Ben Fogle 'struggled' to return to rainforest after illness battle

The TV star underwent chemotherapy after contracting a parasitic disease

Watch: Ben Fogle 'struggled' to return to rainforest after illness battle

What did you miss?

Ben Fogle has admitted it was “a struggle” to return to the rainforest for his new show after contracting a potentially fatal tropical disease on a previous trip.

The TV adventurer battled leishmaniasis, a flesh-eating parasitic disease that he was warned can lead to permanent facial disfigurement, after being bitten by a sandfly in 2008. He had to undergo chemotherapy and has since talked about how gruelling his treatment was.

So heading to Africa to shoot new Channel 5 documentary series Into The Congo left him feeling a little vulnerable.

Ben Fogle said he had been moved to tears. (Channel 5)
Ben Fogle battled leishmaniasis several years ago. (Channel 5)

What, how and why?

Opening up on ITV’s This Morning, Fogle said: “I did a series years ago called Extreme Dreams and I contracted a disease called leishmaniasis, it’s one of the world’s neglected diseases, infects lots of people, lots of people die from it and the treatment is pretty archaic.

"It hasn’t advanced because not enough wealthy westerners get it for pharmaceutical companies to want to come up with a vaccine so it’s still chemotherapy to treat it and I was off work for a long time and had some pretty extreme courses of treatment."

“So it was a struggle to go back into the rainforest, where I was very vulnerable," the star said, although he said leishmaniasis was not prevalent in the Congo.

He went on: "I was living with the Mbendjele, I was sleeping in the same sort of structures that they slept in, I was quite vulnerable to everything they are vulnerable to.”

Following his illness, Fogle said he has been working with charities “to try and encourage pharmaceutical companies to come up with a vaccine or a better treatment”.

TV star has been 'searching' for something on his travels

The celeb is known for his journeys around the world and told This Morning hosts Josie Gibson and Dermot O’Leary that he felt he had “been searching for something over the last 25 years”.

Adventurer Ben Fogle poses during a photocall for the television series
The star said he's been searching for something on his adventures. (Reuters)

“I turned 50 last year and I think when you reach that milestone you start looking for meaning in life,” he explained. “I don’t want to get too profound, but for me, I am searching for the perfect way of life and I think a lot of society, including myself, has lost their way.

"We are constantly striving for more, we want more of everything, we are never complacent with what we have… for me the Mbendjele live such a beautiful, happy life and I was really moved by that.”

Fogle said it's 'increasingly hard' to go from travels to normal life

The star, who has two children with wife Marina, also talked about what it’s like going from travelling and exploring different cultures to normal life.

“I find it increasingly hard to go from this extraordinary, really intense experience which I had with the Mbendjele, suddenly back to being a dad, children, modern life, like we all do,” he said.

“I kind of thrive on those two very different worlds but I find it increasingly hard, the inequalities I find harder and harder. I’m so aware of how lucky and privileged I am in this country, let alone in the grand scheme of the world. I do find it harder and harder and it puts more and more confusion into my already slightly confused brain.”

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