How to be a Pole Master…

Over the years walking poles have obtained a bit of an unfair reputation as ‘uncool and unnecessary’, something that ‘old’ people used. Today, however they have proven their worth and are used by young and old alike! By helping to take stress off joints and prevent injury whilst trekking these lightweight lovelies are an essential and helpful bit of kit.

Poles Blog 3

We’ve asked our friends at Outdoor Hire about the benefits and some helpful hints on the correct way to work your poles!


We often get asked whether it’s worth taking walking poles on a trekking trip; the key benefits to using poles whilst trekking are:

Support and stability on uneven ground, especially with a backpack which may cause in-balance, and so reduces the risk of slips, trips, twists and falls.

Reduced effort as the burden of weight is spread, focusing less on the knee and hip joints and muscles, which is a considerable help when you’re tired and descending from a summit.

Reduced possibility of strain injury as the poles encourage good posture.

HOW TO HOLD YOUR POLES…pole master blog

The strap on the pole handle is there to allow you to place your weight onto the pole without having to grip it firmly. Put your hand upwards through the strap loop and bring it back down, grasping the pole and the strap as it attaches to the pole. This way the weight of your hand naturally tightens the strap around the wrist and pulls the hand in close to the pole, with little grip required to keep it in place.

By using the strap to support your hand you’re transferring weight onto your arms and upper body, which would otherwise be carried by the legs and knees.


On flat ground your elbow should be at 90 degrees and forearm parallel to the ground. Note length position on poles for future reference, for most people this will be between 115cm and 125cm.


When walking over normal trekking terrain, trekking poles can really add to your stride length and walking pace. The key is to plant your poles at an angle pointing behind you, so that you are driving yourself forward with each step. It is important to flex and extend from your shoulder joint during this action and not just from your elbows.
When negotiating very uneven or steep terrain, you are more likely to need support frPoles Blog 2om your hiking poles rather than propulsion. Here the poles are best used in an upright position and used as a mobile handrail, allowing a safer and more rapid descent.
Initially poles feel alien to use, but very quickly they feel like a welcome extension of your arms, and you’ll soon venture into areas where the ground becomes steep, rocky and complicated whilst still using your poles.

Beware! Poles are useful but they don’t grip rock well and can become an unwelcome hazard.
If your hands are still in the loops the poles may well stop you reaching for that vital handhold causing a fall. So on technical ground (boulder fields, river crossings, etc) take your hands out of the tape loops so that the poles can be discarded in the event of a slip, fall or avalanche.

By Steve Wilson

Outdoor Hire

Pole Hire



Trekking the old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

Photographer and blogger extraordinaire, Philipp Ammon, recently completed the Trek to Machu Picchu challenge. He joined the first Charity Challenge expedition to trek the Ancascocha Trail. Read on to find out about this off-the-beaten-track hike through the incredible Andes mountains, on parts of the original Inca trail.   

Imagination is a funny thing – It can take us to the highest heights and wildest places; but if we really put our minds to it, we are also exceptionally creative at forming reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t live our dreams. The excuses become boundless.

Trekking Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

You certainly don’t have to twist my arm to get me on an adventure trek. Add a far-away destination into the mix and I’ll practically be rearing to go. I love the feel of the trail under my feet; the humbling size of mountains all around; the wonder of zipping open my tent door to crisp morning air and another day of adventure. We all have our demons, however, and for me one of those is planning trips… Let’s just say that logistics aren’t my strong hand, and often, the daunting prospect of organisation can put my dreams on hold indefinitely. Coordinating an adventure trek on another continent, away from it all takes a lot of time and energy. Along with trying to run a photography business, those are ingredients that seem to be all too scarce these days.

When Charity Challenge approached me with an offer to partner up on one of their adventure treks to Peru as a photographer, I was immediately on board. Catching the last evening rays illuminating the old ruins of Machu Picchu has long been on my bucket list, and I was being offered the opportunity to make that dream a reality. The best part: every last bit of the trek was already organised. All I had to do was show up (and carry lots of heavy camera equipment across some pretty demanding terrain – no big deal…).

The Ancascocha Trail

Trekking Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

I’m not one for mass-tourism. Show me where the crowds are, and I will walk well out of my way to avoid them. I get enough of that living in London… I’d heard that the Inca trail to Machu Picchu could be quite crowded in April and May with many eager tourists making the trip to experience the beauty of the Andes. I can’t blame them really, but that doesn’t exactly go along with the peaceful mountain experience in a small group I had in mind. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

In response to the sharp increase in tourism on the Inca trail, Charity Challenge recently changed their Machu Picchu trek itinerary to take you down a road-less-traveled. So much so, in fact, that the only other people we saw throughout our trip were local farmers, and even they were far and few between. Sheep on the other hand? Well, they were countless.

Trekking on the Ancascocha Trail

Trek leader George on Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

There is something special about knowing the road you are hiking on was once used by Incan messengers some six-hundred years ago. Not much indicates their rich history, sunken in the river of time, but ever so often, you will spot the old cut stones that marked their way. Our guides, George and Wilson were incredibly knowledgable about the geography and history of the region. I might also add that I admire their patience: I must have asked a hundred questions a day about what we were seeing and experiencing.

Not a single day offers the same views. Lush and colourful flora sweep the lower-laying terrain, with fresh streams and rushing rivers running alongside your route throughout. For those of you into learning more about local herbs, the guides are very knowledgeable and will even help you use some of the plants to remedy the less pleasant effects of high altitude. From higher up, we spotted the jagged and snow capped mountains, believed by the Incas to be Earth’s connection with the Gods.

Trekking Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

The hiking itself will be extremely challenging at times. The highest point along the trail reaches the Pampaqasa mountain pass at an oxygen-depriving 4550m. Fret not – we had people from all different ability levels in our group, and we paced ourselves accordingly. Nobody was ever left behind, and to my own relief, I was able to keep up, even with a backpack full of lenses and a tripod… We were constantly rewarded for our efforts by what we saw. As we ascended, it was as if the top of the mountain pass dropped like a curtain, revealing an incredibly beautiful view into the lush green valley below.

Medical Staff

I’d arrived in Peru a few days after the rest of the Charity Challenge group, which meant I didn’t have enough time to acclimatise in Cusco. After reaching the pass, I began to feel a sharp headache and nausea that would linger for the rest of the day. Thankfully, we had Dr. Carlos with us, who was appointed to join us for the duration of the trek. He kept a close eye on me, and made sure I was looked after throughout our well-earned descent back into the valley. I was really grateful for his professionalism. It helps to know somebody’s got your back when things aren’t going well. After a few minutes on oxygen and a good night’s sleep, I was back up and running by the next morning. All part of the adventure…right?

Camping in the Andes

Camping in Andes on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

Once the sun sets in the Andes, you really begin to realise how far away from it all you are. The dark night sky is perforated with the undiluted light of a million stars, opening up to views of southern constellations. Every evening, after everybody else had gone to bed, I would wrap up in my warmest clothes, and watch the Milkyway slowly drift over our tents, the jagged black silhouettes of mountain ridges lining the foreground.

I’ve never found it particularly comfortable sleeping in a tent, but after a long and strenuous day of hiking, any bed feels like a godsend. It’s a really nice touch that by the time you arrive at your campsite every evening, the porters have already pitched your tent. All you have to do is roll out your sleeping bag and crawl in. When your legs are tired and your belly rumbling, it’s a delightful sight to spot them neatly lined up beyond the next ridge, like a welcoming finish line for the day’s challenge.

Camping Andes on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

Not only is your “bed” ready to go, but the team will have set up a dining tent equipped with hot drinks and a snack to tide you over until supper time. The enticing smells of a hot meal fill the campsite and there usually will be a little time to enjoy whats left of daylight, reflect on a hard day, catch up with everybody or to take a quick nap. Three hot meals a day keep you going on even the most difficult of days, and I couldn’t believe the quality of delicious meals we were receiving. One might even say it upgraded this trek from a mere camping trip to a superior glamping trip.

Machu Picchu

Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

After several days of hiking, hopping on an old, glass roofed train from Ollantaytambo towards Aguas Calientes feels like a downright luxury. The tracks run through yet another stunning valley and offer a couple hours of jaw-dropping views alongside a hot meal. But it’s definitely not time to get too comfortable yet. The train makes what seems to be a random stop at kilometre 106, dropping you off in the middle of the Peruvian jungle.

Inca Trail on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

The climb towards the sun gate is long and hot, but the reward is well worth the effort. Every time we looked back on our progress through a clearing in the underbrush, we seemed to have climbed impossibly higher. The river we started at was but a thin silver vein in the jungle below. Our guide, George knew exactly how to time our arrival, because we reached the sun gate just as the last of the low, warm rays divinely shone down upon the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

Beautiful stone walls shape the side of the mountain, and all around, the iconic Peruvian llamas snack on vibrantly green grass. The sheer beauty of this place feels like a solid reward for the several days of intense work you will have behind you. You will return the following morning for a fascinating history lesson on the lost city, but not before a well deserved dinner, a cold beer and (hopefully) a good nights sleep in a real bed.

A Journey Well Worth It

Camp fire on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

I particularly enjoyed celebrating our effort with my new found friends from the Charity Challenge group. You find a sense of camaraderie with the people you overcome a big hurdle with, and celebrating your achievement is an experience best shared with others who lived through it with you. I can look back with pride on an extremely memorable adventure trekking to Machu Picchu. To know I was able to raise funds for a charity I truly believe in as I struck another major item from my bucket list made it all the more worthwhile. Who’s to say you can’t do good for others while doing good for yourself?

Book your place on Trek to Machu Picchu today. 

Philipp is a London-based travel, documentary and commercial photographer. His career started as an international school teacher working in Canada, England and Japan before he moved back to the UK to make his passion for photography official with a masters in photojournalism. He loves writing about his adventures and  is always looking for new experiences he can use to help other people learn to live theirs. You can follow Philipp’s adventures via his blog or Instagram

Lorraine takes on RSPCA Everest challenge

After four years of fundraising for the RSPCA, the Everest Big Expawdition will be Lorraine’s biggest challenge yet.

Twelve years ago, when Lorraine Carey was suffering from a second prolapsed disc and had to undergo painful spinal surgery, the idea of trekking to Everest Base Camp would have seemed impossible.

The 47-year-old first suffered from a slipped disc 20 years ago and underwent spinal surgery. Then, 12 years ago she suffered from a second, severe prolapsed disc which left her bed bound and in agonising pain for six months. When she finally recovered, after two spinal surgeries, she had a renewed zest for life. Lorraine decided to spend a year taking on various physical challenges and fundraising for the RSPCA. Lorraine RSPCA Everest Base Camp challenge trek

Lorraine said: “At that point, I just wanted my life back. After I recovered and regained my confidence, I wanted to grab every opportunity and make the most out of life.”

One year turned into five, and after a series of runs and walks, a skydive, a 5k open water swim, the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the Lake District 10 Peaks, the Welsh 12 Peaks, Tough Mudder, half and full marathons and trekking Mount Kilimanjaro. Lorraine has now pledged to take on her final and most challenging trek to date.

Lorraine takes on Everest

She will be tackling ‘The Big Expawdition’ alongside RSPCA ambassadors, other supporters and staff in September this year. They will trek for 18-days to dizzying height of 17,600ft to reach Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

Lorraine, a personal trainer, animal lover and vegan, said: “It’s always been on my bucket list to do Everest. When I saw that the RSPCA were doing it as a group so I could do it, not just for the charity but with the charity, I knew I had to.

“It was supposed to be just one year of fundraising for the RSPCA, but I’m now in the fifth year, with Everest as the pinnacle of all my challenges.

“I may sound brave when I’m talking about these challenges, but not when it comes to my back. I couldn’t go through that ever again. Now I’m just glad that my health has improved. I’m ticking these challenges off my bucket list and doing it for a cause I believe in.”

Starting in the Nepalese town of Lukla, Lorraine and the team will trek higher and higher through the Himalayas, through forests, gorges, rivers and icefalls. The high altitude of Everest Base Camp is likely to have a huge effect on the trekkers. Coupled with sub-zero temperatures the challenge, this will be extremely tough.

Why Lorraine raises money for RSPCA

Lorraine has raised more than £15,000 to help the RSPCA continue its work rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care.
“I’ve been a lifelong animal lover. I’ve been vegetarian for 30 years and vegan for 11 years. I have had rescue dogs, cats and chickens, and I often campaign on animal welfare issues.”

Lorraine, who lives in Winteringham in Lincolnshire, explained. “Not only does the RSPCA rescue animals, they also carry out cruelty investigations and work tirelessly to change the laws for animal welfare, for example with animal testing. They are not just reacting to the day to day calls, but they are also proactive behind the scenes. I think the public don’t always see that side of them, but it’s just as important.

“I get really emotional when I see images of cruelty crop up in news stories or on social media, and without the RSPCA the situation would be much worse.

“What first made me decide to support the RSPCA was when there was a tidal surge in my village in Lincolnshire in 2013. There were three horses trapped in freezing cold water and the RSPCA came out with a boat to rescue them. It just made me realise not only how much work goes into these rescues but how much it must cost as well. My fundraising is a way for me to support the work of the RSPCA.”

 Lorraine RSPCA Everest Base Camp challenge trek

Lorraine’s preparations

To try and raise as much money as possible for her challenge, she will take groups up Whernside, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. She has also received wonderful donations from Winteringham Fields a Michelin star restaurant, as well as lots of other goodies to auction off for the charity.

Lorraine has been a personal trainer for eight years. Her experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro stands her in good stead, but she is still prepared for this to be a huge challenge.

“I’m also running London Marathon for the RSPCA this year. It’s just about keeping the fitness up, breaking in my boots and making sure I have all the equipment I need. The only thing I can’t prepare for is the altitude. I know from my Kilimanjaro trip that although it was tough I was okay with it. I didn’t have to stop.” She explained.

Lorraine’s advice to anyone thinking of participating on this challenge is that you’ll never regret doing it, but you may regret not doing it.

“It’s an amazing life experience.” She said. “And it makes it a million times better if you believe in something because you will have dark moments. It’s 18 days living out of a rucksack, you’re out of your comfort zone and away from family and friends. I’m sure there will be points where I want to go home but remembering why I’m doing this is really important.”

Lorraine has two rescue dogs, Bella, a black labrador, and Rua, a red setter collie cross. Lorraine’s also the proud owner of 12 hens, rescued from a battery farm. In 2014, she also received an RSPCA Honour, the Arthur Broome Bronze award in recognition of her contribution to animal welfare.

Find out how you can join Lorraine on the RSPCA Big Expawdition.

Meet the team – Sarah Fairhead

Sarah Fairhead joined the Charity Challenge team in early 2018 as a Charity and Corporate Account Manager. She plays a vital role in the team, looking after all the wonderful charities and corporates that Charity Challenge is honoured to partner with. Her day to day involves working with key clients to ensure the smooth delivery of their events. We borrowed five minutes of Sarah’s time to find out what she’s enjoyed from her time at Charity Challenge so far.

Sarah Fairhead, Charity Challenge Charity and Corporate Account Manager, at Machu Picchu in Peru

Name: Sarah Fairhead

Location: London, UK

How long have you been working at Charity Challenge?
9 months and loving it!

Tell us a little bit about your background and what you did before joining Charity Challenge? Sarah Fairhead, Charity Challenge Charity and Corporate Account Manager, at Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
I grew up in Hertfordshire and have always been into the great outdoors, I would much rather be camped under the stars than in a 5 star hotel! After many trips hiking UK and European mountains decided to take on my next challenge – Kilimanjaro. Raising money for a local charity and seeing how much hard work they do I decided Charity Challenge was where I needed to be.

What’s your favourite Charity Challenge expedition?
Too many… I would love to experience them all. Patagonia, Trek Transylvania and the Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek would be up there though! The great thing about the challenges are that there is such a wide range that not only challenge and reward you physically but also mentally and emotionally.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Doing something that I love and working with a product I believe in. I remember the overwhelming sense of achievement I felt on my Kilimanjaro journey and to now be part of a team helping others to reach their goals while raising money for charity is just as incredible.
A highlight of my time with Charity Challenge would be trekking in Peru last October on our Trek to Machu Picchu. We didn’t see any other trekkers for 3 days so felt totally remote. Arriving at Sun Gate as a team felt amazing, the views were also incredible every step of the way (all 3,000 of them!)

Sarah Fairhead, Charity Challenge Charity and Corporate Account Manager, at Machu Picchu in Peru

What advice would you give someone who is looking to do a Charity Challenge?
Train, fundraise and enjoy yourself! This isn’t going to be a holiday, but it will be a truly amazing experience. Think of some quirky fundraising ideas and start these early on to raise as much for your chosen charity as possible. Also make sure to wear any new boots in before your challenge!

How many countries have you visited?
Around 20… Not nearly enough! I am very lucky to have friends in the French Alps so have enjoyed many years in the mountains hiking, climbing and swimming in freezing cold lakes!

What’s your favourite cuisine?
Mexican – The hotter the better!

What three things can’t you live without?
Music, a book, laughing

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself…
When I was quite young I was in a marching band – I played the Glockenspiel!

The Best of 2018 – from the Charity Challenge Leaders

Leaders are the heart and soul of any Charity Challenge event. They laugh with you, cry with you, push you to achieve things you never thought you could, and celebrate with you. It takes a very special person to be a leader on a Charity Challenge event.

Looking back on 2018, these are the moments that hold a special place in the hearts of the Charity Challenge leaders. Read on to find out from your favourite leader what made 2018 awesome.

Ian – Trek Transylvania

Trek Transylvania with Charity Challenge

Over the last 12 months or so I have developed something of a specialism for the Transylvania Trek – which is a great short itinerary challenge. In July 2018 I was delighted to be a leader on the Coppafeel “Trek Transylvania Challenge”. I helped almost 60 challengers reach the summit of one of Romania’s highest peaks at 2200m – Batrana (The Old Lady). This trip offers spectacular views, picture-postcard alpine villages, acres of colourful meadows, friendly locals and rugged mountains, along the possibility of spotting brown bears, lynx, wild boars and wolves! Throw in a visit to Dracula’s Castle in Bran too and you have a very special challenge indeed – I love it!

John – Great Wall Discovery Challenge

China Great Wall Discovery Charity Challenge

In 2018, I was lucky enough to be a leader on the Great Wall Discovery Trek. What a great experience it was for me and the group! As with all Charity Challenge treks, you meet amazing people, doing amazing things for charities. This was no different. Not only did I get to meet some great people, but I also  trekked on five sections of the Great Wall with incredible views.

The areas we visited were steeped in history. Each day we arriveed at our inn to see great local culture and eat lovely local food.

It’s hard to say what my favourite day was as they were all amazing. The final day does stand out; we stopped for lunch and the group congratulated each other on all the hard work each person had put in to complete the challenge. The group took the time to look around and take in the amazing scenery. We knew we had shared experiences that would make us friends for life.

Colin – North South Vietnam Cycle

North to South Vietnam Cycle with Charity Challenge

My favourite challenge during 2018 was cycling across Vietnam. The trip offered lots of diversity from the empty beaches, beautiful cities and lovely scenery. The history and culture is very interesting and the people are generally very friendly and welcoming. The cycling is really varied. Riding around busy cities with lots of other cycles and scooters is very different and entertaining. The riding along the costal roads can be very hard particularly with the heat and if you’re riding into a headwind. The 9kms of continual climbing up the Hai Van Mountain Pass is really challenging but a 10km descent on good roads is the reward for all your hard work.

Overall a lovely country to cycle in and a place that I keep getting drawn back to.

Ray – Great Wall Discovery Challenge

China Great Wall Discovery Challenge with Charity Challenge

The most rewarding and challenging challenge I’ve ever lead has to be guiding “Blind Dave” as he is known as, on the Albion Foundation Great Wall Challenge in 2018.

Guiding him up and down the steep terrain on the wall in all it’s states of restoration was a challenge within the challenge. He was an inspiration to us all as he tackled crumbling steps, the steep paths amongst thorned bushes and the slippery paved sections without so much as a single complaint. For most people this is quite a challenge but for someone with no sight just imagine how difficult it must have been for him. With his wife and family with us I learned a lot from them about guiding someone who is blind. Having to describe the paths and our surroundings also helped me take in more of the challenge than I have ever done on my previous two occasions.

Our team of local leaders ensured everything went smoothly from checking into our rooms, organising each day on the wall and having that all important celebratory meal on the final night. It was a challenge I shall always remember.

Penny – Trek Patagonia

Waking from a restless sleep, I was aware of my nose being numb from the cold while I lay warm in my sleeping bag. I had strongly recommended digging dig and getting up at 5am to enjoy the sunrise in this spectacular location. I hoped I had inspired the group enough but it was silent in the woods outside my tent. Best I get myself up so I struggled into several layers including hat and gloves and wandered across to the banks of the glacial and fast flowing Rio Blanco.

Impressively the vast majority of the group stood transfixed staring with admiration at the austere and dramatic east face of Mount Fitzroy as the rising sun on the opposite ridge cast its spell onto the granite slab turning it first a pale pink to crimson and to amber before the daylight colours took over. This magical sight was further enhanced by the pools of water on the edge of the river reflecting the spectacle in front of us.

We remained in silence, spell bound for several minutes before gradually moving off to prepare for our imminent climb further up the side of this awe inspiring peak to look down onto its hidden turquoise lake at Lago de Los Tres.

An emotional, unique and very special experience never to be forgotten. Patagonia – challenging but unbeatable!

Richard – Madagascar Trek

The journey to Andringitra National park in Central Madagascar is epic, but  worth it, as the trek is spectacular. We spent the first two days meandering beside rivers, gradually gaining altitude through small villages and farmland. As an area rarely visited by trekkers, we soon gathered small groups of locals. They were pleased to show us their houses and exchange songs. By the third day the settlements are left far behind and we entered the mountains proper, for me, the best day was still to come.

After an interesting night listening to the thunderstorms rolling around the nearby peaks, we rose early in preparation to summit. We had a quick breakfast and then a tough trek up to the summit of Pic Boby. After the descent there was still another 4 hours of walking, but everyone pulled together and supported each other through the hard times. That 4 hours is spent traversing some of the finest granite landscape that I have ever had the privilege of seeing. It’s a hard day and a long day, but truly rewarding. Joining in with the porters singing and dancing is a real hoot.

Danny – Great Wall Discovery Challenge

China Great Wall Discovery Challenge with Charity Challenge

2018 was a year of contrasts for me on the Great Wall of China. I had scorching hot temperatures in May, taking our trekking stamina to the limits, and a bitterly cold wind on our last day in late October. This made us feel as though we were half way up a Himalayan mountain. But there were also plenty of similarity between the two trips, which helped contribute to their overall success. The dedication and professionalism of the local team was a real highlight.

However, the biggest factor, which leaves me in awe, is the shear grit and determination of the participants. They push on through the Challenge even when they are at their lowest points. They always manage to find energy and a belief in themselves. It’s a pleasure to have played a small part in helping them to achieve their goals. It is an honour to see them battle through each day’s challenges and witness their well-deserved feelings of elation at the end of the week. Truly inspirational!

Steve – Great Wall Discovery Challenge

China Great Wall Discovery Challenge with Charity Challenge

It’s been 4 years since I began to work with Charity Challenge as an expedition leader. During this time I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited some amazing destinations Worldwide; sharing amazing experiences with some truly inspirational people. Personally; 2018 has been yet another unforgettable year! During September 2018, I travelled to China and trekked the Great Wall with a group of Challengers raising money for The British heart Foundation.

For me, autumn is the best season to visit the Great Wall. The colours are truly breath-taking and the weather was perfect; which is always welcome! The team were great fun to be with. Clearly some were ‘out of their comfort zone’. However; we all worked together helping others who needed it. Our two amazing local guide’s, Miko and Hastings, were always on hand to entertain and impress us with their knowledge about the Great Wall. Overall, we all had an unforgettable experience.

I count myself very lucky to be able to help people realise their dreams and share in their success. Every one completed the Great Wall of China trek safely, with no dramas. Yes, there were some tears; tears of joy… after finally completing their amazing challenge in China!

Laura – Greenland

Arctic Circle Challenge Greenland

The Arctic Circle Challenge (to Greenland) was one of those truly life-changing experiences, where you live your days to the rhythm of nature and the walk ahead.

We trekked 100km through the wilds of Greenland, rough camping in stunning remote locations. Each day held something new – surprise sightings of wild caribou, braving the glacial river crossings and trekking over mountain passes. The sheer scale and rawness of the landscape is breathtaking – one day we walked next to a 80km long lake.

I was lucky enough to have the camaraderie of a truly amazing team – Go Yellow! There’s no better way to start a trek, than to be flown in to your remote start point by helicopter…

John – Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek with Charity Challenge

When I was asked to lead a group to Everest Base Camp in 2018, I had to read the email twice! I couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled to bits, it was an amazing opportunity! Then 3 months later, I landed at Lukla Airport with 25 clients to begin a beautiful journey and an incredible challenge.

We climbed through pristine forests littered with small villages and crossed glacial blue rivers on swinging cable bridges. As we climbed higher to Namche Bazaar, we felt the altitude and had to slow our pace whilst we acclimatised. A slow pace was perfect to take in the scenery, the monasteries and to get to know my fellow adventurers and local Sherpas.

One day we stood and watched as three lammergeyer eagles circled one of the many shrines that we passed on our ascent. We were particularly thrilled to hear the local guides tell stories of snow leopards living close to the path! We continued climbing higher, past 4000m then past 5000m.  Arriving at Everest Base Camp was very emotional for us all. After working extremely hard to get there, the group shared were plenty of hugs, a few tears and massive smiles all round!

Despite all the hard work, on the way back down, I definitely overheard someone saying that they would do it again….

James Marriott – Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater Bike Challenge

Charity Challenge

I was fortunate enough to be a leader on the British Asian Trust’s ‘Most Exotic Tour’ for the third year running this year. In 2016 we tackled Rajasthan, in 2017 Cambodia, and now it was time to experience Tanzania. The portents were great as on the first day we had incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro from the hotel.

The highlight of the tour for me was the day spent cycling around Lake Manyara. We set off from our tented safari camp in Tarangire National Park and cycled down to the lake on the dry salt flats that surround it. We spotting our first wildebeest and antelope in the distance and grew increasingly excited.  Cycling through a makeshift fishing village we saw flamingos parading on the lake shore and marabou storks flying overhead. As we continued around the lake we passed alongside herds of zebra, the odd ostrich eyeing us quizzically and then through Maasai camps, all before lunch.

The quintessential East African experience, made all the more vivid by experiencing it on two wheels where every sense stimulated long the way. It was certainly a day I will never forget!

Lizzy – Great Wall Discovery Challenge

China Great Wall Discovery Challenge with Charity Challenge

One of my leading highlights of the 2018 season was in China, on the Great Wall.  Participants on open challenges come in all shapes, sizes, ages and levels of fitness. I find it particularly rewarding to help those who maybe struggle a bit more than average in achieving their goals. Marion was an inspiration to the whole group; despite suffering from a serious health issue she stoically plodded on, taking shorter breaks than the rest of the group so that she didn’t fall too far behind and regularly thought setting off whilst others were still enjoying a well earned rest. She was an absolute pleasure to lead, highly amusing and frequently kept us all in fits of giggles.  Anyone considering a challenge should go for it in my opinion. It will certainly be life changing!

Andy – Trek to Machu Picchu

Trek to Machu Picchu Peru with Charity Challenge

In 2018 I was lucky enough to be a leader on Trek Machu Pichu. The experience of trekking in a remote area of the Andes and interacting with local people in villages, really made this trip for me. The local team were fantastically supportive. On one occasion, after a long day battling altitude, we were greeted at camp with incredibly fresh Peruvian nachos and mountains of guacamole.

Our last day of trekking on the Inca trail started in heavy rain and continued through thick cloud until we hit the sun gate. Suddenly, the clouds parted and there was Machu Pichu directly below us. A magical moment.

Just can’t wait to make your own memories? Visit Charity Challenge to book your next challenge.

Twelve Fundraising Tips For Christmas

Christmas is a time of year for giving. Since you’ve been nice this year, we’re giving you a list 12 fundraising tips for Christmas.

Get ready to have fun and be inspired with these ideas to help you raise even more sponsorship money for your forthcoming expedition!

1. Bauble decorating competition
Have fun, get crafty and host a bauble-decorating competition! Think of a prize to offer the winner and have fun with the glitter and glue!

hand painted christmas baubles craft

2. (Pin the nose on) Rudolph the red nosed reindeer…
Simple but fun and effective! Instead of ‘pin the nose on the donkey’, you can pin the red nose on the reindeer (or the carrot on the snowman)! Blindfold your colleague or party friends, charge them £1 to enter, and give a prize to whoever gets the nose the closest.

3. Last hour’s pay
As a gesture of generosity, ask your colleagues or friends to donate their last hour of pay for 2018. It’s simple and straightforward, which many will appreciate during a busy and hectic holiday season.

4. Host a gift wrapping party
There are many people who enjoy wrapping presents – but there are also many people who would pay someone to do it for them, especially for a good cause! Offer your wrapping skills in return for a donation.

Christmas presents, merry Christmas tag

5. Christmas Cookies Bake Off
Bake some melting snowmen or reindeer cupcakes and hold a bake sale to raise some money for your fundraising target. Or host a festive Bake Off in your office or local village hall, charge £10 entry with the winner getting a 50/50 split of the entry fees.

6. Karaoke carols
Who doesn’t love blasting out some classic winter hits? Whether you’re Dreaming of a White Christmas or wanting to channel your inner-Slade, host a festive Karaoke night and have a good sing-a-long!

7. Letters from Santa
Christmas is a special time of year for everyone, but especially for young children. Help your friends with children make this a memorable Christmas by offering to ‘impersonate’ Santa. In return for a donation (we suggest £10), you can send a personalised letter to their child. The look on the child’s face when they receive it will be priceless.

santa writing naughty and nice list

8. Festive fivers
Ask everyone to write their name on a five pound note. Pop them all in a hat (preferably a Santa one) and pick out a winner! You can then split the pot 50/50 between the lucky winner and the rest goes towards your fundraising target.

9. Festive movie-thon
Grab some popcorn, get comfortable and organise back-to-back viewings of some of your favourite Christmas movies. If you don’t want your aunt’s neighbour’s children all piling in to your living room, host the event in a community hall and borrow a projector for the day.

10. Golden cracker
Buy some crackers and insert a ‘golden ticket’ in to one. Charge £2 per cracker, and the lucky winner of the ticket wins a prize!

11. Festive Fancy Dress
Whether it’s a dress down day at work, or a pub crawl around your local town, charge £3 for each person who turns up in a festive outfit (and double it for those who don’t)!

dog in Christmas scarf for fundraising tips

(Even good boys get charged when dressed for Christmas)

12. New Years Eve cocktail night
Mulled wine, sparkling fizz… need we say more? Dress to impress and encourage your friends to family to contribute towards your fundraising target.

If you haven’t yet booked your challenge, but are ready to put these ideas into practice, check out Charity Challenge for more details on the incredible challenges available.

5 reasons why trekking the Sahara Desert is an incredible experience

Why trek the Sahara Desert?

Is it to conquer the world’s largest hot desert? To try delicious Moroccan cuisine? Or to spend your nights under Africa’s star strewn skies?

Sahara Desert Group trek

Charity Challenge’s Adventure Travel Consultant, Alex, recently completed the Sahara Desert Trek. Here are the top reasons why she found it an unforgettable experience:

You really experience getting ‘off the grid’ – The Sahara Desert Trek is a real chance to escape everyday life and fully immerse yourself in the challenge. There is no Wi-Fi from the moment you leave the hotel and signal can be patchy as well. At some points you really feel like you are the only ones in the desert. This may sound horrifying to many of us, but Alex and her fellow trekkers said it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Charity Challenge group trekking across the Sahara Desert There are lots of opportunities to interact with local Berbers and nomads – one of the best thing about the Sahara Desert Trek is the chance to speak to locals. The entire trek support team, including the leader, are Berbers and have in depth knowledge of the area. Whilst not all of them speak English, you can still communicate through smiles and the team will always be on hand to help you with anything you need. Local nomadic families also visit the camp to sell soft drinks and small gifts which you can take home to friends and family.

The night sky – this challenge will give you the chance to see some of the best stars/night time scenery you’ll ever see. The lack of light pollution in the desert means that there is nothing blocking your panoramic views of the stars. Prepare to be wowed! Your local guide will be able to point out constellations and watch out for those shooting stars – remember to make a wish!!

The outstanding scenery – the ever changing terrain and vistas of the Sahara desert will provide an incredible backdrop to your challenge. From the vivid sunrises and sunsets, to the seemingly never-ending plateaus, or climbing over mighty sand dunes and Jubels (Arabic for mountain) there really is something for everyone. The Sahara makes the perfect backdrop for those Instagram worthy photos, although we recommend putting down the camera and taking 5 minutes to soak up the views. Plus, some friendly Moroccan camels will accompany you on your trip. The perfect chance for a selfie!

Charity Challenge group trekking across the Sahara Desert A chance to make new friends – participants on recent Sahara Desert Treks all agree meeting a new group of like-minded people and spending the week with them was an absolute highlight of the trip. Experiencing a challenge together is a definite bonding experience and you will hopefully come away from the challenge having met some wonderful people who can be your trek buddies for life!

What are you waiting for? Book now to secure your spot on the Sahara Desert Trek for 2019.

Top UK Challenges for 2019

Doing anything next summer? How about trying some of the best UK Challenges like an adventure challenge through the Lake District? What about cycling from coast to coast? Tacking England’s most demanding peaks? Hiking Mt. Snowdon at night?

More than ever, many of us are embracing tough challenges. Perhaps we’re sick of gyms, or the lure of switching off in nature is too much in these hyper connected days? Either way, there’s a number of exciting UK challenges designed to push physical and mental limits in some of the UK’s most incredible national parks. Whatever your cause, here’s the UK’s best challenges for you to embrace next summer.

1. Snowdon triple challenge
This exciting yet grueling multi-activity challenge will pit you against the spectacular landscapes of Snowdonia National Park, Wales.
Physically and mentally demanding, the Snowdon Triple Challenge will see you cycle 10.5 miles along the shores of Llanberis Lake, passing some incredible landscapes as you head towards Llyn Cwellyn.
Swapping bikes for boots, begin the ascent of Wales’ highest summit, Mt. Snowdon. Starting with a gentle climb, the hiking soon turns challenging. The views from the top of Snowdon are absolutely worth it, and weather permitting you’ll be able to take in views across the British Isles. You might be tempted to bail out at this point, but push through the final 2.5 mile kayak across Llyn Padam (Llanderis Lake) before a well-earned celebration.
This is definitely a challenge for those wanting to push their physical limits. Book your place today.

2. Lake District Triple Challenge
Another incredible full day challenge incorporating trekking, biking and kayaking, the Lake District Triple Challenge is definitely not for those afraid of a real physical test.
The challenge kicks off with a hike to the summit of Old Man of Coniston, standing 803m high. Take in the Lake District views before setting off for a 12km mountain bike ride through Grizedale forest. The ascent is a lung buster, but riding the famous forest trails is a heap of fun.
Descending back into Coniston, the final leg starts – the kayak. 1.5kms later you’re finished, exhausted but elated.

3. Lake District 5 peaks challenge
Five peaks in a day? Sounds easy, right?! Maybe not.
Be prepared for an exhausting but energising journey through the rugged Lake District landscapes.
Hike over 14 miles, and tackle five of England’s tallest and most demanding peaks, including England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. Overall, you’ll climb over 3000 feet on the day, crossing crags and moorland before finishing the day in the Langdale Valley. Don’t miss out for 2019, book your place today.

4. National three peaks challenge
Considered one of Britain’s toughest outdoor challenges, the National Three Peaks takes in the dizzying heights of Scotland’s Ben Nevis, England’s Scafell Pike, and Wales’ Mt. Snowdon in a weekend.
The challenge kicks off with the ascent of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles at 1,344m. It’s a steep climb, and despite only being a 10 mile hike, the challenge is real and the journey takes around six hours. Fortunately, the views from the top are astonishing and make the aches and pains worth it.
Next up is Scafell Pike, England’s largest peak and another steep, tough ascent. You’ll summit and descend in darkness, making this leg of the challenge the toughest.
The final peak, Snowdon, will test your mental and physical limits after and long day and night of hiking. Draw on the final reserves of energy and make a push to the final summit, before taking in the incredible views from the peak – some of the best in the British Isles. It’s a slow walk down, as the legs will ache, but the elation of completing this challenge will make it all worth it.

Push the limits and challenge yourself next summer on one of our exciting UK Challenges.

Work for us: Charity & Corporate Account Executive

Due to the exciting expansion of our valuable client list, a new opportunity has arisen for a passionate and customer focused professional to join one of the UK’s leading international adventure travel and event management companies for the charity sector as their Account Executive.

Based in London, the successful candidate will be responsible for the day-to-day management of a selection of Charity Challenge’s corporate, charity and private group clients. You will be responsible for managing relationships with these clients and building long-term mutually beneficial partnerships. The goal is to retain clients long-term and develop their challenge event programme to meet with their needs and objectives.

You will possess outstanding customer service skills and a passion for adventure tourism & events, the third sector and innovative business solutions. We value executives who are zealous about growing existing accounts and identifying roadblocks and obstacles to increasing business. You will be creative and helpful with suggested tailored solutions to common account problems. Dedicated to growing the business and facilitating smooth connections between our clients and our internal departments.

For more information, please see the Job Description.

To apply please send your CV and cover letter detailing why you would be suitable for the role to Applications close on 12th January 2018 and a competitive salary will be offered based on experience.

Work for us: Digital Marketing & Communications Manager

Due to some exciting new developments, an excellent opportunity has arisen for a creative and ambitious marketer to join one of the UK’s leading international adventure travel and event management companies for the charity sector as their Digital Marketing & Communications Manager.

Based in London, the successful candidate will be responsible for the promotion and engagement of the company’s high profile international and national challenge events for the charity and corporate markets. Working across creative, data, digital and sales together with being responsible for implementing our video strategy, new CRM and online review platform you will be highly motivated and driven to work for a reputable brand that keeps growing.

The role is an all-encompassing one; the primary responsibility of the Digital Marketing & Communications Manager will be to lead the implementation of our digital marketing strategy and ensure growth by delivering results against KPIs. The Marketing Manager will be given the freedom to make the role as large, creative and exciting as they want, working both autonomously and as part of a talented team.

For more information please see the Job Description.

To apply please send your CV and cover letter detailing why you would be suitable for the role to Applications close on 12th January 2018 and a competitive salary will be offered based on experience.