blog
rss

More Inspiration

In Memory: Lakpa Nuru Sherpa

It is with deep sorrow and heavy hearts that we share the devastating news of Lakpa Nuru Sherpa’s passing. On the 25th of May, while guiding on Everest, Lakpa reached the South Summit but did not return. 

For over two decades, Lakpa dedicated his life to being a climbing sherpa on countless mountaineering expeditions across Nepal. He played an instrumental role in helping individuals realise their dreams of summiting Himalayan peaks. 

Our mountain guide, Soren Kruse Ledet, fondly recalls meeting Lakpa more than 20 years ago when he was a dzopkio driver on one of our expeditions in the Khumbu. His passion and dedication quickly led him to become a climbing sherpa, going on to achieve the incredible feat of summiting Everest 12 times. 

Soren Kruse Ledet, Lakpa Nuru Sherpa and Nawang Dorje Sherpa, Teng Kangpoche 2022 |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>
 

He was a master of big mountain expeditions and his friends were blessed with his openheartedness - and his homemade apple rakshi. Again Soren regaling the time when on his own Everest attempt, came across Lakpa at around 7300m on the Lhotse Face. While Soren was focused on breathing and making progress, here was Lakpa casually descending after completing a stealthy load carry to Camp 3. Wearing a pair of jeans and enjoying a smoke, it was hard not to marvel at his ease. 

Lakpa was highly respected amongst the Nepali mountaineering community. His strength and competence at high altitude were truly remarkable and the source of enthusiastic praise from our returning mountaineering clients. He would often officiate at the mandatory pre climb Puja. A gentle man and devout Buddhist, he was an inspiration to us all. 

Above all, Lakpa cherished his family. His wife Chyamu and two daughters, Mingma Gelbu and Tshring Chhoti, meant the world to him. We will remember Lakpa always as an excellent climbing sherpa, friend, colleague and mentor. 

Our hearts and thoughts are with all whose lives he touched and our teams in Nepal and all over the world mourn his loss. 

World Expeditions will support the education of his elder daughter, Mingma Gelbu via a fully funded scholarship until her primary and secondary education is complete and the Nepal Mountaineering Association have undertaken the same for his younger daughter Tshring Chhoti. 

In addition, we created a fundraiser through the World Expeditions Foundation with one main purpose, to provide further support for Lakpa Nuru Sherpa’s family whose lives have been irrevocably altered with the loss of their husband and father. Thanks to the generosity of our community we have raised over $10,000 for Lakpa's family.

We will miss you Lakpa. 

Vale The World Expeditions family


Thank you to those who left a beautiful message with your donation. Here is just a few of the many that were left and will be collated and supplied to Lakpa's family.

Lakpa you will always remain in our hearts. We had the privilege of trekking with you, experienced your kind and gentle nature, witnessed your strength and courage in the mountains and admired your leadership and dedication. It was an honour to have stayed at your home with your family. With all our love , Urda and Martin. Urda and Martin Herbst / Watt

I have many fond memories since first meeting Lakpa Nuru sherpa in 2004 and have shared many adventures since. He was, strong, inspirational and also a fun to be around during an expedition. Sincere condolences to his family and friends during these difficult times. Waz Townsden

So many fond memories of a wonderful friend and respected Climbing Sherpa. Since we first met you in 2004 and on all the mountaineering expeditions we've shared with you since, you have been an absolute inspiration with your strength, dedication and kindness. Always happy, always supportive. A truly gentle man with a beautiful soul. Heartfelt sympathy to Chyamu and your beautiful girls. We will miss you and remember you always Lakpa Nuru. Tommo & Neddy

Never met Lakpa or been to Nepal, but would like to donate as a message to those who help those of us to fulfill our dreams. James Allen

4 reasons why the Kokoda Trail should be on your bucket list

Have you ever considered tackling the 96-kilometre Kokoda Trail? The Kokoda Track has become a pilgrimage for many Australians and taking on the trail could be one of your most memorable trekking experiences.

The trail takes you through dense jungle following the path in which Australian and Japanese armies engaged in bitter warfare during the early days of World War II. It also offers an incredible physical and mental challenge that will teach you to take “one step at a time” as World Expeditions staff member Hilary Delbridge recounts:

On completion of Kokoda I was on such a high, even though I was so physically exhausted. It felt like a real accomplishment in my life. Even now when life gets tough, I know I can get through “one step at a time” – that is what the Kokoda challenge is all about.

 

If you are looking for a personal challenge; want to follow the footsteps of our ANZAC soldiers; and experience the unique jungle environment and welcoming nature of the Papua New Guinea people, these are our top four reasons why the Kokoda Trail should be on your bucket list!

1. The history

Kokoda was described as the harshest and worst conditions any soldier could ever be ordered to fight in. This fight against the Japanese invasion force was the most significant battle fought by Australians in World War II. With both sides sick and casualty rates soaring, if Gallipoli was Australia’s baptism of fire in WWI, Kokoda could be described as the WWII equivalent. The Australians stopped the Japanese wave on Kokoda and finally defeated the Japanese on the northern beaches at Sanananda in 1943.

Each year a significant number of Australians embark on this pilgrimage to learn about and reflect upon this battle, with much of the track region appearing as it did in 1942 where the Australian soldiers fought. You can also travel to the North Coast battlegrounds of Buna and Sanananda, where the final stages of the campaign played out.

“You begin to get a real insight into what the ANZAC diggers went through, except they trekked with the inadequate gear of the time, heavy packs and ammunition, and little food or medical care – not to mention being shot at by the enemy,” says Hilary. “You will see plane wrecks, ammunition and bomb shells, and the sites where the diggers had to dig deep to hide.”

Our highly experienced Australian guides assist your journey over the Kokoda trail as you discover not only Australia’s history but also that of the Japanese and most importantly the local Papuan’s.

Local porters provide some rest stop entertainment |  <i>Ryan Stuart</i> Walking the historic Kokoda Track, a once in a life time challenge. |  <i>Ryan Stuart</i> Opportunities to interact with local people and experience the culture are another attraction of walking the Kokoda Track |  <i>Ryan Stuart</i> Templeton's crossing |  <i>S Goodwin</i>
 

2. Physical and mental challenge

There is no doubt the Kokoda Trail is a challenging trek, however if you are well prepared and have done the required amount of training you will be ready to take on this challenge. Kokoda is not the demon it is portrayed and everyday people complete Kokoda – young and old. With Mt Everest Base Camp being a 10/10 difficulty level and walking around the block a 1/10, Kokoda rates as a 7/10, with moderate cardio fitness required.

Hilary recounts that the Kokoda Trail was challenging yet life-changing:

The Kokoda Track was the hardest walk I have ever done, but also the most life-changing. It taught me to live in the moment.

Hilary continues to explain what made her choose to take on the challenge of Kokoda, “I wanted to know what The Kokoda Track was all about, how hard it was, and what the diggers went through. I was also going through a period in my life where I was searching for deeper meaning, something I found in the amazing vistas and the mountains that seemed to go on and on, and up and up."

"Did I train to climb those mountain passes? Most certainly, bush bashing up a hill with a heavy pack three times a week! I would not describe myself as a particularly sporty or fit person, but with the training I was able to cope with the Kokoda challenge.”

3. Friendly culture

Whilst Papua New Guinea (PNG) is relatively poor by world standards with a large reliance on subsistence farming, it is one of the most culturally rich with 800+ indigenous languages and Papuans being some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. They may appear intimidating initially but as you cross paths their genuine smile beams to light.

On our Kokoda treks you will share experiences with our interactive porter team made up of village locals and stay in secluded jungle camps in some of the most remote regions of PNG.

The local traditional villagers here will also share some of their culture, which is an ideal accompaniment to an incredible journey across this extraordinary island. Hilary explains:

The smells and sounds of the thick jungle really need to be experienced first-hand as well as the beautiful nature of the Papua New Guinean people: the guides, the villagers and the children.

Our itineraries have been crafted to allow opportunities to embrace the local culture and history, as well as meeting the track’s physical demands. We also promote Leave No Trace camping, ethical treatment of porters and reinvest in the village’s education system.

4. Spectacular scenery

The Kokoda Trail is an amazing thrill-seekers challenge in the midst of beautiful jungles, spectacular butterflies and pristine rivers and creeks with a never-ending supply of crisp clean water. Adventurers revel in the amazing wildlife and still discover each year new relics from the wars in 1942.

The track wanders along narrow crests offering awe-inspiring views, and falls into deep dark gorges where the thick green vegetation blocks out the daylight. The scenery is spectacular and the views change from day to day, and even hour by hour. 

At the higher elevations up around 2000 metres, you step into a Lord of the Rings type environment, and much of the foliage mimics New Zealand’s high Alps.

The scenery, challenge, culture and history make this a 10/10 journey and why we think the Kokoda Trail should be on your adventure bucket list.

Celebrating our female adventure guides

There’s a magic to guiding adventure travel tours that lures many an outdoor lover to the mountains, coasts and deserts to lead like-minded travellers in search of the solace that only nature provides.

“Growing up in a town outside the city, my childhood recreational activities consisted of walking and running in the mountains, these activities filled me with life” says specialist trek guide, Yaritza Frinchanso who regularly guides our Inca Trail treks

“When I was a child people asked me - what will you study when you are an adult? I answered – “if there would be a job to hike and show my mountains, I would be the best.” 

Decades later Yaritza achieved her dream and is one of a handful of female guides paving the way for young women after them.

“I believe that women are more persuasive when leading a group, thanks to the fact that we are more empathetic and sensitive, which allows us to better understand the needs that visitors have and that often makes it difficult for them to express. This also helps us appreciate and show small details that mostly go unnoticed.“

Guiding has long been a predominantly male career that has in more recent times seen more females take the path less travelled. Female outdoor adventure guides now make up 37% of the outdoor guide community in Australia and changes are slowly being made globally. 

Happyness Kipingu

“When I started as a mountain guide it was a 95/5 male to female ratio and now it is 75/25” says Happyness Kipingu, one of our guides on Mt Kilimanjaro treks in Tanzania.

Dawa Yangin (known as Karki to her friends) regularly guides treks in the Annapurna and Everest regions and has trekking in her blood. Her grandfather was the first trekking guide in the Khumbu region and she is constantly inspired by the connections and interactions with people from different countries that guiding brings. Despite her trekking heritage she has also experienced some challenges due to gender.

“I was the only female guide when there were 35 male guides when I started working with the company. Now, we are three female guides, “says Yangin proudly of the changes slowly being made in the region.

“Obviously, there are some challenges to become a female guide in the context of conservative Nepalese society. Females are supposed to be involved in motherhood and family and compelled to stay home taking care for their children.”

Karki Sherpa
 

Pham Thi Huong leads guests on our adventures in Vietnam and sees female guides as a unique option for guests looking for an authentic travel connection. 

“In Vietnam, female guides bring a different level of human interaction. We are perceived differently by the clients and by the local communities. There is often more trust, and a deeper relationship,” says Pham Thi.

“Exchanging stories, talking not only about the country but about daily life in general seems more natural for women. However, balancing professional and family lives is the hardest. Vietnam is a society where women are still very much in charge of childcare and housework.

“I am lucky to receive help from my mother but it is a permanent challenge to be able to focus on my job with travellers and to dedicate time for my family as well.“

In Peru, Yaritza recognizes the equality in capability but not in opportunity and the changes that have been implemented along the way. 

“Thanks to the inclusion policies of travel agencies, many female guides can work doing what they like, without putting stereotypes to the work, this makes the guests who visit my city happy,” says Yaritza. 

“Most colleagues are happy to be able to work competitively with female guides, considering that we both have many qualities and abilities to effectively carry out the activity of Tour Guides, although often we do not have the same opportunities.”

American born New Zealand resident, Ange Sexton, is now a guide in New Zealand with World Expeditions. She discovered her love of guiding and outdoor life in Colorado, then Australia, before making her way to the land of the long white cloud where she is now based.

“I always take the approach of not making it a “thing” when it’s two female guides, I just carry on with quiet confidence, steadiness, and the skills I know I have to deliver a product I always hope inspires them (guests) to keep adventuring.” Says Ange  who was the only female guide on the Larapinta Trail the season she started her Australasian guiding career.

Angela Sexton, Adventure South NZ guide

 

“We have this unique ability to enable people to accomplish and experience adventure with support that can be subtle as well as hands on, I love that balance. You do sometimes get a sense from clients at the start wondering if these two chicks will be able to lift an e-bike or reverse a trailer, it doesn’t take long before they realise we are not only capable of these things but do it well.  

“I like to think we bring a shift in thinking for anyone that feels women are not capable of doing the “strong man” side of the job. I never want this to be communicated bluntly but simply by doing my job and demonstrating we are more than capable of delivering an amazing product despite (or because of) our gender.”

The opportunities for women seeking an outdoor life guiding within nature are increasing. Universities now offer courses in Outdoor Education and Outdoor Leadership and bachelors in Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Studies. All agree that becoming a guide takes more than just a piece of paper, it takes a passion and determination in the face of adversity. 

“You should have strong determination and dedication for the job, good language skills, medical training certificates, physical fitness and knowledge and information about trekking routes, flora fauna, and the ability to adapt with the guests, local people,” advises Yangpin.

“Having personal experience and a love for the outdoors is great but it really is only one part of the role,” agrees Ange.

Happyness Kipingu Pham Thi Huong Karki Sherpa Ange Sexton
 

“Recognising if you have that passion to share the outdoors with people from all different walks of life and varying capabilities is a big part of it too. If those two things are things you can bring together as a passion, that’s an amazing start.

“Next would be to research the style of guiding you want to pursue and the activity that suits you most. From there you can contact a few operators in the areas you’d be interested working in to see what qualifications and experience they like you to have as an entry level guide.”

Whatever your path to guiding, the rewards are always tenfold. 

“I learn every day from different people and different cultures. I share incredible moments with them and make lots of friends. Being a tour guide makes my life more colourful and adds some meaning to it,” says Pham Thi.

“I love my job because I love the life it allows me to live.” 

Our view on road development in the Annapurna region

Ten years ago when we first learned about the proposed developments for roads into some of Nepal’s most popular trekking regions, we admit, while we understood the economic benefits of these roads for the local people we were still quite concerned about the implications for trekkers seeking out a true wilderness walking experience.

We needn’t have worried.

After a reconnaissance in February 2023 to the Annapurna region, where much of those developments are now complete or close to completion, what we saw was very positive. 

It’s been a win-win for both the local people as well as trekkers in regions such as Annapurna, Mustang or Manaslu, where these developments have occurred.  

For trekkers, you are still able to thoroughly enjoy the small villages, towering mountains and the vast tracts of forest that thrive with flora and fauna, with extremely little visual or noise impact caused by the road development. The trekking trails in the higher altitudes of the region remain untouched, nor are there any roads to the famous vantage points, so only trekkers are afforded those views for their efforts!

For the many mountain communities in these regions, they are enjoying the inordinate benefits of transportation to villages or roadheads nearby, movement of goods and access to medical services, amongst other advantages these roads bring to their daily lives.

While there may be roads to some villages, there is very low vehicular use of them. For the most part, visual sightings of roads is minimal. They’re not tarmac and crossing or walking along one is only ever for short distances in the lower regions. 

Mountain communities across Nepal rely on tourism. It is up to travellers and trekking companies to engage in responsible tourism practices and to work toward sustainable development that benefits both locals and travellers. 

 

It is our genuine belief that this very philosophy has been achieved in Nepal through this road building process. 

Specifically, road developments in the Annapurna region have been carefully planned and implemented to ensure minimal impact on the pleasure of trekking in the area. While some roads have been constructed in the lower valleys for transportation and commercial purposes, as we mentioned the higher altitudes trekking trails in the of the region remain untouched. 

These trails, which may include Annapurna Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Base Camp and Nar and Tilicho Lake, offer some of the most stunning and remote landscapes for trekkers, with minimal to no vehicular traffic disruption. 

Even on the low altitude trails such as the Annapurna Trek, while you may cross a road here or there, the visual impacts are extremely limited and it is unusual to see vehicular traffic, leaving you to wander as always, amid the traditional Gurung and Magar village communities. 

When you’re planning your next trek in Nepal, don’t be put off by what you may have read or rumours of roads. 

We know first-hand, from our guides, staff and travellers, that the trekking experience is still as great as ever and, the mountain communities are better off for them. If you don’t believe us, we would recommend a visit.

Learn to respect it as part of Nepal’s upward progress in a challenging world. We all want to do better, and this is part of Nepal’s effort to make improvements for its people and economic situation.

As for walking in an exotic land with your head thrumming with peace, don’t fret. No one will ever take the magic out of Nepal. A few roads sure won’t.


Browse Annapurna trekking tours

Have you trekked in the Annapurna region recently? What was your experience?
On the couch: Karki Sherpa, female trekking guide in Nepal

Guiding has long been a predominantly male career that has in more recent times seen more females take the path less travelled. 

Female outdoor adventure guides now make up 37% of the outdoor guide community in Australia, however the change is much slower in countries like Nepal, where culturally it is not encouraged.

Meet Dawa Yangjin Sherpa, or Karki to her friends, who is breaking the mould and pioneering a path for female trekking guides in Nepal.

What or who inspired you to become a trekking guide?

I am Sherpa. Sherpa and tourism are inter-related. 

My grandfather was the first trekking guide in Khumbu region. Connections and interactions to the people of different countries glorifies our nation. This is my inspiration.

What was the ratio of female/male guides when you started guiding and what is it now?

I was only one female guide when there were 35 male guides as I started working in this company. Now, we are three female guides. 

What changes in attitude of guests and guides have you experienced as a result?

In the beginning, I felt a bit uncomfortable being a female myself. Now, I am fully confident. My clients have always accepted me as a leader. So far, I do not have a bad experience. 

Clients are rather happy to get me instead. Female trekkers love seeking for female guide.

Karki Sherpa
 

What do females bring to a guiding role that are unique?

In my opinion, becoming a female guide is itself a unique role. However, male and female guides have the same duties. Naturally, females are more caring and dutiful.

What is the most challenging part of guiding for you personally?

Obviously, there are some challenges to become a female guide in context of conservative Nepalese society. Females are supposed to be involved in motherhood towards family and compelled to stay home for taking care for their children.

What is the most rewarding element of guiding for you?

After completion of the trek, as our clients are fully satisfied, they appreciate our job and promise to come back again. This is the most rewarding element for me.

What steps do you need to take to become a trekking guide - for those women wanting to follow in your footsteps?

For me and other upcoming female leaders, these are the following elements to bear:

  • First of all, they should have strong determination and dedication for the job they are willing to do.
  • Must have a legal “Guide License ” provided by Nepal Government.
  • Must have good language skills.
  • Must acquire medical training certificate provided by the respective company.
  • They must have physical fitness.
  • They must have knowledge and information about trekking routes, flora fauna, and the ability to adapt with the guests, local people and trekking staffs as well.
  • Co-operation, direction and friendly behavior are much more valued.

Browse all treks in Nepal
Great Himalaya Trail 2023 - Meet the trekkers

These boots were made for walkin'!

Fifty-five-year-old Ute Baird, from Staffordshire, aims to join a handful of people from the United Kingdom to complete the 1,700-kilometre-long Great Himalaya Trail in Feburary 2023. The trail is often referred to as “trekking’s holy grail”. It was launched in 2011.

The Full Nepal Traverse of the Great Himalaya Trail goes up to 6,190 metres above sea level and offers stunning views, including eight peaks of more than 8,000 metres. An undertaking not for the faint-hearted, it can be broken into seven smaller stages, from 18 to 34 days—however, Ute and Tabea Wagner (more on Tabea here) have committed to the full trek, which takes five months.

An ultra-distance runner, Ute discovered the Great Himalaya Trail recently, when GB Ultra offered it as a virtual challenge. The experience prompted her to look into the route online and she noticed that World Expeditions was the only company offering the Full Traverse in Nepal.

Commenting on her decision to join the Great Himalaya Trail, she says:

“It will be such an adventure to get off the beaten track into remote areas of Nepal. What is the point to work-work-work and then say ‘it is too late, I should have done this or that’. Do it while you can.”

“Trekking every day, experiencing nature and living a relatively simple life will be rewarding and humbling at the same time. Admittedly, trekking the Great Himalaya Trail from east to west in one trip and being among the relatively few having done this has some attraction too… especially if you think that about five times as many people have been in space!”

In her adventure of a lifetime, she will be joined by 30-year old Tabea Wagner from Germany. Tabea describes herself as “addicted to long distance hiking trails” and in the last few years she has completed a number of trekking tours, including the GR20 in Corsica, Rando-Lofoten in Norway and crossing the Alps, as well as spending three months on the Te Araroa in New Zealand.

Commenting on signing up for this year’s Great Himalaya Trail, she said:

“I am excited to be part of this great adventure. Loving the mountains, the Great Himalaya Trail had always been in my mind. After having worked a lot in the last few years and having limited options because of the pandemic, I felt it is time to make my dream come true and registered at World Expeditions for the Full Traverse.”

“As I have never been to the Himalaya before it was important for me to join a professional expedition. I am looking forward to seeing the world’s highest mountains, remote landscapes, sleep in a tent and walk on and on every day and I simply can’t wait to meet great people, make new friends and spend an amazing time in Nepal.”

The Full Nepal Traverse of the Great Himalaya Trail 2023 starts on 26 February and finishes five months later, on 25 July. There is still time to join one of the smaller sections.

The Nepal Traverse of the Great Himalaya Trail – the longest and highest alpine walking track in the world once complete – became first available through World Expeditions in 2011, which remains the only specialist operator to offer the trip commercially.

Winding between the largest mountains and remotest communities on the planet, the Great Himalaya Trail will ultimately connect five Asian countries (Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan) but at the moment only the Nepal section (1,700km) is available to traverse, as it is the only part that has been walked and mapped thoroughly.


Inspired? View all the Great Himalaya Trail sections.


Polar Kayaking: what's involved?

Toby Story has over 20 years experience kayaking in the Arctic and Antarctic. We asked him to share some insights into this unique way to explore the Polar regions.

What’s been your greatest kayaking experience?

After 20 years of paddling this is a really hard question to answer as there have been so many! There is something incredible about paddling through ice, and while it never gets old, the first time is always memorable.

I remember paddling past icebergs in the low orange light of the midnight sun with just a hint of mist. It was perfectly still and there was silence except for the sound of the paddles in the water and the crackling of air escaping from the small pieces of ice. It was like being in another world and I have never forgotten it!

What’s been your most surprising kayaking experience?

For me it has been the first time (yes it has happened more than once!) that I was with a group and we were encircled by a playful Minke whale in Antarctica. It is common to see whales from the kayaks but this one really seemed curious. It kept swimming around and underneath us and intermittently lifting its head out of the water and looking directly at us. It seemed just really curious!

How much skill does someone need on one of your kayaking adventures?

While it is great if you have some paddling background, the most important element is an adventurous spirit and a willingness to prepare. You do not need to know how to roll or to be an expert kayaker but you should have practiced a “wet exit” [exiting the kayak by going into the water]. 

If you have never paddled in a sea kayak before but enjoy being active, there is always time to prepare for your trip. Learning the basics on paddling such as the different strokes to take you forwards, to stop, and to turn is really important and it is great to have some practice with a rudder.

These skills can be acquired at a local club or with an outfitter or skilled friend. The double kayaks are very stable so if you are not as experienced, with some basic preparation and fitness, you can always team up with a buddy in a double kayak.

A polar bear checks surroundings in Svalbard |  <i>Toby Story</i>

What does a typical day of kayaking look like in the Arctic or Antarctic?

We always offer kayaking as often as possible, subject to weather conditions of course. This is typically two times per day. We plan to paddle for between 1.5 and 4 hours on each outing, including breaks, and will paddle between 4 and 12 kms on most outings, depending on the highlights in the area.

We often mix up the paddling with shore stops to see any specific points of interest. Most days we return to the ship for our lunch, move to another location, and then we will go back out and paddle again. Occasionally, we will have the ship drop us in one location and collect us in another for a longer paddle, and we may even carry our lunch with us.

Do you kayak all day or are there breaks?

We always take breaks during the paddling. Because there is so much to see, we will naturally stop to enjoy the surrounds or to take photos but we will also stop onshore after an hour or so to stretch our legs on the longer paddles and take stops on the water to hydrate and snack.

How should I prepare for my Polar kayaking adventure with you?

I once asked my kayaking coach “what is the best way to prepare for a big kayaking trip?” and his answer was “go kayaking”.

This is very good advice and going out is one of the best ways to prepare for your journey. But if you don’t have a kayak that is easily accessible or you are a little short on time, swimming, hiking and even light gardening and or gym work is a great way to get ready for the trip.

For those who are completely new to paddling a sea kayak and using a spray skirt, it is important to practice a “wet exit”. This is an essential safety skill and is best practiced in warmer waters. It is incredibly unlikely to capsize but it is important to be fully prepared! If you need help getting ready reach out to us and we can suggest a coach or outfitter in your area.

Are the kayaks all single person?

No, we have a mix of double and single kayaks to suit a range of experience levels. We find that most people really enjoy the stability and flexibility of the double kayaks and it is a great way to “share the load” while the single kayaks can make for more of an adventure for the more experienced.

Breathtaking views in Svalbard |  <i>Tessa Chan</i>

How cold is that water?

Often the water temperature is very close to 0° Celcius. Sea water has a slightly lower freezing temperature than fresh water (approximately -1.8° C) and with all the ice melting nearby there is plenty of water near the surface that is close to 0.

If I fall out, will I freeze to death?

Definitely not! While the water is cold, we are always in dry suits and we wear warm layers under neath, which means that we can stay quite warm and comfortable in the water for at least 30 minutes. With all the extra layers you can get quite warm sometimes and it can be nice stop for a short “swim” in the dry suits to cool down!

What’s something I won’t be expecting on a kayaking adventure with you?

It is easier than you think.

For many people new to polar kayaking, there can be a worry that it is out of reach. While we are paddling in some of the world’s most extreme environments, with excellent equipment, good preparation and highly experienced guides, people are often surprised at how much they get to do as part of the kayaking program.

It truly is an opportunity to do something more and while you do have the option to not paddle on any day, most people end up joining the trip every time!

What’s unique about kayaking in Svalbard?

While Svalbard is very remote, it is surprisingly easy to get to. It is only a three-hour flight from Oslo to get to the starting point for the trip in Longyearbyen. Once you are there it really is another world. The word Svalbard translates to “the cold edge”, and this is a really great description as the archipelago sits right at the edge of the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.

We are travelling in the early part of the year, just as the ice has broken up and the “summer” migration has begun. This means more chances of seeing polar bears on the sea ice and to get a real feel for the Arctic Ocean. What makes this place so special for me is the vastness of the pack ice combined with the backdrop of jagged peaks, stark glaciers and ice-filled fjords.

Svalbard is one of the world’s best destinations to reliably see polar bears in the wild and this is such a big highlight for me. It is also a great place to see arctic fox, walrus and the Svalbard reindeer as well as beluga whales. While there has never been an indigenous population, it has a very interesting  and varied human history. From the early whalers and fur trappers to the polar explorers, there are the remnants of these stories in the landscape if you know where and how to look.

What kind of animals will I see kayaking Svalbard with you?

We will commonly see ringed seals on the sea ice or in the water and I have spotted beluga regularly as well as the elusive narwhale on occasion. We see a wide range of bird species, including my favorite, the Arctic tern, that has one of the longest migration journeys with annual movement from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

As we are quiet and close to land a lot of the time in the kayaks we will also spot Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox. It is also entirely possible to spot Walrus and Polar Bears although both of these animals are best viewed with a bit of distance.

It is always varied what we see but the interactions are always enjoyable from the kayaks. It is important to remember that there are up to 19 different species of marine mammal found in the waters surrounding Svalbard, and it is possible to see any of them.


Click here for additional details.


 

Preparing for the Great Tasmanian Traverse

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is Tasmania's most challenging multi-day adventure.

This epic 39-day odyssey will see those tough enough to sign up for it traverse the length of the Island State from the quiet, rural communities of the North to the wild and isolated South. 

So, how does one prepare for such an experience? We spoke to two people about to embark on this Tasmanian adventure of a lifetime, Sue Farley from Australia and Canadian Don Schell.

What inspired you to want to be part of the Great Tasmanian Traverse?

Sue: I remember watching a CD about the Tasmanian wilderness that came with Australian Geographic magazine, and I was mesmerised by the landscape. It whet my appetite to walk in Tasmania, and I signed up to do my first multi-day walk there with Tasmanian Expeditions in 2009. It was the South Coast Track and I absolutely loved everything about it—the landscape, the history and just being immersed in wild nature.

Don: Long distance travel can be onerous and expensive, so I often link together a couple of expedition-style treks. Tasmania had risen to the top of my bucket list, and it offered so many trekking options, but the logistics such as transportation and accommodations would have been a handful. The Great Tasmanian Traverse was an elegant solution that maximised the adventure and transferred the logistical arrangements to local specialists.

How will you be training for the 39-day trip?

Sue: I'm an active person and a regular gym goer, so I have good baseline fitness. My main preparation for the trip will be just getting used to carrying the extra weight of a backpack over different terrain. I want to get used to the routine of putting my backpack on first thing in the morning and doing a couple of kilometres walking. Gradually, I’ll introduce longer walks of 6 or 7 kms on the weekends and will then start including some hills and go from there.

Don: During the Covid-19 lockdown, my local fitness centre closed and I expanded my home gym to include a treadmill, stationary cycle, rower and free weights. Having fitness equipment close at hand allows me to spend a couple of hours a day on cardio, strength, and stretching. Two or three times a week, I hike on the treadmill at high incline with a 15kg weight vest.   

With mountains at my doorstep, I hike at least once a week with a 15kg pack in a variety of terrain to give the ankles and balance a good workout by walking off camber, which a treadmill can’t do. As a Search and Rescue volunteer, I occasionally get a second daily workout in, carrying 25kg of medical and rope rescue gear up a mountain side to aid an injured or lost hiker.

Don Schell

What is it about the Great Tasmania Traverse that most appeals to you?

Sue: Hmmm – lots! I’m really looking forward to being in Tasmania for an extended stretch of time. I love the idea of getting into a rhythm of being active in nature and taking a complete break from my normal routine. I’m really looking forward to walking the South Coast and the Overland Tracks again. I’m probably most excited to raft the Franklin River.

Don: Tasmania is known for some of the best scenery, unique wildlife, and friendly people, so this makes Tasmania a must-visit. Solo hiking was an option, but hiking with like-minded people always make the experience much richer. The Great Tasmanian Traverse Tasmania neatly combines some of Tasmania’s best hikes, and when rafting is thrown in it makes for an awesome adventure.             

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Sue: I’m not looking forward to walking in driving rain, but I know it will happen. I know there’ll be times I’ll be cold, uncomfortable, footsore and tired, but it's like anything: you just start and keep going. It’s about breaking it down—about taking one step at a time. I know we’ll have everything we need in our packs. One of the guides will be cooking dinner and I’ll have a lovely sleeping bag to crawl into at night.

Don: Dealing with jet lag will be the initial challenge, but I know from experience that it will quickly pass.

I have spent several years preparing for physical challenges such as this, but one never knows when the body can’t adjust to the rigors of the adventure, or a poorly placed footstep. In that case, I trust my mental fortitude, analgesics, and the support of the group members and leaders will surmount any of those challenges.

Have you always been an active adventurer?

Sue: I’ve always been an active person and have enjoyed being outdoors and bushwalking, but I’ve never done anything as long as the Great Tasmanian Traverse before. 

Don: I grew up playing in the woods, and during 33 years in the Canadian military, I continued to “play” in the woods, although it wasn’t as enjoyable when you do it for work. The military experience instilled a curiosity of the world’s places and people, and a desire for adventure and a wanderlust which has carried over into my later years and retirement. 

I have had the benefit of doing some fairly extreme treks with inspirational people who remain active and adventurous into their late 70s. I hope to follow their lead and to spend many more years chiseling away at my travel bucket list, which seems to grow longer after every trip.

Sue on the South Coast Track
 

What other multi-day walks have you done?

Sue: I got the chance to do the South Coast Track with Tasmanian Expeditions a second time a couple of years after the first time and I jumped at it. In the following years, I also walked the Overland Track with TasEx. I love having all the logistical planning taken care of and I really love going with professional guides because the experience is so much richer because you learn so much from them.

Don: Expedition-style treks have comprised the majority of my travels over the past dozen years. Often, the best scenery is well off the beaten path and the effort getting there makes the experience sweeter.

Over the past 12 years, I have completed 17 expedition-style treks over five continents, ranging from 8 to 27 days in length. Some examples are: Kilimanjaro, Patagonia, Huayhuash Circuit, Annapurna Circuit, K2 Base Camp, Everest Basecamp, Tour de Mont Blanc/Haute Route/Alta Via 1 in the Alps and the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. I liked the Snowman so much I am going back to do it again in a couple of weeks.

Many treks have been long distance, high altitude; some with a full pack, some with a day pack. The pandemic slowed my adventures a little, but Vancouver Island has some awesome coastal treks such as the West Coast Trail, so I wasn’t just sitting around.

What's the reaction of your friends and family to you taking on this adventure?

Sue: They know how much I love this kind of thing, so they’ve all been very supportive. In fact, my husband and daughter thought it sounded like so much fun that they’ll be joining me to raft the Franklin midway through the journey. I’m absolutely thrilled because 39 days is a long time away from family and I know we’ll get to reconnect and share an amazing adventure.

Don: Some are envious, some think I should be committed. Some just don’t understand why I would fly halfway around the world to hike all day and sleep in a tent when I could take a cruise in comfort.

Regardless of their reactions, my travels enrich my life and hopefully they serve as an example of how an active retirement can be lived. Adventures such as the Great Tasmanian Traverse will yield photos and stories I can relate to my friends, but my memories will be much more vibrant. To get the full picture, they will have to experience it for themselves!


Think you have what it takes to traverse Tasmania? Check out the full Great Tasmanian Traverse trip details.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse by the numbers

It’s the biggest adventure you can do in the smallest state of Australia. 

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is one epic adventure, but don't take out word for it, check out these numbers to give you an idea of the challenge that awaits.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse in numbers

 

1617

The height of Tasmania's tallest mountain, Mt Ossa, which features on the Overland Track section

1446

The height of Frenchmans Cap, a side-trip that features on the Franklin River rafting section

407

If you were to drive from the starting point of the trip to the end point, this is how many kilometres it would be

129

The length of the Franklin River in kilometres

65

The length of the Overland Track in kilometres (without side-trips)

39

The number of days that it will take to complete the Great Tasmanian Traverse

23

The amount of trekking days, and nights spent in a tent

18-22

Approximate average weight of the pack, in kilograms, you would need to carry on the trekking section

8

Days it will take to raft the Franklin River

7

Trip grading level out of 10 (challenging, the toughest level before entering mountaineering grading levels)

6-8

Hours a day of activity

5

The number of classic Tasmanian adventures that link together that make up the Great Tasmanian Traverse

2-3

Number of our experienced guides that will join you on each section

1

Tour operator that operates this amazing Tasmanian wilderness experience


On the couch with mountaineer legend Andrew Lock

As the first and only Australian to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000 metre peaks, Andrew Lock has lived more adventure, hardship and near death experiences than most people can imagine.

But why does he do it? Why does anyone take on such a challenge, knowing that they will likely die? We sat down with the mountaineering legend to ask him about his death-defying ascents and what motivates him to keep climbing.

Your CV of ‘firsts’ is pretty impressive, is there one that you are particularly proud of?

Gosh, there were so many really difficult ascents and I’m proud of every climb I undertook, however my first Australian ascent of Annapurna (Annapurna 1) is right up there as one of the best. It is the most dangerous mountain in the world and has a fearsome reputation of one death for every two summits.

On my first attempt, we were avalanched with one dead and three seriously injured.  My second attempt was a mind game, where the mountain threw every hazard at us and most of the team gave up but several of us overcame the dangers and our fear to reach the top. We had to risk assess every single step of the climb, had our hearts in our mouths for two months, and came psychologically shattered.  I was as proud of myself for surviving as I was for actually climbing the mountain.  That was in 2007 and it still hasn’t seen another Australian ascent.  Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it.

George Mallory climbs mountains "because it’s there" – what or who is your motivation to climb big mountains?  

I suspect we had the same motivation but express it slightly differently. The peaks provide physical and psychological challenges. I want to know if I have the ability and motivation to overcome those challenges.

Of all your ascents, there are sure to be some hairy moments. What was the ‘close call’ that remains most ingrained in your memory?

Unfortunately there were many, but somehow I survived them where many others did not. On one occasion, I fell through a cornice at 8000 metres. I managed to stop myself but was left hanging four vertical kilometres above the glacier below.  Now that makes you hang on!

Then there were the avalanches, crevasse falls, and various other incidents along the way. There’s no doubt I was lucky, time and time again. But I do think that I had a helping hand along the way, perhaps because I was always very respectful of the customs and belief systems in those countries.

Your book, Summit 8000, allows readers to go behind the scenes on your 14 summits of the world’s 8000 metre peaks. Can you give us a teaser as to some of the stories people can read about?

I came onto the 8000 metre climbing scene a few years after Tim McCartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer and I wasn’t a part of a core group of climbing friends like they had. So, for me to climb all those mountains, which took 23 expeditions over 16 years, I had to find partners from around the world or climb solo. Sometimes there was tension and underhandedness by my so called teammates; other times, there was incredible camaraderie with like-minded individuals in the face of exceptional adversity. Always there was great adventure.

For most of my expeditions I climbed without oxygen or Sherpa support and in very small teams of two or three, but I also led commercial teams to the summit of Everest, filmed documentaries for Discovery Channel, climbed in large Army teams, and made solo first Australian ascents.

My climbing partners were generally international as I simply couldn’t find Australians who wanted to climb as regularly as me – in my light-weight style or on the tougher peaks. So, I climbed with some of the very best in the world, including Doug Scott, Voytek Kurtyka and Anatoli Boukreev. My experiences therefore were really diverse.

Overall, the book is a journey of discovery. Firstly, as I found my own inner strength and motivation to keep returning to these mountains where my friends and occasionally teammates perished, and where the mountains themselves sometimes seemed hell bent on stopping me from reaching their summits. Secondly, it is a discovery of the spirituality of the Himalaya and the magnetism that keeps drawing people back, and the wonderful alternative opportunities that life offers if we have the will to both recognise and seize them.

Do you find it hard to adjust back into the “real world” after months of life in harsh and inhospitable environments?

Certainly I used to, but not anymore. After more than 70 expeditions climbing, trekking, touring and adventuring to every continent on earth, I find it quite easy these days. That’s probably because I’m less ‘shocked’ by the cultural changes at each end of the spectrum and also because I love all those cultural experiences.

What food do you most miss while out on big expeditions?

Life can be pretty comfortable on expeditions these days. I confess to taking a coffee plunger to base camp and I always stock up on the local brew. Vegemite is a staple inclusion in my gear list, so with those two things I really don’t miss much.  When I come home I usually gross out on fresh fruit and vegies. And, if the company is right, a glass of Cab Sav... Mmm...

Three most important items in your pack on any expedition?

That’s easy and it hasn’t changed in 20 years:

  1.  My ice axe is my best friend on any climb – with it I can climb up, climb down, self arrest, dig a bivouac, belay other climbers and, most importantly, self rescue!
  2. My Goretex jacket is the first piece of clothing to go into my backpack and I never put it away – it lives in the backpack so that I can’t forget it.
  3. My Swiss Army knife. I never leave home without one (or two).
  4. Coffee plunger. Oh wait, you said three items.

Best place in the world to pitch a tent above 5000 metres?

Anywhere above 5000 metres is spectacular, but Camp 4 on K2’s Abruzzi Ridge at about 7900 metres is unbelievable. Extraordinary views over Broad Peak, the Gasherbrums, Golden Throne and much of the Karakoram range. Exquisite, but savage beauty makes humans pale into insignificance. Of course, it’s also quite chilly so one night is enough.

What is your advice to keen trekkers looking to take the next step into mountaineering?

You must decide if you want to be a climber or a guided client. They are completely different. If you really want to learn to climb, then do it the traditional way. Learn to rock climb (outdoors), do an alpine skills course and build your skills and experience. It takes years. Don’t rush it, enjoy it. If you just want to be guided up a mountain somewhere, that’s fine, but don’t make the mistake afterwards of thinking you are a climber. Keep employing guides unless you want to go through the process of learning to climb self-sufficiently. This is the only way to stay alive.


View current expeditions with Andrew Lock.


On the Couch with Lydia Bradey

What attracted you to the Zanskar rangeand Kun in particular?

I’ve wanted to explore the Zanskar region for some time, for its combination of exceptional natural beauty and its thriving Buddhist culture. I was struck by the views of Nun and Kun since the first time I skied in Kashmir. 

Nun and Kun are significantly higher than all the mountains surrounding them, thus, they appear a lot higher than their 7000m—and we should get truly spectacular views in every direction. I really love their shape, too. They are classically beautiful—like a children’s drawing of a mountain. 

How would you describe what the climbing will be like?

There will be some slightly technical climbing lower down. We’ll be using fixed ropes lower on the mountain which makes it hugely easier, but may be climbing on quite hard ice with crampons, which can, in turn, be challenging. As we ascend, the route will become less technical (and maybe more beautiful!). Throughout, it will be interesting and varied climbing with great scenery.

Lydia Bradey on her fourth Everest summit, 2016, from Nepal. |  <i>Mike Roberts</i>

What should a first timer expect at 7,000m?

I love that the summit of Kun is in the 7,000 m range, because it’s an altitude that doesn't require the money, time and resources that an 8,000 m peak does, but it’s well high enough to allow climbers to learn a lot about climbing at high altitude.   

What advice do you have for overcoming altitude issues?

I know many of my clients have been surprised to learn that I can experience altitude headaches between 3,500 to 5,000 metres. 

Decades of past expeditions have shown, though, that once I’ve acclimatised to that altitude, I’m okay above 6000 metres (and even better above 7000m!). I’ve worked with doctors and physiologists enough to know some of the reasons for this and I love supporting clients who haven’t been to the higher altitudes before to feel comfortable to try, and to be OK about not necessarily feeling 100 percent, all the time. Combining a slow steady ascent with working high and sleeping low, and appropriate rest periods, reduces or eliminates problems higher up. 

Acclimatization, Hydration, resting, pacing, and keeping protected from the harshness of sun, wind and cold, are the simple keys to success. We have crafted our itinerary to begin with a five-day acclimatization trek through the Markha Valley due south of Leh and the Indus Valley. Importantly, this fine introduction to the rugged Trans-Himalaya landscape is also critical preparation for preparing for altitude.

How does your background as a physiotherapist influence your guiding style?

Physiotherapy is all about helping people potentiate and rehabilitate, improving their physical capabilities and performance, and this is exactly what I do as an high altitude mountain guide. My focus is on maximising a climber’s performance (both physical and mental) on an expedition to enhance their enjoyment and increase their chances of success. 

I find people enjoy can be curious about my own journey of overcoming insecurity, fear and discomfort. And of course, I aim to inject some humour and ensure there’s a healthy, supportive vibe within the group as we take on this experience together. 

How has your lifestyle changed over your decades of mountaineering?

As I’ve become older, I’ve refined my life, so that I put more conscious thought in things I do and have. I try to avoid noise and clutter and choose aspire to do simple things well. At home, I love having beautiful things around me in my house, so I choose art rather than clutter.

And, when I’m on an expedition, I try to encourage a focus on the craft of mountaineering and on “owning” the consequences. An example of a simple practice with consequences would be something basic like taking the inner boots out of your climbing boots and drying them in the tent in the afternoon. 

In this situation, all you've got is a pair of boots and warm temperatures in the tent—and a this simple discipline can make a huge difference to your comfort and safety level on the following day’s climb—wet boots can equal frostbite, so and potentially your overall success on the expedition.

Lydia (R) with client on the summit of Everest, fr Tibet, China, 2019 |  <i>Lydia Bradey collection</i>

Do you have any tips for trekkers wanting to take their adventures to new levels (pardon the pun)?

I like to give people this insight: If the thought of climbing a mountain intimidates you, then look closely at what we are doing on the climb. Often we are taking tasks or activities that you have done before quite comfortablty, and simply put them in a different environment. For example, camping.

You may have seen images you’ll see of rock climbers on big cliffs hanging, sleeping. It seems impossible to most people, but what they’re doing when they’re hanging from a cliff or lying on a rock ledge is camping. If you can camp, you can bivouac, you can camp in snow, you can camp at 6000m.

You’re just moving your camping to a different place. It’s a lot easier to do new things if they are simple things that you have done many times before.  You’re just doing them in a different place. Taking your trekking to the next level is about doing what you’ve always done in the outdoors—it’s about having fun, exploring, learning and creating bonds through shared experiences. 

It’s all so much easier when you realise that’s what you’ve been doing with your family and friends for years. Mountaineering can be doing the same thing (hiking) in a different environment.

Which of your many achievements are you most proud?

It was always a dream to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen and, of course, I’m stoked to have achieved multiple ascents over 8000m, but, overall, I’d have to say that I am most proud of my safety record. 

As my book title Going Up is Easy suggests, the challenge is in the safe return. I describe myself as elite at being safe and, to me, that’s the most important thing always.

My second most “proud-of” achievement is that of taking opportunities in my life, remaining curious, treasuring and respecting Big Nature and relishing varied experiences. Through this philosophy I have been able to lead a life less travelled.


View trips with Lydia Bradey
The brilliant fagus awaits you in Tasmania's autumn

If there’s one Tasmanian plant that could be called the life of the party, it’s the fagus.

The beautiful fagus has become such a popular part of Tasmanian folklore that there are now fagus crafts and jewellery, fagus helicopter tours, fagus-infused products like gin, and even a fagus festival (at Cradle Mountain, 24 April—8 May).

You might call it the little tree that could.

Also known by its scientific name Nothofagus gunnii, fagus is a compact deciduous alpine beech tree with small oval-shaped leaves. It has grown in Tasmania for 40 million years.

According to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania, fagus is a paleoendemic species of a Gondwanan group, and there are similar species of beech tree in New Zealand and South America. It goes by the name fagus, but it’s also called deciduous beech and “tanglefoot”—because it grows close to the ground and gets tangled up the feet of bushwalkers.

Watch the landscape change colours when you trek the Overland Track in autumn |  <i>Jason Charles Hill</i>

Fagus has been called a "winter-deciduous" plant—in fact, it's one of only a handful of deciduous plants in Australia—so it comes alive with colour in late April and early May. It’s a period that Tasmanians have come to call the “Turning of the Fagus”. Its small crinkly leaves, which look a lot like potato chips, turn bright yellow then orange then red (some even become a rich claret colour), and the plant covers huge swaths of the wilderness making for quite a show. Bushwalkers have been known to come around a corner in Tasmania and be overwhelmed by the beauty the fagus cover.

The best places to see fagus are on the flanks of Cradle Mountain, around Lake St Clair, in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, in Mount Field National Park, and in Southwest National Park. It’s worth a visit to any of these places for one of the great colour displays in Australia.

To be sure Tasmania is home to some stupendous vegetation. The state is also home to some of the most ancient plant species on earth, including King's Holly (estimated to be at least 43,000 years old), the world's tallest flowering tree, the giant ash, and many beautiful small plants such as terrestrial orchids.

And while fagus isn’t as famous as its Tasmanian cousins like the Huon pine or the King Billy pine, it’s far more colorful and will brighten up any journey in the Tasmanian bush, especially one that’s required an all-day, thigh-busting tramp.

From the CEO's desk: Adventure Travel snapshot

Few have seen as much in the adventure travel industry than our very own CEO, Sue Badyari. 

Since she began with World Expeditions, she has successfully navigated Australia’s first adventure travel company through the most testing of times, including numerous conflicts, political unrest, airline collapses, unprecedented natural disasters and now, a global pandemic. 

There are a very few that match her experience - and success - and that’s why we thought you might enjoy reading some of her thoughts on the Covid years, and the year ahead.


With regards to adventure travel, have there been any positives as a result of the pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the adventure travel industry, causing widespread closures and cancellations. 

However, for the World Expeditions Travel Group, we saw opportunities to fulfill some long held ambitions which has created positive changes in the way we work, as well as new products and business divisions. 

The pandemic created a boom in domestic tourism in every market where we have offices. This allowed us to continue our pioneering heritage to develop unique active experiences and even creating entirely new brands. Examples of this has been the establishment of an Eco-Comfort Camp in a third destination (the first two being Nepal and the Larapinta Trail), on the stunningly remote and tranquil Flinders Island off northern Tasmania and the development of Australian Cycle Tours, which now has 38 self-guided and guided cycling holidays across Australia's most inspiring landscapes.

The pandemic also gave us more time to focus on our processes, staff and Thoughtful Travel initiatives. Our organisation is now virtually paperless, our staff are enjoying the balance of working from an office and from home each week, and we’ve launched our Regenerative 2030 program, which sees our ambition to bring a regenerative travel program into each destination we operate in by 2030.

Cycling Myrtle Mountain to Candelo in Bega Shire |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Ebikes on the route of the Southern Highlands Cycle to Robertson |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Experiencing country Victoria by bike |  <i>Ride High Country</i> Crossing a small bridge on the route between Mendooran and Dunedoo |  <i>Michele Eckersley</i>
 

What’s returned strongly from the pandemic?

Domestic travel continues strongly, while overseas, places such as Nepal, Japan, Georgia, Europe and New Zealand are popular for travellers seeking remote wilderness travel where they can connect with nature on a trekking holiday. 

We’re also thrilled to see the Blue Mountains region of NSW, Australia, with all its fantastic canyons and hikes back strongly after the disruptive years of bushfires, floods, and lockdowns.

Which destinations haven’t reopened that you’re most looking forward to seeing?

Turkmenistan is the only country in our offerings that is currently not open. We are looking forward to it reopening so that we are able to offer our Silk Road tours through to Iran and our Five Stans itinerary, which was proving to be one of our most popular Central Asian adventures pre pandemic.

Are there still any hangovers from the pandemic travellers should be aware of?

While they are hugely lessened, there are still some hangovers from the pandemic that include some countries still with restrictions or vaccination certification requirements in place.

Airline schedules to several regions are still limited and therefore airfares can be expensive, particularly if booked with a short lead time.

Travel insurance premiums are high and, for certain market segments, particularly the more mature travellers, some health and safety concerns around travelling overseas still exist.

We believe these contributors are what continue to drive the strong demand in travellers exploring their own backyard. We relish the notion that so many people are enjoying adventures within their own country, particularly in Australia where we are spoilt for choice in our diverse and ancient landscapes which are often more pristine and wild than most popular international destinations.

How has the definition of “adventure” changed from 2020 to now.

Our definition of adventure travel hasn't changed since our first trek in Nepal in 1975, which is an active exploration of the outdoors, preferably in a sustainable and self-sufficient way, that tests your limits and provides personal growth opportunities.

What has changed is a growing appreciation for our style of adventure travel. The Covid bike boom has turned into a cycling holiday boom. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have redefined not only how eager people are to get back to exploring the natural landscapes of our globe with nature based activities, but also how they travel. 

There’s also an increased focus on sustainability, health and safety with many of our travellers.

What was your proudest achievement for 2022?

Winning the Brolga Award for Best Adventure Tourism product in the Northern Territory was a wonderful recognition of our Larapinta Trail operations. 

That's our fourth Brolga for our Larapinta trips, the first three for Ecotourism. 

We’ve put a lot of time and love into creating this unique Australian walking experience along the West MacDonnell Ranges supported by our exclusive Eco-Comfort Camps and an incredible guide team, of which one guide, Anna Dakin, was recognised as the NT guide of the year for 2022.

 

Others include the expansion of our Australian Cycle Tours division with a further 20 new cycling itineraries added last year. 

We’re also extremely proud of the World Expeditions Foundations fundraising efforts, which during COVID to last year raised over $150,000. These funds have supported guides, porters, office staff, cooks and drivers in over 15 countries with grants to support them while there was no income.

It was also fantastic to establish new ground operations in the USA with the acquisition of Adventure Travel West, our range of trekking and cycling programs within the USA.

What’s new that World Expeditions will be doing this year?

We’re excited to be rolling out the completed Eco-Comfort Camp on Flinders Island, which is set in a stunning seaside location off the north of the island and which will support a variety of walking and multi-day adventures. 

Hikers putting up their feet at our coastal Eco-Comfort Camp |  <i>Michael Buggy</i> Large comfortable tents at our coastal Eco-comfort Camp |  <i>Michael Buggy</i> Aerial view of our Eco-Comfort Camp communal tent near Marshall Bay Basecamp at our coastal Eco-Comfort Camp |  <i>Michael Buggy</i>
 

We’re also in the process of having all of our exclusive Everest Eco-Comfort camps renovated and themed, which will further build on our customers enjoyment while trekking through this dramatic region.

We have many new innovative programs that will be announced during the year which take our pioneering ‘off the beaten track’ spirit to new levels. 

And, while we can't let the cat out of the bag just yet, we have a fantastic speaking event planned for later in the year, which will be presented to audiences across the country with an inspiring message about adventuring, the plight of our planet, and how your holiday decisions can help shape the world into a better place. Stay tuned to our enewsletter or socials to be the first to know! 

What are your thoughts on how people should be choosing a destination?

Going remote is always a privilege for the traveller and a real benefit for the community who receive tourism dollars where it is most needed. 

Slow, respectful travel is the best way to travel because it builds cultural bridges, is brilliant for the mind and body, and, engaging with all of our responsible tourism practices, means we’re able to enjoy BIG adventures with a small footprint.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

We were deeply troubled by the impacts that the pandemic had on our partner companies across the globe. 

Its estimated that the adventure travel industry supports around 37 million jobs globally, so that was a lot of people who were without work. What I’m most looking forward to is getting back to what we all love doing in operating life-changing experiences for our travellers and all the crews around the world.

Tell us more about your Regenerative Travel Projects planned?

Regenerative travel is a type of sustainable tourism that goes beyond simply reducing negative impacts, but actively works to restore and improve the natural, cultural and economic outcomes of a region. We’re committed to having regenerative programs operating in every region we operate in by 2030 as announced last year.

Our projects are a collaboration between our travellers, World Expeditions and the project itself in the collection of micro donations from clients and WE donating $5 from every one of its travellers to create income pots that are then distributed to the projects.

 

On the Couch with Victor Saunders: British Mountaineering legend

Victor Saunders is a world-renowned British mountaineer who became a UIAGM mountain guide in 1996 after a career as an architect in London. 

Victor was at the forefront of Himalayan alpine climbing in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and his first ascents include the North Pillar of Spantik, the first winter ascent of Langtang, the east face of Uzum Brak, the west face of Ushba, Jitchu Drake, and many others.

He has climbed the fabled Seven Summits, made a winter ascent of north face of the Eiger, and he climbed Shield Direct, the first grade VI route on Ben Nevis, in winter.

His other ascents include the Great Trango Towers, Manaslu, and Cho Oyu. He has summitted Everest six times.

Victor Saunders
 

Victor is a renaissance man whose talents include literary work. His first book, Elusive Summits, won the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature in 1990. His latest book is Structured Chaos (2021). An insightful, passionate mountaineer whose depth of knowledge of the Karakoram is unmatched, trekking with Victor is a rare experience and one to be savoured. Victor will lead our K2 and Gondogoro La trek in July 2023.

In this exclusive Q&A session, the mountaineering legend shares with us what draws him to the mountains and how his love affair with mountain regions has evolved.


How would you introduce yourself to our readers in 5 words? 

Still struggling to understand life.

Do you have a life motto. What is it and could you please elaborate on it?

Better to be twenty minutes late in this life than twenty years early in the next. In the mountains as in life, it is better to slow down and take stock of the situation before being too precipitated. 

What has been your most memorable mountaineering expedition so far and why?

The very first expedition in 1980, to Uzum Brakk in Pakistan. The first time is always the brightest and longest lasting. Your eyes and senses are filled with new experiences. You are like a newborn.

Which mountain/destination has long been on your mind, but you haven't had the chance to climb or trek, yet?

I have not yet had a chance to explore the length of Chile. I am keen to see the summit of Llullaillaco (6739m), the highest Inca burial site. I have visited bits of the Atacama Desert and trekked up Ojos de Salado, the second highest summit in South America. I have trekked in the Torres del Paine four thousand kilometres south of Ojos. In between there are a wealth of mountains in this amazing country. If laid across Europe it would stretch from Scandinavia to the Sahara.

What is it that draws you to the mountains and you keep coming back for more?

I don't know. It just happens

What is more important, the road or the destination? Can you please elaborate? 

The destination may be the initial prompt, the cause of the expedition, but the memories are always of the road. So, the process is what it is all about.

What, to you, is the best mountain view in the world? When did you get this view, what was it like? 

The best view is nearly always from the top. It doesn't last long. You have to go down, and not too fast!

You’ve visited Pakistan several times throughout the years. What memories do you have? Is there anything that stands out? 

Pakistan is a big complex country. When I first visited in 1980, there were still vestiges of the colonial past. In forty years, I have seen huge political upheavals and yet, all the time, the mountain people have been unchanged, the same friendly lovely people always.

What makes the Karakoram mountains unique? And what three words would you use to describe them?

Harsh, magnificent, remote.

What are you looking forward to the most from this trip?

Seeing the great granite spires of the lower Baltoro, the ice-covered giants of the upper glacier. These are sights that never tire. And then the descent into the Hushe valley where a mystical interpretation of Islam, Nurbakhsh Sufism, is practiced.

What should trekkers expect on this trek? What will be the biggest highlight of their experience?

The truly magnificent mountains, the arrival at Concordia, the crossing of a high Himalayan pass.

What would be your advice for someone who wants to do this trip? What tip do you have for their fitness/training routine?

A good general background of fitness is required. Long walks of several hours, as regular as possible. Go for endurance rather than strength.

What packing tip do you have for clients booked onto the K2 & Gondogoro La trek with you? 

As well as trekking boots for the pass, bring comfortable trainers for camping, wet river crossings, etc.

What does your role as president of the Alpine Club entail?

I have finished my last year of the presidency and have handed over the baton to Simon Richardson, a brilliant mountaineer who will be an excellent role model. So, in effect, I have no further role.

You published a new book last year, Structured Chaos. Can you give an introduction?

From the preface: "It has taken me a lifetime to realize that all the while, it was people and not places that I valued most. I have now been on more than ninety expeditions accumulating seven years under canvas. I have climbed on all continents, many of the trips bringing big adventures and occasional first ascents. And yet it is not the mountains that remain with me but the friendships.”

How to See Everest: 10 + 1 Everest Trekking Ideas

With so many routes and itineraries to take in the magnificent Sagarmatha – as she’s known in Nepal – it can be somewhat daunting to narrow down which experience is best for you. And let's be honest, with a sight this breathtaking, it's not uncommon to want to experience it more than once.

So, for those planning to see Mount Everest but still need to figure out where to start, this guide will take you through the eleven best ways to soak in the region. From a short taste tester with magnificent views to a more immersive experience – such as a three-week traverse in the Everest region – find your right trek below for an experience that will deliver memories to last a lifetime.

The ‘easy’ way: Everest Trek

Trekking in the Everest region, Nepal |  <i>Tracey Hamill</i>

This short 12-day trek is an introduction to the villages and culture of the Sherpa people; explore the colourful markets of Namche Bazaar, marvel at the famous Thyangboche monastery (the spiritual heart of the Khumbu region), and visit Khunde and Khumjung villages where Sir Edmund Hillary established the region’s first hospital and school through the Himalayan Trust.

Following established trails, you will view many of the world’s highest peaks, including the emblematic summit of Everest. The Everest Trek departs between October and May – view trip details. 

For jaw-dropping views: Everest Base Camp High Flyer

Trekking through the Everest region |  <i>Mark Tipple</i>

This innovative itinerary allows the typically 18-day route to be completed safely in just two weeks. Currently, this is the shortest Everest Base Camp trip available on the market and appeals to trekkers with limited time.

To reduce the trip length without compromising on acclimatisation, safety or your overall experience, we replace the return journey on foot with an exhilarating helicopter flight from Lobuche back to Kathmandu. The 14-day Everest Base Camp High Flyer departs between October and April – view trip details.

Get off the crowded yak train: Gokyo & the Renjo La

Trekking group taking a rest after walking to the summit of Gokyo Ri |  <i>Ayla Rowe</i>

If you feel the world’s highest mountain is becoming a mainstream climbing destination, head west instead towards Gokyo Lakes. This is a truly remote area where you'll see few other trekkers. Trekking slowly through Sherpa villages and yak pastures, you will not only avoid the busier trails but also gain stunning panoramic views, particularly as you weave your way to the top of the 5,400m/17,717ft Renjo La pass.

The irony? You get to see much ‘more’ of the Everest summit compared to the views on a Base Camp trek as you take in the Himalayas from a better vantage point! The Gokyo & the Renjo La Trek departs from September to May – view trip details.

The trek that 'has it all': Everest High Passes

Trekking the beautiful trails across Gokyo Ri |  <i>Angela Parajo</i>

Experience the best highlights of the Everest region on one trek! This challenging trek will satisfy the ambitious trekker intent on crossing high passes without the commitment of any technical climbing.

The ultimate way to reach the best vantage points of the Everest region, you will experience vibrant Sherpa culture at its capital in Namche Bazaar before crossing the Cho La, Renjo La & Kongma La to gain unsurpassed views of some of the world's highest mountains, including of course Mount Everest. Everest High Passes In Comfort can be travelled in March and between September and November – view trip details.

The family option: Everest Family Trek

Young trekkers in the Everest region |  <i>Greg Pike</i>

Take your family on the trip of a lifetime on this short trek in the Everest region, suitable for children as young as 13. Allowing generous acclimatisation time and following a leisurely pace, this trip brings together some of the must-have experiences in the Himalaya.

Think of stunning views of Mount Everest, interactions with the local Sherpa culture, a spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, and a visit to the Thyangboche Monastery – the spiritual centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The Everest Family Trek departs between September and May – view trip details.

The double whammy: Everest Circuit & the Cho La

Trekkers dwarfed by the mountains of the Everest Region in Nepal |  <i>Ayla Rowe</i>

Combine our Classic Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes with a stunning non-technical Cho La pass crossing for an unsurpassed circuit trek of the Everest region.

Climb Gokyo Ri (5,483m/17,989ft) and Kala Pattar (5,545m/18,192ft) for magnificent views of Mount Everest and the surrounding Himalayan peaks, including Kanchenjunga, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Pumori, Cholatse and the beautiful pyramid of Ama Dablam.

There is also time to visit the expedition camps scattered around the famous Everest Base Camp. Each night you will be accommodated in our private eco campsites and handpicked eco-lodges. Everest Circuit & the Cho La departs between September and May – view trip details.

Walk at a relaxed pace: Everest Base Camp & Kala Pattar for over 55s

The beautiful village of Khumjung |  <i>Angela Parajo</i>

This well-paced trek includes all the highlights you would expect from a trekking tour in the Everest region. The added value is that you'll have extra time to acclimatise whilst exploring the often-overlooked villages of Khumjung and Pangboche.

The longer duration of the tour also provides the best chances of climbing Kala Pattar for unrivalled views and photo opportunities of Mount Everest.

Sleep well at night in comfortable eco-lodges and our exclusive private eco campsites.  The Over 55s' Everest Base Camp & Kala Pattar departs in September, October, March and April – view trip details.

The classic bucket list trek: Everest Base Camp & Kala Pattar

Comfortable campsites in the Everest region |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

This Everest trekking holiday is designed to fulfill the dream of many adrenaline-seekers to experience the historic route to the base of the world’s highest mountain. After a slow ascent through picturesque Sherpa villages, visiting traditional monasteries and enjoying the spectacular scenery, the trip culminates with a fine opportunity to trek to both Everest Base Camp and the nearby peak of Kala Pattar for stunning views of the mighty Sagarmatha. The Everest Base Camp & Kala Pattar departs between September and May – view trip details.

See Everest from Tibet without any trekking: the High Road to Lhasa

Views across Rongbuk Glacier to the Northface of Mt Everest |  <i>Bas Kruisselbrink</i>

Take in all the incredible highlights of Tibet on this relaxed journey. Spend time in the Holy City of Lhasa, visit the Dalai Lama's Potala Palace and explore places like Gyantse and Shigatse. On this trip, you will have stunning views of Everest's Kangshung Face (East Face). Driving to the Rongphu Valley, appreciate the vastness of the North Face of Everest before heading back to the Kathmandu Valley.

There is no walking involved, and for everyone in good health, this journey provides a fantastic opportunity to experience the mighty Himalayan region and Chomolungma, as she is known to Tibetans.

Discover Everest at your own pace: Self Guided Everest Trek

Immense mountain views on display in the Everest region |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

Enjoy doing your own thing when it comes to travel but want the perks of a group tour? Trek to the heartland of the Sherpa culture under your own steam with the flexibility of a self guided trip where trail logistics, maps, route descriptions, accommodation, and luggage transfers are all taken care of, so you can focus on seeing Everest at your own pace.

This journey is a great introduction to the Himalaya region, where you walk through the famous villages of Namche and Khumjung, experience the comfort and solitude of our private eco campsites, and ascend trails to Thyangboche monastery to get an authentic experience of the renowned warmth of the Sherpa culture. Our Self Guided Everest Trek departs daily between October and May – view trip details.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) – The Full Traverse

Trekking the early stages of Nepal's Great Himalaya Trail |  <i>Ken Harris</i>

The full Nepal Great Himalaya Trail, the so-called “trekking’s holy grail,” is a 150-day journey across Nepal and was first available as a commercial trek through World Expeditions. It's genuinely an exploratory venture, covering 1,700 kilometres (1,056mi) from Kanchenjunga in the east via the Everest region to Yari Valley in the west, and features trails up to 6,190m (20,308ft) above sea level. All of Nepal’s 8,000m (26,247ft) peaks can be viewed along the way, with opportunities to experience remote cultures in hidden corners of Nepal.

In addition to the Full Nepal Traverse, which takes over five months to complete, the Great Himalaya Trail can be broken into seven smaller sections, from 18 to 34 days, and can be joined separately. GHT: The Full Traverse traditionally departs in late February – view trip details.

For more information and bookings, please get in touch with our team of travel experts from around the world or view the full trip details from each trip page.

Which Everest trek appeals to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips