Roff Smith

For the past thirty years I have been documenting the world through stories and images, mainly for National Geographic Magazine, for whom I’ve contributed some thirty major features on everything from cheetahs on the Serengeti to astrophysics at the South Pole to the mystery of Stonehenge to the lives of Norwegian whalers in the high arctic. My work has also appeared in the New York Times, Smithsonian, Conde Nast Traveller, Time, Newsweek, Nature, Australian Geographic, Lonely Planet Traveller, Atlas Obscura, the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. In the course of my career I’ve won awards in a wide range of fields – for medical writing to ¬†travel writing to winning the British Archaeology Award for my National Geographic cover story about the archaeology beneath the streets of London. ¬†Assignments taken me all over the globe, from Antarctica to Zanzibar, more than 100 countries in all.

I am also a keen touring cyclist and have pedalled many thousands of miles exploring the world from the saddle of my bicycle. Indeed my first contribution to National Geographic was a three-part series about my solo nine-month 10,000-mile cycling trek through the Australian outback, the story of which also later appeared in book form as Cold Beer & Crocodiles, published by National Geographic Adventure Press. I have ridden bicycles on every continent, even managing a ride at the South Pole once while on assignment for National Geographic. During the pandemic, when I was stuck at home, I took my camera and tripod with me on my morning bicycle rides and shot them as though these little local outings were magazine travel assignments. Galleries of these images appeared in the New York Times, and later featured on the BBC, and were carried by a number of newspapers and magazines and podcasts around the world, and became the subject of a documentary.

In 2023 I wrote a cycling guide, The 100 Bike Rides of a Lifetime, published by National Geographic Books.

I’ve also published a book about my extensive travels in Antarctica, Life on The Ice.

I’ve been a guest on many podcasts, talking about cycling and photography, and hosted travel programs for National Geographic Expeditions and Smithsonian Journeys.

I live in Britain on a 58-foot narrowboat and the not travelling on assignment can be found exploring our 2000-mile network of 18th century canals.