Destination, Inspiration

Andean Volcano Challenge – A Trek for Mental Health

April 28, 2020

In March 2020, 81 HSBC colleagues from around the world came together to trek 100km, over 5 days at high altitude, through the Avenue of the Volcanos in Ecuador, to raise awareness about positive mental wellbeing and to support a variety of mental health charities.

Through a series of informal workshops delivered during the challenge, specialist mental health and mental wellbeing professionals Geoff McDonald, Poppy Jaman OBE and Michelle Morgan motivated and inspired participants by providing a safe environment in which to discuss the stigma of mental ill health, and to create advocates for change.

The challenge participants were introduced to the 5 ways to wellness and brought them to life each day.

HSBC Andean Volcano Trek.4

As a result of this life changing challenge the concept “Minds in The Wild” has been created by Geoff McDonald, former VP of HR for Unilever and Simon Albert, director of multi-award-winning tour operator Charity Challenge.

Minds in the Wild is a series of life changing challenges for business leaders and their employees, delivered in iconic global locations by an award-winning team with incredible outcomes.

The focus is on enhancing your own individual physical and mental wellbeing whilst undertaking a challenging trek and addressing the importance of improving mental wellbeing at work in a bid to create healthier and more productive workplaces.

“The most important driver of a person, team, organisation performance is their energy. We get our energy from being healthy, and so why not elevate the health of our people to a strategic priority, as its is a key performance driver. If ever there was the need for a business case for that, COVID 19 is it!” Geoff McDonald

For more information on Minds in the Wild, please visit our website , call +44 (0)20 8346 0500 or email

HSBC Andean Volcano Trek.7

Thank you to all of the HSBC colleagues, the Mental Health Ambassadors, and the Charity Challenge leaders and medical staff for completing the Andean Volcano Challenge – Trek for Mental Health. To date the group have raised over $160,000 for numerous mental health charities across the globe.

Read the fantastic blog written by challenger and lead organiser for HSBC – Scott Pendrey – on his experience in Ecuador.

You can also share in the experience by watching the below video captured by 46 Films. Enjoy!

Tips & Advice

Tips and advice for training at home

April 8, 2020

Exercise is vital for our mental and physical health, and is arguably more important than ever during periods of social distancing and self-isolation. At Charity Challenge, we aspire to see the positive in every situation. So even though we are all going through an incredibly unsettling period in our lives, we have somehow been given a gift to slow down, refocus and take care of ourselves. Now is not the time to sit down and give up, it is the time to put a plan in place and kick start a new training regime, so we are all ready to take on that Charity Challenge when the time allows.

The key to a successful training regime is planning and motivation. Once you start, the endorphins that you release will take care of everything else. To help you get fighting fit for your upcoming challenge, or just to keep in shape without leaving the house, we have put together some of our favourite tips and advice for training at home.

Virtual Charity Challenge

We have turned a selection of your favourite trekking and biking challenges into Virtual Charity Challenges so that everyone can continue to fundraise and train at home. Trek, walk or run 56km over 5 days to get you ready for your upcoming trek to Machu Picchu. Climb 7,120 steps, or 475 flights of stairs to reach the summit of Mt Snowdon. Or cycle 435km over 4 days to take on the London to Paris bike ride. For a full list of Virtual Charity Challenges available read more here

The Altitude Centre – Train at home live stream

Our partners at The Altitude Centre have set up a range of options for you to continue training whilst at home during this time.

  • Live Stream Classes
  • Live Stream Personal Training
  • Live Stream Pilates
  • Live Stream Consultations & remote programming

They have also been extremely kind and given all Charity Challenge participants a free class.  If you choose a Live Stream class from the schedule here and select ‘sign up’ on your chosen class, you will be able to discount a single session to £0 using the code CCfree (case sensitive).  


Housework & Gardening

While you may not be in a gym pumping iron or hiking up your favourite mountain, it is still exercise and requires you do to work and burn more energy than sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Daily chores like cleaning your house, mopping the floor, mowing the lawn, cleaning the car, even digging & shoveling soil are all examples of moderate exercise, which helps improve health and fitness. We highly recommend putting on some fast tempo music that you really enjoy and dance, while cleaning. Clean home = cardio workout = clear mind. Win – win -win!

Online Sessions

The influx of free online sessions has opened up a whole new world to training at home! Yoga, cardio, Pilates, strength, dance, HIIT, boxing, you name, they have it. These are some of Team Charity Challenge favourites:

Forest Bathing

Forest bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’ was first developed in Japan in the 1980s, following scientific studies conducted by the government. The results showed that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve concentration and memory. They also found that trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system.

Next time you are social distancing in the local park, forest, or even garden take the time to really focus on the natural world around you: from the rays of sunlight catching the leaves to birdsong echoing from the canopy.  Nature is one of the best prescriptions out there!

Fitness apps

There is a plethora of fitness apps in the marketplace to help you exercise more, track your performance, make your diet healthier, start practicing mindfulness or sleep better. These are some of Team Charity Challenge favourites: FitbitStravaMap My WalkMap My RunSteps App, RunKeeperApple WatchApple Health, and Google Fit

So there you have it, some of our favourite tips and advice for training at home. We would love to see your training progress or learn any other tips you may have while social distancing. Please share via Facebook InstagramTwitter or email us at

Good luck, stay safe and stay at home.


Do you have what it takes to take on a Virtual Charity Challenge?

April 6, 2020

Just because we are self-isolating, it does not mean our fundraising and training needs to be put on hold. In fact, some would say we have been given an “opportunity” to finally focus on ourselves and kick start a new training regime.

The latest advice from Public Health England is to:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family.

So as we all adjust to the new way of being, why not take on a Virtual Charity Challenge.

What is a Virtual Charity Challenge?

We have turned a selection of your favourite Charity Challenge trek and bike challenges into virtual challenges so everyone can continue to fundraise and train at home. Hooray!

Virtual Charity Challenge

Virtual Peak Challenge

Climb the equivalent height of your favourite mountain on your stairs or steps at home. This is also a good opportunity to test out any new gear and ensure everything is well worn in for when your Charity Challenge event takes place. To keep the peace at home please ensure all muddy boots are spotless before you commence the challenge! To make it even more challenging we recommend you add some weight to your day pack, this is guaranteed to get the heart pumping.

  • Scafell Pike, 978m, England, 6,180 steps
  • Snowdon, 1085m, Wales, 7,120 steps
  • Ben Nevis, 1345m, Scotland, 8,810 steps
  • Mont Blanc, 4810m, France, 30,420 steps,
  • Kilimajaro, 5895m, Tanzania, 38,680 steps
  • Everest, 8848m, Nepal, 58,070 steps
Virtual Charity Challenge

Virtual Cycling Challenge

Hop on your bike and pedal the distance of your favourite Charity Challenge cycling events. If you want to ride indoors, you have two options:  create your own indoor cycling setup at home, for which you’ll either need a turbo trainer (which turns your regular bike into an indoor trainer) or a dedicated indoor training bike. If you go outside, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.

Virtual Trekking or Running Challenge

Trek or run the distance of your favourite UK and overseas Charity Challenge treks.  To carry out this challenge at home you have four options:

  1. Invest in a treadmill. As far as exercise equipment goes, treadmills are one of the easiest to use, although may be a little pricey
  2. Trekking / running inside your home or garden. Map out a route and try to cause as little damage as possible! Try not to interrupt anyone at home, and please don’t ruin any carpets or flower beds in the process
  3. Trekking / running in place. One of the biggest advantages choosing this option is doesn’t require much space—in fact, you really only need to be able to take 1-2 steps in a single direction! Just find a perfect spot and start stepping.
  4. If you go outside, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.

How do I take part in a Virtual Charity Challenge?

It is super easy to get involved. All you need to do is follow the below steps and you are in!

  1. Decide what Virtual Charity Challenge you and / or your household / team would like to take part in and take note of how many steps or what distance is required to complete the challenge
  2. If you want to raise money, choose a charity to support and set up a justgiving page to start fundraising for them
  3. Ensure you have an option to track your performance. There are multiple options on the market, we have selected a few of our favourites below: Fitbit, Strava, Map My Walk, Map My Run, Steps App, RunKeeper, Apple Watch, Apple Health, and Google Fit
  4. Commence the challenge and share your progress with us on social media. Don’t forget to tag us in your posts to be included in the Virtual Charity Challenge:
  5. If you are competing with a virtual team tag the person you are handing over to
  6. Once you have completed the challenge, share the fitness app or phone screenshot on social media, and don’t forget to tag us so we can message you a jpeg certificate of completion for you to share with all your supporters
  7. Now it’s time for you to challenge someone else! Nominate the person who you think could take on this challenge by tagging them in your social post – then it’s up to them! 

Why should I take part in a Virtual Charity Challenge?

Support a cause that is close to your heart

During these unsettling times our charity partners need our support more than ever. The current situation puts them in an extremely vulnerable position as a huge portion of their income comes directly from fundraising events such as the London Marathon and other challenge events and races which they have now lost. Now is the time we all need to come together to ensure we can continue to help those most in need.

Improves your mood

It’s true, one of the best ways to handle a stressful day at work, or a hectic home-life is to pound it all away with a run, or an exercise DVD or some aerobic sessions. When you exercise, endorphins are released and start coursing through your system, releasing a wave of positive vibes, which makes everything seem just that bit more manageable! April is Stress Awareness Month so there is no better time to get involved and support your mental health.

Helps you lose weight

This is rather an obvious one, but it’s such a massive benefit of getting fit that we had to include it in the list! Fast-paced interval training is the best for fat burning, whilst jogging and regular exercise sessions are great at building your metabolism.

Lowers blood pressure

When you run, stretch and exercise your arteries get flexed, in effect giving them as much of a workout as you are giving the rest of your body. So, by keeping your arteries flexed and wide, you’ll be lowering your risk and developing high blood pressure.

Personal development

Every loves the feeling of completing a challenge. The level of self-worth increases dramatically when we put our minds to something, and we succeed. In our current world we find ourselves losing control of our regular way of being. This is a chance to take back some control, to keep focused and energised during these unsettling times.

So there you have it, very easy steps to take on a Virtual Charity Challenge while we are all riding the wave of the Corona virus (COVID-19). We cannot wait to see your progress online – don’t forget to tag us using #virtualcharitychallenge so that we can see how you get on!

Good luck, stay safe and stay at home.

Tips & Advice

How to fundraise when you are social distancing?

March 22, 2020

As we all go through this uncertain climate with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) a common question from our challengers is how can I fundraise when I am social distancing? Fear not! The team at Charity Challenge have put their creative hats on and come up with the following ideas:

How to fundraise when you are social distancing?

Spring Clean

It is officially the start of Spring so there is no better time to have a clear out! We all have that hidden place at home where we keep unused toys, homeware, unwanted gifts etc. For anything that is still in good condition you can sell on platforms such as Ebay, Amazon Marketplace, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, and Shopify. Please ensure that you clean and disinfect everything before passing them on.

How to fundraise when you are social distancing?

Neighbourhood Support

This can be a scary time for those who are unable to leave their homes. Offer up your services to your neighbours currently self-isolating by dog walking, shopping, car washing, rubbish collection, gardening etc. Just print off some cards offering your services, deliver them through your neighbours letter boxes and wait for the phone to ring.

Live Stream Events

Fundraising events do not need to stop just because we need to social distance. We live in the digital era so now is the perfect time to use your creative skills and live stream an event.

What events can I live stream?

  • Pretty much anything you can think of! Coffee mornings, Karaoke contest, dance parties, pub quizzes, fitness classes, online auctions, rock-paper-scissors tournament, online gaming tournament, head shaving etc…

What you need to live stream?

  • Laptop or phone, microphone, speakers, internet access, and a tripod or a steady hand!

What platforms can I use?

How to fundraise when you are social distancing?

Practise Social Distancing Outdoors

Lots of people are unsure if they are still able to go outside. Sport England quoted that “being as active as possible really matters during this period – not just for your physical health but also for your well-being”. The official advice from Public Health England is constantly evolving, but right now once everyone meets the guidance on social distancing the outdoors is not out of bounds. Hooray!! This means you can still get outside and set yourself a fundraising challenge such as a 5k run or a 10km walk.

Private Tuition

Release your inner teacher and put your previous training to use by offering private tuition online via Skype, from French to flamenco!

How to fundraise when you are social distancing?

Art & Crafts

Keep the kids and yourself occupied with your favourite arts & crafts. Not only is this a great way to fundraise, this is a fantastic activity for your mental health. The joy of creating something from scratch offers unlimited satisfaction and pride! Ideas such as card making, flower arrangements, wreaths, table centre pieces, friendship bracelets, jewellery making, knitting, crochet, candles, fairy doors, decorations, etc.. The possibilities are endless!

Do you have any further creative ideas on how to fundraise when you are social distancing? We would to hear them. Please share via Facebook , Instagram, Twitter or email us at


COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQ’s

March 13, 2020

Charity Challenge has been in business for over 20 years and in that time has had to face a number of situations affecting travel including SARS, terrorism, volcanic explosions, Bird Flu, Ebola, Zika, strikes, war and threat of war and many other scenarios.  It has been stressful at times, but we have managed to get through them all and we remain hopeful and confident that the peak of the current pandemic will be reached in the coming few months and that things will return to normality soon after.

We appreciate that with 24-hour updates from around the world, first-hand accounts, videos, statistics, maps and live streams, it’s hard to not feel impacted even though most of us continue to go about our daily lives the same as before Covid-19 was named! We catch the tube, go to work, visit friends, eat in restaurants and meet friends and family.

We know that you have questions around your bookings with Charity Challenge, or perhaps you are considering what to do about making a booking and wanting to know what your options are. I hope the following Q&As will help you but please do email us if you have any other questions.

We will do our best to respond to you ASAP but as you will see below, we are prioritising the enquiries from participants for trips departing in the next few weeks and please be understanding if it takes a little longer than usual to respond to any emails.

What happens if I make a booking with Charity Challenge and the trip can’t run due to Covid-19?

Please rest assured that if Charity Challenge cannot operate a challenge in the host country due to Covid-19, we will offer you a number of options including:

  • the chance to postpone your challenge to a later departure (this year or next)
  • to join any Charity Challenge trip in another country (this year or next)
  • to receive a refund of monies paid for the challenge

Please note there are no admin fees to either postpone or change destinations, should we be forced to cancel your existing challenge.

What if I postpone the challenge and then the later trip is also affected?

Even if you move on to another challenge later in the year or next year, if we still find ourselves in a position where we cannot operate the challenge in the host country, we will offer you the same options as above, to postpone, to change trips or to receive a refund.

What if the challenge costs are different on the new challenge I ask to move on to?

Depending on which payment option you have booked with, we will either invoice you or refund you on the difference between the registration fees, and you will either have to raise more or less sponsorship based on the new challenge minimum sponsorship levels.

When will you make the decision if you have to cancel my challenge?

We currently have 1000s of participants booked on hundreds of challenges over the next 24 months. As you would expect, we are prioritising groups that are departing imminently and will continue to work through the next challenges in date order. 

We do anticipate that within a month, or two things will be much clearer, and we expect trips for later in 2020 to proceed as planned.

There is no set time to make this decision, but we will try and let you know around 2-3 weeks before departure if the advice is against travel. Advice that is in place today, could be lifted tomorrow, and there could be no negative travel advice today and then it is added tomorrow. The situation is very changeable, and where we can still operate your challenge, we will do so. If advice has been against travel and this is still in place 2-3 weeks before departure, we will ensure we speak to you individually and communicate your options.

On what basis are you deciding whether to cancel or not?

We are continuously monitoring the advice from the UK authorities (Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and Public Health England (PHE)), the global health authorities (World Health Organisation (WHO)), the government advice from the host countries we are travelling to, our ground agent’s perspective of things on the ground, the airlines we fly with, and a number of other national government authorities including the US State Department, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Canadian government travel advisories. If we are advised against travel by the FCO or prevented from operating your challenge in the host country due to local restrictions, we will cancel your challenge.

What if there is no official advice against travel, but I want to cancel anyway?

We respect that some people may feel more comfortable staying at home, and not travelling regardless of the destination or official advice. If you choose to cancel, we will action your request but where we are still able to operate the challenge, our standard cancellation terms will apply (see terms and conditions).

What if my trip is ground only and I have booked flights myself?

Where a challenge is ground only, you will be responsible for your international travel arrangements to and from the host country. If your trip is cancelled, you will need to liaise with your airline over any changes that need to be made. If official travel advice is given against travel to that country, or the host country refuses to accept flights from the UK, the airline is likely to be flexible over changes to dates and routes. If however, you cancel of your own accord, despite there being no advice against travel to the host country, the airline is likely to be less flexible. Each airline will have different policies, but you must discuss the situation with them to see what they can and cannot do.

What precautions are the airlines / airports doing to protect the spread of infection?

Every airline differs, but most are taking hygiene to new levels:

  • Enhanced cleaning processes – Surfaces can harbour the virus, so janitorial staff at airports across the country are cleaning more frequently and paying special attention to disinfecting high-touch areas like handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, counter tops and food court areas. Planes will also undergo enhanced cleaning, according to multiple airlines including disinfecting surfaces after each flight.
  • Hand sanitizer everywhere – Passengers are more likely to see hand sanitizer on ticket counters, at boarding gates, customer service desks, baggage service offices and lounges. Airlines are setting up their own hand sanitizer dispensers at places like check-in counters and gates in addition to the ones the airports are installing, and on planes too.
  • Air quality – Many airlines have filtration systems for a cabin free of airborne contaminate

Is my travel insurance policy likely to cover me if I am affected by Covid-19?

The travel insurance that Charity Challenge has provided in the past (through Endsleigh) and currently offers (through Campbell Irvine) to date, provide support as follows:

  • If a participant is taken ill with the Coronavirus prior to their trip and is unable to travel they will be able to lodge a claim under the cancellation and curtailment section.
  • If a participant is in compulsory quarantine on the order of a treating medical practitioner in the UK, they will be able to lodge a claim under the cancellation and curtailment section of the policy.
  • If the beneficiary needs medical assistance whilst on the trip for coronavirus, this is also covered.

Do I have to pay my balance for imminent trips, or can I wait and see?

We are continuing to make the plans for your challenge and if you have been invoiced, please continue to pay as normal. If as above, we cannot operate the challenge in the host country due to Covid-19, you will have the chance to postpone, change destination or get a refund.

What if my fundraising is impacted by not being able to host planned fundraising events?

If you have any concerns around your fundraising, and current restrictions that would mean cancelling your fundraising activities, please speak directly to your chosen charity.

If you have any further questions regarding your challenge please do not hesitate to contact us.

+44 (0)20 8346 0500


Why join a Fabulous Challenge?

March 10, 2020

Since its inception in 2014, Fabulous challenges have taken 327 inspirational trekkers to 6 iconic destinations, hiking over 270 miles to raise £1.2 million for charity. This year they are off to Petra, Jordan.

So, why should you join Team Fabulous in 2020?

The Destination

From the 27th September – 4th October 2020, Team Fabulous are heading to the ancient, hidden ‘red-rose’ city of Petra, a UNESCO world heritage site. Named one of the new seven wonders of the world, Petra is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. Some of you may recognise the iconic lost city from Indiana Jones and the last crusade! On this 8-day challenge you will trek along a breath-taking section of the Jordan Trail, experience floating in crystal clear waters of the iconic Dead Sea, explore the culture of Amman and enjoy the views of the promised land from Mount Nebo.

The Charity

This year, Fabulous Challenges have teamed with Jo’s Trust, the UK’s leading Cervical Cancer charity.  Nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day and 220,000 are diagnosed with cell changes, often needing treatment.  Jo’s Trust want to see cervical cancer become a disease of the past and are working hard to get to that day through campaigns and education programmes.

With the number of women attending smear tests at an all-time low, we are looking to raise the profile of this hugely important charity, and we need the help of all you wonderful trekkers!

Celebrity Captains

Fabulous Challenges have historically been joined by a whole host of famous faces, including Vicky Pattison, Frankie Bridge, Olivia & Alex Bowen, Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, Chloe Madeley and Mario Falcone (to name a few!)

By joining us on this challenge, you will trek alongside two celebrity team captains, to be announced at the group information session… watch this space!

Your Team

From the first information session, training days, all the way through to your challenge and beyond, the bond you create with your team will last a lifetime!

How to sign up

Register your interest here to join the Fabulous’ Challenge Trek to Petra to help raise life-saving funds for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust!