Tag Archive for charity challenge

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!

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.

Meet the team: Mark Borton

Mark Borton is Charity Challenge’s Marketing Manager, and responsible for managing and maintaining the website, delivering our social media strategy, all-things digital analytics related and planning our marketing campaigns. We sat down with him for five minutes to find out more about what inspires him…

Name: Mark Borton

Location: London, UK

How long have you been working at Charity Challenge?
Only six weeks so far – but so far so good!

Tell us a little bit about your background and what you did before joining Charity Challenge?
I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia, where I spent most of my life. Prior to arriving in the UK, I worked for the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Australia, managing their marketing and advertising. However, my partner and I had always dreamed of something different, so two years ago we quit our jobs and travelled around the world. We ended up in London a year ago and haven’t looked back since. London is a place I’ve always wanted to live.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being part of a small team means I’ve got greater responsibility than ever before. Previously, I was a small cog in a big team – now, I’m a big cog in a small team. It’s also great to see tangible results and know you had a large part to play in the success.

How many countries have you visited?
At least 40+. I’ve been very fortunate and travelled from an early age.

What’s your favourite Charity Challenge expedition, and why?
I’m interested in off-the-beaten-track destinations, and Madagascar fascinates me. Hopefully, fingers crossed, I’ll be able to explore the country one day.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to do a Charity Challenge?
Enjoy the experience! It’s not a holiday – but the reward for completing something you’ve worked hard to achieve is far better than any relaxing holiday on the beach can provide. You’ll make new friends, experience something incredible, and no doubt be an inspiration to those around you. And that’s pretty cool.

What’s your favourite continental cuisine?
I really can’t look past authentic Italian food. It’s so simple, yet brilliant. That being said, I do find Indian, Portuguese, Moroccan and Thai food completely delicious!

What 3 things can’t you live without?
I probably couldn’t live without my camera, which is always attached to my arm. I should probably mention my partner here, so I’ll add her in! And, finally, the ability to travel and explore. Life wouldn’t be complete without any of those three.

What would your autobiography be called?
I did it my way.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I was the Australian 50m freestyle champion when I was 14 years old…

Meet the team: Phili Newell

Operations Manager, Phili Newell, joined Charity Challenge in 2016 and looks after all of our adventurous expeditions in Asia.

Phili profile

Name: Phili Newell

Location: London, UK

What’s your role at Charity Challenge?
I’m the Operations Manager for our expeditions in Asia, which includes looking after our events in Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia and Vietnam. The expedition that keeps me the busiest is the Great Wall Discovery in China, as it’s our most popular and the visa application process can sometimes appear slightly overwhelming, but it’s always worth it.

What’s been your favourite Charity Challenge expedition to take on (so far)?
I took part in the Lombok Lava trek in June 2016, and that was a fantastic challenge. We trekked to some of Indonesia’s highest peaks, and were continually inspired by our amazing team of guides and porters who helped us complete the hike! (Read Phili’s blog about the expedition here).

Did you always want to work in the travel industry?
I’ve always been interested in the travel industry, but I am particularly interested in the NGO sector. Before I worked at Charity Challenge, I spent two and a half years working with an NGO in Borneo, implementing a series of sustainable community and natural resource projects. We took groups of young volunteers to the projects to give them insight into the development sector whilst providing them with transferable skills in leadership and team work. At Charity Challenge, there are many similarities; we offer people the opportunity to experience so many different things, including meeting new people, learning about different cultures and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. When your resilience is tested, you realise your strengths – and it is this that will get you through challenges that you may face in the future (whatever they may be).

What’s your favourite thing about being the Operations Manager for Asia?
Hearing back from participants who have completed one of our challenges – their sense of achievement is infectious and inspiring.

How many languages can you speak?
I would say 1.5… English, and some Japanese!

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about taking on a Charity Challenge?
Make sure that you train properly for your adventure. The more training you do before you go, the more you will enjoy the challenge. And pack light (follow the advice on our Kit Lists, and you can’t go wrong).

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
London – if I could also have a massive garden and a dog!

What three things can’t you live without?
A sense of humour, Marmite and sunlight.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself…
I hitchhiked on sail boats on the Canadian west coast and eventually got to sail to San Francisco after joining a yacht race. I then painted a house so I could get enough money together to leave the USA to get my return flight back to the UK!

Meet the Leader: Penny Knight

Adventurous expedition leader, Penny Knight, has worked with Charity Challenge for over 7 years on a variety of exciting overseas challenges. From crossing glacial rivers in Iceland to trekking across the sun-drenched Sahara Desert, Penny shares some of her highlights with us…

Penny-Knight1

Name: Penny Knight

(Current) location: North Yorkshire Dales

What’s been your favourite expedition (so far)?
It’s so hard to decide on one, but I think it has to be the Sumatran Jungle challenge, for so many reasons. I just love the smiley people, hot, humid climate and varied wildlife. The fantastic spicy food, physical variety of the challenge with river wading and steep ascents and descents – along with the remoteness and survival aspects- really make this a true challenge in every sense of the word.

What’s been your most memorable moment on an expedition?
I will never forget climbing the Heavenly Staircase on the Great Wall in China with one particular participants who shared their motivation and story with me. It was incredibly emotional and I remember there were a few tears (from the both of us!) as she conquered the challenge.

What qualities do you think a good expedition leader needs?
Good preparation is vital, and a sense of humour is key! You need to be able to balance caution and confidence simultaneously, and you must have the ability to make decisions quickly whilst remaining calm under pressure. An inherent spirit and wild enthusiasm definitely help, along with the ability to be supportive and empathetic throughout some grueling conditions.

What do you think you would be doing if you were not an expedition leader?
Very sad . . . . . but probably an outdoor centre operations manager ( as I was before I qualified to lead expeditions).

When you’re not hiking up mountains or cycling across countries, what do you do in your spare time?
You will usually find me outside! Yesterday I enjoyed a fantastic 12 mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales. I do enjoy writing about my adventures, and recently published my book, A Knight Fulfilled, which includes some of my experiences from around the world. I do love great food – but not cooking so much! And I love to keep in touch with friends that I have made on these expeditions throughout the years.

What is the best thing about being a leader?
The people you meet – both the participants and the guides in country. I also really enjoy the difference you hope you can make to those who trust you to lead them, and the way you can learn and motivate each other – it is priceless.  It truly gives me a greater thrill than anything else I can think of in life – an excitement, satisfaction, exhilaration, pride, value and enjoyment which cannot be surpassed in any other line of work I’ve come across!

 

Have you been on an expedition with Penny? Did she help you achieve more than you ever thought was possible? Share your experiences and stories with us. Comment below!

Believe, Achieve and Inspire in 2017

In 2016 we saw our participants scale mountains, climb ancient walls, navigate rugged landscapes and achieve pedaling through dramatic desert landscapes, all for a good cause.

Those are just a few of the many challenges you can tackle this year, and to make the most of that January enthusiasm, we’re offering 10% off your registration fee until the end of the month!

Just enter code ‘ACHIEVE10’ when you register by January 31st 2017*. Believe in yourself, achieve something amazing, and be inspired. Speaking of inspiration, take a look at our new video to get some ideas for where this year could take you.

All that’s left is to decide: what will you achieve in 2017? Click here to see our range of challenges.

*Offer may not apply to all challenge departures

2016 highlights

In 2016 Charity Challenge has helped thousands of people trek, hike, bike and kayak around the world, all raising money for some incredibly inspiring causes. From summiting mountains in Africa to crossing glacial rivers in Iceland and beyond, each expedition has been filled with emotion and celebration.

Check out the video below for some of this year’s best highlights!

2016-youtube-still

Why I’m cycling 362 miles for Barnardo’s

Holyhead to Barnardo’s Village Bike Ride

Martin Duffy will be taking part in The Big Barnardo’s Holyhead to Barnardo’s Village Bike Ride this October and raising over £2,150. He tells us a bit more about why he chose this challenge.

You’ve pledged to take part in the Big Barnardo’s Bike Ride for their 150th anniversary. Tell us more!

Ok, well after a bit of stalling, I’ve picked a fundraising challenge – and now I know there is no backing out! I will be cycling 362 miles from Holyhead to Barkingside this autumn, following the route that Thomas Barnardo took when he arrived in the UK in 1866.

Why have you chosen to raise money for Barnardo’s?

As Head of Fulfilment Operations at Barnardo’s, I have seen first-hand the difference that our services can make to children across the UK. Barnardo’s has been transforming children’s lives for 150 years, and I’m determined to ensure that continues. Last year alone, Barnardo’s worked with 240,000 children, young people and families including offering counselling, fostering and adoption services, and disability support. I feel very privileged to be able to take part in this unique challenge event.

What are you most looking forward to about the challenge?

Seeing the finish line at this stage of my training! I think that it is also the opportunity to take part in an event with like-minded individuals.

If you would like to sponsor Martin you can do so on his Justgiving page.

Feeling inspired yourself? Join Martin on what will be an historic bike ride – find out more.

Back to Nepal – Charity Challenge Blog

Our Operations Manager, Andy Baker, updates us on his recce in Nepal:

It has been a difficult year for Nepal, not that you would really know this from the warm greeting that I have received from all of our different ground crews here. In the week that Prince Harry has also made a trip around some of Nepal’s cultural highlights I too have been fortunate enough to spend some time working in collaboration with our ground teams on a couple of new itineraries that Charity Challenge will be running this autumn. Our Poon Hill Himalayan Trek in the Annapurna region, and our Kathmandu Valley Cycle.

First though has been a quick re-connection with an old favourite. Everest Base Camp. Last week 13 intrepid challengers stepped off the plane in Kathmandu to begin their long ascent through the Himalayas towards the iconic Base Camp. This is the first trip that Charity Challenge have run in Nepal since the disasters of 2015 and the trails are still quiet, making it the perfect time to visit.

Our itinerary rather uniquely combines both the authentic ‘teahouse’ experience and the challenge of camping. Meals are served by our kitchen team within the dining room of a local teahouse, whilst nights are spent under canvas just off the trail. The warmth and comfort of a teahouse, combined with the incredible vistas provided by unzipping your tent in the morning to a panorama of snow capped peaks. This is a fairly unique way to run this itinerary, and judging by the group who are still currently making their way to Base Camp, a very enjoyable way to do this trek.

Nepal has faced a tough year and we are delighted to have been able to start sending groups again and give local people some much needed work. With the creation of a couple of new itineraries hopefully even more people will get to sample this fantastic country soon.

As for me, well I am back in Kathmandu putting the finishing touches to the rest of my itinerary. A few days cycling in the Kathmandu Valley, followed by a trek to Poon Hill for views stretching off across to Annapurna. Not even Prince Harry can top that!

Andy Baker
UK Operations Manager

20% off all open challenge deposits – Hop to it!

The Easter Bunny has been let loose and is giving away 20% off the deposit on all open challenges*! Yes that’s right, book on any of our ‘open challenges’ before 31st March 2016 and quote HOP16 at the time of booking to get your Easter surprise!

There are so many exciting challenges to choose from, but if you’re a little stuck, let us help you!

Amazon Jungle Survivor Challenge

Be up for the ultimate jungle experience in the world’s largest rainforest and be the first Charity Challenge group to conquer the forest extremes in 2017? You will be trekking through the depths of the Amazon jungle in search of wildlife, dolphin and caiman spotting from canoes, developing your fishing skills in order to catch your dinner and sleeping in hammocks encompassed by the night sounds of the wilderness. What more could you want?! Click here for more information.

Cycle Burma

Enjoy the remoteness of this challenge! Cycle approximately 330kms of Burma’s rural countryside, from the former royal capital Mandalay to Inle Lake. Pedalling through the itinerary, expect to soak up spectacular sunsets over the ancient city of Bagan and pass remote villages in untouched corners. Click here for more information.

Kilimanjaro Trek: October 2016 a sell out!

Due to overwhelming demand, we have launched a new open Kilimanjaro (Lemosho Route) Trek this year in October 2016.  A magnificent mountain, that takes pride and stands tall in Africa. On many bucket lists, Mt Kilimanjaro is a must and this could be your chance. Click here for more information.

Want something slightly close to home?

Want to do a challenge, but not so far away or not over so many days? Then fear not, as we have a fantastic range of UK challenges which are proving to be very popular.  How about a 2 day trek in the Lake District tackling five of England’s most demanding peaks or a 140 mile bike ride from the Cumbrian coast to the North Sea? Even better, how about a multi activity challenge? Trek, cycle and kayak in Snowdonia National Park over 2 days! Who said the UK doesn’t offer physically and mentally challenging adventures? Let’s embrace the Great British outdoors!

More challenges

We have over 30 different challenges with almost 200 departures, so if any of the above challenges are not quite your cup of tea, click here to find the right challenge for you!

Follow us on Instagram

Did you know that we are now on Instagram as well as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Follow us at charity.challenge to find out what we’re up to, the latest promotions and just to view some fabulous images of our challenges!