Even though his accomplishments speak for themselves, we deem it only fitting that we proudly highlight them. Omar Samra is an entrepreneur, an adventurer, a future astronaut, a survivor, and a motivational speaker. He started his endeavors very early on, setting on his first climb at the tender age of 16. A couple of years later he went on a 370-day journey across much of Asia and Latin America and has been breaking records ever since. Omar became the first Egyptian to summit Everest and the 7 Summits, ski to both North and South Poles, and make three first ascents of Antarctica Mountains that he then named after his family.
From mountains to oceans, Samra teamed up with fellow adventurer Omar Nour on a mission to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 2017. In one of the world’s toughest rowing attempts, the two were to row 1000km over the course 40 days (two hours on two hours off) in their 7-meter rowboat. It was not long before they were hit by 45-knot winds that caused their boat to capsize, resulting in one of the most epic survival stories to ever be told. Their near-death experience was later made into a documentary -“Beyond the Raging Sea”- that screened at international film festivals including Cannes, El Gouna Film, Cairo, and Berlin Festivals. The two adventurers dedicated their row, and the movie, to raising awareness on the global refugee crises.
This was not new to Omar, for he has been known for doing amazing humanitarian work; he was a former Goodwill Ambassador to the UNDP and an honorary ambassador to Nepal. Samra also founded a handful of initiatives in education, environment, and adventure space, as well as a children’s charity in his late wife’s honor.
In a delightful interview, we catch up with Omar and learn more about the Wild Guanabana that’s been flooding our social media with hope and positivity.
How has your adventurous soul been coping with the quarantine?
This quarantine has, in fact, been an amazing opportunity for me to spend more time with my lovely daughter at home and to focus on the things that I don’t usually have the time for. I can’t exactly plan much for my businesses at the moment, but my brain is constantly running about the things that we’re going to do differently once everything goes back to normal; how we’re going to be more efficient and ways to improve, that sort of stuff. I’ve also been using this time to be more on top of my content and my social media. I enjoy writing online a lot, and it’s something that I’ve always put off for some reason. I didn’t quite have the time for it or focused on it, and I’m using this time to do that. So much room for improvement still, I just have to keep at it.
What is Wild Guanabana?
Following a career in Banking and Investing, I founded Wild Guanabana back in 2009. Wild Guanabana is one of the region’s leading adventure travel companies at which we plan and execute adventure trips in over 20 destinations in Egypt and around the world. Most of our trips focus on mountain climbing and trekking, but we also do multi-activity trips where people get to experience a variety of different adventures. Our biggest destinations have been Mount Kilimanjaro, The Himalayas, and The Andes Mountains of South America, The Alps, and the absolutely mesmerizing Morocco. I started the business after quitting my corporate career, and it’s been going for 11 years now.
How has Wild Guanabana, a travel company, been coping during the travel suspension?
We’ve been doing Stairway to the Summit online challenges where people climb stairs at home to simulate our otherwise climbing trips. We started with Mount Sinai Challenge and then did a Mount Kilimanjaro one. The Mount Kilimanjaro Challenge was very successful; it ran the course of 5-6 days and had 500 participants from 32 different countries. Those who completed it received virtual certificates and $200 vouchers to use on Kilimanjaro when things come back.
We’ve also created a beautiful community where people sign up to be part of a team, receive weekly online training sessions, virtually meet with me and the trainer and the team to answer questions via weekly zoom calls, share insights, and get to know each other.
Any WG plans coming up?
We actually announced a comeback trip to The Cordillera Huayhuash of lovely Peru, but are yet to disclose the date. As soon as all this is over, we’re going to be hiking on an adventure that is far off the beaten path. We find it refreshing to visualize the time when we can all be outside enjoying what nature has to offer, and so we announced this beacon of hope trip to give us all something to look forward to.
If you could give one advice to people reading this, what would it be?
One of the things that I’ve learned out of this pandemic is that it’s important to slow down every once in a while, take a step back, and reevaluate your life. Be very aware of what you spend your time on and always take steps towards readjusting your life to avoid wasting time on things that don’t bring you joy, or take away from what truly does.