After 352 days, Ash Dykes is now the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River in Recorded History
It’s official, Ash Dykes has now completed his greatest challenge to date! Ash’s 4000-mile long trek over 352 days has finally come to its conclusion as Ash reached the Pacific Ocean in Shanghai on 12th August. Mission Yangtze is now complete!
Spreading awareness of Mission Yangtze
Ash is now back in the UK and has been on various news channels and programs for interviews about his amazing achievement. So far, he has been on BBC News, ITV News, The One Show, Sky News and Good Morning Britain with even more to come!
Check out this fantastic interview on Sky News Sunrise where he mentions how using his Water-to-Go bottle helped him save around 1400 single-use plastic bottles (3:18)
Mission Yangtze has thrown up a variety of challenges for Ash Dykes
The Welsh adventurer started his journey just under one year ago in August of 2018. Ash has previously achieved two other world firsts being the first person to walk across Mongolia solo as well as a 1,600-mile trek across Madagascar via its eight highest peaks. However, this 4,000 mile trek is a massive step up from anything he’s done before.
Along the journey, Ash has faced a wide range of challenges and environments along the way. Starting in the Chinese Mountains at the source of the Yangtze, Ash faced an altitude of over 5000 metres. This posed potentially fatal challenges such as altitude sickness, sub-zero temperatures and dangerous mountain paths.
Ash would then have to face threats from China’s rural Wildlife. He would have to navigate his way around bears and wolf packs during the treck, with Ash finding bear footprints just centimetres from his tent on some mornings. He also had to manage a pack of hungry wolves following him for long periods of his journey.
As he came out of rural China, Ash would face a completely new environment as he started to travel through some of China’s biggest cities. Temperatures would be the complete reverse to the sub-zero nights he faced at the beginning of his journey going higher and higher as he progressed. Ash eventually acheived his goal in Shanghai following an incredible almost year-long expedition in which he had to be prepared for anything. During a recent BBC Radio 4 interview, Ash described China as ‘a little bit of every country in one’, following his journey along the Yangtze.
Water-to-Go on Mission Yangtze
One challenge that Ash would face throughout the entirety of his 4000 miles is how he would get access to clean safe drinking water. With the sheer volume of walking a physical activity Ash would be doing, making sure can stay hydrated wherever he is would be crucial to his mission. He would also need to avoid any waterborne illnesses, which alone in China’s rural environments could be potentially fatal.
Thankfully Ash was equipped with his Water-to-Go filter bottle. The Water-to-Go filter bottle is able to filter 99.99% of contaminants from any non-salt water source. This meant that no matter where Ash was he could always rely on water from the Yangtze river or puddles, lakes and even bad tap water to stay hydrated. Ash’s Water-to-Go bottle has now accompanied him on all three of his World firsts.
“Big shout out to Water-to-Go. With their water filtration system built into their water bottles, this gave me access to fresh drinking water, any place, anytime, anywhere and also helped me to protect the environment by stopping me from using around 1,400 single use plastic bottles, which cause harm to the environment, during the 352 days.”
We’d like to give Ash a huge congratulations on his incredible achievement from everyone at Water-to-Go!
UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, is getting ever closer to the end of his latest mission. He is only a few days away from becoming the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River.
He passed the 3000-mile mark of Mission Yangtze and his continuing his excellent progress along the Yangtze and through China. He is covering around 30 miles a day despite everything that the Yangtze has thrown at him. This part of the mission has been an important time to interact with followers, media outlets and people along the way to raise awareness about what he is set to achieve.
During his whole expedition but more recently, Ash has been making time to interact with people along the way, giving interviews or speeches in order to share all aspects of the journey so far.
He has been presenting to children at a primary school, all full of energy and eager to meet Ash in person after they have heard about his extraordinary journey. Ash loves sharing stories about the mission so far and tries to help with advice whenever he can. Whether that is facing challenges and rising against the struggle, or understanding just how amazing our planet is.
Back in March, Ash was featured on the cover story of China Daily documenting his journey with more and more media gaining interest.
Cecille Elbeleidi, British Consul General in Chongqing, called Dykes “an excellent example of UK’s dynamic and adventurous spirit.” “I’m particularly pleased that, along with his expedition, he has been actively promoting environment conservation, reduced use of plastics and wildlife protection,” she told China Daily.
In April, Ash was invited by the ‘China Adventure Association’ for a live interview as well as Chongqing Radio, Chongqing TV, Youth Daily and Discover Chongqing. Ash loved it and is totally excited about the interactivity of his mission so far.
Ash’s status and popularity has been ever-growing in China as more people hear about his latest and previous missions, as well as interacting with his posts on social media.
He has also been presenting, doing various appearances, book signing events, leading a two day trip up a local mountain for Kailas, doing school talks, attending a charity event for disadvantaged children and taking on many interviews and meetings.
This is a great opportunity for Ash to promote his mission, inspire the next generation and provide knowledge from his other adventures. They have all been very well attended and Ash has been overwhelmed by the support and interest in Mission Yangtze, in China particularly.
Ash got approached by the ‘WUJI’ brand that flew him First Class to Shanghai for a ‘fast’ photo shoot for GQ magazine together with Chinese action movie and martial art star 向佐 Jacky Heung. WUJI is a cobranded clothing range between Adidas and international Movie Star Jet Li. WUJI wanted two social influencers, one from the east and one from the west, to come together and show off the beauty of this martial art.
Ash’s background is mainly Muay Thai, but he is always eager to learn more and put on a show. Jacky, with his 10+ years of experience, guided Ash through some basic Kung-Fu moves and certainly got Ash looking sharp for the photos.
There was a recent Adidas Photo Exhibition in Shanghai, followed by the official launch. With Adidas, GQ, Jacky Heung and Ash Dykes sharing across their social media platforms, this generated a reach of tens of millions across China. You can read more about it here.
This is just one example of how Ash’s reputation is growing in China and how word is quickly spreading about his epic mission.
But it hasn’t all been easy as we explained in our previous blogs on Mission Yangtze. He has come through irrepressible weather, threat of dangerous animals and bouts of illness, but now he is facing the challenge of very difficult terrain.
These pictures capture the terrain that he is now covering and are the reason why by at the end of this mission, he would have done over 4,000 miles. Sometimes it’s not physically possible to follow the river by its bank and often he has been forced to either trek on the nearest mountainous ridge – or within the valley on the opposite side to the ridges.
Being able to adapt and understanding your surroundings, is the key to survival.
Ash has had to draw upon his skills and instinct to adapt to his surroundings. He has had to make decisions right from the very beginning that haven’t been the easiest to make but have ensured that he has reached this point in the expedition to minimise threats the safety, health and wellbeing of himself and his team.
He has had to remain focussed on the job in hand and ensure that he kept up the great progress on the expedition, regardless of the other aspects surrounding Mission Yangtze. It hasn’t been easy by any means but has been able to rely on his strict training regime and intense preparation he made in advance of embarking on this latest challenge.
I’ve always taken my training seriously and actually realised my passion for fitness long before exploration. What keeps me motivated is trying to picture the toughest scenarios I’ll face when out in the wild and often – the toughest has come true, where I’ve relied on my training to survive. Whether that’s crossing the most terrifying landslides, hacking through the densest and most demanding jungles or fighting and hanging on in there during a bout with malaria. Mindset is a whole different ball game but never be mistaken – with how important training and fitness is. I don’t come with a military mind, I come self taught, I’ve learnt from people I’ve met and I’ve learnt through making mistakes, falling and standing back up again with no brotherhood support, just my very own mind and body.
The longer routes, however, have been sort of a blessing in disguise as he has been able to take in more of the spectacular sights and atmosphere of China. If he was to stick to walking everyday, he would miss out on the true adventure, which is integrating and learning from the locals that he meets.
Throughout his journey, the people of China have been incredibly warm, welcoming and actually a huge part of the expedition itself, makes this country feel like a second home for him.
There have been several moments or problems that have threatened the mission, even before Ash had it all planned, it seems:
Many had warned me before, that it was impossible to walk the Yangtze from the source to the sea
Because the first section on the plateau (at an average of over 4,500 meters above sea level) and the barely inhabited mountain areas are very dangerous to cross, it was recommended that he shouldn’t even attempt the mission. But Ash carried on with preparations, regardless, and has got through the hardest part of the mission; even if it did take its toll on his team.
In order to cross the plateau and mountains in good weather, the journey was planned to start in summer, but because of delays in preparations, Dykes arrived in Qinghai in late August as the days were becoming shorter and colder. Unwilling to wait for another year, he decided to press on. He would be the first to say it was difficult but his determination and motivation to succeed helped him through.
Mission Yangtze is not only a human feat and world first, it’s a mission to showcase the true beauty and wonders of China, (and) highlight the environment and positive work being done to protect it
Ash managed to spend a day with the 赠客网Zenker Network, who work with disadvantaged children. He shared stories with the children, showing them the impossible is possible, to stay focussed on your dream, follow your heart and the importance of enjoying yet protecting this planet we live on.
This was followed by litter picking along the Yangtze River bank. It is great to see the young people taking care of the planet and the environment. As Ash states – “it’s the future generation that will really help turn around the destruction we’ve caused to this planet 🌏”
Ash has also sought to make this expedition one of the most interactive. This wasn’t just about social media posts, it has been about making appearances and truly getting involved in the local areas and big cities that he has passed through.
Ash loves sharing stories about the mission so far but also of previous expeditions.
The next step has been allowing people to physically join and share the journey, so he can showcase furthermore, the beauty and diversity of this massive country and highlight all the positive things being done to protect the natural environment.
This is all going to be featured in his documentary series that he is working on with a television production company in China. The country is so vast and here are still so many hidden treasures to discover.
Whilst there have been many changes of many aspects during the mission, one thing that has remained the same and with Ash throughout is his trusted Water-to-Go bottle.
Water-to-Go is my number one item on all expeditions
He recently reflected how Water-to-Go has kept him safe over a number years and helped him to complete his other world-first expedition in Mongolia and Madagascar. He has hiked through the Gobi-Desert solo and unsupported, hacked through dense jungle and survived sub-zero temperatures.
He highlighted – “Through all of this, I’ve never had to worry about water, as long as there is a water source near by, 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.”
It is fantastic to hear that during his two world-first records and currently on his third – Ash has not needed to buy plastic bottles. This sets a great precedent to the people following him and all the people that he has met along the way. We are proud to sponsor him and to be a part of his journey.
It has been a huge mission that many said was not possible, but Ash has overcome everything that he has faced so far and is on the brink of history. As Ash enters the final weeks of his expedition, make sure you read all about it and realize how big an achievement this will be.
A Guide to help you pack the best items on your Safari to South Africa
With over 10 million foreign visitors a year, South Africa has a big appeal to tourists and with the famous Kruger National Park, Safaris play a large part of that tourism. The country has many Safari parks, which together attract millions of visitors every year, with the Kruger National park being the biggest Safari attraction in South Africa.
We’ve worked with safari companies such as Africa Star Tours and Volcano Safaris, and in doing so have gathered some great feedback about what the best items are to bring on your South African Safari trip.
We’ve also partnered with African Wildlife Foundation to help protect Africa’s incredible wildlife and wildlands that you will be experiencing on your Safari. To find out more about our partnership click here.
South Africa’s Kruger National Park
As probably the most popular South African Safari, we’ve provided a few facts about the Kruger National park before you go. With over 1,6 million visitors a year, the Kruger National Park is South Africa’s biggest safari location, having welcomed its first tourists in 1927. The park spans 19,485 km² and is host to a wide range of wildlife including Lions, Leopards, Elephants, buffalo, hippos as well as over 500 species of bird. The Reserve itself has 21 Rest Camps, 2 Private Lodge Concessions And 15 Private Safari Lodges for you to stay at.
A Camera to Capture your Journey
Having some form of camera will be a fantastic item so that you can capture some of the rarest animals on our planet. Using just your phone camera may be fine for some pictures however, it may not be the best option for capturing animals you’re not able to get up close with.
Therefore, getting yourself a good quality camera can help you capture some of the best photos during your Safari. It will help you get some great pictures of both the wildlife and the landscape along your way and is a great way to capture your memories of the trip.
The Best Camera for a Safari
There is a range of high-quality cameras available from brands like Sony, Panasonic and Fuji. Make sure to have a look around and find the best camera for your needs.
One great camera for a Safari is the Canon 80D. Firstly it’s a durable and weatherproof, meaning it will be able to deal with dusty South African Safari conditions. Additionally, it takes an excellent quality of photo so you’ll be able to capture the sights your trip in fantastic detail. However, whilst this camera is excellent for a safari it does come at a significant cost, so if you are looking for a cheaper option this may not be the best camera for you.
For similar reasons to a camera, bringing binoculars will enhance your experience during your Safari as well. You’ll want to make the most of your time out in the wild and that partially means getting the best view of as many animals as you can. Unfortunately binoculars cant change how many animals you see, but if there are animals a long way in the distance the binoculars will help you get the best look you can.
What to consider when buying Safari Binoculars
When choosing your binoculars you’ll want to consider a few different factors before your purchase:
Magnification: Make sure to get binoculars that are able to see a fairly long distance away, otherwise they won’t be much use! You can also get binoculars that have variable zoom which may be a useful feature.
Convenience: Travelling around all day means you won’t want to be carrying any unnecessary weight, so finding yourself a lighter and smaller pair of binoculars can be very beneficial.
Durability: As you’ll be out in the wild all day a pair of binoculars that can cope with the terrain is essential. Make sure to look for binoculars that will be able to withstand dusty South African conditions especially.
Quality of Image: You’ll want binoculars that are able to clearly see a fair amount of detail through the lens. The last thing you want is to be looking at a blurry spot instead of an elephant!
Cost: Whilst all these factors are important you’ll need to balance these against cost. If you’re looking at a lower price range you may have to compromise on some of these features, however you should still be able to find good quality binoculars at a reasonable price.
Sun Cream and a Sun Hat
With South African temperatures regularly hitting over 25ºC, sun cream and a hat will be essential for your Safari. These would be useful items if you were just on holiday but as you will be out in the sun all day on safari they become essential items for you. It’s also important to make sure you bring sun cream with you during the day so you can top up regularly.
As well as using sun cream regularly, a great item to prevent sunburn is a sun hat. This will not only help prevent sunburn on your neck and face but also keep your body temperature cooler throughout the day, reducing the risk of sunstroke.
The benefits of Suncream
There are numerous health benefits towards using sunscreen with the most obvious being you won’t be having to endure the pain of sunburn during your holiday. However, there are also long-term benefits such as reducing the chances of skin cancer, reducing premature skin ageing and preventing blotchy skin.
Safari Specific Clothing
Having already discussed a sun hat, you’ll also want to think about the clothing that you’ll be wearing out in the sun. Out in the heat all day you’ll want to make sure you’re feeling comfortable and not too hot in your clothing.
When thinking about your attire, comfort and ease are two factors that should be essential. In scorching South African heat, having restricting clothing that may even be hard to move in will almost certainly have a negative impact on your safari experience. Another factor that could be considered is bug bites. Companies such as Rohan make insect repellent clothing which can be very useful in any country where you will face the threat of bitey insects.
Also think about Safari Appropriate Footwear
As well as your clothing, you’ll want to think about what sort of footwear you’ll need for your safari. This may depend on how much walking you’ll be doing, however, it’s probably best to look for some specific walking boots so that you won’t be doing any damage to your feet after a long day of walking. After all, you won’t want to be going into day 2 with blisters on your feet.
Reusable Water Filter Bottle
Being outside in the heat all day means you’ll need to find an effective way to stay hydrated throughout the day. The issue of hydration during the day is often solved through single-use plastic bottled water, which of course is very damaging for the environment. However in some places, tap water may not be a safe option and there won’t be many water sources out on your Safari. So what other options do you have?
The most effective way to keep you hydrated throughout the day, without having to contribute to the world’s plastic pollution problem, is through a filter water bottle. The Water-to-Go bottle can filter dirty unsafe water as you drink. This means that you can fill up from any fresh water source with confidence you won’t suffer any illness. You can therefore, fill up from any tap water or even a river or lake during your Safari.
A good tip for your safari may be to take a large over 2-litre bottle of unfiltered water and decant this into your filter bottle. This is because there is a strong chance your filter bottle won’t hold enough for a full day out in the sun. So unless you know you’ll be stopping regularly for water, make sure to carry more than enough for a full day’s safari with you.
Consider your Medication and the Threat of Malaria
As one of the most deadly diseases in human history, Malaria remains a genuine threat to anyone travelling to the African continent. Malaria medication is available in the UK and is likely to be essential for your Safari. Before going on your safari make sure to consult with your GP to ask about any vaccines or medication you may need before travelling.
Insect Repellent to prevent Bug Bites
Travelling anywhere in Africa, bringing insect and specifically mosquito repellent is an important item. The last thing you want during your Safari days is to be constantly itching because of insect bites. The spray will also help you avoid mosquitos and the dangerous diseases they carry.
As previously mentioned, you can also get yourself insect repellent clothing which will be able which is another great way to keep yourself protected. Both methods should work effectively, however to be safe it may be best to still use repellent spray even if you’ve got the clothing as well.
Essential Items for Travel
Slightly less specific for your safari, but make sure to double check you have your usual travel essentials. Make sure to check what you need for your specific journey, but some things these should include are:
Water-to-Go are Supporting Welsh Adventurer Keenan Williams, following his journey to Snowdonia
Keenan Williams has just finished a trip to Snowdonia National Park at the age of just 20-years old and is already planning his next adventure, across the peaks of Wales. He used his Water-to-Go filter bottle on his most recent journey, filling from sources all over Snowdonia.
Keenan has written about his experience at Snowdonia and with his Water-to-Go filter bottle …
About Keenan Williams
My name is Keenan, I’m a 20-year-old Outdoor enthusiast from South Wales. I spend most of my time hiking and mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons national park.
Here in Wales we have no shortage of water, from rain, lakes, streams, ponds and waterfalls you don’t have to go far before you come into contact with water. However, none of this water is ever safe to drink untreated due to being riddled with insects such as flies and water spiders, animal waste, bacteria and water born viruses.
Keenan’s Adventure at Snowdonia National Park
On his most recent trip, Keenan would face a problem commonly faced by Adventurers, Explorers and Travelers. How he could get access to clean safe drinking water whilst exploring the great outdoors. However, Keenan was able to find a practical solution to this challenge whilst hiking across Snowdonia…
My most recent trip was to the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. We spent the night camping at Llyn Gwynant which is an amazing lake surrounded by some of Wales’ highest peaks. This was the perfect opportunity to collect water for my day of hiking. After hiking and climbing for around 5 hours the majority of the challenge was complete however we were still at least 2 hours away from civilisation, and with it being the hottest day of the year me and my friend noticed we were running dangerously low on water.
This is where my Water-to-Go bottle comes in every time. I was able to re-fill the bottle using a tiny Waterfall that was running down the side of the summit. Even though it was amazing to look at and looked crystal clear it was easy to see that it cut through a sheep track and that animals use this fall too due to the amount of bones and faeces laying around. However, due to the filter in my bottle I was able to re-fill our water without worrying about drinking any contaminated water.
The most important benefit of the Water-to-Go bottle for me is the fact that I don’t have to carry huge water bottles or heavy bladder bags. This becomes incredibly useful on longer trips, like when I was in Alcudia. The temperature was sitting around 40° so every member of my group was carrying big heavy rucksacks full to the brim of water. As you can imagine the heavy packs combined with the steep terrain and blistering heat made the hike almost unbearable for most of the hikers. I was able to simply carry one Water-to-Go bottle with me and using a little bit of planning of the area beforehand I was able to consistently re-fill my bottle at every stream or lake we passed and not once did I run out of water.
What’s the Next Adventure for Keenan?
Keenan will continue to explore the Welsh outdoors with his next expedition, taking on a considerable more sizeable challenge than his most recent trip to Snowdonia National Park …
I have a major trip planned in December where I am planning to climb all of the peaks in Wales that stand over 3000ft. This adventure is going to consist of a lot of wild camping and I will spend the majority of my time in the Snowdonia Mountain range. Throughout the expedition, I will be relying on my Water-to-Go bottle so I can fill up from the many natural lakes and streams.
I’ve been using my Water-to-Go bottle for 7 months now and I never plan on going on an adventure without it. I have drunk from various water sources varying from the biggest Waterfall in Wales to tiny puddles riddled with insects and bacteria and not once have I got an illness. By using my Water-to-Go bottle I am not only able to drink safely from any non-salt water source but I am more importantly contributing to reducing the ever-growing plastic pollution crisis. Water-to-Go has transformed my adventures and helps me stay outdoors for longer as running out of safe water is no longer a factor I need to consider.
Stop Plastic pollution caused by single-use plastic bottles on National Refill Day
National Refill Day is a public awareness campaign aiming to stop millions of single-use plastic bottles from polluting our streets and oceans. The day is encouraging people to carry a reusable water bottle and refill on the go.
Brought to you by City to Sea as part of the award-winning Refill Campaign, National Refill Day is an awareness campaign to get the UK public to stop bottling it when it comes to our drinking water. Refill want to create a new social norm for refilling on the go – saving us money, keeping us hydrated and preventing millions of single-use plastic bottles at the source.
This is something that we are big advocates for and want to encourage everyone to do. We have all the seen the disastrous effect that plastic pollution is having on our planet and it is imperative that we all do our bit to protect our planet.
On June 19th the Refill campaign will be asking the public if they’ve #GotTheBottle to stop buying single-use plastic bottles and replace them with a reusable bottle instead. If just 1 in 10 Brits Refilled once a week, the country would save around 340 million plastic bottles a year.
💧 An estimated 700,000 plastic bottles are littered every day in the UK
💧 Plastic bottles are the most commonly found single-use item on beaches in Europe
One of our core missions at Water-to-Go is to reduce the environmental devastation caused by single-use plastic bottles. Just one of our 75cl filters will replace 400 single-use plastic bottles. Just think of the difference this could make.
Additionally, the bottle’s unique filtration technology means you can fill up from any non-salt water source, such as rivers, lakes and mountain streams, to access safe drinking water. So no matter the situation you won’t need to revert to single-use plastic bottles for accessing clean drinking water.
Water-to-Go Marking National Refill Day
As part of National Refill Day, we’re showcasing some of our favourite places our customers and ambassadors have refilled their Water-to-Go bottles.
Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has refilled his Water-to-Go bottle from the Yangtze river in China on his world-first #MissionYangtze expedition to walk the whole length of the Yangtze river.
Water-to-Go ambassador, Chaz Powell, fills his Water-to-Go bottle from the Gambia river on his recent expedition to become one of the first to walk the whole length of it.
Water-to-Go bottles making an appearance at Glastonbury Festival. If you are at a festival this year, make sure you stay well hydrated and plastic free with a Water-to-Go bottle.
Have a look at our Summer packing list with all the essentials you will need to keep you single-use plastic free. (To get festival ready with Water-to-Go, use discount code: FESTIVAL19)
Tim Kroeger filled up his bottle from a tap whilst on a trip in a village in West Africa.
Keenan Williams refilling his Water-to-Go bottle from a lake in the Brecon Beacons.
Holly from The Outdoor Guide fills up from the snow mountains whilst on a trip in Switzerland.
Tarran Kent-Hume refilled his Water-to-Go bottle from the Rio Negro whilst on an expedition kayaking the Amazon River.
Jule from The Happy Choices drinking water straight from a waterfall whilst on a walk in the Canadian wilderness.
Our Blue 75cl bottle getting a top-up from a mucky puddle whislt on a hike in South Korea.
This refill of the green bottle is straight from a standpipe whilst on a charity trek in the Pyrenees.
Becky the Traveller fills her pink 50cl bottle from a mountain stream whilst on a hike in the Lake District.
Send us your pictures filling up your Water-to-Go bottle from questionable sources and we will feature them on our social media channels.
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.
Get yourself Outdoors this week with National Map Reading Week and Walking Month
This 27th May – 2nd June 2019 is the UK’s National Map Reading week, helping to inspire people to get active and experience the great outdoors. This week aims to inspire those of all ages and interests to get outside, explore, find adventure and make memories.
In addition to this, May is the UK’s National Walking Month, so with it being the final weekend of the month, there’s no better time to get out and explore the great outdoors.
Ordnance Survey and #GetOutside
Starting as simply the producer of world-famous paper maps, our partners, 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. OS has also created a great ‘Explore Near Me’ section on their website, where you can find fantastic ways to get outdoors near your location.
As part of the GetOutside campaign, OS are celebrating National Map Reading week, getting people active and exploring the outdoors. The simple art of reading a map can open up the landscape, take us off well-worn paths and keep us safe.
Don’t Forget your Water-to-Go Filter Bottle
We have partnered with Ordnance Survey, providing specially made branded Water-to-Go filter bottles. To mark their latest brand launch, they are now selling special edition Ordnance Survey filter bottles both in the 50cl and 75cl sizes.
Our filter bottles will eliminate 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants including viruses, bacterias as well as heavy metals and chemicals from any non-saltwater source. This means you’ll be able to stay hydrated from any river, lake or stream you come across whilst you’re exploring the great outdoors.
The Best Ways to Get Outdoors
In celebration of national walking month, Water-to-Go Retail Partners, Blacks, have created a list of the best walks across the UK. This is a great way to get active and experience the best of the British countryside. The list includes walks from all parts of the UK including:
Stackpole Circular, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Prawle Point, Devon
Tobermory Circuit, Isle of Mull, Scotland
London’s South Bank
Get Outdoors at a Festival
If you don’t fancy a walk, another great way to get outdoors is to start enjoying the UK’s festival season, and hopefully some great weather. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with your Water-to-Go bottle, so you can fill up from anywhere around the venue, whilst also avoiding single-use plastic bottles. For this summer only, you can get 19% off any Water-to-Go filter bottle when you use the code FESTIVAL19 at the checkout.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Going to a Festival this summer? Use this Packing List to avoid Single-use Plastic
Every summer millions of people attend British festivals enjoying some of the best live music in the world. However at the same time, a huge amount of plastic waste is being left behind every year. The festivals are starting to take notice themselves with events such as Glastonbury stopping the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. With more and more festivals abandoning single-use plastic products we’ve created a packing list to help you avoid contributing towards the world’s plastic pollution problem. Not wishing to ruin your festival budgeting, if having read this and want to get your own Water-to-Go bottle then please use the discount code FESTIVAL19 for a 19% saving at the checkout.
Overnight Festival Tent
Unless you’re a day-ticket holder, this will be one of your most important items during your time at the festival. This is in a way your home during the festival after all.
Your tent needs will largely depend on how many people you are going with. If you’re travelling with just 2 or three in total you may want to go with your own individual tents or a double and single tent. However, if you’re travelling in a larger group it makes more sense to get yourself one larger tent, which can include your own section if you want some privacy. Gooutdoors.co.uk provide a wide range of festival tents so you will almost certainly be able to find the right tent for you on their website.
Don’t Leave your Tent Behind
Believe it or not, single-use tents seem to be a trend that’s been occurring at many festivals in recent years, especially at the larger festivals. Many festival-goers abandon their tents after the event has finished often due to the fact they think the tents will go to charity or homeless people, according to a recent article by the Telegraph. However, most of the time this isn’t the case and your plastic tent will end up in landfill.
If you’re heading to a #festival this summer, listen to these words from Emily Ford of @BoomtownFair . Your discarded tents will probably end up as landfill.
Although we accept you may be a bit worse for wear on that morning! it’s better to pack up your tents rather than leaving them for landfill and adding to the world’s plastic pollution problem.
Water-to-Go Filter Bottle
Whilst your out in the sun all day it will be essential to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially with the effects of alcohol as well! Carrying a reusable water bottle is a great way to stay hydrated whilst you’re on the go.
The Water-to-Go filter bottles have been tested and proved to filter out over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants as well as chemicals and heavy metals. This means the bottles are great for festivals as you will be able to fill up from any tap around the venue and have complete confidence that you won’t catch any illness.
Water-to-Go Filter Bottles save you Time and Plastic
Firstly you’ll be saving on your plastic usage as you won’t be forced to buy single-use plastic water bottles. Instead, you can fill from any tap or even puddle and get clean safe drinking water instantly. Secondly, you won’t be waiting in line for ages waiting to buy bottled water or fill up your bottle from the bar.
A Reusable glass for your Alcoholic Drinks
Whilst the Water-to-Go Bottles are able to filter any non-salt water source, they haven’t cracked water into wine yet! However, this does give you another chance to avoid more unnecessary single-use plastic. Bringing a reusable metallic glass means you can get your beers in without having to discard a plastic cup every time you want a drink. I’d make sure to give your glass a wash fairly regularly though.
Bring Your Own Reusable Cutlery
Plastic Cutlery is something that has become common in many takeaway shops and food stalls, and is just another form of unnecessary single-use plastic. A fairly new concept of portable, reusable cutlery is something that can help in preventing the need for knives and forks made from single-use plastic.
These generally come as a cutlery set of knife, fork and spoon with a case so that they are easy to carry around. You can also add a straw to your non-plastic cutlery set to avoid having to discard plastic ones. This could be a good idea as whilst paper straws are starting to become more popularly used, most places still use the single-use plastic straw.
Wellie Boots in case of Bad Weather
Based on the unpredictability of the British weather, bringing a pair of wellie boots can become extremely useful. You should think carefully about your footwear no matter the weather, however being stuck in a field with a brand new pair of trainers will only end badly, especially if it’s chucking it down. Even if they don’t get any use during the festival, it’s worth bringing a pair just in case.
Sleeping bags are a great way to combat the potentially cold nights in your tent. This should keep you warm throughout the night, and some sleeping bags come with a zip feature that allows you to use the items as more of a blanket if it does get too hot.
Air bed or Sleeping Matt
To go along with your sleeping bag, you’ll want some form of comfy, tempory bedding. Whilst you’ll already have your sleeping bag it’s going to be pretty uncomfortable to just sleep in that, so we’d recommend bringing either an Air bed or sleeping matt with you as well.
You’ll need all the energy you can get during your festival, so making sure you get as good a night’s sleep as possible will be very important.
Portable Battery Charger for your Phone
Keeping your phone charged during a festival can be a real challenge, especially for those staying over at least one night. There may be some festivals which have charging stations however, it’s probably more convenient to bring a portable charger, especially for evenings at your campsite.
Power Traveller make an excellent solar-powered portable charger. This means you won’t have to find a power socket if you are in need of even more charge. The charger itself is also pretty light in weight so will be convenient for you to carry with you during the day. The use of solar energy also means you can help reduce your carbon footprint during the festival as you will be avoiding non-renewable sources of electricity.
Plastic Free Toiletries
You’ll need to keep fresh and clean over the course of the festival, especially if you’re staying over at least one night. One of the bigger challenges in going single-use plastic free is when you’re putting together your toiletries for the festival. It can be very difficult to find items like sun cream, wet wipes and shampoo without having to buy some form of plastic.
However, there are still some alternatives available, so you can avoid unnecessary plastic in your toiletries bag.
Reduce your Plastic with a Bamboo Toothbrush
It can be difficult to avoid plastic when you’re compiling your toiletries for the festival although there are some plastic alternatives out there. One great way to avoid buying plastic is to get a bamboo toothbrush. Anything But Plastic makes a brilliant bamboo toothbrush which is far more environmentally friendly than the usual plastic toothbrush.
Bring a Flannel instead of Disposable Wet Wipes
Getting yourself a reusable flannel (face towel) is a great alternative to bringing a pack of wet wipes. You’ll be reducing your waste as you won’t be having to throw anything away after just one use, plus if you find the right company, you won’t have to buy any plastic packaging that will eventually also be thrown away.
Replace Shower Gel with a Bar of Soap
Another replaceable in your toiletry set is your shower gel. Instead of buying shower gel in a plastic container that will eventually be thrown away, you can swap it for a bar of soap which, in many cases, will come without any plastic packaging.
Another interesting development is ‘Naked shower gel’. Lush has developed a solid shower gel that comes without any plastic packaging. Whilst it may look more like a bar of soap, the actual ingredients used to make the product itself is not made from a soap base, and instead uses similar ingredients to their shower gel range.
Plastic Packaging Alternatives
Following on from Lush’s ‘Naked shower gel’, many companies are starting to find creative alternatives to traditional plastic packaging. Similar to this is a shampoo that is packaging free and simply comes in cubes that you can use straight away to wash your hair. So make sure to keep an eye out for new developments that are able to cut out single-use plastic.
A Bum Bag for your Valuables
Also known as the ‘Fanny Pack’ this is a great item for carrying your things around during the day, without having to lug a backpack around with you. This item is becoming more and more popular with festival goers due to its convenience, and with a wide range of designs, you should be able to find one that looks good as well.
It’s also a great way to keep valuables you may be carrying, such as your phone or money, safe. It’ll be important to keep these items safe and secure as there is a strong chance they would fall out of your pockets during the day.
It may seem obvious but make sure to bring the essential bits and bobs you’ll need to actually get into your festival. These include things like your festival ticket, ID, money or cards and any transport/ parking documents.
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.