'I don't want to die, or get badly hurt, but what I do for a living comes with a lot of risk, I accept that'
She's been bitten by snakes, threatened by lions and has eaten mouth-popping bugs ... the survivalist Megan Hine reveals what inspires her challenges, writes Hannah Stephenson
Megan Hine has had more hair-raising experiences in the world's harshest terrains than all the celebs who've appeared on the reality TV survival shows she's worked on combined.
Hine (32) is a stalwart survivalist - and the woman who scouts locations for shows fronted by the likes of Bear Grylls, working out what is and isn't possible for series such as Man vs Wild, Mission Survive and The Island.
She sets up stunts, attempts hazards before celebrities have even signed up and takes many of her own private expeditions with people who want to test themselves to their limit.
Only a few weeks ago, while rigging a stunt in Kenya, she was caught in crossfire between two tribes fighting over ownership of a herd of goats and escaped by wading through a river awash with man-eating crocodiles.
On another occasion, she was packing away some expedition tents in Namibia when a scorpion dropped off one of them onto her ankle, stinging her twice. Hine recognised it as the most poisonous scorpion in the country and she knew if she panicked, her blood pressure would rise and the venom would do its damage quicker.
She managed to keep calm until the expedition medic could hook her up to some life-saving intravenous antihistamine.
Last year, in New Mexico, she was bitten by a snake which she knew could either be a deadly coral, or similar-looking non-lethal mountain king cobra.
Being at least seven hours away from medical help, it would have been too late had she been bitten by a coral snake. Luckily, it was a mountain king cobra - and Hine lived to tell the tale. She has now written about her adventures and near brushes in her new book, Mind Of A Survivor, which also explores the psychology of survival and the inspiration behind her chosen often-hazardous path, the joys of a life outdoors and the benefits of being pushed to your limits.
"One week, I'll be in a desert looking for water courses, the next in a jungle, wondering how we can get a shot of a presenter abseiling through a waterfall," she explains.
Hine is often asked how she feels when faced with a death-threatening situation. "There's an underlying reason why my body and mind recover quickly from near-death encounters," she writes. "I accept that what I do is dangerous. I don't want to die, and I don't want to be severely injured, but I understand that what I do for a living comes with a lot of risk."
As a mountain leader, she was taking expeditions in the Himalayas and the Alps when she was approached to work with Bear Grylls on his Man vs Wild show around 10 years ago.
"It's amazing working with him," she enthuses. "Right from the start, he made me feel like part of the team. At the time of our very first shoot, I was living in my van in Chamonix. When he found out, at the end of the shoot, he sent me this massive box of down jackets and warm clothing.
"That is who he is. It was really lovely and I've been part of his team ever since. It's just incredible and such an amazing experience."
She may not have wrapped herself in a seal's carcass to keep warm, as Grylls has, but she has certainly eaten some pretty disgusting things in the wild.
"I know some people would be grossed out at the thought of eating bamboo worms, or maggots, or mealworms, but that's stuff I would eat on an expedition. The worst and most distressing thing I've eaten is a Philippine delicacy called balut, which is a fertilised egg with a little chicken inside it. You have to boil it and then you eat it. It's a bit gamey.
"I don't know what it is about it, I think it's the little chick's massive head and tiny body and its huge eyes. That really gets me every time. I find it quite slimy. When you bite into its head, it kind of explodes."
Canterbury-born Hine, who spends a lot of time in North Wales when she's not in the wild, grew up in the outdoors. Her father was a geologist and there was a lot of hiking, exploring forests and climbing mountains during family holidays. She took a degree in outdoor education and pursued mountaineering, taking parties on expeditions.
She met her partner, Stani, who does a similar job, when they were both guiding expeditions in the Arctic.
"We were being asked for the same expeditions and TV jobs because, although he's ex-military, we both have the same skill sets in terms of mountaineering and survival. Now we are fortunate we can work together."
Although she says she doesn't think much about retaining a feminine side, spending most of her time in outdoor clothing, she admits she does like to glam up from time to time.
"I do love occasionally getting dressed up, putting on a dress and make-up and going out. That's what is so cool about being female and doing what I'm doing."
Her hectic schedule includes challenging team-building adventures, working with young people, guiding school groups into extraordinary environments, or showing groups of young entrepreneurs different ways to build their resilience and coping strategies.
Away from work, she finds it increasingly hard to switch off.
"Considering the things I see and deal with on a daily basis in my job, when I come back, I find it harder and harder to do the mundane things, like my taxes.
"I unwind by mountain biking and rock climbing and, when I do those activities, my brain is totally on the trail of what I'm doing and I can leave everything behind."
She's, inevitably, sustained various injuries over the years.
"I've had minor breaks, strains and things. My pelvis is unstable at the moment because I took a fall off a cliff on a job and knocked it out. But I seem to be a magnet for bugs. I've had malaria and Lyme disease.
"Those things and random bugs take weeks to shake off, but you're not really sure what they are, those are my biggest worries."
And her worst fear? Scaling death-defying rock faces, perhaps, or battling man-eating crocs, venomous snakes or other poisonous critters? No.
"I actually get terrified about flying in helicopters. That's the time I really struggle to be able to control my emotions."
- Mind Of A Survivor by Megan Hine is published by Coronet, £18.99