From Canada to Mexico with the Grand Canyon in between
Jule Eisendick, founder of the happy choices, has travelled to stunning destinations all over North and Central America. She experienced the breath-taking Canadian wilderness travelling by car. Then beholding one of North America’s most awe-inspiring Landmarks, the Grand Canyon, Arizona. On to Central America, Jule was able to visit some of the beautiful natural sites that Mexico has to offer, including the incredible beaches and wonderful cenotes.
However, each of these three vastly different destinations poses the vital challenge of how to access clean safe drinking water. Firstly in the vast wilderness of Canada, Jule will only be able to access water via rivers, streams and lakes, all of which are extremely unreliable when it comes to safe drinking water. Furthermore, she will have to stay regularly hydrated in the blistering heat of the Grand Canyon. And finally, she will be forced to drink from potentially dangerous tap water in Mexico, another source that can cause serious illness.
Thankfully Jule had her Water-to-Go filter bottle with her on each unique journey. This meant in Canada’s fierce wilderness Jule was able to drink ‘from lakes, waterfalls and rivers. It’s been an awesome feeling to drink wild water, and it was great not to have to carry the heavy water bottles you normally need to carry.’ Furthermore in the Grand Canyon and Mexico Jule could safely and confidently drink from potentially harmful tap water. In fact whilst in Arizona ‘they had bathroom taps with signs and hotel staff saying the tap water is not drinking water’. However, this worrying information didn’t phase them as they ‘safely drank the water with our filter bottle’.
My name is Daniel Eggington and I’m a solo traveller
So a bit about me:
After leaving the UK in 2010 and embarking on a backpacking trip to Indonesia, I found my love of exploring. I spent 12 days in the forest with three local guides, travelling through and camping at a new spot each night. This added some life-changing experiences for me as a naive 18-year-old alone in a foreign country, not knowing any part of the local language. When I got back to the UK, I decided that this is the career path I wanted to work towards.
I decided I wanted to work in the travel industry, where my passion in life truly lies. After that trip and immediately planned for other journeys. I decided to explore Latin America where I got I real feel of the indigenous culture. I planned and prepared for a journey to the Darien Gap Panama-Colombia border region which was a fantastic experience. I then began planning my return to head to Guyana where I canoed a river with 2 local guides, travelling for 12 days and covering 288km to be exact.
I knew that my dream job would now be to work as an expedition leader where I could live out my passion for leading in remote and exciting places. I now had an abundance of remote travel experience, the required knowledge and soon the qualifications that it takes to do this. I have now done my ML training so I am working hard to make this a career choice a reality.
So my next trip will begin from Jurado in Colombia, travelling north through the Choco Department of Colombia and into the Darien Gap which leads into Panama. The endpoint will be in Jaque and I will be following the Pacific coast of Colombia. I aim to make it a wholly solo project and document it on a daily basis on my return. I will be providing an educational perspective of a region in a part of the world that is relatively unknown. The trip will be around 50 miles in total which should take around 15 days. I want to push myself to my very limit, of my capabilities as an explorer.
The Darien Gap Project will involve visiting the Colombian Choco Department which is the least explored region of Colombia due to its notorious past. Quibdo is the capital of the chocò region where half of the population are said to live and work. The rest are in small communities scattered throughout the region where a majority are on the coast such as Nuqui and surrounding towns of Quibdo.
I also want to use this expedition as a platform to raise awareness for conservation and indigenous communities rights. I will be travelling, wholly unsupported, over a number of different landscapes from primary rainforest to high valleys and wetlands.
I use Water-to-Go for the simplicity and how effective it is. It helps in a few ways from less weight and not having to carry a few litres of water in 2 or 3 bottles. I have used it from Guyana to Costa Rica.
There are not many detailed maps of the region so it isn’t a journey for the faint-hearted. The journey will be documented via videography and photography and tracked at timed intervals through the Delorme device. As I will be entirely alone in the region, a tracking device will be essential.
The region has many issues from severe poverty to armed conflict between paramilitary and people. The Colombian Chocò department is the least explored region of Colombia due to its notorious past.
I am planning to do this trip as it is something that I have always wanted to do and if successful, would be first of its kind. Where I will be raising awareness for a cause I am passionate about which is conservation and indigenous peoples rights.
The project will be in partnership with Alpaca Raft, Hennessy hammock, Water-to-Go as well as Backcountry Scot.
Keep up to date with everything Daniel is up to on social media.
Hello there, my name is Molly Crookshank and I am an Animal Biologist living in Edinburgh with a strong passion for wildlife and conservation. This summer I spent time in Guyana and Ecuador assisting scientific research in the rainforest at the Iwokrama reserve and Timburi Cocha Research Station. Travelling with my Water-to-Go bottle I was able to experience these fascinating places without any risk of illness from drinking water. It also meant I bought less plastic bottles on my journey.
I completed my final research project for my undergraduate degree in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. This was an unforgettable experience and what made me so determined to completed my degree. Unfortunately due to the water quality I was frequently unwell, which affected my fitness out on survey. I was therefore delighted to have Water-to-Go sponsor me a bottle for my jungle adventure this summer 2018 and felt totally prepared for what was to come.
“Water-to-Go have successfully specialised in making filtration bottles to eliminate 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source. This was ideal as it meant I could drink straight from the Amazon River.”
Operation Wallacea Research Project in Guyana
My journey started in Guyana, one of the most intact rainforests in the world. This was with Operation Wallacea, a conservation and research organisation. Research was carried out in Iwokrama reserve, the green heart of Guyana.
Monitoring the biodiversity is vital in order to see how their sustainable logging is affecting the forest. Surveys are carried out daily and in the intense heat and humidity, keeping hydrated was essential.
Living in the forest was incredible, we slept in hammocks, had bucket showers and had basic structures made by the locals where we had our jungle laboratory.
In this remote environment living so close to people, it is easy to get sick. In fact nearly half the scientist became ill with a parasite from drinking the water and prevented them going out on survey. However, I was able to stay fit and healthy throughout the entire time on expedition, for which I am very grateful to Water-to-Go.
Getting to know the locals in Guyana was a true highlight and re-emphasised the importance of local engagement to conservation. Their own commitment to their environment is incredibly strong and their expert knowledge of their surroundings is invaluable.
Jungle Journey Continued: Exploring Ecuador
After the most incredible month spent in Guyana, I continued my jungle journey to the Amazon in Ecuador to assist a PhD student at Timburi Cocha Research Station adjacent to the Payamino River.
This was such an amazing experience and I got to see how the local communities are using and benefiting from their rainforest. Coffee and cocoa are the main crops produced in this region.
For the PhD we dissected bromeliads from the amazon rainforest, at different heights of trees and collected the invertebrates. This was great fun to test my invertebrate taxonomy and luckily it didn’t take long for me to get used to the creepy crawlies. I have always been fascinated by ants as they are amazing ecosystem engineers and have colonised on nearly every continent!
One of the highlights was walking up Armadillo Hill to get a spectacular view over the amazon. Having my Water-to-Go bottle, meant I didn’t have to worry about the source of the water I was drinking from, so I was able to keep hydrated throughout the long hike.
Having being able to fully embrace every moment of the rainforest without suffering any illness, I was able to get far more out of this trip compared with 2017.
I was lucky enough to have a week after to travel around Ecuador. With the incredible mountainous terrain and beautiful waterfalls, it didn’t take long to realise how truly amazing this country was.
Having my Water-to-Go bottle I not only cut down on plastic bottles but I also never had to worry about drinking from the tap in the towns and cities.
What adventure is my bottle going to take me on next?
I have recently just started my postgraduate Masters course in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at Edinburgh Napier University. For my research project, I plan to go to South Africa next June to study in the Gondwana Reserve. Here I will be looking at the effects of herbivore grazing in the Cape Floral Kingdom. With the Water-to-Go replaceable filters, I can now take my bottle and stay hydrated for my data collection in South Africa.
Water-to-Go haveestablished a partnership to support the long-standing efforts of leading UK based Travel Company – Journey Latin America. Together we are supporting the work of the Latin American Travel Association (LATA) Foundation to help street children and vulnerable young people in Latin America with social and educational programs run by local charities. For every purchase that Journey Latin America customers make with Water-to-Go, we will contribute to the LATA Foundation to support this invaluable work.
The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) is a membership association that aims to promote Latin America as a tourist destination and stimulate growth of travel to the region. The association is comprised of over 340 companies including tourism boards, airlines, hotels, tour operators, representation companies and the travel press.
The LATA Foundation is a UK-based charity that supports grassroots social and environmental projects throughout Latin America. The projects are helping to transform lives, providing clean water, dental or medical support and practical training to provide people with new skills in Mexico, Central and South America. It was set up by the Latin America Travel Association, bringing together tourist boards, airlines, tour operators, hotels, ground agents, travel publishers, PR companies and the press to put something back into the countries where they all work.
Journey Latin America understand the importance of eco-friendly practices in all parts of their business – whether it’s offsetting carbon emissions to minimise the impact of long-haul travel or simply recycling waste paper – they strive to operate responsibly in everything they do. They were one of the first tour operators associated with AITO to be recognised for their commitment to sustainable travel and are a great example to the whole tourism industry. With their bespoke, branded water filter bottles from Water-to-Go, they will further their sustainable travel principles by providing safe, clean water to their customers without damaging the environment.
Water-to-Go and JLA understand that mass tourism can be detrimental to a country’s development. We need to think about the effects we have on the environment so have to embrace a ‘take only photos, leave on footprints’ mantra. Taking a reusable Water-to-Go bottle, for example, would help protect the environment by saving on hundreds of single-use plastic water bottles.
“For over three decades Latin America has endured the unenviable distinction of having more street children per capita than any place on earth…An estimated 40 million children live on the streets of Latin America’s densely populated cities – out of an estimated total population of 500 million.”
Sustainable travel is an expression used to embody the travel trade’s principles of using tourism to benefit local communities, conserve natural resources, and bolster the survival of culture and heritage. Currently, more than 96,000,000 children in Latin America live in poverty and around 40% of all children in Latin America do not even complete 5 years of education. We felt that it was important to support the initiatives with the LATA Foundation with Journey Latin America to tackle these problems.
There are several projects from the LATA Foundation that Journey Latin America and Water-to-Go are helping to fund to make a difference in Latin America:
The Project – Vidarte Space has several projects to help underprivileged children from the favelas of Rio de Janerio. Their main project, the Vidanca Dance School, is located in the Complexo do Alemao favela. It began in 2009 as an initiative to offer children from the favelas the opportunity to express themselves through the art of ballet. www.projetovidancar.com.br
The Project – Tiempo de Juego, a Colombian NGO, supports children and young people who are at risk of forced recruitment and violence in their communities. Through innovative arts, drama and music activities, the project encourages the children to explore the challenges they face in their daily lives and help them develop the skills to overcome these.
The Project – Friends of Alalay directly supports the Alalay Foundation, which was started in the early 1990’s by a 19 year-old Bolivian student who passed street children every day on her way to university and was determined to do something to help. Alalay rescues these kids from the streets and offers them a loving environment living together in family cabins.