Tag Archive for Charity Trek

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

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.

Help us raise £50m for charity!

Rich-Pics-1

Vote now and help us raise an additional £50m for our charity partners! Charity Challenge have been entered into the high profile ‘Pitch to Rich’ Awards, run by Virgin Media!

Winning will enable us to raise an additional £50m for our charity partners!!

If you would like to help us be in with a chance of winning, please click here to vote now, it will take no more than 10 seconds, but hurry, voting closes this coming Tue 05 May!

If you want some inspiration as to why we deserve your vote, please read on:

Charity Challenge has helped thousands of people step outside their comfort zones, get fit and push themselves to their limits on incredible challenges worldwide, while raising over £47,000,000 for charity! But we want to do more!

We have supported over 1,700 UK, Irish and Canadian registered charities, facilitated challenges for scores of corporates, as well as multiple high profRich-Pics-2ile celebrity events.

The funds raised have helped to provide protection for vulnerable children, shelter for the homeless and funding for cancer research.

Our work involves helping incredible people to find the courage to overcome their fears, achieve amazing personal goals and inspire their friends and family with theiraccomplishments, all while supporting causes they care about.

We have an enthusiastic and motivated team, an inspiring range of challenges and a great vision for the future.

Rich-Pics-3

We have been honoured and recognised by the British Citizens Awards for Business, the Institute of Fundraising Partners in Fundraising Awards (for two years running), the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development, Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, the Queen and numerous foreign governments.

We hope to be recognised by these awards for 16 years of hard work, inspiring others, and making a real and positive difference to the world!

Rich-Pics-4Many thanks for your vote and support!

Best Regards,

Simon Albert

Director

Christmas is over; its time to get back into shape!

Christmas is over, it’s January, I’m back at work after a long break, the weather’s cold and miserable and I feel like I’m about to explode! Every Xmas I get a bit carried away and stuff my face with pretty much anything edible, do no form of exercise and basically become a couch potato, and now I’m regretting it!

If you are like me and have indulged a bit too much this Xmas, then here are my top five tips to get you (and me) back into shape and feel much better:

1.    New Year’s Resolution – Make your New Year’s Resolution to get fit and lose weight. Most people at this point would join a gym and then find that at the end of January the frequent visits to the gym are no longer happening. Instead of joining the gym you might want to consider doing a charity challenge. Booking on a charity challenge means that you have something to focus on as you have an end goal . Climbing the highest mountain in Africa; Mt Kilimanjaro or trekking to the lost city of Machu Picchu, cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia for example. It also means that you get fit while you try to achieve this goal and you end up losing weight because you’re getting fit. So it’s a triple whammy! Actually, at the same time of achieving all of this, you’ll be raising money for charity, so really it’s a quadruple whammy! Click here to start your New Year’s Resolution and a challenge of a lifetime!

2.    Take up an active hobby or join a sports club – one of the best ways to lose weight  and get into shape without realising that you’re doing it, is to play a sport you love or do a physical activity. If you love playing football, then join your local football club or arrange a time and place on a regular basis with your friends and play some football! If dancing is more your style, then there are so many classes which you can join, there really isn’t an excuse. I personally enjoy running, so I think I’m going to make more of an effort to run.

3.    Don’t diet,  just eat healthy and in smaller proportions – I’ve personally tried this and can 100% say this works. Changing your diet, even  slightly, and eating smaller proportions will help you lose weight. Remember, you still need to exercise at the same time to get the best results!

4.    Positive thinking!  Well I’m not a psychologist ,  Indian Yogi or self help Guru but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget to be positive. Positivity is not only a way to describe an electric charge, it is a skill that you can teach yourself.  Try this little exercise that my colleague Chad recommends, repeat to yourself 3 times: ‘Negativity is a luxury I can’t afford and I’m challenging myself to make a positive difference today!’.  Once you’ve done that 3 times (don’t cheat), feel proud and  allow yourself a big hearty smile 🙂

5.    Have a massive clear out – Now this won’t help you get fit or  lose weight, but it will definitely make you feel better. Get rid of those items you have because you thought you might need them (and that was 5 years ago!), give those unwanted clothes to the charity shop and shred the household bills and junk mail that you no longer need. It’s time for a spring clean!

Well that’s it from me today. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog, it’s my first one and I hope to write many more. Please feel free to comment on this blog, I would love to read your thoughts!

Don’t forget to join our mailing list and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest news and blogs from us.

Firdous Mulla

Top 5 Trekking Heroes for your Charity Challenges! As voted for by You!

To pack the extra pair of trainers or not to pack?

It’s not always easy to know what you’re going to need and what is worth investing in on your charity challenge! So we’ve teamed up with some our previous trekking champs to put together the below top 5 list of trekking must haves that we will make your challenge experience that little bit more special!

1)      A good Rucksack.

The importance of buying and breaking-in a solid pair of trekking boots is no secret these days, but you should never overlook the impact that your day backpack has on your trekking experience as well, especially if you’re on one of our long haul, camping-based challenges. If your rucksack is too small or your belongings bulge out making it sit awkwardly on your back, if it’s not fitted properly (too loose or too tight), the straps can dig into your back and cause you severe discomfort. In short, a bad backpack can make a 9 hour trek feel a 100 times longer! And it’s hard to appreciate where you are and what you’re doing if all you can think of about is backpack pain!

The answer? Choose a good rucksack. It need not be expensive, Cotswold Outdoors have a great selection and if you’re signed up to one our challenges, you’re entitled to 15% off the whole Cotswold Outdoors range and 20% if your a repeat booker! Check your members’ area for more details.

Next, wear your rucksack in, and get use to carrying weight in it – maybe use it to carry your supermarket shopping home!

Make sure it’s fitted correctly; you can check out Cotswold Outdoors super helpful “how best to fit your rucksack” video here. When you’re on the challenge itself our team leaders and guides will be more than happy to advise you on this. The best rucksacks are the ones you forget you’re wearing, so follow the above advice, and the only thoughts on your mind will be “what an amazing view!”, “what a fantastic group of people !” and “when’s the next tea break?!”

2)      Toiletry essentials! – Tiger Balm/Vaseline, Anti-bacterial gel and Wet wipes.

From something big to something little, but just as important! Figuring out what items from your morning routine you can or absolutely can’t be separated from can be a massive brain ache.

But help is at hand! In the form of recommendations from our intrepid Charity Challengers on their can’t-live-without trekking toiletries!   

First up, Super-Trekker Rachel Walker recommends multi-functional Tiger Balm – “wouldn’t have survived Everest Base Camp, Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu without it!” India trekker Sue Rutherford likewise found it a trekking hero! “Vaseline for feet and between toes every morning, no blisters on the Dalai Lama Trek”.

Second up, veteran trekker Ian Butler champions wet wipes for wiping sweat off brows and those “discreet in-sleeping bag washing moments” when showers and bathtubs are but distant dreams.

Likewise, and up at number 3, there aren’t toilets or sinks out there in the wilderness, so anti-bacterial handwash is a 100% must for any Charity Challenger.

3)      Comfy clothes

It’s all about comfort over style when it comes to trekking. When you’re camping in the Kilimanjaro night-time at minus 10 degrees, shivering in your silk pyjamas or novelty boxer shorts, it’s very little consolation that you look fabulous!

“I took my favourite jumper that has never been worn out of the house before and never will again,” says Veteran Charity Challenger Jo Berridge, “but it’s sooooo comfy and cosy that I knew I would want it for the cold nights. It was so nice to put on when the temperature dropped and kept me snug at night!”.

Jo also makes the good point that you don’t want spend the whole trek worrying about your attire, “i’d also say take stuff that doesn’t matter if it gets ripped, muddy or left behind. I left loads of kit behind and it made the trip from Heathrow to home so much easier”.

So what do our trekkers recommend? Well, it really depends on the type and duration of your trek. But staple items for any trek include a warm jumper or fleece for chilly nights, your trekking specific gear (trousers, boots,  etc), comfy T-shirts, vest top, light weight shoes to wear in the evenings, and something a little bit smart for your celebration meal. Trek to Machu Picchu trekker Hannah Bradshaw also puts in a special recommendation for leggings, – “sooo comfy to trek in AND you can get waterproof trousers over them easily!”. Peru Trekker Louise Gale, points out that “leggings can also be dressed up for gala night as well and don’t take up much room”.  Truly they are a multi-tasking must-have!

4)      Sweets! – energy boosting trekking snacks

One massive perk of trekking is that, since you are burning through hundreds of calories a day, you actually need to consume lots of sweets and trekking snacks to give you energy for the goodness of your health. Guilt-free sweets! How often in life does that happen?! The brave trekkers who took on our North Pole challenge earlier this year had to consume several bars of chocolates and packets of sweets as part of their actual diet whilst on the expedition!

Worthers Originals and energy bars are among our top recommendations. Tried and tested favourites from our Charity Challengers include the below;

Tracker bars, the best snack ever whilst trekking. I wouldn’t have survived my last 4 treks without them!” – Thailand Jungle Trekker, Lesley Lewis

Have to say the two bags of Haribo I took to Peru were life savers, yum, felt like a little kid again!”  – Trek to Machu Picchu, Sam Coleman

Ginger biscuits: they last forever, give you energy and are great if you feel sick.” –  Trek to the Home of the Dalai Lama Challenger, Jennifer Clemo

Jelly babies are a good energy boost.” Peru Trekker, Rob Lewis

5)      A little luxury

There’s nothing like having a little something to look forward to at the end of a long hard trek. Jo Berridge recommends “hot chocolate, foot cream…and a spiky massage ball that was a lifesaver in Peru – it ended up going home with someone else and I’ve bought a new one – was great for achy calves from walking and shoulders from carrying the backpack.”

She also recommends Barocca/dioralyte/anything that makes water taste good – “You end up drinking so much and it gets so boring! It’s amazing what a difference having a drink that tastes slightly different can make”. Water flavouring turned out to be a surprisingly popular luxury add-on for lots of our Charity Challengers, with Louise Gale adding that “Zero electrolyte tablets…makes the water taste nicer and also puts the electrolytes in your body before you walk rather than having to put them back in after your walk”. Our trekking friends from Safe At Last recommend “a book and a pillow for some me time”.  There is nothing like a charity challenge to make you appreciate the small comforts in life!

So there you have it! Take note of these 5 rules and there should be nothing to 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 www.charitychallenge.com, 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.

Re-launch of the Golden Triangle Trek, in response to the flooding situation in Thailand

Over the last few weeks we’ve been keeping you updated with the latest news on the Thailand flooding situation, and how it might affect our trek there this month.

We can now report that the flooding situation in Bangkok has not improved to the extent that was expected and the city is still off limits for all but essential travel. For further information on this, please refer to the Thailand section of the British FCO advice.

This unfortunately means that this year’s Thailand Jungle Expedition cannot run for important and obvious safety reasons.

However, we understand what a blow it would be to our participants – who have already made travel arrangements, and have been working hard on their fundraising and training – if we were to cancel altogether. So we are delighted to say that following much negotiation with our ground handlers in Thailand and with the various other service providers, we have been able to provide an itinerary of exactly the same length and grading that will take place in the north of the country, in the famed hill tribe region. The so-called ‘Golden Triangle Trekking Challenge’ is an itinerary we used to operate very successfully and it was a stalwart part of the product range for years up to 2010. The itinerary includes hikes through spectacular mountain scenery to the Akha Village of Ah Yea, treks through bamboo forest and terraced rice fields, overnight stays in North Thailand’s mountain villages and also numerous waterfalls  and spectacular mountain views and even (when conditions are right) the chance to ride elephants and go kayaking.

The Golden Triangle Trek is a fantastic Challenge and we’ve been planning on taking another look at this alternate Thailand Itinerary for a while, so we are glad we’ve been able to take such an unprecedented and unfortunate situation and create such a positive outcome, with the re-launch of this fantastic itinerary.

We are wishing all our Thailand challengers an exciting and unforgettable Northern Thailand challenge! And we can’t wait to hear their feedback on the Golden Triangle Trek.

Some inspiration for the Charity Challenge Photo Competition -New pics fresh from Trek Transylvania!

[slickr-flickr tag=”Dracula123″]

The Charity Challenge Blog!

Here at Charity Challenge, we find ourselves always discovering good stories – of life changing journeys and remarkable feats of endurance, and handy tips on top fundraising techniques and kit you cannot make it out of the door without. And we enjoy nothing more than to talk about the latest news in the travel and charity sectors.

So the decision to launch our own official Charity Challenge blog came about very naturally. We are very pleased to announce that, after a lot of work, this post marks the first of what we hope will be many exciting blog posts. To celebrate the occasion, we are also launching our new photo competition – ‘capture your challenge’

A good photo can tell more than a million words, and we’re after the photographs that best sum up our charity challenges. We have some fantastic prizes on offer, the overall winner – who we feel has taken the very best photograph – will win a Berghaus Freeflow Pro 40 Rucsac worth £100 in addition to a voucher worth £250 that is redeemable for their next charity challenge expedition. 5 runners up will each receive a £20 high street voucher and 75% off a photobook. Also every month I will choose my personal favourite picture as “photo of the month” and the winner will receive a much coveted Charity Challenge Buff! So when you get home from your challenge, be sure to send us your best snaps.

To enter the competition, please email your chosen photographs to mai@charitychallenge.com. Please view the terms and conditions here.

Stay tuned to the Charity Challenge blog (subscibe by RSS by selecting the orange icon on the top right) to see which picture can cut the mustard to become photo of the month, and to read some informative and we hope entertaining blogs brought to you from myself, the Charity Challenge team, the diaries of our team leaders and from our expert partners at Cotswold Outdoors, The Altitude Centre’, Nomad travellers Stores, Berghaus and most importantly from our challengers themselves.

I’d love to hear all your thoughts on our new venture into the blogging sphere, so let me know in the comment box what blogs from us you be most interested to read.

If you want to keep up to date on our latest news and promotions, subscribe to our mailing list by entering your email address in the adjacent box.