Archive for Trekking Tips and Tricks

“Enjoy or Endure” – Convenient Kit lists from our friends at Outdoor Hire!

Warm, dry and comfortable will get you a long way on any trip. Avoid the misery of the wet, the cold and the downright uncomfortable by hiring kit fit for the job in hand. Get this right and enjoyment will surely follow.

We find that a lot of our challengers don’t want to spend a ton of money on kit which they may hardly ever use again. So we teamed up with our friends at Outdoor Hire to solve the conundrum by providing top notch kit for hire.

Layer, layer, layer, topped with a well fitted backpack, sleeping bag and mat – no skimping on quality when you hire at a fraction of the cost of buying.

When embarking on an adventurous challenge having the right kit makes a world of difference.

A Fantastic and efficient service, supplies top quality equipment /clothing , and makes once in a life time challenges affordable. I Will be using outdoor hire again!! Jambo Jambo

Dave Fowler, Kilimanjaro Challenger 

Outdoor Hire have also made the whole process easier still by providing up-to-date and challenge specific Kit Lists for every one of our challenges. So whether you’re climbing Kilimanjaro or cycling across Cuba, these Kit lists show you want you need and how much it costs. – check out your Unique Challenge kit list here!!!

Assorted Tips on How to Pack Light

Charity Challenge has been in the business of organising treks for over 10 years, and in this time we’ve acquired a smorgasbord of tips and tricks on how survive a charity challenge; So I thought why not share some of best!?

For the first tip, I’ve decided to focus on a skill that all trekkers will need – whether they’re spending a long weekend on the Etna Volcanic Adventure or trekking to Everest Base camp on a mammoth two week long challenge  – the ability to pack light, and more importantly pack precise, is a must have!

So I’ve compiled 5 rules on how to not pack the kitchen sink and stay successfully under your flight weight limit, whilst packing everything you need to take on a charity challenge and have the adventure of the lifetime!

Rule 1) – Do your research.

It can be hard to find that balance when it comes to packing, packing light that is the ideal we all want to achieve, but packing too little is an even worse state of affairs than packing too much. Indeed, making assumptions can be dangerous, for example, just because your trek is in a hot country doesn’t mean you should just pack vests and t-shirts, most hot countries get chilly in evenings so if you don’t pack a jumper or coat you’re in for some very unpleasant nights. So it is absolutely worth it to dedicate some time to researching your trek first, Charity challenge are particularly helpful with this as we essentially do this for you! By providing a detailed day by day itinerary of each of our challenges, as well as a country profile, Q&A sheet and advised kit list. So make sure you read all of these thoroughly before you even start putting your stuff together!

Rule 2) – Be realistic

Think about where you’re going, what you’re doing and what you 100% absolutely need. What works well for me is to make a two columned list, one column labelled ‘must haves’ and one labelled ‘maybe’. For example, if you’re going on the Thailand Jungle Expedition, insect repellent is a must! And Mascara or say an evening jacket is more of a maybe (once again, Charity Challenge helpfully does this for you! As our kit-lists come with a ‘must have’ and ‘optional’ labelling!) You’ll find that pretty much everything on your maybe list is expendable and can be chucked out the rucksack. For some, this may prove a very painful process, but take comfort in the fact that if you successfully follow these 5 rules, and your luggage passes the point 5 test, then you can reward yourself buy re-instating a couple of luxury ‘maybe’ items’!

Rule 3) – Use every inch

Think Mary Poppins and her magical bag, it really is amazing just how much you can fit into an everyday rucksack if you pack properly! I find the key is to make the most of the space you have: Firstly, if you can, wear your bulkier items – like trekking boots, coats and cargo trousers – during your flight to save space in your luggage. Then take advantage of any space you can, roll up your T-shirts or flat pack them down, stuff your socks into your trainers and basically approach it like a jigsaw puzzle. All these little efforts combined really can have a Tardis like effect on your rucksack!

Rule 4) – buy miniature

Chances are you’re not going to get through a full bottle of shampoo, or a whole tube of tooth paste in the duration of the trek, so buying miniature versions of these products or decanting them into smaller bottles is a smart way to save space without having to sacrifice anything. In any case, buying doll size toothpaste, tiny little moisturisers and amazing fold-up tooth brushes is half the fun of going away! Well it is for me anyway…            

Rule 5) – Have a practice run

The moment of truth! Once your bag is packed, have a practice walking around with it because as soon as you hop off that plane, you could well be the one lugging it around! On most trips we have porters and you only need to get your bags to and from your room or tent at the end of the day, but this point is especially important if you’re taking a challenge like our Etna Volcanic Adventure, where you carry your full rucksack on your back during the hike to the wilderness huts. Be realistic and honest with yourself here, if it’s too heavy, take something out, if you feel you can handle a bit more, treat yourself to an extra item!

So there you have it! Follow these 5 rules, and a heavy or overly sparse rucksack won’t get in the way of you having the time of your life! For more top tips, and to learn more about all our charity challenges, please visit our website at, and, to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Blog by Mai, Marketing assistant

A Bookings Manager in Bolivia

Our intrepid Bookings Manager Carmel Hendry has been inspired by our new Andean Mountain Trek to come out from behind the bookings desk and reminise about the time she spent traveling across Bolivia…

“What does every traveller like doing? Talking about their travels! So when I was given the opportunity to step out from my role as Bookings Manager and write a little about my experiences in the fabulous county of Bolivia, I leapt at the chance.

We’ve added a number of new challenges to our portfolio this year – including an exciting Mexico Cycle and a rather different Snow-Shoeing Expedition in the beautiful mountains of the Pyrenees. So why not enthuse about Mexican macho men, or frogs-legs in France? Why Bolivia, the black-sheep of the Andean family?

To be honest, that was my first thought when my friends took the executive decision of outvoting me on one of our many ‘where to next?’ conversations. We had just spent the last 7 months working together in Ecuador, and were deciding whether to travel onwards to Chile, or across Peru and through to Bolivia. My preference was for the former. I mean, who’s ever heard of anything good in Bolivia? My friends outvoted me, and although I think their decision was more about money than their extensive knowledge of Bolivian culture (Bolivia makes Ecuador look outrageously expensive), I’d like to thank them and their stinginess for introducing me to the most extraordinary country I’ve ever been to.

 From our first view of Lake Titicaca on a hillside on the Peruvian border, I was hooked. We sat there in silence until sunset. The beauty was intense, and I never lost that feeling of awe in the many days we spent on and around the Lake. Although Bolivia is one of only two South American countries with no coastline, the Lake extends further than the eye can travel, creating the impression of an enormous sea stretching before you. You could almost forget that the sprawling metropolis of La Paz lies only kilometres away. I am not a spiritual person (believe me), but if you ever feel in need of tranquility then the intensity of the stars on the Isla del Sol provides the kind of extreme calm that you will never regain.

The peacefulness of the lake is the complete antithesis of the gigantic and frankly bonkers city of La Paz. Prepare to feel out of breath – the angles of the road are so steep that the tiny ‘colectivo’ minibuses feel like they are going to roll backwards each time they stop to let someone out. One such road leads up to the highest football stadium in the world – home to bizarrely-named Bolivian team ‘The Strongest’. If football isn’t really your thing, then you can take in the llama fetuses lining the shelves at the Witches Market. In La Paz you feel like there will be something interesting and exciting just around the corner. While I was there, I even managed a cycle trip down the most dangerous road in the world!

If THAT wasn’t enough to persuade the most staunch llamaphobe to visit Bolivia, the country’s biggest secret lies on the western Altiplano, a 12hr train and bus ride from La Paz. Don’t let that put you off though, what you are about to see could change your life (OK let’s not go that far, but it is awesome). The Salt Plains of Uyuni are an ethereal, other-worldly landscape where the sky and land blend into one white, disorientating mass. When the light catches the plains correctly, the reflections in the salt are so perfect that they will amaze and confuse you. This was honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been; it was literally stunning – the whole place is so… weird. You not only have the everlasting white landscape of the salt plains, which looks like a bizarre sci-fi film’s idea of heaven, but you can also visit the red lake, which plays home to hundreds of bright-pink flamingos, or the explosive geysers nearby.

The Andean country of Bolivia doesn’t deserve its obscurity, but I am grateful for it. In no other country in South America can you enjoy so much tranquility, and experience so much interaction with the locals, outside of the tourist throng. And after all that, I realized I haven’t actually mentioned the trekking at all. Three words: really huge mountains.

If you would like to challenge yourself in a country that enjoys altitudes rarely experienced on any of our other treks (you will be climbing up to 6,088m on Huayna Potosí), and take in the sights and sounds of one of South America’s most interesting countries, click here to see our 2012 date and find out more.”

Visit our website at for more infomation on all our challenges. To keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

How to get the most out of your Kit with Cotswold Outdoors

It is a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t summit mount Mt Kilimanjaro without the right footwear, and that you would have a very unpleasant time of it if you tried to cross the Sahara desert in jeans and a t-shirt.  In these extraordinary climates of mountain winds, desert heat, jungle humidity and icecap colds, you need clothing and equipment that is a little bit extraordinary itself.

Here at Charity Challenge, we work with outdoor experts Cotswold Outdoors to create the most up-to-date and relevant kit lists and provide you with expert advice on what kit you need and how to use it.

Take a look at these two videos from Cotswolds Outdoors to see how you should be adjusting and fitting your boots and rucksacks before you set out on your challenge! – how to correctly fit and adjust your boots – how to correctly fit ad adjust your Rucksack

10 top training tips for cycling

1. Get up an hour earlier and go out for a quick cycle in the morning before work.

2. If you can cycle to work, do so. If you get to work by public transport, get off a stop or two earlier than usual, so that you can cycle some distance each day. If you drive, park further away than usual, get the cycle out of the car and cycle the rest of the distance to work.

3. Cross training such as swimming, squash, badminton, running, walking and any other sport will also help get you prepared.

4. Joining a leisure centre is a good idea as the local fitness instructors may well be able to design a programme specifically for you using the many different cycle trainers in gyms. Most good gyms have exercise bikes and leg resistance trainers.

5. Book onto a regular spinning class and / or circuit training class to improve your leg strength and stamina.

6. Book weekends away with the family or friends to some mountainous region in the UK to experience cycling on different road surfaces with different gradients and in a mountain environment to test out all your equipment.

7. Book onto the Pre-Expedition Training Weekends in Snowdonia run by Expedition Wise.

8. Turbo trainers are very good, although quite expensive to buy – try out e-bay.  They come in to their own in the long winter months as they enable you to train indoors on a “real” bike.  It will keep you fit and get you used to the shape of your bike. Fluid turbo trainers are quieter if noise is a problem in your household and changing the tyres to road tyres will help if you are using a mountain bike.

9. Use your lunchtimes to take regular brisk walks or cycle around your work area.

10. You should make the time to cycle on some consecutive long days as on the training schedule.  It is the accumulation of cycling day after day that really tests you on expedition.

Click here to check out all our cycle challenges. For more challenge tips, stay tuned to this blog series (by clicking the orange RSS button). If you’d like to receive up-to-date news on our latest challenges, promotions and developments, please enter your name and email address into the adjacent box.

These notes were compiled by Brian Jackson, BA (Hons) in Sport, Health and Physical Education, who operates a series of Pre-Expedition Training Weekends for both trekking and cycling charity challenges. See for more information.