Home

Galleries

News/Blog

Technology

Media

Links

Bio

Adventure Speaking

Contact

FAQ

News/Blog & Recent Events - George Kourounis

Get All The Latest Expedition Updates Via:

George Kourournis on Facebook

George Kourounis on Twitter

George Kourounis on YouTube

 

May 19 2017 - Heading to North Korea !
 
I have been keeping this new expedition a secret for quite some time now, but I can finally announce that I'm on my way to the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), known in the west as North Korea. The secretive nation gets very few visitors, and travel there can be very tricky.
 
The current political situation doesn't make things easier, with tensions rising between the United States and "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong-Un. The plan is to meet up with the rest of the 8 person team in Beijing, then fly to Pyongyang. We will be spending quite a bit of time in the mountains, trekking and climbing peaks that are seldom seen by outsiders. I really want to showcase the natural beauty of this country, despite the politics and propaganda.

North Korea


May 17 2017 - Spotted Lake, British Columbia
 
The filming has been going very well, and we've just wrapped up. This time we were at the Spotted Lake, an unusualy lake in southern B.C. that has no outlet. In the summer, much of the water evaporates, leaving behind circular pools, filled with mineral rich water that seems to be slightly different in each pool. It is fascinating. In order to gain access to the site, we had to have permission from the Okanagan First Nations, as the site is on their land and is considered sacred.
 
It was a sight to behold. I've never seen a body of water quite like it.

Spotted Lake, British Columbia

May 14 2017 - Heading To British Columbia
 
After being home for less than 24 hours, I got a message from the production company I was working with in The Bahamas. The crew I was filming with was relocating to British Columbia to film a story, and their on-camera contributor had cancelled on them at the last minute due to a family emergency... So, I'm on my way out there tomorrow to sub in for him. Right now I'm cramming to learn as much as I can about what I have to talk about on camera.
 
This should be interesting. I'm up to the challenge.

British Columbia

May 11 2017 - Norman's Cay & Bimini, Bahamas
 
The past week has been a blast.We've been filming at a variety of locations in The Bahamas for Science Channel, including a crashed plane off the coast of Norman's Cay. That was a lot of fun to go snorkeling on.

We also spent time on Bimini, wading through mangrove swamps, flying a drone over sharks, and also snorkeling on the "Bimini Road". What was all this for? Well, you'll have to wait and see when the new season of What On Earth? comes out later in the year. It was great to be back in The Bahamas, but I got eaten alive by the bugs! Argh!!
 
More photos.

Norman's Cay - Bahamas

May 03 2017 - Heading to The Bahamas
 
This coming weekend, I'm going to be headed off to spend a week on several islands in The Bahamas.
 
We're filming a few stories for the new season of What On Earth? for Science Channel. I can't give any details about what exactly we'll be filming, but it is going to be a fun trip, filled with adventure. You'll have to wait until later in the year when the programs are broadcast to find out exactly what we're up to.
 
I still have plenty to do between now and when I depart, so I'd better get back to work.

Bahamas Map

April 27 2017 - Ask A Storm Chaser Event
 
Want to know why storm chasers hunt down severe weather? It's FREE but space is limited. Register here.
 
This is your chance to ask! Come join us for this exciting event hosted by the Region of Niagara and Niagara College. Join Mark Robinson (The Weather Network), George Kourounis (Angry Planet), and Patricia Martel (Emergency Management) to learn about storm chasing, extreme weather, and how to stay safe during emergencies from three experienced storm chasers.

Date: April 28, 2017 - Time: 7 pm
Location: Yerich Auditorium, Niagara College, 135 Taylor Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Parking is free.

Ask A Storm Chaser Event

April 26 2017 - Podcast Appearances
 
Recently, I've made appearances on a couple of really interesting adventure podcasts.
 
 
Adventure Sports Podcast - This is my second time as a guest on this podcast. Host, Travis Parsons and I discuss what expeditions I've been up to over the past year.
 
 
Adventure Science Podcast - I'm honored to be the very first guest on the Adventure Science podcast. Interviewer, Simon Donato is a world class explorer and extreme athlete. He and I worked together on the Madagascar expedition to the Tsingy de Bemaraha.

Adventure Sports Podcast

Adventure Science Podcast

April 24 2017 - Filming In New York
 
So, I'm back in New York again for the second time this month. This time I've teamed up with Wag TV again to film interviews for season four of What On Earth? for Science Channel. I've appeared in all the seasons of this show, and it is a lot of fun.
 
I flew in last night and today we spent about 12 hours filming as I talked about a variety of topics. The program is all about interesting and bizarre things that have been spotted on Earth from satellites overhead.
 
Learn more about the show and watch some clips from previous seasons.
 
Back to Toronto tomorrow.

Filming In New York

March. 26 2017 - Explorers Club Annual Dinner, New York
 
I'm in New York right now, still a bit jet lagged from returning from Myanmar a few days ago, but it's totally worth it to be at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. This year, it was held on Ellis Island.
 
The sold out event featured some of the world's top explorers including Sir Ranulph Fiennes who was the keynote speaker. Sir Ranulph has climbed the Eiger and Mount Everest. He's crossed both Poles on foot and once ran 7 marathons on 7 continents on 7 consecutive days.

The dinner also featured opening remarks by legendary actor Robert DeNiro.
 
ECAD is famous, not only for bringing together the greatest explorers in the world, but also is known for its array of exotic foods including: scorpions, tarantulas and a variety of other unusual edibles.
 
It is always held in New York, and this year, it was held on Ellis Island, the traditional gateway for immigrants seeking a better life in America. It was a great evening, followed by a fun Sunday at the Explorers Club headquarters in Manhattan where I had more time to chat with other explorers, see some old friends and make few new ones.
 
The next big fund raising event for The Explorers Club will be the Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner on October 28th. This event will be held in my hometown of Toronto, the first time it has ever been held outside the U.S. and it will be the largest EC event ever held outside the U.S. I'm already working with the organizing team on the preparations for what will be an historic evening next autumn.

ECAD_01

ECAD_02

March. 18 2017 - Yangon, Myanmar
 
The "Fading Bloodlines" expedition is winding down. We are back in Yangon after 3 weeks of travelling via car, bus, boat, motorcycle and foot to the Chin tribes of the west, near the Bangladesh border.

The expedition was a smashing success. We were hoping to interview 100-150 tattooed women, and we ended up with 184 interviews! We also met 3 women who used to be tattoo artists. What an experience to meet so many interesting people and hear their stories about this cultural practice that is dying out.
 
The ages of the women we interviewed ranged from late 30's to a 103 year old Burmese Buddhist nun (Whose secret to longevity was "reduce stress, don't get married, don't have children"). All the interviews required double translation from English to Burmese to the local dialect and back again, which complicated things, but we managed.

Even though the expedition was a huge success, it wasn't without misadventure including: A sick teammate, an arduous 10 hour overnight bus ride (with a broken seat), some very rough conditions in a filthy guest house, motion sickness, and the usual chaos that comes with rural travel in the developing world.

Fading Bloodlines Expedition - Myanmar

Fading Bloodlines Expedition - Myanmar


Feb. 14 2017 - Fading Bloodlines Expedition - The Tattooed Women of Myanmar
 
At the end of February, I will be teaming up with Robin Brooks and Jessica Lindsay Phillips to travel to remote areas of the northern Chin and Rakhine states in Myanmar.
Once considered a sign of great beauty, the women of the Chin tribes of Myanmar had their faces tattooed upon coming of age. This was practiced for an unknown number of centuries. These markings represented gender, age, spiritual beliefs, race and identity.

The arrival of colonial rule and Christian missionaries to Burma in the 19th century instrumented a decline of this female cultural tradition in villages and towns. Burma became a democratic nation in 1948 and after 1962’s coup which lead to a military dictatorship,” the Burmese Revolutionary Council placed a ban on the tattoos. The tattoos, the women that bore them and this traditional practice represented a way of life and beliefs that were from a regime that those in charge were trying to get people to leave behind. With the practice banned, fines and other reasons undetermined led to the complete termination of this sparsely documented lost art.

Today, after a lifetime of wars and dictatorship, an unknown number of these tattooed women, now in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older, live in the remote areas of the northern Chin and Rakhine states.

Knowing that they are the last of their kind, a small number of these women have been using their rare looks to draw tourism as a way of earning money for the betterment of their impoverished communities. However, many more tattooed “grannies” live in areas unmapped and relatively untouched by the modern world.

Few westerners except a small handful of academics, photographers, missionaries and intrepid explorers have gone beyond these tourist villages to meet the tattooed women living in more remote areas.

The Fading Bloodlines expedition team will travel deep into this remote region of Myanmar, an area where no post-colonial government surveys or mapping has taken place. These time-locked states house small populations of these tattooed women who’s lives were once threatened to the point that this cultural tradition of facial tattooing is literally a couple decades from extinction.

The remoteness, absence of roads, and its unavailability to tourists, has kept the area undisturbed by development, and ripe for exploration and discovery. During the first three weeks of March 2017, a passionate and skilled team of adventurers will embark on the first cultural census and mapping expedition of its kind. They will trek, bike, climb, cruise, crawl and navigate miles of arid mountains, jungles, rivers, and unknown trails.
Some of the
goals of the expedition are to:

Document this vanishing cultural art and traditional way of life.

Carry out the first ever census of the remaining living tattooed Chin women in the region as well as villages with families whose previous generation practiced this cultural tradition.

Fading Bloodlines Expedition

Myanmar Map

Feb. 13 2017 - Announcement
 
News & Blog 2017 I am very proud to announce that I am now on the board of directors for Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants. An educational initiative to bring science into classrooms via live Google Hangouts with explorers, scientists and researchers worldwide.

exploringbytheseat.com

EBTSOYP is partnered with National Geographic Education, as was the grand prize winner at the Canadian Scholarship Trust: Inspired Minds Learning Project.

Founder, Joe Grabowski has done a tremendous job at building an amazing platform for connecting students with inspiring individuals who are helping today's youth to learn more about the world around us. I'm grateful to be involved in helping them to foster scientific literacy.

Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants

Feb. 03 2017 - Chasing Lake Effect Snow Squalls in a Small Plane
 
Since I live in Toronto, it is easy for me to chase lake effect snow squalls since I'm surrounded by several of the Great Lakes. Snow squalls form when cold air passes over the relatively warm lake water and picks up moisture from the lake. This moisture then gets dumped as snow. Sometimes a LOT of snow. After years of chasing these events on the ground, we (Mark Robinson from The Weather Network) and I arranged to take a small plane up and "chase" them from the air.
 
Many thanks to pilot Steve Thorne ( @Flightchops ) for his tremendous help.

Chasing Lake Effect Snow Squalls in a Small Plane

Feb. 02 2017 - Canadian Catastrophe Conference
 
Thank you to everyone at the CatIQ's Canadian Catastrophe Conference. I was invited to be the lunchtime keynote speaker today as part of the 3 day conference.
 
2016 was the costliest year in Canadian history for natural disasters... Largely because of the Fort McMurray wildfire. One of the conference highlights for me was listening to Fort McMurray fire chief, Darby Allen, tell his personal tale of trying to protect the community amidst the chaos of the raging fire.
 
It was a great group, and I had so much fun sharing my own personal stories from a variety of natural disasters, both domestic and international.

Canadian Catastrophe Conference

Feb. 01 2017 - British Airways Magazine In-Flight Magazine
 
I am featured in the February issue of British Airways' in-flight magazine High Life.
The article "What I Pack" showcases many of the interesting and unique items I travel with when I'm jetting around the world, heading towards storms and other natural disasters.

British Airways - In-Flight Magazine "High Life"

Jan. 31 2017 - Discovery Channel: Daily Planet
 
Discovery Channel Canada's flagship daily science/tech news show, Daily Planet is featuring a story on our expedition to the Nyiragongo lava lake in eastern Congo from last year.
 
Depending on where you live, you might be able to watch the segment here. Just go to the Jan 31st episode.

Discovery Channel Canada - Daily Planet

Jan. 25 2017 - Chicago Tribune Q&A
 
Chicago Tribune: Jan, 2017 - The lifestyle/travel section featured a Q&A with me about my global explorations and adventures: "'Angry Planet' adventurer George Kourounis on his volcano-top wedding and eating snakes."

Chicago Tribune

Jan. 14 2017 - National Geographic: Hidden Earth
 
My Darvaza flaming gas crater descent expedition in Turkmenistan was given a shout-out in the National Geographic special publication Hidden Earth.
 
"In 2013 National Geographic Explorer and storm chaser George Kourounis was the first person to descend into the searing crater. After about 18 months of training, an expedition team on the ground lowered him - clad in a heat suit and Kevlar harness - into the torrid depths, where he collected soil samples for scientific study.

National Geographic - Hidden Earth

Jan. 01 2017 - Happy New Year!
 
I'm really looking forward to what 2017 has in store. I guarantee there will be plenty of new exciting adventures, exotic travel and proably a bunch of things I couldn't possibly imagine right now. Have a great year!
 
Also...

The 2017 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records acknowledges my Darvaza, Turkmenistan expedition with a 2-page spread. The goal of the expedition, which I led for National Geographic was to gather soil samples from the bottom of the world's longest-burning methane crater.

Learn more about the
flaming gas crater expedition.

Guinness Book of World Records 2017


An Archive of Previous Year's News Items Can Be Found Here

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

 

Any Questions/Comments?

Send E-Mail To George Kourounis

george@stormchaser.ca


All Images Copyrighted G. Kourounis

All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized Use Is Prohibited