planned. I was vis­it­ing Bani on a char­i­ta­ble mission—to meet with a rur­al com­mu­ni­ty of 600 “infor­mal set­tlers” who had all mirac­u­lous­ly sur­vived the eye of a typhoon. I was help­ing raise funds to build an emer­gency evac­u­a­tion cen­ter and school.

While there, I over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion about an under­ground riv­er and cave sys­tem that had been found in recent years but no one had dared enter due to the inac­ces­si­bil­i­ty and deep waters. With lim­it­ed equip­ment and with the help of the local gov­ern­ment, we orga­nized a team of 50 to enter the cave the fol­low­ing morn­ing. The route down to the cave entrance was steep and rocky and by the time we got there, we were already a team of around 30.The next sev­er­al hours of climb­ing, crawl­ing, swim­ming and sheer won­der­ment, felt like a jour­ney into the cen­ter of the earth. It was very dark and very beau­ti­ful. I recall hav­ing to catch my breath with each cham­ber we entered; I could­n’t wait to see what glis­ten­ing struc­ture nature would gift us with next.

By the evening, and at the point where we decid­ed to go no fur­ther, we were a team of only four: the local may­or (a for­mer army gen­er­al), his two body guards, and myself.

It is an inde­scrib­able feel­ing to tread where no man, or woman, has trod­den before. The dif­fer­ence between an unvis­it­ed cave and one that has been passed through many times, is night and day. “Angel Cave” was immac­u­late! I pray it still is.

Die Another DayThe Clymb: You played a Bond Girl in the film Die Anoth­er Day. What is it like to be a Bond girl and did it feel like the role was a good match (you seem like a great choice for that kind of role!)? Can you tell us a bit more about your act­ing career and how do you match act­ing with adven­ture?

RG: I played Peace­ful Foun­tains of Desire oppo­site Pierce Bros­nan as Bond’s would-be assas­sin in Die Anoth­er Day. I’ve worked in films with Jean Claude Van Dame, Robert Car­lyle, Dominic Mon­aghan and many oth­ers. I’ve also host­ed sev­er­al TV shows includ­ing SciFright on SyFy and a trav­el show onboard Cathay Pacif­ic air­lines. How­ev­er, play­ing Peace­ful in Die Anoth­er Day is one of my most mem­o­rable moments.

I’ve always liked the idea of James Bond and how he trav­els the world encoun­ter­ing dif­fer­ent peo­ple, liv­ing life fear­less­ly and to the fullest. I had no idea, how­ev­er, my Bond adven­ture would con­tin­ue long after the movie was over. I still get calls and invites for a vari­ety of Bond-relat­ed activ­i­ties. Being a Bond girl is cer­tain­ly inspi­ra­tional and per­haps it has mag­ni­fied my sense of adventure—after all, Bond girls have a lot to live up to!

The best thing to have come from being part of such a well known film fran­chise, is my involve­ment with char­i­ta­ble endeav­ors. Through trav­el­ing I’ve seen much pover­ty and suf­fer­ing and being a Bond girl has giv­en me the lever­age to help dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties. As men­tioned ear­li­er, I’m help­ing build a much-need­ed evac­u­a­tion cen­ter for typhoon vic­tims that will dou­ble up as a school for a com­mu­ni­ty in Bani, Philip­pines.

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I’ve also found­ed a social enter­prise called Fur­ry Kind, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Human Nature (fair-trade nat­ur­al cos­met­ics) which I am glob­al ambas­sador for. Fur­ry Kind by Human Nature is an eco-friend­ly pet line pro­mot­ing good works and good will to ani­mals, humans and the envi­ron­ment, while pro­vid­ing liveli­hood oppor­tu­ni­ties to rur­al farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties. In 2012, I was invit­ed by Hillary Clin­ton to a pri­vate func­tion in Wash­ing­ton DC with the Pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines in recog­ni­tion of char­i­ta­ble efforts and achieve­ments.

In 2013, I prob­a­bly expe­ri­enced the most “extreme” trip ever, by vol­un­teer­ing in the after­math of Typhoon Haiyan. Noth­ing can pre­pare you for the heart-wrench­ing scenes a typhoon of this scale leaves behind. We pre­pared food sup­plies and vis­it­ed home­less sur­vivors in the dev­as­tat­ed city of Tacloban and sur­round­ing areas of Leyte where thou­sands of lives were tak­en. Giv­ing back and being able to raise aware­ness of the needy and wor­thy projects, is the great­est gift of being a Bond girl—but this is some­thing any­one can do. We all have the gift and abil­i­ty to help those less for­tu­nate than our­selves to make a dif­fer­ence in the world.

How do I match act­ing with adven­ture? Hmmm. Act­ing takes you to anoth­er place and as anoth­er per­son, inter­act­ing with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, while feel­ing a wide vari­ety of emo­tions and sen­sa­tions. That is some­thing I have always loved about act­ing. Trav­el­ing takes you to anoth­er place with dif­fer­ent peo­ple, trans­forms you and offers the expe­ri­ence of new feel­ings, smells, bod­i­ly sen­sa­tions, and emo­tions. I sim­ply love that about my trav­els. Per­haps act­ing does have a con­nec­tion to my love of extreme trav­els!