Dylan Efron is shirtless, standing in front of a verdant river. He smiles as he turns to invite you to dive in with him: “What better way to start your trip than to swim with the locals?”
“…the local manatees,” he says with a smirk before walking right into the murky waters. With all the charm in the world, he immediately trips as the riverbank gives way to the deep. The cameraman cackles, video shaking up and down with mirth. Dylan laughs as well, and surprisingly, so do you. There’s something about Dylan’s approachable nature and the style of his filming that makes one feel as if they are standing right there with him, about to meet some manatees themselves.
As the opening credits roll you are treated to gorgeous shots of a country immersed in water and jungle. Dylan tells you where you’re visiting today, and presents what he calls the most beautiful country he’s ever been to: Guyana.
This video is the first of many to come on Dylan’s YouTube series aptly titled Connection Through Adventure.
“Where the f*** is Guyana… like you, I had no idea. I couldn’t find very much info online when we started planning this trip, but that’s kinda what drew me in. In this series, we explore the hidden gems of Guyana, from the pristine rainforests in the north to the red dirt savannahs in the south.”
– Connection Through Adventure Episode 1 description.
Following a serendipitous meeting at Coachella, host Brian Calle convinced Dylan to take a quick break from his intrepid explorations and sit down for an eye-opening and inspiring chat about expanding one’s horizons on this week’s L.A. Weekly Weekly Podcast.
Dylan Efron is many things, including a producer (recent works include Down to Earth with Zac Efron), an actor as well as a wellness and travel brand ambassador. However, what he may be best known for is his sense of adventure and love of new experiences, which is what has led him to become an adventure influencer with close to a million followers. Always doing something new and exciting, he has used his platform to support indigenous communities around the world and promote the importance of sustainability. Dylan is happiest when outside, and his newest YouTube series is a natural progression of his work.
“It’s a travel series where we go to Guyana,” explains Dylan. “It really spoke to me because my background was in producing and now I’ve started stepping in front of the camera. This was one of the first chances I’ve really got to combine the two of these and travel to a destination, and really raise awareness. And I think Guyana spoke to me so much because I was able to tie in sustainability as well.”
But as noted in the online video’s description, before he traveled there he didn’t really know much about the place at all.
“I had no idea what Guyana was. I think most people don’t,” he says with a humble chuckle. “It’s the only English-speaking country in South America, right next to Suriname and Brazil, and this place is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve said it in the intro of the show and it’s the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been in my life.”
“What’s so cool is that the whole country is tied to sustainability,” he continues. “They have one of the biggest rainforests in the world and the indigenous communities are taking care of that forest. By promoting tourism and promoting that indigenous community, you’re saving the rainforest so they don’t have to turn to logging or mining any of that area. So when I found this out, it was kind of just that perfect blend of adventure travel and sustainability – something I knew I really wanted to share with the world and raise awareness for this country.”
The importance of supporting and preserving such a community was not lost on Dylan, which is what inspired his show. But if he didn’t have any knowledge about Guyana beforehand, what led him to not only make a trip there, but create a mini documentary about it?
“I was very lucky,” he says. “I’m an ambassador for GoPro and GoPro was reached out to by this company calledElsewhere. Elsewhere is a company that curates travel for the adventure-travel-type of person. They’re not going to set you up at a resort for you to stay there. Their goal is to find people on a grassroots level and connect you with them, and curate travel for you. They just really work with the community and make sure all the money from this trip goes to the pockets of the local people living there.”
They were looking for someone who wasn’t afraid of adventure and who didn’t mind getting dirty, which made Dylan the obvious choice. As an adventurer, Dylan has experienced some things that aren’t common to vacationers, and is able to give a unique point of view that goes beyond your average travel vlog. His hobbies alone are enough to hook you in. Known for being an avid rock climber, he’s recently been interested in something called highlining.
“That, mentally, is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to get over,” he tells us. “Just like, being a thousand feet in the air standing on this little line, that’s by far the hardest sport I’ve gotten into.”
Highlining is similar to the slackline you’ve seen at the park or beach, where people with seemingly otherworldly balance walk a piece of webbing that has been stationed above the ground by two tree slings and a tensioning system. Not quite tightrope walking, slackline is more wobbly and requires fierce concentration and control over one’s own body. As a part of the slacklining disciple, highlining is what you’ve seen in the park, but amplified. Often between two cliffs, it’s a death-defying activity that takes an incredibly focused person to accomplish. An impressive feat, many practitioners would agree with Dylan that highlining is the hardest sport they’ve ever gotten into.
Extreme sports reminiscent of Point Break aside, Dylan’s most challenging adventure and most difficult are different, as his most difficult travel experience was hands down the time he and brother Zac Efron trekked through Nepal.
“The most difficult trip, I think ever, was when I went to Nepal with Zac … and we did three weeks of backpacking in Nepal. Just the endless days of trekking and all that stuff, it was really challenging,” describes Dylan. “I had finished the Boston Marathon, hopped onto a flight and did like 24 hours of travel … then I started trekking.”
One of the great things about Dylan is that his motivation is contagious. One interview with him emboldens you to further your own horizons and one scroll through his feed motivates you to follow through. L.A. Weekly Publisher Brian Calle sums it up well when he says Dylan was made different, in the best way.
“But I’m not built differently,” assures a modest Dylan. “I’m built the same way, my body is just paying the price.” He doesn’t want to make his lifestyle seem unattainable, and it’s important to him to prove just the opposite. Anyone can have an adventure, you just need to take a step outside.
While admittedly we aren’t so keen on the extreme physical exertion that comes with running a casual 26.2 miles followed by international travel and an immediate trek through the famed mountains of Nepal, we are very interested in learning how to emulate Dylan’s experiences in beautiful places.
“[Nepal] was gorgeous. It was definitely a very spiritual trip. It brought Zac and me really close together. It was what we needed at that time, it was a beautiful trip,” affirms Dylan.
We suspect that our guest’s motivating nature is because he is the type to fall in love with a place through travel, and shout that love for all the world to see. Connection Through Adventure is proof of this, and we’re grateful to experience it.
Cognizant that not everyone is able to explore the riches of the natural world, let alone get to know the indigenous culture that protects them, Dylan has made it his mission to bring everyone who dares to dream along on incredible journeys via intimate vlogs that debut every Sunday.
His inaugural episode, GUYANA | The #1 Country to Add to Your Bucket List, is all about his time getting to know this often overlooked treasure, and encouraging others to support the locals by taking a visit themselves. Forget a tedious written guide, Dylan keeps the mystery in travel alive whilst opening our eyes to all of the activities one can do outside of resorts.