Tag Archive for Etna Volcanic Adventure

Fighting back against organised crime with our Etna Volcanic Adventure’s responsible tourism policy

Sicily is best known for Mt Etna, Europe’s most active and explosive volcano – indeed we regularly take teams of trekkers up there on our Etna Volcanic Adventure, and second most well known for its heritage in Greek mythology and it’s beautiful untouched landscapes.

The third association on the list is not so pleasant. The era of ‘Gangster Rackets’ may seem long past to us, but unfortunately for the people of Sicily it is still very much a reality as around 80 per cent of Sicilian businesses pay up a “pizzo”. “pizzo” is the term used for ‘protection money’ paid by a business to the Mafia, usually coerced and constituting extortion. Businesses that refuse to pay the pizzo may suffer extreme harassment.

In return for the “pizzo”, businesses receive “protection” and can enlist the neighbourhood “Mafiosi” to cut through bureaucracy or resolve disputes with other tradesmen. Collecting the pizzo keeps the Mafia in touch with the community and allows them to “control their territory”.  According to Antimafia police estimates, organized crime collect about €30 billion a year in pizzo, not just in Sicily but in Calabria, Naples and the North.

However, there are organisations out there that are fighting back against the God Father mentality! One such organisation is Addio Pizzo, an anti-racket focussed charity who works to create a new way of thinking for Sicilian entrepreneurs and break the mafia hold. It also looks to protect local companies who may be victims of the Mafia and raises awareness so that more companies and local people in Sicily are not affected by this.

For every trek that we operate, we donate approximately $20 per participant to a local community project to help with education, the environment, or healthcare. So by participating in our Etna Volcanic Adventure; you are making a vital contribution to Addio Pizzo. So by signing up this amazing trek, not only do you get the chance to summit Europe’s most active volcano! You also get to effectively “stick it to the mob”. What more reasons could you need!

To learn more about all our charity challenges, and find out how else we get involved with responsible tourism. 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.

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 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.

Blog by Mai, Marketing assistant

Top 5 Romantic Challenges of 2012!

Happy Valentines Day everybody! In honour of St Valentine, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 most romantic challenges…

5) Etna Volcanic Adventure – coming in at number 5 is the Etna Volcanic Adventure, a challenge so hot that it’s literally bursting at the seams! (The last eruption was literally last week). With breath-taking scenery, real Italian Spaghetti, isolated shepherd huts in the wilderness and the chance to sleep under the stars, there was no way this challenge was not going to make the list! This long weekend challenge might not be as gruelling as some of our other challenges, but the fact that you need to carry sizeable rucksacks whilst trekking adds a whole new dimension to the trek (in fact, this is a perfect challenge to take your other half on, as you could do with someone to help you carry your bags!) Also this challenge is currently on special £75 promotion!

4) Great Wall Discovery – Anyone who’s seen the sun setting over the Great Wall will know why this challenge makes the list. It’s a truly unforgettable sight, especially if you have somebody to share it with. China is also the country steeped in myths and legends where beautiful Chinese lanterns light the sky. This challenge also has a £100 off offer running on it, and what makes a more romantic valentines gift than a discounted trek across one of the wonders of the world!

3) Kilimanjaro Summit Climb – On the surface this challenge may not seem as romantic as the previous two, but this is the challenge that has brought together the most couples out of our entire challenge catalogue! A few years back we even had a proposal at the summit of Kilimanjaro. And standing in footprints of past celebrities (Gary Barlow, Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles to name but a few!), with the backdrop of a stunning African landscape and an inescapable long walk back down, you’re really not going to say no! Kilimanjaro is our most favoured challenge and we have various expedition dates throughout the year, click here to see them (note: all challenges with the red stars by them are currently on special promotion!)

2) Escambray Encounter – this is on the list for all the singletons out there, who are currently ripping petals of roses and ceremonially burning their ex’s stuff. We have it on good authority that our Escambray Encounter Trek is the ultimate challenge for people looking to have a fun trek. The city of Havana is alive at any time of day or night with music and street parties, the locals are friendly and there is even rumoured to be a free bar on offer to challengers once they’ve completed the gruelling trek! It’s not too late to sign up to our three current departure dates in November of this year and in 2013

1) Dog Sledding Challenge – This challenge had to be number one for so many reasons. As our Sweden Ground handler Jordana put it “What could be more romantic than cuddling together on reindeer pelts by open fire whilst hearing the sleddogs howl to the northern lights and full moon!” We simply couldn’t think of anything, which is why this challenge tops the list and gains the title of Valentines Challenge of 2012! So for the ultimate Valentines gesture, click here to view and book onto one of our upcoming Dog Sledding Challenges!