Chalet White Eden – Sainte Foy Tarentaise – Chalet Review 2016

Now here’s a couple of questions for all you ski holiday enthusiasts to ponder. Put to one side the resort and the weather, what are the ingredients that make a great chalet holiday for you? Is it the food, the location, the other guests, the rooms, the facilities, the price; or is it a combination of all these things? And how many truly great chalet holidays have you been on? There’s a lot of variables to take into account, and as a chalet company, a lot to get right if you want to run a successful business in a crowded market place. Hats off then to Small Wonders, who have got a very good handle on the majority of these factors, and tie them all together in a great venue that is Chalet White Eden.

The winner of the Ski Club Ski Holiday For Life competition, Rob Wycherley, has been in Sainte Foy Tarentaise this year.  He gives us his review for Chalet White Eden, Small Wonders.TheLodgeexterior4skiinout Everyone at Small Wonders, from the Managing Director down to the chalet staff in resort, hold the same philosophies regarding genuine hospitality, taking pleasure in looking after their customers, the enjoyment from being in a wonderful environment and that crucial aspect, attention to detail. All this became evident in the week that I spent as their guest in Chalet White Eden, tucked nicely in against the Home Run in the small resort of Sainte Foy in the Tarentaise, close to Bourg St Maurice and within striking distance of the Paradiski and Espace Killy. We’d chosen to hire a car and drive the just over 2 hours from Grenoble, giving us flexibility during the week, but the chalet will arrange a minibus pick up from the station at Bourg, as well as run you to other resorts should you choose to stretch your ski legs. After a short drive up the mountain from the Bourg to Tignes road you arrive in the resort of Ste. Foy, a collection of modern, tastefully presented, chalets and residences. Chalet White Eden is in the upper part of the village, and has the benefit of an underground car park, that proved to be an absolute godsend due to the levels of snow that we had during the week.

The chalet itself is only a few years old, and unlike a lot of its competitors in this price bracket spread across the Alps, it is not lacking for space. Aside from the underground car park there is room for a separate ski and boot room (equipped with powerful heaters and a sofa to change your boots on, heaven, and a massive tick from me!) as well as a sauna, a lift, generous living areas, a

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Jacuzzi on the balcony (great fun to bubble away in as the snow falls) and large bedrooms and en-suites, where you don’t have to trip over you and your companion’s gear as you get ready in the morning.

White Eden is set up in a style of what is best described as boutique chalet-hotel, with Savoyard architecture, and a smattering of art and carvings, making for a sophisticated but relaxed environment, with subtle lighting and a welcoming log fire in the hearth. Twice a week there are “Le Chic” Happy Hours, where champagne and mouth-watering canapés are served up, however outside of these times there is an honesty bar, which also includes quality teas and coffees. Although the hosts are generous with after dinner drinks, at this level of service with typical properties in the Alps, local beer and wine runs free of charge throughout the stay.


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Now on to the food; one word, wow! Expertly cooked and beautifully presented, with a wonderful repertoire and great matching wines. My mouth is still watering from the thought of it all after 3 weeks. Local produce is high on the list, and after an initial foray into gauging the right amount to serve for the guests on the first night, we settled into a well-balanced and perfectly timed series of dinner parties with our fellow holiday makers. Unusually for chalets in the Alps, during the week that I stayed it was a cosmopolitan mix of Europeans, with guests from France, Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland; and myself and my buddy were the only Brits in the mix. As the French were the most numerous, it was their language that dominated at the table, which might be a bit intimidating if you don’t speak the lingo, but everyone made a real effort and we all learned more about each other and had a lot of laughs in the process.

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For those of you interested in bringing children, as after all the resort is fabulous for families, there was a first sitting for dinner, and plenty of space for the kids to retreat to so that they can watch television and access the free wifi.

So, back to those questions I posed at the start. Small Wonders have that combination right, and it is testament to the company and their product that there was an almost unanimous re-booking for 2017 from the guests that stayed. This was a great chalet holiday, oh, and the snow played its part too!
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Have you heard of this resort? If you have, you’re in the minority. There might be a number of reasons why you could have, either you’ve passed through the main village on the road from Bourg St Maurice to Tignes and Val D’Isere, you might have a young family and wanted something quiet and safe, or lastly you’re a back country officianado who has heard whisperings of the awesome off-piste, and acres of powder that remains untouched days after all the other nearby major resorts have been skied out.

To be honest with you, I was very fortunate to find it, being given the opportunity as a guest of Small Wonders, staying in Chalet White Eden which I was reviewing for the Much Better Adventures website. Like you, I went online and checked out the usual sites for a review of the resort, full of statistics and mouth watering photos taken on bluebird powder days. I was apprehensive, as for a week’s skiing I normally plump for large ski stations with excellent links, miles of piste, ample eating and drinking opportunities with access to a range of off-piste opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I love a smaller resort, and have been fortunate enough to ski in plenty across the globe, but normally from a larger centre, or for a long weekend or day trip. Ste. Foy however lends itself to do things the other way around, so you can stay at a smaller, more intimate resort and then use it as a base to explore other larger ones that are nearby. In my case, and having the benefit of a hire car, I skied in Val D’Isere and then a day in Meribel where I caught up with friends, though there are other resorts nearer such as Les Arcs, La Plagne, Tignes and La Rosiere within 40 minutes or so.


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For those with family, or with more intermediate desires, then the resort offers ample skiing with accessible pistes from a handful of well linked chairlifts. This makes it easy to navigate for those inclined to use piste maps, and gives reassurance that older children won’t get stuck in the wrong valley when they pester to go off with friends. There are a small number of restaurants to rendez-vous at, all serving good mountain fare, but in busier periods, or with inclement weather it is best to book for meals. My stay co-incided with European half term, but it never felt too busy or crowded on the slopes, and lift queues only became apparent when bad weather forced the closure of the two top lifts due to high winds and avalanche risk.   

So then, what about the off-piste opportunities? Well, if you catch the weather right and you have fresh snow, you’ll think you have won the lottery. The top lifts open up a significant amount of area, from the unpisted blacks through to tree skiing and itineraries, it is all here, and what’s more there are only a small number of like minded individuals doing the same, so it is possible to make fresh tracks for a number of days after. My friend and I cut first lines on an epic run of 1,300m of vertical from the top of the lifts via the deserted hamlet of Le Monal down to the village of Le Miroir. For a long time we were following the hoof marks of a small deer, which met an unfortunate demise on the path with only its head left on show in a pool of red snow! Eeek! We didn’t hang around long to look for the culprit, but safe to say we asked locals from the safety of a bar about the likely wildlife able to carry this ambush out. At Le Miroir there is a handy bus service that takes you back to the main resort. To get the best from the off-piste then, hire a local guide, gear up and get stuck in.

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Safe to say that the nightlife in Ste. Foy is pretty quiet, but there are a small number of bars and eateries, including a pretty decent wine bar that has some atmosphere, so you can venture out on the chef’s day off. We ate at the Maison a Colonnes at the base of the slopes, and thoroughly enjoyed a “Witch’s Hat” pierrade (see pic) with all the theatre of cooking your own grub.

Well then, there you have it, a super little destination that is becoming increasingly better known in skiing circles, and ticks a lot of boxes for a wide range of needs. It’s a relatively new resort that retains a lot of charm, and for those that have found it there are enough compelling reasons to keep coming back, and to keep it as quiet as possible from the rest of the skiing fraternity.

Damn, I’ve let you into my secret.

Want more of Rob? Check out his review of Go Ski Meribel Chalet Review 2015

 

Rory Mackay’s Solo African Voyage

In the latest in our ‘Your Adventures’ series, Sam spoke with Rory Mackay, a young adventurer who has just completed a solo voyage across the African Continent.  
Beginning in Cape Town, Rory traveled through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. From Cairo he flew to Edinburgh and cycled across Scotland to round things off. Although completed primarily by bicycle, he also hitchhiked a fair bit to spice things up. 
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Rory, what inspired you to take this journey?

Africa had always been right up there on my to do list. It is such a raw part of the world to travel through and I felt at my ‘young’ age, this was the time to tackle a challenge of this nature.

The initial spark came from a good friend who asked if I was interested in doing a four wheel drive trip across the continent with him. Having committed to ‘our’ plan, this mate effectively pulled the plug on it with only a month remaining before I flew to South Africa. He had all the cash to by a car, I didn’t. Despite my modest budget, I chose to stick to my guns and attempt the overland trip by other means.

My true inspiration came from a solo cycle across Vietnam that I had completed two years before Africa. The enjoyment and confidence gained from this experience is what gave me the balls to try crossing Africa with my bicycle.

 
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What preparation did you undertake? 

One should really be preparing quite thoroughly for such an undertaking…. I didn’t at the outset due to my change of plan. A lot of my preparation was mental, getting my mind in the right place to be on the road for so long.

Leaving the UK I already had most of my equipment; clothes, tools, the bicycle. Once on the ground in South Africa, I sorted out other issues such as vaccinations and panniers knowing it was cheaper.

Preparation is an ongoing process throughout an adventure, the more prepared you are the less resourceful you need to be generally. I enjoyed testing my resourcefulness.

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What are the key bits of kit that you chose to take on the trip? 
 

When meeting folk on my travels, the first kit related question always pertained to spare bicycle parts. I actually carried very little in the way of spare parts; a few spokes and inner-tubes was about it.

Without a doubt, my bags were the most important items I chose to bring for the trip. Of their contents (aside from my valuables), my map and tools were pretty darn key bits of kit to have.

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What were the big highs (and lows –  if any)? 

Suffering from severe food poisoning in Sudan was a definite low moment. It wasn’t so much that my health was very poor for some time, but more that I lost the ability to exercise control over the situation.

There are many constraints traveling northwards there; money is a fixed resource as foreign cards don’t work at ATMs in Sudan and the only way out of the country to Egypt was a weekly ferry. Time is money.

So many highs. Attaining any milestone within the journey was immensely satisfying. Realizing the smaller visualizations within the dream I live.

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What advice would you give someone taking on a similar trip? 
Take that leap out your comfort zone and go for it! The experience can be whatever you want it to be.
YOU MAKE THE RULES.
 
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What’s next, and how can we follow and support your adventures? 
 

I’ve never travelled through North or South America and have only heard good things, so something unique in that neck of the woods could be next on the agenda.

Around the globe is also on the bucket list, personally that is the trip of a lifetime if done right and is worth building up to over a sizable portion of one’s life.

I am currently working on resolving the documentation of my African exploits, which will hopefully culminate in a book. To follow past, present and future developments checkout my blog and Facebook page for the trip.

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Tracks of the day

Some seriously good looking tracks from CTO Guy this morning in Morzine:

skiing in Morzine in March

Back in work by 11 and on inspired form. Now that is what we call a good working environment!

The Alps had an awesome dump of the snow this weekend, and there are plenty of great deals still to be had…can we tempt you? Check out chalets now.

We just had to share this enquiry…

Our friends in the Maldives, Atoll Volunteers, recently received this sad but touching enquiry via Much Better Adventures from Yulia, a prospective volunteer. 

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to volunteer in the Turtle Conservation Center.

I am in India at the moment and one thing happened to me that touched my heart deeply.

While my morning jog on the beach I`ve seen an enourmous turtle on the beach, that was binded to a stone and left to dye by local fishermen. The poor thing was tried to escape and obviosly had no chance. This was the first tme I had seen sea turtle allive. So wonderful creatures! And to see it dyeing made me deeply sad. I cried. Asked the fishsermen to let it go, but they were firm and very eager to sell the turtle to a local restaurant. Big money for them. That was the moment I realised I would like to do something meaningful. Being a real sea-lover, I do care about those fantastic creates.

Thus, if you have a place available, please let me know!

Many thanks.

Regards,

Yulia

 

Good luck with your application, Yulia!  

 

My Bike’s Insight To The Dordogne

I’m an Egyptian-blue semi-retired Giant CFR (…Pro) from the late 90s who’s spent many a year locked in a dark garage.

 

You can imagine my delight then when I was airlifted to the sunny South of France a few years ago. My jockey wheels were positively jangling at the prospect of riverside rides at sunset with my new owner in Aquitaine – sharing tarmac with trim Peugeots from the noughties.

 

I’d heard much about the warm climate and smooth-as-a-top-tube tarmac in France from some ex-Tour de Francers.

 

Admittedly I was a bit hurt when my last owner’s wife spitefully gave me away during the divorce – an undignified scenario for a fine specimen like myself. I couldn’t believe my luck though when it transpired I’d be moving to France with my new owner.

 

Unfortunately, he’s a typical fair-weather rider. He often forgets to flip me over before leaving me for months on end, my spokes haven’t been straightened in years and when my handlebar tape came loose last year he used basic Scotch Sellotape to fix it. The shame. I daren’t imagine the state of my derailleurs. I quite often let my air out for literally no reason in protest. In truth, our relationship revolves around him bashing me with the wrong tools until he’s covered in my oil with sore extremities.

 

Nonetheless, I’m very grateful to be here, so I thought I’d give you other bikes a glimpse into my new home in the Dordogne to entice you out here.

 

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The Dordogne is littered with friendly villages like Mauzac (above) where your owner can stop for a refreshing Orangina. Apparently they like it best served in a glass bottle. Go figure.

 

Be prepared to stop quite frequently at defunct barns that in your owners eyes are calling out to be restored. By them.
Be prepared to stop quite frequently at defunct barns that – in your owners eyes – are calling out to be restored, by them.

 

Expect to make that satisfying "Vvvv" noise here as most of the tarmac is intact. Which is just as well, if a potthole so much as looks at me I'm a gone-er.
Expect to make that satisfying “Vvvv” noise here as most of the tarmac is intact. Which is just as well – if a pothole so much as looks at me I’m a gone-er.

 

There are some cracking picnic spots round here overlooking medieval buildings.
There are some cracking picnic spots here for all you gearly beloveds. Most can be found under droopy willow trees by the river overlooking medieval buildings. Ideal for an old romantic like myself.

 

This is just a selfie I Instagramed the other day.
This is just a selfie I Instagramed the other day…

 

Remain cautious when delving down sidelanes. Some roads inexplicably run out of tarmac and we all know what happens if you attempt a route like the one above.
Remain cautious when delving down sidelanes. Some roads inexplicably run out of tarmac here.

 

Owners love a good sandblasted bridge and there's plenty of them round here for them to stick on Instagram.
Owners love a well sandblasted bridge and there’s plenty of them around here.

 

A classic vista in the Dordogne area. My jittery handlebars never bore of such delightful views.
A classic vista along the Dordogne. My jittery handlebars never bore of this.

 

And incase you were wondering, here's where I rest between rides.
And here’s where I rest between rides. By an unfinished painting near a corner that hasn’t been dusted in well over 3 years. Still, musn’t grumble.

 

If you’re keen on seeing the Dordogne with your own carbon eyelets, I’m told that the cyberspace tool ‘Much Better Adventures’ has made it all very easy. You just get your owner to state dates, group size and preferences and then local specialists around here will come back to you guys with tailored offers. Give it a bash for free here.

 

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Ps. If there are any Peugeot Urbanite 2.0s in the Lalinde area who are in to heavy pedalling reading this out there… ring your bell.

 

Midweek Mountain Adventures

I am engaged in an endless custody battle for the rights to my soul. The (actually rather nice) company that pays my wages has my soul from Monday to Friday and I get access to it at the weekends. Sometimes we even get to spend holidays together. This current arrangement has been in place for quite some time, my employer and I both know where we stand and we try not to bicker (especially in front of my soul). Pretty much everyone I know considers their very similar arrangements to be normal and, although we all like a little grumble about it from time to time, it is generally accepted that proper, soul satisfying, fun and adventure is confined to the weekend.

Over the years I have been purposefully and unintentionally benighted on top of Scottish mountains, always at the weekend or whilst on holiday. Nothing beats a sunrise viewed from a high and empty place, where you literally wake up to adventure – no traffic, no sorting out kit and definitely no last minute jobs that need to be done before you can set off. Just open your eyes and you are already there.

After an unforgettable night on a snow covered Ben Donich in April, Anna and I decided to head back to the Arrochar Alps for another summit wild camp. However a lack of free weekends meant that a trip was not likely to happen before October. We were both disappointed that no amount of calendar juggling would give us the time we needed for the trip. The Arrochar Alps are a group of mountains near Loch Long and Loch Fyne, just a ninety minute drive from my office in Glasgow, which begged the question – why not just head up after work and then make our way straight back to the office the following morning? It seemed almost too obvious and straight forward, why had we not done this before?

With Glasgow desperately trying to beat its own Wettest Summer record, we left the city in torrential rain at around 5pm on a miserable Monday evening. Having already packed our kit and loaded up the car we were able to get straight on the road and arrived in Succoth at around 7pm (a little later than expected thanks to the traffic). Our original plan had been to climb Ben Donich, however yet another landslide at Rest-and-be-Thankful (the access route to the mountain) forced us to reconsider. We opted instead for the more famous peak of the Arrochar Alps, The Cobbler, despite it being a significantly more challenging proposition for a summit camp than Ben Donich.

Although it was not raining in Succoth as we put on our packs, the weather hanging over the numerous summits of the Arrochar Alps looked like it had rolled in from a miserable day in November. We had optimistically packed bivvy bags (on the basis that lightweight adventurers are fast adventurers and it would also save the time of pitching and striking a tent), however the thought of a long night on the rocky summit in bad weather made me strap my 4.5kg Super Quasar tent to my pack at the last minute.

The route up The Cobbler from Succoth starts at sea level, with the first 1,000ft being along a well maintained (but rather laborious and uninteresting) set of switchbacks through a muggy forest. After reaching the main access path which runs between The Cobbler, Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime our optimism took a little nose dive as The Cobbler should have come into view. The cloud, and now rain, was obscuring the entire mountain. Tired after the first lung bursting 1,000ft, we now had the challenge of scrambling up The Cobbler in poor visibility, with heavy packs and on wet rock.

The route finding presented no issues, even in such poor weather, however the combination of being laden on wet, mica schist rock was making progress on the scramble to the summit tiring, slow and a little risky.

Eventually topping out at 2,900ft on the centre summit (with its infamous needle) at 10pm, we were relieved at being able to remove the packs and slightly apprehensive about whether we would find a suitable site to pitch the tent in the thick soup of cloud surrounding us. After darting off to the North and South summits to scout for potential sites, I returned unable to find the perfect pitch and we decided to set up camp right where we had dumped the packs, beside the needle at the centre summit. Finding a small patch of grass with sheer drops on all sides, we quickly pitched the tent in the fading daylight, had some hot chilli and settled down for the night. There was no beautiful sunset, no amazing views, no sitting around glowing with a sense of adventure. It was cold and wet, we just wanted to get some sleep!

Sleep, like the good weather, was another thing which evaded me on this trip. I spent most of the time between 11pm and 4.30am trying to decide how to get down if the weather remained poor. The path off the North summit was likely to be the safest, but would add on almost an hour to our total time. Descending the way we had come up would be treacherous in the low light, poor visibility and wet. The route off the South summit was by far the most direct, however it was also the route with which I was least familiar. I was well aware of the fantastic (and bold) climbing at the South summit, however that was not a great indication of safe conditions underfoot for two tired adventurers with heavy packs.

There was no need for my alarm to sound at 4.30am, I had not slept a wink. Anna did manage a reasonable sleep, however as she tentatively edged out of her sleeping bag, I already knew what her first question would be Is the weather still as bad? Unfortunately, it was exactly the same as when I zipped up the tent a few hours before, horrible! Keen to get moving, we struck the tent and as Anna packed the last of our things I ran off to check the initial section of the South summit to find a safe route off the mountain. After quickly down climbing the first couple of hundred feet, I decided it was safe enough and returned to collect my pack and Anna. We began to make a slow and careful descent through the cloud.

Finally clearing the base of the cloud at around 2,000ft, we were presented with our first sighting of, well, anything since the day before. The stunning sunrise over Loch Long, Ben Lomond and beyond gave us the injection of optimism which we were in need of. With a new found spring in our steps we admired the new day breaking around us and looked back with a muted sense of satisfaction at our gloomy camp site atop The Cobbler.

Reaching the car at 7am (much later than we had hoped) we immediately set off towards Glasgow and my office, weary from the descent and lack of sleep. The drive back was in fine weather and it was hard to imagine that we had been perched up on The Cobbler just a few hours before. We reached my office at 8.30am and after a quick shower I was suited and ready for work at around 9am.

It was at this point I was able to answer the question which I had asked myself at the beginning of this adventure…is it possible to mix mountain adventures and the working week? Technically yes, however I certainly did not feel like I had got the balance right, I was absolutely exhausted (mainly from lack of sleep). Would I do it again? Absolutely, although a bit of decent weather and a few sleeping tablets would certainly be welcome!

After failing to attain high enough grades to become an astronaut and unable to grow a beard thick enough to be a world famous mountaineer, Steven chose a career in law, which gives him enough free time (compared to being in space) to indulge in his love for all things mountainous and wild.

Rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking and wild camping on summits, Steven offers an alternative view on the world of adventure, where you don’t have to be soloing El Capitan, bivvying on Everest or snowboarding down The Eiger in order to have fun as an Adventurer.

You can follow what Steven gets up to atThe Amateur Adventures of a Professional.

Bicycling in Mexico

Katie Boyer is the Volunteer Abroad Director for Go Volunteer Abroad. Go Volunteer Abroad is a community driven website for anyone interested in volunteering abroad, which includes reviews, articles, resources, and more. Follow her at @VolunteeReviews for updates on volunteering abroad.
Katie believes any travel experience can be meaningful and adventurous. She spent several months of fall 2011 in Oaxaca, Mexico living with a host family, practicing Spanish, and volunteering for various organizations. The organization Katie spent most of my time with in Oaxaca, Mundo Ceiba, advocates for environmental consciousness through environmental education and bicycle promotion.
Bicycling for the environment: Gripping my handlebars, I pedal faster and faster, trying to keep up with my new Mexican friend and colleague. The streets I thought I knew feel different by bicycle. More than thirty minutes have gone by and I breathe in open countryside air. As I tired, the final hill was the worst climb of all, but when we finally made it to El Colegio de Bachillero del Estado de Oaxaca, I knew it was worth it.
The Oaxaquean high school is the perfect example of how everyone can make a difference. Mundo Ceiba started a reforestation project with more than 600 students and faculty. After learning about environmental issues in their area, students take charge of planting and caring for several trees. Mundo Ceiba has helped plant thousands of trees in Oaxaca through more than 20 individual projects.
In addition to all of the reforestation work Mundo Ceiba facilitates, the organization in known around town for its regular group bike rides. (I have to admit, these rides were one of the main reasons I was attracted to the organization.) They are a great way to have an adventure in just one night. Riding around the city streets at night with hundreds of other cyclists gets you excited.
What I learned: My experience bicycling in Mexico taught me about environmental consciousness and how to explore a new city without being a tourist. By forgetting my self-conscious fears and riding a borrowed bicycle through the streets of Oaxaca on my daily commute, I immersed myself into Oaxaquean life.
Bicycle culture in Oaxaca, like most of Mexico and Latin America, is almost nonexistent, but Mundo Ceiba is changing that. Through regular reforestation projects, group bike rides, and school presentations, Mundo Ceibas community presence is continually growing. This just shows how volunteer work can take any form throughout an adventure abroad.
Why volunteer on your international adventure?: Volunteering abroad gives you an insight to the daily lives and struggles of another group of people. Instead of using their land solely for your own adventurous and fun purpose, volunteering gives you a chance to learn and give back. Other perks of volunteering abroad include meeting new people from around the world, building your resume and career, and trying something new. It doesnt have to be bicycling in Mexico, whatever your passions are they could change the lives of others in a way you never imagined.
Volunteer work can be incredibly exciting. You can turn any volunteer work or issue into an adventurous challenge. Check out some adventure volunteer trip reviews on Go Volunteer Abroad:
Adventure Heart in Borneo, Malaysia and Merida, Venezuela
Summer Wildlife Adventure in Israel from GoEco
Australian Conservation Adventure Expedition from GVI
African Dream Adventure Safaris
Jakera Adventure Venezuela

Katie Boyer is the Volunteer Abroad Director for Go Overseas Volunteer Abroad. Go Volunteer Abroad is a community driven website for anyone interested in volunteering abroad, which includes reviews, articles, resources, and more. Follow her at @VolunteeReviews for updates on volunteering abroad.

Katie believes any travel experience can be meaningful and adventurous. She spent several months of fall 2011 in Oaxaca, Mexico living with a host family, practicing Spanish, and volunteering for various organizations. The organization Katie spent most of my time with in Oaxaca, Mundo Ceiba, advocates for environmental consciousness through environmental education and bicycle promotion.

Bicycling for the environment: Gripping my handlebars, I pedal faster and faster, trying to keep up with my new Mexican friend and colleague. The streets I thought I knew feel different by bicycle. More than thirty minutes have gone by and I breathe in open countryside air. As I tired, the final hill was the worst climb of all, but when we finally made it to El Colegio de Bachillero del Estado de Oaxaca, I knew it was worth it.

The Oaxaquean high school is the perfect example of how everyone can make a difference. MundoCeiba started a reforestation project with more than 600 students and faculty. After learning about environmental issues in their area, students take charge of planting and caring for several trees. Mundo Ceiba has helped plant thousands of trees in Oaxaca through more than 20 individual projects.

In addition to all of the reforestation work Mundo Ceiba facilitates, the organization in known around town for its regular group bike rides. (I have to admit, these rides were one of the main reasons I was attracted to the organization.) They are a great way to have an adventure in just one night. Riding around the city streets at night with hundreds of other cyclists gets you excited.What I learned: My experience bicycling in Mexico taught me about environmental consciousness and how to explore a new city without being a tourist. By forgetting my self-conscious fears and riding a borrowed bicycle through the streets of Oaxaca on my daily commute, I immersed myself into Oaxaquean life.

Bicycle culture in Oaxaca, like most of Mexico and Latin America, is almost nonexistent, but Mundo Ceiba is changing that. Through regular reforestation projects, group bike rides, and school presentations, Mundo Ceibas community presence is continually growing. This just shows how volunteer work can take any form throughout an adventure abroad.

Why volunteer on your international adventure?: Volunteering abroad gives you an insight to the daily lives and struggles of another group of people. Instead of using their land solely for your own adventurous and fun purpose, volunteering gives you a chance to learn and give back. Other perks of volunteering abroad include meeting new people from around the world, building your resume and career, and trying something new. It doesnt have to be bicycling in Mexico, whatever your passions are they could change the lives of others in a way you never imagined.

Volunteer work can be incredibly exciting. You can turn any volunteer work or issue into an adventurous challenge.Check out some adventure volunteer trip reviews:

Adventure Heart in Borneo, Malaysia and Merida, Venezuela

Summer Wildlife Adventure in Israel from GoEco

Australian Conservation Adventure Expedition from GVI

African Dream Adventure Safaris

Jakera Adventure Venezuela

Hope you enjoyed reading about Katie Boyer’s bicycling adventures through Mexico. If you’ve been inspired to get involved in something similiar to what Katie did be sure to check out our Cycle and Bike Holidaysor we’ve also got plenty of Volunteering Holidays to choose from too. So go on why not take a peek…

Sophie’s World Tour

About the Author
Sophie Burge is 23 years old and lives in Hong Kong when shes not seeking fun and adventure elsewhere! She recently returned from a 6 month whirlwind trip with boyfriend Tim.
1. What did your world tour consist of and why did it appeal?
It might be more accurate to describe it as a Southern Hemisphere Tour, which is how it ended up after wed narrowed down our options! As hard as it was to do, the two of us whittled the choices down to our top priorities and reached a compromise. For him, the must-haves were Australia and Southern Africa; for me it had to be New Zealand and South America.
Among other reasons, these destinations appealed because we felt we were able to experience variations of the backpacking experience the label has definitely evolved into an umbrella term! For instance, in Australia we Greyhounded it everywhere, while in New Zealand we opted to rent a Spaceship campervan to give ourselves a little more freedom. In South America we made our own way around, making up the route as we went along, whilst in Southern Africa we used an organised tour so that we didnt have to worry about those kinds of decisions! Sometimes we were quite indulgent, paying for pricey sailing trips or for dolphin watching for example, and other times we slummed it with tins of beans and camping. For us, this level of variation was ideal as it helped to tick lots of boxes, and we felt that it guaranteed all the experiences we hoped to get out of our Big Trip.
In the end we had quite a limited time frame (6 months) to visit what turned out to be 12 countries, a decision which was met with much eyebrow-raising by many of the people we met throughout our travels. However, this method appealed to me personally because it meant we were constantly on the move and therefore we ensured we made the most of each day. Of course, thats not to say there isnt an appeal in having no real plan – we did meet a lot of travellers who would spend weeks in one town if they found they really liked that particular place. The way I saw it though, spending weeks in one place you love may just eat into time you could have spent in another place you love even more which you havent even discovered yet! Obviously, everyone has different preferences and expectations from their travels, but our choice was definitely right for us. If I have any regrets its that the trip should have been a year long, only so we could squeeze in more destinations!
2. What preparation would you recommend someone taking on a similar trip?
Our degree of preparation varied somewhat my advice would be to have a plan of action without it being too rigid. We decided to book all of our international flights in advance, which meant that we already had a rough timeline worked out (for example, 3 weeks in Australia, 4 in New Zealand, etc) and so obviously had to do some research beforehand into how long we thought we would want in each place. We used STA travel to help us find flights which I would highly recommend; they found us some great deals and were very helpful in offering suggestions to amend our trip.
Except for our organised tour in Southern Africa (which required advance booking), everything else we organised when we arrived. We hadnt any concrete ideas of what we were going to do when we arrived in each country, we only knew how much time we had between our inbound and outbound flights! In the case of South America we didnt even know which countries we would choose to spend our time in, other than knowing that we would fly into Buenos Aires and fly out of Lima. Those decisions were all made on the road, based on word of mouth passed from traveller to traveller and from the advice in various guide books (if you are travelling with other people and are planning on purchases guide books, Id suggest one person takes a Lonely Planet and another a Rough Guide as the comparison can be very useful). Any domestic flights we took were booked last minute whilst we were on the road, although we usually relied on long-distance bus travel.
3. What were the top [5] things you brought with you?
I travelled extremely light, so this is actually a hard one to answer! Id have to say:
A camera. Some might say differently (I know in an excerpt from backpacker bible The Beach Richard shares his contrary opinion), but Id say youre definitely going to want visual reminders of the beautiful places you saw. Only two months down the line from my Big Trip and I was shamefully already losing appreciation for how breathtaking it all was until I looked back through my photos. Just wow. The experiences themselves are priceless but the photos are certainly valuable too.
A fast-drying antibacterial towel. It makes such a difference to have one of these on the road, especially if youre moving quickly and dont have time to worry about drying a towel! Also great for camping.
A head torch. May not be very fashionable, but you never know when that might come in handy,
especially if youre staying in campsites! Beware though: if you venture into a rainforest lots of exotic bugs may be drawn to the light…
A travel diary. Truth be told Im a person who hates keeping a diary, but it was definitely worth it, if only for having a record of the names of small towns we passed through or touristy things we saw which I would never remember the names of otherwise! It certainly helped when I came to write this guide!
Washing powder. So you can wash clothes on the road in hostel sinks, where permitted! Saves money and effort on laundry services! We took eco washing powder.
4. Summary of the highs and lows
Highs where do I begin?
Sailing around the stunning Whitsunday Islands. Swimming with dolphins off the shores of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Seeing the awesome Iguazu Falls from both the Argentine and the Brazilian side. Cycling around the Vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina, whilst tiddly from wine tasting! Sand boarding in the beautiful desert town of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, then again Huacachina, Peru. Travelling from Chile into the Altiplano of Bolivia and seeing the amazing salt flats. Staying in an Eco Lodge in the marvellous Bolivian rainforest. Visiting the beautiful Isla del Sol. Trekking to Machu Picchu. Hiking through Colca Canyon. Seeing Rio de Janeiro. Spending a week hiking in the Drakensburg, South Africa. Taking mokoro boats into the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Petting lion cubs in Zimbabwe. Spending time in Chobe Game Park, Namibia, and quad biking through the Namib desert. Meeting awesome people. Discovering that South America is actually pretty good at vegetarian food, despite the horror stories I heard!
Lows Few and far between!
Not having enough time to venture properly into Patagonia. Getting harassed by a homeless man in Valparaiso, Chile, for taking a photo of his dog without his permission (oops!). A 36 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche. The stress of crossing from Bolivia into Peru over Lake Titicaca during Peruvian strikes. Nearly getting arrested in Johannesburg for not carrying our passports to the cinema.

Sophie Burge is 23 years old and lives in Hong Kong when shes not seeking fun and adventure elsewhere! She recently returned from a 6 month whirlwind trip with boyfriend Tim.

What did your world tour consist of and why did it appeal?

It might be more accurate to describe it as a Southern Hemisphere Tour, which is how it ended up after wed narrowed down our options! As hard as it was to do, the two of us whittled the choices down to our top priorities and reached a compromise. For him, the must-haves were Australia and Southern Africa; for me it had to be New Zealand and South America.

Among other reasons, these destinations appealed because we felt we were able to experience variations of the backpacking experience the label has definitely evolved into an umbrella term! For instance, in Australia we Greyhounded it everywhere, while in New Zealand we opted to rent a Spaceship campervan to give ourselves a little more freedom. In South America we made our own way around, making up the route as we went along, whilst in Southern Africa we used an organised tour so that we didnt have to worry about those kinds of decisions! Sometimes we were quite indulgent, paying for pricey sailing trips or for dolphin watching for example, and other times we slummed it with tins of beans and camping. For us, this level of variation was ideal as it helped to tick lots of boxes, and we felt that it guaranteed all the experiences we hoped to get out of our Big Trip.

In the end we had quite a limited time frame (6 months) to visit what turned out to be 12 countries, a decision which was met with much eyebrow-raising by many of the people we met throughout our travels. However, this method appealed to me personally because it meant we were constantly on the move and therefore we ensured we made the most of each day. Of course, thats not to say there isnt an appeal in having no real plan – we did meet a lot of travellers who would spend weeks in one town if they found they really liked that particular place. The way I saw it though, spending weeks in one place you love may just eat into time you could have spent in another place you love even more which you havent even discovered yet! Obviously, everyone has different preferences and expectations from their travels, but our choice was definitely right for us. If I have any regrets its that the trip should have been a year long, only so we could squeeze in more destinations!

What preparation would you recommend someone taking on a similar trip?

Our degree of preparation varied somewhat my advice would be to have a plan of action without it being too rigid. We decided to book all of our international flights in advance, which meant that we already had a rough timeline worked out (for example, 3 weeks in Australia, 4 in New Zealand, etc) and so obviously had to do some research beforehand into how long we thought we would want in each place. We used STA travel to help us find flights which I would highly recommend; they found us some great deals and were very helpful in offering suggestions to amend our trip.

Except for our organised tour in Southern Africa (which required advance booking), everything else we organised when we arrived. We hadnt any concrete ideas of what we were going to do when we arrived in each country, we only knew how much time we had between our inbound and outbound flights! In the case of South America we didnt even know which countries we would choose to spend our time in, other than knowing that we would fly into Buenos Aires and fly out of Lima. Those decisions were all made on the road, based on word of mouth passed from traveller to traveller and from the advice in various guide books (if you are travelling with other people and are planning on purchases guide books, Id suggest one person takes a Lonely Planet and another a Rough Guide as the comparison can be very useful). Any domestic flights we took were booked last minute whilst we were on the road, although we usually relied on long-distance bus travel.

What were the top 5 things you brought with you?

I travelled extremely light, so this is actually a hard one to answer! Id have to say:A camera. Some might say differently (I know in an excerpt from backpacker bible The Beach Richard shares his contrary opinion), but Id say youre definitely going to want visual reminders of the beautiful places you saw. Only two months down the line from my Big Trip and I was shamefully already losing appreciation for how breathtaking it all was until I looked back through my photos. Just wow. The experiences themselves are priceless but the photos are certainly valuable too.

A fast-drying antibacterial towel. It makes such a difference to have one of these on the road, especially if youre moving quickly and dont have time to worry about drying a towel! Also great for camping.

A head torch. May not be very fashionable, but you never know when that might come in handy,especially if youre staying in campsites! Beware though: if you venture into a rainforest lots of exotic bugs may be drawn to the light…A travel diary. Truth be told Im a person who hates keeping a diary, but it was definitely worth it, if only for having a record of the names of small towns we passed through or touristy things we saw which I would never remember the names of otherwise! It certainly helped when I came to write this guide!

Washing powder. So you can wash clothes on the road in hostel sinks, where permitted! Saves money and effort on laundry services! We took eco washing powder.

Summary of the highs and lows

Highs where do I begin?

Sailing around the stunning Whitsunday Islands. Swimming with dolphins off the shores of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Seeing the awesome Iguazu Falls from both the Argentine and the Brazilian side. Cycling around the Vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina, whilst tiddly from wine tasting! Sand boarding in the beautiful desert town of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, then again Huacachina, Peru. Travelling from Chile into the Altiplano of Bolivia and seeing the amazing salt flats. Staying in an Eco Lodge in the marvellous Bolivian rainforest. Visiting the beautiful Isla del Sol. Trekking to Machu Picchu. Hiking through Colca Canyon. Seeing Rio de Janeiro. Spending a week hiking in the Drakensburg, South Africa. Taking mokoro boats into the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Petting lion cubs in Zimbabwe. Spending time in Chobe Game Park, Namibia, and quad biking through the Namib desert. Meeting awesome people. Discovering that South America is actually pretty good at vegetarian food, despite the horror stories I heard!

Lows Few and far between!

Not having enough time to venture properly into Patagonia. Getting harassed by a homeless man in Valparaiso, Chile, for taking a photo of his dog without his permission (oops!). A 36 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche. The stress of crossing from Bolivia into Peru over Lake Titicaca during Peruvian strikes. Nearly getting arrested in Johannesburg for not carrying our passports to the cinema.

Wow, sounds like a pretty epic trip! Need somewhere to start planning your own world trip? Have a look at our activitiespage to get some inspiration!

Row for Freedom

An all-female international crew of six embarks on a double world record attempt in December this year, rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Island of La Gomera to Barbados. The women aged between 22 and 45 have been training, preparing and fundraising to be the first ever crew of six, and the fastest ever female crew to make the crossing. To put a scale on this endeavour, more people have been to space and climbed Everest than have rowed an Ocean. The team are not only hoping to achieve two world records, but to also bring light to one of the most horrendous crimes of today, human trafficking.

They will be setting off with the biennial Woodvale Ocean Rowing Race with 17 other crews from solo rowers to pairs and fours. Once they have pushed off from land they will be relying entirely on each other and what is on board their tiny 7 meter boat to reach Barbados; and will have to function efficiently as a team to do this.
They will face high seas, with waves up to 40ft, extreme fatigue, weight loss, not to mention sores and lack of creature comforts. For one crew member, Helen Leigh, these factors only serve to spur her on; I will relish the physical challenge and the gruelling routine; Im actually looking forward to it. I love training, and the simplicity of eating, sleeping, rowing is a dream come true for me. To be out in the wild taking care of ourselves and battling with the elements is a total privilege.
The girls will row in teams of three rotating every 2 hours for the entire journey. To break the record they will be attempting to row across in less than 50 days. In light of this they are taking little in the way of luxury, in an effort to make the crossing light and fast. The row will be completely unsupported however, so all food, tools and spares will be carried on board.
Combined with the massive physical challenge is a desire to raise awareness of the modern day slavery, human trafficking, an issue close to their hearts. They aim to raise funds for the charities ECPAT UK (End child prostitution and trafficking) and A21 campaign that provides safe housing for victims. Debbie Beadle, one of the crew works for ECPAT UK and says, I work first hand with children who are trafficked and exploited in the UK in the most horrific ways. Every day I see the tremendous resilience and strength in these young people and can only hope that I find a part of that strength to help get me through this challenge.
Although training hard separately; the team have joined together several times in the UK for training, preparation and media; which has taken a tremendous amount of coordination given the locations of the crew.
Based in the UK and in London are Debbie Beadle and Julia Immonen. Helen Leigh is from Lancashire. The international crew members consist of Andrea the Skipper from Boulder Colorado, Kate Richardson, the youngest crew member from Northern Ireland, and Katie Pattison-Hart living in Dubai.
A highlight of the Campaign so far was a boat naming ceremony at Westminster by Olympic Gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent who has been a great supporter of the team. This was a special occasion as it was Anti Slavery day and the team also handed over a report supporting their joint campaign with ECPAT UK to call on the UK Government to provide a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. The following day the team were invited to 10 Downing Street to meet with David Cameron, in a private meeting to tell him about our Row For Freedom. .
The challenge has been made possible through the generous support of Lead Corporate Sponsor Manpowergroup; Gold sponsors Red Button Design, Dubai Duty Free and Lexis Nexis, as well as others. The team are still seeking further sponsorship and in particular charitable donations to ECPAT UK and A21 Campaign.
For further information and to donate/sponsor please go to www.rowforfreedom.com or contact the team on 07752579051.

An all-female international crew of six embarks on a double world record attempt in December this year, rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Island of La Gomera to Barbados. The women aged between 22 and 45 have been training, preparing and fundraising to be the first ever crew of six, and the fastest ever female crew to make the crossing. To put a scale on this endeavour, more people have been to space and climbed Everest than have rowed an Ocean. The team are not only hoping to achieve two world records, but to also bring light to one of the most horrendous crimes of today, human trafficking.

They will be setting off with the biennial Woodvale Ocean Rowing Race with 17 other crews from solo rowers to pairs and fours. Once they have pushed off from land they will be relying entirely on each other and what is on board their tiny 7 meter boat to reach Barbados; and will have to function efficiently as a team to do this.

They will face high seas, with waves up to 40ft, extreme fatigue, weight loss, not to mention sores and lack of creature comforts. For one crew member, Helen Leigh, these factors only serve to spur her on; I will relish the physical challenge and the gruelling routine; Im actually looking forward to it. I love training, and the simplicity of eating, sleeping, rowing is a dream come true for me. To be out in the wild taking care of ourselves and battling with the elements is a total privilege.

The girls will row in teams of three rotating every 2 hours for the entire journey. To break the record they will be attempting to row across in less than 50 days. In light of this they are taking little in the way of luxury, in an effort to make the crossing light and fast. The row will be completely unsupported however, so all food, tools and spares will be carried on board.

Combined with the massive physical challenge is a desire to raise awareness of the modern day slavery, human trafficking, an issue close to their hearts. They aim to raise funds for the charities ECPAT UK (End child prostitution and trafficking) and A21 campaign that provides safe housing for victims. Debbie Beadle, one of the crew works for ECPAT UK and says, I work first hand with children who are trafficked and exploited in the UK in the most horrific ways. Every day I see the tremendous resilience and strength in these young people and can only hope that I find a part of that strength to help get me through this challenge.

Although training hard separately; the team have joined together several times in the UK for training, preparation and media; which has taken a tremendous amount of coordination given the locations of the crew.Based in the UK and in London are Debbie Beadle and Julia Immonen. Helen Leigh is from Lancashire. The international crew members consist of Andrea the Skipper from Boulder Colorado, Kate Richardson, the youngest crew member from Northern Ireland, and Katie Pattison-Hart living in Dubai.A highlight of the Campaign so far was a boat naming ceremony at Westminster by Olympic Gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent who has been a great supporter of the team. This was a special occasion as it was Anti Slavery day and the team also handed over a report supporting their joint campaign with ECPAT UK to call on the UK Government to provide a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. The following day the team were invited to 10 Downing Street to meet with David Cameron, in a private meeting to tell him about our Row For Freedom.

The challenge has been made possible through the generous support of Lead Corporate Sponsor Manpowergroup; Gold sponsors Red Button Design, Dubai Duty Free and Lexis Nexis, as well as others. The team are still seeking further sponsorship and in particular charitable donations to ECPAT UK and A21 Campaign.For further information and to donate/sponsor please go to www.rowforfreedom.com or contact the team on 07752579051.

The team were recently featured on Sky Sports News, the video of which is below…

British Universities Kayaking Expedition to Venezuela

Each year a group of some of the best young kayakers from universities around the UK take part in the British Universities Kayak Expedition. This year, a group travelled to Venezuela in order to kayak new rapids, see the country, and make a positive difference to those they met along the way. We’re lucky enough to have some great photos from their trip, along with some words from team member Jonny Hawkins.

The team deep in the Venezuelan jungle about to start the Rio Aricagua which takes 2 days to paddle. We spent the night in the heart of the jungle sleeping in hammocks worrying about the local jaguars and snakes.

Arthur Norton styling his way down one of the many huge rapids on the Rio Orinoco. We met this river at unusually high levels with a discharge of 30,000 cumecs which is 3000 times the voulme of an average Welsh river.

Jonny Hawkins on the Rio Santa Domingo. This river is one of the many rafting runs that we found during the trip in a country with alot of rafting potential.

Arthur Norton styling a waterfall in the Gran Sabana. This geologicaly unique area countains countless waterfalls from small ledges to the towering Angle Falls at 979m. This is a paradise for any waterfall kayaker that has means to cross the endless grassland with no roads.

Throughout Venezuela everyone that we have met have been extreemly friendly to us. From letting us stay in peoples houses to giving us a lift on their boat to the local rapids. This family lived and fished on a small island between rapids on the Orinoco, they gave us fish for dinner and taught us the local way to fish.

One of our trip aims is to develop the sport of kayaking in Venezuela. At every possibility we have been getting locals in our kayaks and showing them what its all about. At the end of the trip we our leaving our boats with the two Venezuelan kayakers we have met so they can continue teaching locals how to kayak in a bid to develop the sport here.

News photo – Sandra Hyslop taking off halfway down one of the many long rapids Venezuela has to offer.

Thanks to, Pyranha Kayaks, Blisstick kayaks, Alpkit, DD Hammocks, Outdoor Active and Cotswold for their support.For more infomation about kyaking in Venezuela visit the British Universities Kayak Expedition’s Kayak Venezuela website.

With photos like that, how can you not want to go on your own Kayak holiday?!

Kayaking the Great Glen, Scotland

The Highlands of Scotland are one of the most beautiful, rugged and inspiring places in the world. Dramatic mountains, deserted glens and Scotland’s famous lochs make for an awesome adventure playground. Chris and his friends Nick and Luiz recently took a kayak trip across Scotland, here is their account.

Who are you?

My name is Chris Monk, I have recently completed an MSc in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, am 23 years of age and hail from Aberdeen, Scotland. My kayaking companions were my brother, Nick and my friend Luiz Silveira, both currently living in Edinburgh.

What was the challenge, and why did it appeal?

The challenge was to kayak across Scotland, 62 miles (100km) along the Caledonian Canal, from Corpach, near Fort William to Clachnaharry near Inverness in 3 days. On the advice of the local guides from whom we rented the kayaks, we started from Banavie, cutting just 2 km of our journey, but avoiding 13 lock gates which involves more uphill carrying than actual kayaking. The unique opportunity to cross the country from sea to sea via kayak drew us in, and I would highly recommend it as a memorable adventure.

What training methods and kit would you recommend?

Stamina was inevitably the key in training, so long runs and cycle rides made up the bulk of the training, though I imagine swimming may have been slightly more appropriate in terms of working out our upper body. We also frequented the rowing machine in the gym in the weeks leading up to the trip, which was good preparation for the forearms in particular, despite the general motion differing from kayaking. We also kayaked 20km on Loch Leven in a realistic dry run, to practice using the skeg to adapt to different wind conditions and also rescuing each in the event of capsizing. We chose to rent kayaks for 25 each per day, this price included camping equipment (tents, camping mats, pot, mugs, camper gas, water (camel) bag) and essential clothing for on the water (a waterproof jacket, a spray deck and a life jacket). In addition, midge repellent and a midge net for your face and neck were must haves, whilst a rashproof vest was priceless for comfort under your perpetually rotating arms. Most important of all were drybags to keep your clothes, sleeping bag and valuables dry!

Note that we also paid a 50 fixed fee for the pickup of the kayaks from our finish point.

What were the highs and lows of your expedition?

The overall highlight must be the amazing views and serenity on the lochs; despite the length of Loch Ness, I did not once lose my sense of awe at the view. Our campsite on the east of loch Ness was idyllic, and sleeping on soft bouncy heather was a luxury. Being able to duck down low and simply paddle under the Tomnahurich Swing Bridge was a privileged shortcut and pretty good fun. The low point was probably the rain putting out our fire whilst camping at Loch Ness, and in the absence of smoke from the fire, the obscene amount of midges that swarmed around us. Portaging (carrying kayaks around canal locks) was time consuming in general as there was only one trolley per lock, and there were three of us. Portage at Muirtown locks in particular was quite tough: a 350m carry featuring a road bridge as the portage trolley had been misplaced. This is less than 2km from the end of the journey, so for groups who may struggle to carry the laden kayaks, I would recommend ending here!

Is it in aid of a cause? If so, why? How are you raising sponsorship?

We advertised our challenge among friends and family in order to raise sponsorship forBarnardos, this is a charity which gives disadvantaged children the help they need for a fair start in life and is a cause that inspires me. We collected donations through our Just Giving page, which is still active:http://www.justgiving.com/Chris-Nick-Luiz-Kayak-Caledonian

Chris, Nick and Luiz organised their own trip, gaining valuable information from the Scottish Canals organisation. Of course, there are lots of companies which can organise a trip for you, so click here to see kayaking holidays in Scotland!

Adventure with Purpose – Chris Baker Trekking in Nepal

1. Who are you?My name is Chris Baker and I’m the founder of OneSeed Expeditions.OneSeed Expeditions offers a new way to travel. We partner with local communities to ensure that tourism revenue goes directly to guides, porters, and local entrepreneurs.2. What was/is the most recent adventure you have been working on, and what was it?Right now I’m gearing up to head to Nepal next month. We have guide selection and training throughout October, so we’ll be in the mountains for about 6 weeks. In addition to training, we’ll be running all of the routes before expeditions head out in February. We check every bed, kitchen, and facility we use along the trail. It’s over 400 miles of high altitude trekking, but we’re committed to making sure everything is perfect for our clients.3. Why are you doing it?I love my job. I get to spend time in beautiful places with amazing people AND we do a little bit of good along the way.Through the OneSeed Fund, we invest 10 cents of every dollar into microfinance initiatives that provide start-up capital to women entrepreneurs. When you travel with OneSeed, you explore the world and invest in people. We founded OneSeed Expeditions in 2010 after more than three years of planning and preparation. We’re excited to offer our first expeditions through our pilot program in Nepal. Our goal is to add additional destinations over the next year while expanding our impact in communities worldwide.4. In a world that has been totally explored, the highest mountains climbed, the seas crossed, the forests penetrated, what is next for the future of adventure? Is it time that adventurers and explorers had a wider goal than simply harder, faster, stronger, further than anyone else? Should they have a better reason for doing it that just because it is there?I think exploration is turning away from “harder, faster, stronger, further” and more towards depth. People want to really experience the places they visit and that requires slowing down. We take our clients into communities. We’ll trek all the way to Base Camp, but we also make sure we’re paying attention to the people and places that our desire for exploration impacts. I think people expect more from their travel and we’re here to provide exactly that.

Click here for more information on the Annapurna Discovery Trek, the Annapurna Ascent, the Everest Base Camp Expedition and the Khumbu Pilgrimage offered by One Seed Expeditions.