Chaz Powell – What next for The Wildest Journey?

After many years of travelling and after pursuing many different life changing adventures, I soon realised I needed more and soon realised I needed ‘The Wildest Journey’ and something that would stretch me far out of my normal comfort zone.

I knew I wanted to discover wild lands that were little known to others, lands where people daren’t venture due to tales of danger, mystery and the unknown. Something that would take me to a whole new level of exploration and be my ultimate adventure.

So, in 2016 and 2017 I spent a combined duration of 137 days walking for over 3000km from source to sea along the mighty Zambezi river. An expedition that for me was the ultimate test – To walk the length of Africa’s wildest river….

Photo credit: Frazer Waller

Walking the Zambezi

The expedition had taken two years of strict planning and during those 2 years, I’d managed to find myself a local guide, who had also seemed passionate about walking the length of the Zambezi river and tackling this wildest journey by foot.

But after reaching the river’s source and coming face to face with the reality of walking through remote lands for the next 5 months. He quickly changed his mind and succumbed to his fears, saying that this was a crazy idea and it can’t be done! He then turned back in the direction we had come and left me alone to walk the length of the Zambezi river, I never saw him again.

Photo credit: Alex Frood

After the shock of being left alone in these strange lands, I soon got my head together and started walking. Remembering why it was I had taken on this challenge and knowing I needed to try and embrace every second of this great journey.

From then on, I spent time in the remotest of settlements with the humblest of people. People who had absolutely nothing in their lives but seemed to give absolutely everything. I came to rely on these people not only to help guide the way, but also for the incredible hospitality I received on a near daily basis. But this wasn’t without hesitation, as I was often mistaken for being a demon, a witch, a diamond smuggler and even a reincarnation of the great David Livingstone. I was the first white person many had ever met, so it came as quite a shock to see me walking through their remote lands.

Photo credit: Alex Frood

During my great journey, I faced many a challenging obstacle along the mighty river. From crossing the 400-mile long swampy Barotse floodplains, near-death experiences in the Zambezi gorges, and being held hostage in a small remote village in Mozambique. All of these challenges moulded me and saw me overcome all the fears that I’d built up before tackling this mighty quest. I’d reached the Indian ocean and my end goal knowing that I wanted to continue to take on more wildest journeys and to raise awareness for the devastating loss of wildlife and wild lands across the continent of Africa and throughout the world. I knew it was my passion to explore and discover and I’d now continue to do so to fight for the voiceless.

Footsteps on the Gambia

My next adventure was to be a world’s first source to sea trek along the Gambia river. An epic journey to follow the West African river by foot through Guinea-Conakry, Senegal and The Gambia for 1120km.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

After a long 2-day journey we eventually reached the source of the Gambia river. The river itself starts in the remote highlands of the Fouta Djallon in Guinea-Conakry, and is a wild, rugged landscape consisting of steep hills and remote settlements. Paths along the river’s banks were minimal and we were often forced into climbing the steep tracks away from the river itself! This was the beginning of what would turn out to be an incredible yet wildest journey, where we found ourselves tackling this challenging environment, but were treated like kings in this land of warmth and kindness. Leaving us feeling overwhelmed and fascinated by the amazing cultures and the hospitality we received from the most humble of people.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

Soon the river started to widen and consisted of numerous twists and turns. Its presence left us feeling overwhelmed and in a fascinating state of isolation along its wild banks. We came to rely on it not just for the water it gave us to drink and cook with, but for the sense of freedom it bestowed upon us with its beauty and grace. It was home to not only the good people who accommodated and fed us whilst we hiked its waters edge. But also to the wildest of animals and the most magnificent of ever changing wild landscapes.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

During my journeys I relied on drinking straight from the rivers with my trusty Water-to-Go bottles. There was several sections of river where the water was just too contaminated. So whilst using my bottle it gave me both the confidence and tools I needed to survive in the most remotest of regions.

Chaz Powell

One of the most incredible parts of our journey was walking through the Niokolo Koba National Park. After nearly being denied access into the park, but by some miracle managing to secure a last-minute permit. We hiked and skirted along the river’s edge until reaching the parks gates. On arrival we were accompanied by two game rangers and started by far the wildest section of our trek. Unfortunately, during those 4 days I felt at my lowest. My appetite had disappeared and the heat/lack of food was seriously draining my energy supplies. But these guys got me through and made it by far one of the most memorable moments of our source to sea journey.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

When times became difficult, it was often the good people we met along the way that would lift our spirits and inspire us to keep pushing forward with our journey. People who had very little in the way of possessions but would often open their doors and hearts to us to make us feel welcomed. This kindness of strangers is what motivated us through the difficult times, and the good people of Guinea-Conakry, Senegal and The Gambia made this expedition one of greatest journeys I’ve ever made.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

On reaching the Atlantic Ocean and the end of our 1120km, 47-day source to sea journey by foot. We were left feeling a huge sense of satisfaction, elation and overwhelming joy. We had become the first known people to take on and complete this mammoth task, and we knew that this difficult, yet humbling challenge had all been worthwhile.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

We had hiked through some of the wildest regions in Western Africa and been welcomed by all that we had met on our path. This was an adventure that will stay with me forever and one that will be difficult to compare with any of my future ‘the wildest journey’ expeditions.

Photo credit: Tim Roberts

What next for The Wildest Journey?

In September 2019 myself and (potentially) a small team will be setting out in an attempt to walk not only the width of Madagascar, but also source to sea along the country’s longest river – The Mangoky.

Starting on the East Coast of Madagascar we will walk to the source of The Mangoky River and then follow its 564-kilometer (350 mi) length all the way to the Mozambique Chanel on the country’s Western Coast. We will be heading out on this epic adventure to not only take on an incredible journey. But also to raise awareness and funds for the loss of wildlife and wild lands throughout the region…

So there is a lot to look forward to. Keep up to date with all of my adventures and expeditions on Instagram and Facebook.

Photo credit: Alex Frood

Water-to-Go on Three World First Adventures – Ash Dykes Story

Clean Safe Drinking Water on Ash Dykes’ Three World First Expeditions

British adventurer Ash Dykes has achieved some incredible feats, from hiking solo through the scorching Gobi desert to surviving sub-zero temperatures in China’s mountains. In this time Ash has achieved two awe-inspiring world first records. In 2014, he became the first person ever recorded to walk across Mongolia completely solo and unsupported, covering an astonishing distance of over 1,500 miles in 78 days. He trekked over the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian Steppe, all whilst pulling a wheeled trailer weighing 120kg, carrying everything needed to survive.

He then later became the first person in history to walk the entire length of Madagascar’s interior, whilst summiting the island’s eight highest Mountains in the process. Ash is now hoping to become the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River this year which is set to be an enormous 4,000-mile trek.

However, travelling to remote locations like these means Ash is constantly facing the life-threatening problem of how he can get access to essential clean safe drinking water. In these dangerous conditions drinking dirty water can have disastrous and potentially fatal consequences. Drinking contaminated dirty water can lead to many serious diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery. Additionally, as Ash is in some of the world’s most remote areas, lack of access to medical facilities means these diseases could lead to serious consequences. This is a genuinely life-threatening challenge that Ash is forced to face on every one of his challenges.

Thankfully, Ash has been accompanied by his ‘number one item’, his Water-to-Go filter bottle, on each of his amazing world first missions. Ash has been able to drink from any and every non-salt water source he has come across during his expeditions: ‘Through all of this, I’ve never had to worry about water, as long as there is a water source nearby, this bottle makes it instantly drinkable’. ‘I’ve even scooped up mud puddle water in Madagascar and was able to drink it straight away due to the 3 in 1 built-in water filtration technology’. This means Ash has been able to safely and effectively stay hydrated on his astounding challenges, which in places with high temperatures like the Gobi desert and Madagascar has been critical to his world firsts.

Ash is continuing to make great progress on his current mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. He has already passed the half-way mark and is encountering a new side of the Yangtze as he goes from very rural to more urban parts of this amazing river. Whilst the many changes in scenery, people and food; there is one thing that remains the same on his expedition – his Water-to-Go bottle.

Gap Year Travel Packing List

What to take when Travelling on your Gap Year

Are you planning on travelling during your gap year? As with any travel experience, it’s important to be well prepared and make sure you have all the necessary gear to make to most of your experience. For this reason, we have created a packing list made from the best pieces of travel kit to help you make the most of your gap year travels.

At Water-to-Go we have provided bottles to many gap year travellers over the years to keep them safe and hydrated wherever their journey takes them. We are also working with travel stores specialising in gap year travel such as the Gap Year Travel Store. We’ve used this experience and created a list of the best items for you to take whilst travelling on your gap year.

Travel Backpack

Having a durable and convenient backpack is something that will make your journey much easier and more comfortable. It’s important to make sure you get a backpack that suits your plans and is sufficient for what you need to carry, where you need to carry it and how long you’ll be carrying it for.

Osprey is a company that specialises in making innovative and high-quality backpacks. Their backpacks come in a range of sizes and are extremely durable. This means they should be able to last you whether your journey is 2 weeks or a year-long journey.

Wash Bag

Having a separate bag for your toiletries is something that will be extremely useful, especially for those going on adventurous travel experiences. A separate wash bag means you won’t be rummaging around in other bags, compartments, etc. when all you need to do is brush your teeth or wash your hands and face. It’s therefore not exactly an ‘essential’ item for your travels but it will make your travels much more convenient, especially if you’ve just come off a long day of hiking or travelling.

Osprey again makes a padded high-quality wash bag however, if you need something lighter or slightly cheaper you can easily get your hands on indivdual netted wash bags as well.

Filter Water Bottle

The last thing you want on your travels is to drink from a questionable water source and catch some form of illness, potentially ruining your experience. The Water-to-Go filter bottle will filter out well over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, chemicals and pesticides from any non-salt water source. This means it can provide safe, clean drinking water from any river, lake, mountain stream or even bad tap water.

The bottle is also a great way to reduce your plastic footprint. Instead of buying lots of single-use plastic water bottles, the reusable Water-to-Go bottle can be used to replace them. In fact, one 200L filter can replace up to 400 single-use plastic water bottles.

Additionally, with each filter being able to process 130 or 200 litres of water (dependent on filter size) the bottle will only cost you around 5p per litre. So you can also save yourself some extra money to spend on your travels.

Medication for your Destination

It’s important to be prepared medically for whichever country you are visiting, especially if you are travelling to countries like Africa where there is the risk of diseases such as Malaria.

The medication you’ll need will vary depending on the country you’re travelling to. Make sure to consult your GP or visit a travel clinic to recommend the medicines/ vaccinations you will need for your travels. Their’s nothing worse than your experience being ruined because of an illness.

Insect Repellent Spray

On a similar topic to medication, making sure you protect yourself from insect bits will be very important in certain countries. In hotter countries, especially African countries, where insects tend to get a bit bitey making sure you fend them off will make your trip much more enjoyable.

We also briefly talk about insect repellent clothing later in this blog, which is just another way you can protect yourself against bites.

Essential Items for Travel

Make sure you double and triple check the essential items that you will need for your travels. Some essential items you will likely need are:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Money in the correct currency (make sure to check first)
  • Any relevant insurance or other important documents
  • Flight tickets or other tickets you may need
  • Personal medication (i.e. inhaler, epi-pen, etc.)
  • Mobile phone

Be aware your particular journey may require other essential items so it’s important to prepare specifically for your travel needs.

 

Mini Padlock

Security will be vital on your travels, especially when carrying important documents like your passport, wallet, visas, etc.

Make sure to get yourself at least one mini-padlock for each bag you’re carrying with you. The locks are generally at a good price and well worth securing your important documents and expensive items. You can either go for a combination lock or a mini-padlock with a key, but make sure you keep the keys in a safe place on your person. The last thing you want is to be locked out of your own backpack!

You can also get a cable lock which is a fantastic way to keep your luggage safe on public transport. If you’re taking a long train or bus journey a cable lock can be attached to a pole or seat near you, stopping anyone from swiping your bags.

 

Lightweight Sleeping Bag

This will be a great item if you are staying in places that may not offer the best sleeping conditions, particularly if you’re camping or staying in a hostel.

Obviously, a sleeping bag is something that can be a pain to lug around all day, but you can get some great lightweight sleeping bags. This means you won’t be adding any excessive extra weight into your backpack. Some sleeping bags are able to fold up to become no bigger than a football, meaning you can save on space as well.

Appropriate Clothing for your Travels

It will be important to bring appropriate clothes for not just your destination but also the type of travel that you will be embarking on. This will be especially relevant if you are undertaking a more adventurous experience.

Rohan is a clothing company that stock clothes for the traveller and have gear appropriate for a range of different locations. They stock a range of cold weather clothing, from waterproofs to winter trekking gear as well as providing a warm weather range which includes specially designed sun-protective and insect repellent clothes.

Hopefully, this has given you some good ideas about what you need and want to take on your gap year travels. If you’re planning an adventure travel experience click here to see our 10 essential adventure travel items for more useful pieces of kit.

Water-to-Go are working with the African Wildlife Foundation

Water-to-Go are delighted to announce that we are working with the African Wildlife Foundation in order to raise money and awareness of the work that they do to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa. This is an exciting new partnership for the business as we continue to grow and spread the message about Water-to-Go.

African Wildlife Foundation is improving the lives of local people alongside protecting wildlife and their habitat so both can have a sustainable fugure. AWF works directly with communities and local partners to understand the obstacles faced and find solutions specific to their needs so that livelihoods do not destroy the natural environment or threaten the survival of wildlife. By providing incentives such as economic enterprises, access to better education or sharing income from tourism, AWF’s programmes support communities to develop whilst embracing conservation. We are pleased to be supporting these initiatives through this campaign.

Kirstin Johnson, UK Director of the African Wildlife Foundation; Chaz Powell, UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador; Dave Shanks, CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go

Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has nearly 60 years of experience working to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in a modern Africa. As one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations focused solely on the continent of Africa, AWF is the primary advocate for the protection of African wildlife and wild lands.

For this campaign, Water-to-Go has produced a special edition bottle that is available via our website. We will donate £10 from every special bottle sold towards AWF’s work to protect the wildlife and wild lands in Africa. 

African Wildlife Foundation Limited Edition 75cl filter bottle

Water-to-Go bottles protect our planet by providing an environmentally friendly alternative to single-use plastic. On his travels around the world, Water-to-Go founder Dave Shanks was shocked at the piles of plastic waste he saw that were damaging local communities and the planet. He sought to create a sustainable solution to this problem and developed a reusable, recyclable water bottle that contains a unique 3-in-1 filter that provides safe drinking water anywhere. Now, Water-to-Go are working with AWF to ensure the sustainable future of Africa’s people, wildlife and land.

Africa loses 8 percent of its elephants to poaching every year. AWF’s programmes include training and equipping rangers, deploying sniffer and detection dogs, setting aside protected areas for critically endangered wildlife and educating the public and those responsible for law enforcement on how the destruction of habitat and illegal wildlife trade is robbing Africa of its future. You can all get involved in our project to support wildlife conservation and ensure Africa’s elephants do not become endangered.

We are delighted to be working with a charity of the calibre and influence of the African Wildlife Foundation. They align with the visions and goals of our business, and together we are committed to making a difference. Through this campaign, we are doing our bit to help protect Africa’s wildlife and wild lands.

The African Wildlife Foundation joins Water-to-Go in its vision to protect the planet by reducing single-use plastic water bottles on their member safaris, and by distributing Water-to-Go bottles to a selection of rangers protecting wildlife on the front line. Water-to-Go will be donating some of these limited edition AWF bottles to the charity so that these rangers can stay healthy and hydrated wherever they are.

Water-to-Go was delighted to be invited to the Royal Over-seas League in London to hear about AWF’s partnership with the Rwandan Development Board that focuses on Mountain Gorilla Conservation in Rwanda alongside community empowerment and development.

This is just one of many initiatives in Africa that are improving people’s lives as well as protecting the wildlife that is so important to the future of the country. It was fantastic to hear about this and to know that our campaign will be actively contributing to these projects.

We were also delighted to meet Yamina Karitanyi, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the UK, at the event who has fully endorsed our project with AWF. CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go, Dave Shanks, got the chance to speak with her about the business and our project with AWF so we are very pleased to have their backing and support going forward.

Yamina Karitanyi, High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the UK; and Dave Shanks, Founder and CEO of Water-to-Go
We need your help if we want this campaign to be a success. If you want to be a part of this campaign, just click the link below and keep up to date on our social media channels. Thank you in advance for your support.

To learn more, visit www.watertogo.eu/awf

James Forrest climbs 273 mountains in Ireland in record-breaking expedition

UK adventurer, James Forrest, has officially climbed every 600m mountain in Ireland in just eight weeks – the fastest ever time. The 35-year-old walked over 1,000km in his mission to stand atop all 273 600m high mountains across Ireland and Northern Ireland. He ascended the height of Everest every week for eight weeks in a row, completing the peak-bagging challenge solo and unsupported in 56 days. The expedition is believed to be the first continuous ‘single round’ of the mountains of Ireland.

James, a freelance adventure and travel writer from Cumbria in England, walked up to 25 miles a day and slept wild in the mountains in a one-man tent. He began his adventure on Thursday, August 9, and reached his final summit – Knocknadobar in County Kerry – on Wednesday, October 3. He said: “I feel on top of the world to have finally completed this epic expedition. It has been the adventure of a lifetime and an incredibly tough challenge, both physically and mentally.”

“Mountains are good for the soul. I love the freedom, the fresh air, the isolation, the unpredictability, the escapism – and this journey has let me experience these joys more than most.”

James Forrest

It wasn’t all plain sailing for him and the weather certainly wasn’t always the kindest to James. He faced his fair share of bad weather during his challenge, battling against torrential rain and gale force winds during Storm Ali. “I faced such brutal weather during this challenge at times I felt like giving up”, he added. But like the true adventurer, James soldiered on to complete one of his biggest challenges to date.

To get more of an insight into his record-breaking adventure, Water-to-Go managed to ask a few questions to the man himself.

Where did you first get the idea of climbing all 273 mountains in Ireland, and what did the planning and training involve? In 2017 I climbed all 446 mountains over 2000ft in England and Wales – the so-called ‘Nuttalls’ – in just six months, the fastest ever time. It was my first ever major peak-bagging expedition and I loved it. It was a life-affirming experience; a challenge that changed my life really. I wanted to go on a similar adventure in 2018 and the idea of Ireland popped into my head. I’d never hiked in Ireland so I was drawn to the idea of new experiences and exciting landscapes, especially in the wild, rugged, remote west and south-west of Ireland.

To be honest, I really didn’t train for the challenge, simply because I walk a lot in my everyday life, so I was already fit for hiking. And, similarly, I didn’t spend loads of time planning. I love the unpredictability of adventures and the joy of ‘going with the flow’, so I’ve never been one to over-plan. All I did really was jam-pack my car full of expedition food and camping gear (especially chocolate and Nutella) and plan routes on my phone using a GPS app. Simple.

What gear did you rely on the most during your journey?
Definitely the GPS navigation app on my phone. Many of the mountains of Ireland are pathless and, in poor weather, navigation is very tricky. My GPS certainly got me out of a few tricky situations – I might still be lost in the remote Dunkerrons in County Kerry if it wasn’t for the wonders of GPS pinpointing. I used my phone as my primary navigation tool for all 273 mountains and it never let me down. I also loved my Water-to-Go bottle, however – it went everywhere with me and enabled me to access clear water whenever I needed it on my wild camping trips. It was invaluable.

What were the biggest challenges you faced? There were, naturally, loads of lows: falling violently ill (stomach problems) after my first week in the wild; losing my wallet in Killarney (only to luckily get it back after it was handed into the police}; being berated by an angry Air BnB owner for ‘making his house smell of old socks’ after stashing my hiking gear in the room (one of the most awkward and cringy moments I’ve ever had!); and forgetting my lighter on a multi-day wild camping trip meaning I couldn’t use my stove (luckily a kind man gave me one on day two!).

But easily the biggest challenge was the weather. I faced so much rain and wind and cloud it was utterly gut-wrenching. At one point I hiked for 10 days in a row, climbing over 50 mountains, and it was torrential rain every day and I didn’t see a view from a single summit. It was horrific. I felt like giving up so many times. It was demoralising and I felt broken mentally. But I persevered, as I didn’t want to be a quitter, and I’m so pleased I kept going.

What was the best moment? There were so many highs and ecstasies: the freedom and escapism of the mountains, the nature, the solitude and tranquility of walking alone, the magic of sleeping wild under the stars, the sense of achievement that comes with a big challenge, the heartwarming generosity and kindness of the strangers who gave me lifts when I was hitchhiking around, the unpredictability of a big adventure (and the joy of overcoming the mishaps and obstacles in my way), and the beauty of the wild landscapes of Ireland. But my most euphoric moment was waking up to a perfect cloud inversion on a mountain called Knockowen in the Beara Peninsula. I unzipped my tent and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was truly beautiful, like waking up heaven. I will remember that moment forever.

Anything you can tell us about your next expedition – or are you taking the chance to rest and recover for a bit first? Well, I’ve now climbed all of the mountains in England and Wales in 2017, and all of the mountains in Ireland in 2018. So, perhaps, the past 719 mountains have just been training for the inevitable – an attempt on the Munros in 2019 maybe. But, for the time being, I’m planning on spending a lot of time with my sofa, watching Netflix and eating Dominos pizzas. I think I deserve the rest!

James, whose expedition was supported by outdoor clothing brand Salomon and expedition food company Summit To Eat, hopes to write a book about his adventures in Ireland. His debut book Mountain Man – about his 446-mountain challenge in England and Wales – will be published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2019. To follow James’ adventures visit www.instagram.com/jamesmichaelforrest or www.facebook.com/jamesmichaelforrest

Meet Paolo: Water-to-Go’s youngest ever ambassador

Multiple award-winning Paolo Ben Salmi, aka Pint Size Adventurer, is not your average 10 year old – he is a public figure, speaker, former radio host, author and now Water-to-Go’s youngest ever ambassador!

Water-to-Go is delighted to be working with Paolo to prove that age is just a number when you want to make a difference. The idea and tagline behind Pint Size Adventurer was to show that ‘Together We Can Explore The World.’ He believes that there should be no boundaries in the way of travelling and exploring the world so he is the perfect person to promote and inspire adventures with Water-to-Go.

He is the multiple award-winning author of “Pint Size Adventurer – 10 Key Principles To Get Your Kids off their iPads” and “Into The Wild”. He is an award-winning public speaker who has spoken at events such as the Mercedes Benz World and will be live on stage at The Best You Expo 2019. He is a member of Team Trouble founded by Amazing Arabella & JD The Super Car Kid. He is a founder of The Abundant Adventure Inventor™.

Paolo is also a personal developments coach and founder of Pint Size Adventurer. Paolo aims to inspire people to explore the world more deeply and seeks to get more people to go on adventures. He helps you to plant the seed towards self-discovery and exploration of the world in abundance to create a brighter future.

Paolo understands the effects we have on the planet particularly when travelling and on adventurers so wants to provide solutions to become more sustainable. By encouraging his followers to purchase a Water-to-Go bottle, he hopes to reduce plastic and help protect the planet.

Paolo recently had an interview on London Live to promote his future adventures and excursions, one of which was partnering up with Water-to-Go. This was a fantastic publicity opportunity for Paolo, his family and Water-to-Go so we are delighted that he got the chance to let the nation know what he is passionate about and how others can follow in his footsteps.

 

Not only did he talk about his adventure, he also made his feelings clear about plastic pollution and what needs to be done to reduce plastic waste in this country. It is a very current topic right now and one which is causing problems and debates right across the world. So it was important for Paolo to highlight one of his new projects; promoting the Water-to-Go bottle. It is proving to be a common theme for the youngsters to highlight the problems and to show everyone else what we need to do in order to ensure the future of our planet.

As it is refillable and sustainable, Water-to-Go is a perfect reusable alternative to single-use plastic bottles. It is cost-effective and very simple to use; just fill up from any non-salt water source and it filters as you drink. You can use it everyday on your tap water at work or at home and on more questionable sources when you are away on holiday.

On the way to his interview, he even made a stop at a Blacks store, one of our stockists, to check out the Water-to-Go bottles that they had on offer. He was clearly excited to see they had plenty of bottles that they were selling to the general public.

Paolo maybe the ‘Pint-sized’ adventurer but we know that he has big ambitions and we can envisage big things happening in his career and in his life so watch this space! He is an inspiration to everyone, old and young, and we are privileged to welcome him onboard with us at Water-to-Go as one of our brand ambassadors.

Paolo has a DREAM to get Water-to-Go into the hands of one million Adventures around the world and he wants your help to make his dream a reality.

To find out more about Paolo, check out his page on our website and follow him on social media.

Ash Dykes Reaches Halfway Point in #MissionYangtze

UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has reached the halfway point of his massive mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. Despite everything that has been thrown at him, Ash has continued to make excellent progress and has already completed half of his third world-first and biggest mission to date.
Ash has walked 2000 miles along the river to reach this huge milestone, and along the way has faced all kinds of life-threatening dangers (landslides, bears and being tracked by a pack of wolves) as well as being held up 5 times by police/government officials.

Death-defying extreme athlete Ash Dykes reached safety at the halfway point of his mammoth world first expedition 9th January 2019, having faced immense threats to his safety whilst attempting to walk the entire length of China’s Yangtze River in just a year.

Having set off on 26th August 2018, Ash has battled the elements and overcome many obstacles to get to where he is now. There have been several times where Ash has feared for his life but has relied on his intense training regimes and wild instincts to get him through a tough first half of the expedition. Despite many tough moments, he has always had the confidence and reassurance to trust his to deliver clean, safe drinking water to keep him hydrated through his mission.

Attempting to complete this expedition and even getting to where he is now is no mean is no mean feat. The Yangtze is the longest river to flow through a single nation and stretches almost 4000 miles from west to east China, through eleven provinces, diverse ecosystems and multiple major cities including Chongqing and Shanghai.

It has taken Ash 136 days and 2000 miles of intense trekking across some of the world’s most dangerous and remote provinces to reach the halfway point in the small Chinese city of Panzhihua, having set off from the Yangtze River’s true, scientific source in the Tibetan Plateau on 26th August last year.

In one of the few remaining ‘firsts’ to be attempted by man, Ash and his team have faced huge challenges on this first half of the expedition, with eight out of nine of Ash’s teammates dropping out mid-mission due to injury, illness or fears for their safety.

The mission got off to a difficult start when Ash’s Tibetan guide suffered the serious effects of altitude sickness on the way to the source of the river and required urgent medical attention, delaying the expedition’s start date. Since then, bears travelling down the mountain to find food before hibernation have posed the greatest threat to Ash’s life; closely followed by wolves. Ash was tracked by a pack of wolves for two days straight not long after the trek began, and has faced the very real threat of aggressive wild yaks, cobras, and giant hornets along the way.

Other natural elements have also made this challenge particularly immense, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius, snow blizzards, glacial river crossings, and landslides pushing Ash to his limit and, at times, forcing him to detour and lose precious days.

Although the most remote, dangerous and uncertain leg of the expedition is now behind Ash, the remainder of the trek will pose threats of different kinds. Rather than bears, wolves and wilderness, Ash will encounter heavily populated cities and some of the most polluted areas of any river in the world. The hot, rainy season means the river is more likely to flood, and as the river widens so do its tributaries, meaning crossings will be more difficult and could lead to further detours and delays.

Despite this, Ash remains positive. He said:

“Without a doubt, Mission Yangtze has been the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken to date.  Physically I was as prepared as I could be, but mentally it’s hard to get ready for the harsh and remote landscapes, sub zero temperatures, and the difficulties these bring. I have trekked through some of the most breathtaking and unspoilt parts of the world, but I’ve never felt so vulnerable to the elements and predators as I have done over the past few months.”

Ash Dykes

“China is an unbelievably diverse country, with each province I’ve crossed bringing unique terrains, climates, wildlife and challenges. I was actually stopped on five occasions by the police, as government officials worried for my security and safety. Despite having to retrace 40 miles worth of the trek after being detained, we managed to push on with the backing of the Qinghai Government and CBCGDF, and really appreciate their concern.”

“Despite the challenges, I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown by the people I’ve encountered so far. I always say that the locals make or break an adventure, and so far the Chinese have been amazing. It’s been hugely rewarding living and integrating with locals, meeting schools and families, and learning about their lives and traditions.”

“The Yangtze has also been incredibly clean so far, as the Tibetan people will not so much as fish out of the river, let alone throw rubbish in it. I know the second half will be far more polluted, but it’s a common misconception that the entire Yangtze River is being destroyed by the effects of industrialisation. I’m really interested to see how China’s wild west compares with its more industrial and densely populated eastern region.”

Ash Dykes

“The expedition hasn’t been straightforward but it’s been an incredible experience so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing and learning even more about this amazing country as I enter into the second half of the mission. Bring it on!”

We are delighted to hear that Ash has already completed half of his most ambitious expedition to date and is continuing to make excellent progress. We can’t wait to hear what happens on the rest of his mission and look forward to providing updates throughout. Make sure you keep up to date from Ash himself on his social media channels and pinpoint where he is along the Yangtze on his live tracker.

Top 10 Adventure Travel Essentials

10 Terrific Pieces of Adventure Travel Kit used by our Ambassadors

Over the past few years, Water-to-Go has worked closely with a wide range of travellers, explorers, travel bloggers, volunteer workers, etc., travelling with them around the globe.

As a result of their travels, we’ve been able to find some brilliant pieces of travel gear used by ambassadors such as Ash Dykes, Chaz Powell, Emily Luxton and many more. This guide will help you decide on the best items to choose when travelling and which items are right for your destination.

Adventure Travel Tent

Having a reliable, convenient place to sleep is essential for any adventurer, and for those travelling off the beaten track having a high-quality tent is extremely important.

Vango’s tents are a great travel item for anyone that will need to camp during their travels. Vango produces a wide range of tents from family tents, with some designed to fit up to 8 people per tent, to solo one man tents for the lone adventurer.

Originating in the Highlands of Scotland, Vango has a history when it comes to producing adventure tents. The tents are designed to be easy to set up and take down so that you can spend more time trekking, mountain biking, cycling or doing whatever it is you have planned.

With such a range of tents, Vango is ideal for anyone who is in need of a tent from large parties of adventurers to solo trekkers.

Lightweight Portable Charger

Being able to have your phone or camera with you is a great way to capture the memories of your adventure. So, it’s important to make sure you’re able to keep these devices charged by using a portable charger.

The power traveller is a lightweight portable charger that’s powered using solar energy. The device is a great way to make sure your phone, camera, tablet, etc. are able to capture the best moments of your travel experience. After all, you’ll only need sunlight to keep your devices fully charged.

The use of solar energy also means you can help reduce your carbon footprint when travelling by avoiding non-renewable sources of electricity.

Whilst perhaps better suited to holidays off the beaten track where access to electricity is limited, the power traveller is also a great little device for those more environmentally conscious travellers.

Water-to-Go Personal Filtration System

Has bad tap water ever made you ill and ruined your experience? Well, the Water-to-Go filter bottle is able to filter out 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, chemicals and pesticides from any non-salt water source. This means it can provide safe, clean drinking water from any river, lake, mountain stream or even bad tap water.

The bottle is also a great way to reduce your plastic footprint. Instead of buying more and more single-use plastic water bottles, the reusable Water-to-Go bottle can be used to replace them without having to worry about getting ill from a bad water source.

Additionally, with each filter being able to process 130 or 200 litres of water (dependent on filter size) the bottle will only cost you around 5p per litre. So you can also save yourself some extra money to spend on your travels.

Coming in both an everyday use 50cl bottle and a larger 75cl bottle, there is a bottle for both the casual day-tripper or the hardcore adventurer.

Food Parcels

Now that your drinking water is sorted, you’ll need to think about the food you’re going to eat along your journey. A great way for adventurers to prepare their meals is through Firepot’s food parcels.

Firepot provide healthy, dehydrated food that comes in lightweight meal pouches. Firepot say their goal is to create a healthy hearty meal that won’t weigh you down on your adventures. Their recipes have been developed to maximise nutrition within each parcel as well as providing great tasting meals. Therefore, Firepot is great for anyone who will be spending extended periods of time off the beaten track away from other food sources.

 

Specialised Travel Backpack

With all your travel equipment you’ll need a means of transporting all these important items. A great specialised product for this purpose is an Osprey Travel Backpack.

Originating in California, Osprey has been designing backpacks for adventurers since beginning in 1974. The innovative and high-quality backpacks offer any adventurer a fantastic way to travel with all of their gear. Osprey also design their backpacks for long life, meaning you will be able to use it again and again as opposed to having to constantly repair or replace the product.

Additionally, Osprey design backpacks specifically for different types of adventure travel. These include backpacks for snowsports, climbing, hiking and biking.

The high-quality and long-lasting nature of these backpacks means it will be for you if you are serious about adventure travel and are ideal if you are in need of carrying big loads of equipment.

Outdoor Durable Phone

Having a phone that can cope with your terrain can be an incredibly useful tool, especially when travelling across more extreme areas.

Land Rover’s ‘Outdoor Phone’ is possibly the toughest phone out there. The phone is extremely durable having been tested in temperatures from -30C to +60C. You also won’t have to worry about dropping your phone in puddles, rivers or even the sea as the phone is waterproof even in salt water.

With an extra-long battery life, the phone will suit anyone who is away from a power source for an extended period of time. A range of specialist apps also makes this a great companion for any explorer.

An ideal product for those that are out and about in rough terrain with a high chance of their phone getting bashed about. Or it could be good if you are just clumsy when it comes to your phone!

Cold Weather Clothing

Your clothing can be a vitally important part of your travels, particularly when travelling to colder regions where it’s important to wrap up warm.

When it comes to sub-zero weather clothing Rab is brilliant at keeping the cold out. Rab produces high-quilty specialist outdoor clothing with a focus on mountaineering. Their clothing is made up from high-quality materials and fabrics specially designed to be the best at insulation and keeping you warm.

Some great kit for those travelling to colder destinations, such as ski holidays, and will particularly suit mountain adventurers.

Alternative Adventure Travel Clothing

If you’re looking for something perhaps slightly cheaper than Rab’s range, then Craghoppers is a great alternative. Whilst slightly cheaper than Rab’s range, Craghoppers still produce high-quality clothing specialising in the outdoors.

Craghoppers say they aim to make their clothing as practical and comfortable as possible, enabling travellers to stay outside for as long as possible. Whilst Craghoppers focus on outdoor clothing designed to keep you warm, they also produce lightweight warm weather clothing with a range of trousers specifically designed to deter insect bites.

Excellent product range for those spending time travelling outdoors, with clothing ranges for both cold and warm weather conditions.

Appropriate Travel Footwear

Just as important as clothing, you will need footwear appropriate to the environment you are travelling in.

Keen are a footwear company that offer a range of footwear types to choose from. They specialise in footwear for different types of travel, from urban casual trainers to specialised hiking boots.

Keen’s variety of footwear means you should be able to find whatever you’re looking for on your next adventure.

Digital Mapping System

Whilst technically not a physical item, there is an excellent range of digital maps provided by Ordnance Survey (OS). These maps are an excellent way to travel in the more remote locations of the UK.

Starting as simply the producer of world-famous paper maps, Ordnance Survey now use data to produce digital maps across the UK. The OS maps aim to provide a comprehensive map of the ever-changing British landscape, doing so in extraordinary detail.

As well as their maps, OS produce online route planning, sharing services and mobile apps to aid in your travel experience.

Sadly for those travelling abroad this service is only available within the UK. However, it is a brilliant tool for those wanting to explore the more remote areas of the UK.

Water-to-Go Teams Up With Jordan Wylie

We are delighted to announce that former soldier, best selling author and extreme adventurer Jordan Wylie has joined us as an ambassador for 2019. It is a privilege to working with someone of Jordan’s calibre and influence so we are excited for what the future holds. Described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as “a determined, fearless adventurer and an inspiring man”, it is clear that he has had a life packed full of travel, adventure and personal challenges to get him to the top of his game.

Jordan recently returned from an expedition called ‘Running Dangerously’ which saw him run through 3 of the most dangerous countries in the world for charity using a Water-to-Go bottle throughout his adventure. It was an amazing achievement and now he has a new challenge in store.

It is clear that Water-to-Go has been an important part of his expeditions and is essential kit for wherever he goes. No matter where he is in the world, Jordan has the security in knowing that our unique filter will eliminate any harmful contaminants providing him with safe, clean drinking water.

 

Water-to-Go has developed a filtration system that eliminates over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals from any non-salt water source. As an extreme adventurer, I often find myself in environments that are remote and complex and I rely on nature as my main source of rehydration.

Jordan Wylie

 

Jordan now uses his extensive network of contacts and wealth of experience to help educate, inspire and motivate others worldwide. Jordan is a regular in the worlds media having featured on HBO America, Discovery Channel, Vice, BBC, Sky News, in the Wall Street Journal and The Times newspaper. Jordan is also one of the stars of Channel 4’s Hunted and Celebrity Hunted which will be back on our screens in early 2019.

It is a very exciting time for Jordan so we are pleased to be working with him and supporting him on his journey. Furthermore, it is great to see that we have similar values and missions in protecting the planet and becoming more sustainable.

The Water-to-Go filtration bottle is a must have for any adventurer or traveller that often finds themselves exploring off the beaten track. I am delighted to be working with Water-to-Go and to be able to drink water where you are certain of the quality by filtering it yourself, help reduce plastic waste and have a better impact on the environment is fundamental to long term sustainability on this planet.

Jordan Wylie

 

It is fantastic to hear that Jordan has been using Water-to-Go to keep him safe and hydrated on his adventures over the years and is now joining us on our journey.

Jordan is very good friends with another Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, and it seems like they both have something in common – they both like pushing themselves to the limit and attempting world-first expeditions!

Jordan’s next challenge will see him undertake a world-first that will test him to the limit once again. He is now preparing to become the first person to row the world’s most dangerous strait of water, completely solo and unsupported, in an expedition titled, ‘Rowing Dangerously’. See what this incredible expedition entails in the video below.

 

Jordan who raised over £100,000 for charitable and good causes in 2018 will be heading towards more danger next year when he heads to the Gulf of Aden in world first rowing attempt to cross the Bab-El-Mandeb Straits. Jordan hopes to raise £250,000 to build a new school in Djibouti for Somali and Yemen child refuges so they can continue education. To learn more about Jordan or his charity adventures, visit www.jordanwylie.org

Silk Road Adventures: Travelling with Water-to-Go

Edge Expeditions was started in 2015 by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and Marley Burns after a trip to Tajikistan provided the impetus to start a business doing what they both loved – adventure travel.

After three successful years of taking small groups to places as far-flung as Bolivia, Palestine, Tajikistan and Myanmar, the duo have recently rebranded and re-launched their offerings under the name Silk Road Adventures Ltd. This moniker pretty much describes their mission, to offer interesting, quirky, well-researched and above all, fun adventure travel experiences in up to seventeen countries connected with the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Adventure Travel Tours with Silk Road Adventures

The new business has a home at www.silkroad-adventures.com and is offering a range of trips, tours and expeditions that is set to grow in the coming months. Some are partner-led whilst others are led by one of the company directors themselves.

The new roster of expeditions includes three specially-developed Silk Road adventures that tie-in with the forthcoming Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventures series on ITV, on which Antonia was a producer. In addition to this, the site offers some world-first adventures including ski-touring in Tajikistan, wintersports and wine tasting by vintage Lada cars in Georgia, motorcycle touring in Jordan, hiking the West Bank in Palestine and learning to cook local foods in Northern Iran.

Providing Safe, Clean Drinking Water for Silk Road Adventures

Edge Expeditions, and now Silk Road Adventures have always given every customer a Water-to-Go filter bottle free of charge and plan to continue this policy.

As Managing Director Marley Burns says, “Water-to-Go allow our customers to sip crystal-clear stream water with total safety. The bottles largely prevent us needing to carry filtered or bottled water, and we think we have saved in excess of 10,000 plastic water bottles as a result. It is such a simple thing for us to do, and we feel that by giving them to customers as part of their package price we are simplifying matters for them”.

He adds “we don’t force anyone to use the bottles but we enable our guests to make a decision and see the results immediately. We love the Water-to-Go bottles and feedback from our customers is that they do too!. We’ve used them in every country we go through and people are often astonished to see us drinking water from unlikely sources!”

Silk Road Adventures’ Director Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent has been using Water-to-Go on her own adventures for years and have been a supportive advocate of the bottles since first using on her trip down the Ho Chi Minh trail in 20xx (subsequently detailed in her book, A Short Ride in the Jungle”). She continues to take a Water to Go everywhere with her.