I’ve been travelling since I was six-months old. My father [film director John Boorman] has always been a big influence on my life. His films were pretty ambitious and tough to make, which meant we spent a lot of time on the road as a family.

From the Southern Pacific to the Chattooga River, Georgia, where he shot Deliverance – and in which I had my first role – he took us with him. As a kid, it was great to be part of his adventures.

When I was 17, I spent six months in the Brazilian jungle on the set of another of his films, The Emerald Forest. That experience was the one that had the greatest impact on my sense of wanderlust and spurred me on to see more of the world.

Acting hasn’t always been an easy career. There was a period of around ten years where I was struggling, and had to take on work as a painter and decorator just to pay the bills. However, every so often, I would work on a film. It was during this time that I first met Ewan [McGregor] and we became fast friends. We started hanging out and went on rallies together, which is how the Long Way Round series was first conceived.

"I don’t know anywhere else in the world that does tourism better than South Africa."

I recently travelled across South Africa on a BMW GS Adventure motorbike for my new documentary, Charley Boorman’s South African Adventure. It’s a country that has always fascinated me since I first visited a film festival there with my dad when I was seven – although it’s a much different country today.

I had also passed through with Ewan on Long Way Down, where we travelled from John O’Groats to Cape Town, but this time I was on the road for seven weeks. We started from the southernmost coastline, going up inland to the Mozambique border, before returning down the west coast. Along the way, we did everything from surfing and shark diving to abseiling off Table Mountain, which was absolutely breathtaking.

While we spent time a lot of time camping outdoors, my producer and I also stayed in some top-class luxury hotels. I don’t know anywhere else in the world that does tourism better than South Africa. They have these star beds, which you can wheel outside and then sleep under the stars. It can be as luxurious as you want it to be and not too pricey – there is no limit.

I have had some hairy moments on my travels, too. The Paris-Dakar rally was tough – I had a bad crash en route and had to retire after the fifth stage.

The most bizarre moment came when I was in Papua New Guinea and we were biking across the highlands, which is still quite an underdeveloped place, but stunningly beautiful. Some of the locals heard we were in town, so when we came around this corner, there was a roadblock manned by guys with huge machetes demanding money. I soon found myself arguing with them, before offering $50 for them to show us the best route up the mountain. We ended up laughing about it in the end – they were just opportunists, but at one point, I did fear that I may have pushed them too far.

Motorbikes are a huge passion of mine. Someone once asked me, hypothetically, whether I would be prepared to sacrifice my collection for a lead role in a Hollywood blockbuster. No way. Even if Quentin Tarantino came knocking at my door, I couldn’t think of anything worse."

Interview by Ross Davies