Rod Newing explains how you can fit adventure into your life around the 9-5
An increasing number of people are giving up unfulfilling jobs and going off on wonderful adventures around the world. The joy of Explorers Connect is that it packages up adventures into manageable chunks, from a day to a week. A number of my adventurous friends told me of great trips they had taken with Explorers Connect, run by Belinda Kirk, and all spoke highly of Base Camp festival. I took the plunge and booked my first trip.
Right away, I was invited to undertake a caving trip in the Mendip Hills. It had never occurred to me to go caving, as I feared claustrophobia, but it seemed like a great chance to try something new. It was a great adventure and I have been caving twice more, with increasing levels of adventure and difficulty. Another opportunity was to abseil 150 ft onto a ledge in 230 ft deep Alum pothole in Yorkshire, which feels like it is a film set for a lost world in the dinosaur era. I had never abseiled before, but an hour’s training the week before was all I needed. We successfully caved our way back to the surface: I was now hooked on adventure!
I joined the Explorers Connect CLUB for a modest fee, that was more than recouped in discounts, as well as offering members only trips. I camped out in woods, on an island in the Thames, paddle boarded in Bristol’s historic harbour, kayaked and paddleboarded around the coast on the Lizard peninsular and hiked the beautiful Gower Peninsular. One of my best ever weekends was on 'The Island Escape'. We swam and paddleboarded and soaked up the wildlife passion of Jim and James, Explorers Connect’s in-house bird lovers. Another memorable weekend was staying in a remote lighthouse and hiking two spectacular stretches of the wonderful South West Coast Path.
Base Camp Festival involved tree-climbing, aerial ropeway crossing, caving, kayaking and bug-hunting with TV presenter and passionate biologist George McGavin. I was gutted not to fit in rock climbing.
The highlight of the year was coming off the waiting list to join the Explorers Connect trip to Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. At 19,950 ft ( 5,895 metres) it is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Explorers Connect helped me to take the opportunity to fly out early and climb nearby Mt Meru (14,968 ft, 4,562.13). It was a fantastic trip with dramatic views of a volcano that had blown itself apart. The base is home to elephant, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, antelope, warthog, monkeys and baboons - a free safari!
As a social enterprise, Explorers Connect exists not to make money, but to change people’s lives by inspiring us all to try something new and challenging us to step out of our comfort zone. It presents opportunities to try something you had never thought about, and allows people who enjoy their job to combine it effectively with adventure. Making wonderful new friends with a common adventurous outlook on life is just a bonus!