Chaz Powell Becomes One of the First to Walk the Length of the Gambia River

After 47 days, 1120km and 1.5 million steps, adventurer, expedition leader and Water-to-Go ambassador Chaz Powell along with his fellow adventurer and expedition photographer Tim Roberts have become the first people in known history to walk the length of the Gambia river from its source in the Fouta Djallon, Guinea to the Atlantic Ocean on Africa’s Western coast.

This epic journey took them through Guinea, Senegal and the complete length of The Gambia to become the first people in known history to walk the river’s length. The map below shows the route they took.

The 1120km shown on a ZeroSixZero map

“It was an incredible life changing expedition that’s taken us through, wild, rugged and breath-taking landscapes from day one!”

Chaz Powell and Tim Roberts

They said it was “a challenging adventure that’s seen us trek through extreme temperatures and harsh landscapes, whilst enduring constant hunger, dehydration and walking amongst the wildest of animals! But also it’s been the most incredible of journeys where we’ve experienced unending hospitality and kindness from the most humble of people.”

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz is no stranger to adventure and has over 15 years of remote travel and expedition experience. In 2016/17 he spent 137 days walking the 3000km length of the Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth longest and wildest river; becoming only the second person in known history to complete this wild and dangerous journey by foot. Roberts joined Chaz on this latest wildest journey as expedition photographer and to help document this historic feat. He’s also no stranger to adventure and has walked various challenging treks all over the world.

This expedition will go down as one of their biggest challenges but also achievements to date as they have now both written themselves into the history books. Whilst they both wanted to test themselves on another wild journey, an important aspect surrounding the expedition was to experience Africa and learn about the wildlife, the culture and the people that live and depend on the Gambia River.

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz and Tim experienced cultures and communities first-hand that many people would not have known even existed so this adventure was able to provide a real insight to Africa that would have been completely different to what many people had experienced before.

It’s important to remember that this was no walk in the park as Chaz and Tim definitely faced a number of challenges along the way including dealing high temperatures and threats from wild animals. One of the major challenges on the expedition was finding safe drinking water. To solve this, Chaz and Tim were pleased to work with the UK company, Water-to-Go. Water-to-Go is a portable water filtration system that eliminates well in excess of 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source. This, therefore, allowed them to fill their bottles up from any freshwater stream, local tap or from the Gambia river itself to keep themselves healthy and hydrated throughout the expedition without getting ill.

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz has used his trusted Water-to-Go bottle on many of his adventures and this on-going partnership highlights his commitment to sustainable travel and protecting the environment. The Water-to-Go ambassador is keen to eliminate all single-use plastic bottles on his expeditions and showcase a simple alternative that everyone can use.

One of the main reason’s behind this expedition was to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and highlight serious wildlife crimes that are happening along the remote regions surrounding Africa’s rivers. Chaz partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation for this expedition, one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations that focuses on the protection of African wildlife and wildlands. Throughout his expedition, Chaz was providing his observations of Africa’s wildlife, wild lands and people to the charity.

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz also highlighted our partnership and current charity project with the African Wildlife Foundation whilst on this expedition. Water-to-Go are working with the African Wildlife Foundation in order to raise money and awareness of the work that they do and to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa. We have produced a limited edition bottle, that Chaz used on his expedition, to raise awareness and funds for the organisation.

If you want to get involved in the campaign, Water-to-Go’s special AWF branded bottles are still available via our website with £10 from each bottle purchased being donated to the incredible projects and programs run by African Wildlife Foundation.

“Through my ‘The Wildest Journey’ expeditions, I hope to inspire people to take note on what’s happening to the remaining wildlife and wild lands and support my journeys to help me raise the vital funds needed to ensure these places are protected and managed well for future generations.”

Chaz Powell

Chaz has a lot more expeditions in store so watch this space to see where he will be exploring next on ‘The Wildest Journey.’

Credit: Tim Roberts

You can help support his remote journeys and be part of helping support his cause by visiting and donating at – www.justgiving.com/TheWildestJourney

Keep up with what Chaz is up to and follow his expeditions on Facebook and Instagram (@thewildestjourney)

Credit: Tim Roberts

Ash Dykes: the good, the bad and the ugly of Mission Yangtze

Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, 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.

We wanted to get the thoughts of Ash after getting to the half-way point in his expedition and his observations so far. In particular, we were interested to hear about the food, the people and his observations of the Yangtze in general. It is clear that there has been a good, a bad and an ugly side of Mission Yangtze.

A lot of people in the UK and the western world are into their Chinese takeaways and have asked Ash whether or not the typical Chinese takeaway meals, are the same as the actual dishes in China. The quick answer would be “no, not really”. In China, it’s better, healthier and there is so much more choice, with the dishes being different in each province.

One of the first places Ash visited was Quinhai, a province in West China, which is one of if not the most wildest parts of Asia in general. There are a lot of locals still living the nomadic way of life, herding their yak and moving from place to place. There are a lot of mongols that Ash has come across, living with their families in nomadic tents and yurts. Up here at 4000 to 5000 metres above sea-level, they experience very extreme conditions. It is very wild and isolated. The temperature is below 0 most of the time, and in Winter it hits -30 degrees Celsius or more

So their food is very heavy and stodgy with a lot of calories to keep them energised. Qinghai Province (west China) which has more of a Tibetan food influence, is made up mainly of fats, proteins and dairy products. It’s heavy and stodgy food that is well needed for those kinds of environments, where there are harsh temperatures and it is at altitude. Ash had a lot of Yak meat, yoghurt, bread, milk, butter and tsampa (roasted flour, usually barley flour and sometimes also wheat flour. It is usually mixed with the salty Tibetan butter tea and great to actually carry with you on long hikes).

When Ash’s journey started to drop in altitude and he ventured into the Sichuan province, the food started to dramatically change. The climate was warmer, there were more plantations and vegetation, the food was far more diverse and a lot tastier, with herbs and spices added to the mix. Sichuan is famous for its spicy hotpots (originally from Chongqing) and the food here does have a kick.

Breaking into Yunnan, they have everything here with so many great dishes. They have all the vegetables, all the meats; and produce loads of meals, suited for all types of eaters. This has been Ash’s favourite cuisine of #MissionYangtze so far.

If you have been following Ash on social media, it is clear that there is an awful lot to experience and witness along the Yangtze river, much of which hasn’t been explored before. The Yangtze is officially the third longest river in the world. In fact, it is only a tad shorter than the Amazon or the Nile – only a couple of days extra walking to make up the difference according to Ash.

People assume that, because of the sheer size of it, the Yangtze is very heavily polluted but to say that, you would be very much mistaken. It perhaps is at the end of it and Ash will observe this at the end of his expedition. Ash has walked over 2000 miles so far and the river has been brown at times. But this is mainly because of the heavy storms they experience there; washing down dirt and clay off mountains in the water and turning it that colour. At the moment, Ash is happy to report that it is blue and very fresh, clean, clear.

“This is another shock. I thought I’d find polluted water – but the 2,000 miles of what I’ve done so far, has been quite fresh. It’s blue and there’s lots of wildlife. Now I’ve hit the halfway point and I’m starting to go north-east, towards Shanghai, I will start seeing a different river. I don’t look forward to seeing that. I took a last look at the Yangtze in all its health, nice and blue.”

Ash Dykes

So there is a lot of good work being done that Ash has seen and been told about by the locals. There is a lot of protection for aquatic life and endangered wildlife in particular. Ash only learned a few weeks ago that there is there is still the wild dolphin along with the Yangtze alligator that still habits there; that was originally written off as being extinct.

Ash has walked through the main Yangtze provinces of Yunan, Sichuan and Qinghai so far. Each province has its own different people, dialects, feuds, plantations and vegetation. Ash has experienced a different way of life in each of these provinces which has only furthered his knowledge of the Yangtze and China as a whole. But one thing has remained the same – the people and their manner. Wherever Ash has been, the locals have been so friendly and hospitable. He has been welcomed into the community and has been offered a place to stay and eat wherever he has been. The people always try their best to accommodate.

However, it hasn’t always been easy when the people have tried to show their kindness. This ‘kindness’ has often ended up with Ash being detained and questioned by the police! Ash has gone to such wild places that they don’t know what to do so they just end up calling the police. The police have often rocked up at 2/3 am – not to cause harm but to question him as they are worried for his safety. Ash is aware that they might not have seen a westerner before and this has been part of the confusion. The policed have taken him in but always let him go eventually. Ash has just taken it in his stride and accepted that it has just a part of mission.

One of the main aspects of Ash’s expedition was to experience the people and the different cultures along the Yangtze. Ash has been surprised at the sheer number of communities and people that live along and depend on the Yangtze. There are at least 111 cities along the Yangtze, that Ash is aware of, that have a population higher than New Zealand which is staggering. With it being so long at 4000 miles, the Yangtze caters for everyone so you find a diverse range of people that live along there.

The first half of his journey has taken him through China’s ‘wild west’, exposing him to the elements and vistas of jaw-dropping beauty. Now he’s preparing to tackle the urbanised east, where human development dominates and cities are interspersed with paddy fields.

“The first half [of this trip] was always anticipated to be the most difficult. It’s sensitive being so close to Tibet and it’s so remote and wild. The terrain was tricky, temperatures dropped below minus 20C, there were snow blizzards and there was a threat from bears and wolves.”

Ash Dykes

The mission got off to a fairly rocky start – complications with permits, visas and his support team have pushed the challenge back by a few weeks. “On the way up the mountain I lost my videographers through a combination of altitude sickness and the extreme cold,” says Dykes. “Then, my local guide was doubled over and I checked on him, his nose was bleeding and he was struggling for breath. He’s a local Tibetan, who lives in a village at about 3,500 metres [11,500 feet] [above sea level], but even he had to turn back.” This was a big wake-up call for Ash and everyone following the expedition to realise the sheer danger and harsh conditions that is encompassed with this mission.

Despite this, Ash has carried on like the true Welsh warrior that he is and was delighted to reach the half-way mark after so many setbacks and difficulties. However, Ash will be facing a different set of challenges as he starts to travel through the more urban parts of the Yangtze. Ash still has another 2000 miles of adventuring through Chinese terrain where he will encounter fresh challenges and amazing experiences along the way. Ash is prepared for what is to come over the next several months.

“There will be different challenges – maybe snakes and spiders. I can’t go trampling on someone’s land so I’ll have to go around and that’s going to be more annoying and irritating than anything else. The river is a lot deeper, so the tributaries are wider and there’ll be more detours. The river is just under 4,000 miles but this will end up being more than a 4,000 mile trek.”

Ash Dykes

Whilst the many changes in scenery, people and food; there is one thing that remains the same on his journey that is always there – his Water-to-Go bottle. He has carried his trusted Water-to-Go for the duration of this mission and his 2 previous world firsts across Mongolia and Madagascar to keep him healthy and hydrated with safe clean drinking water.

There have been many points along this mission where he has been desperate for water and has simply filled his Water-to-Go bottle with water straight from the Yangtze itself and the 3-in-1 technology filter has allowed him to drink it straight away.

His Water-to-Go bottle has been an essential item on all of his travels to provide him with safe, drinking water wherever he is. Not only does it help him save money, but it also helps him to save weight and save the planet by not needing to purchase single-use plastic bottles that we find so often polluting our rivers and oceans.

A major part of Ash’s expedition is to travel responsibly and sustainably, and the Water-to-Go bottle allows him to do this. Ash has been explaining this to the people he meets on his journey and is trying to help them become more sustainable as a community. Water-to-Go is the ideal alternative to single-use plastic bottles and we are delighted that Ash is promoting this message on his biggest expedition yet.

Overall, Ash is pleased with how his expedition is going and everything that he is learning about the Yangtze. He is looking forward to the next chapter and will look to keep us all updated with his progress.

Keep track of Ash on his live tracker

So make sure you keep up with Ash on social media as he continues his expedition and experiences the beauties of the Yangtze and China in general.

10 Ways to Reduce your Plastic Waste

Simple Things you can do to Reduce your Plastic Pollution Footprint

The World’s plastic pollution problem has become a source for global concern over the past few years. Of the 6 billions tonnes of plastic that has been produced since the 1950s, only around 9% is recycled. This means there is a phenomenal amount of plastic and waste in general that escapes our waste management systems and ends up polluting our planet.  Every year approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans and result in harming wildlife and wild animals. It is imperative that we all do our bit to tackle this and reduce plastic waste.

This guide will aim to help you reduce your plastic waste and stop using single-use plastic in as many situations as possible. There are some very simple things that you can do and changes you can make in your life that will make a difference.

Use your own non-plastic carrier bags

Whilst the 5p plastic bag charge has made a big difference in the amount of carrier bags people use, plastic bags remain a big contributor to the world’s plastic pollution problem.

There is a range of alternatives to single-use plastic bags available made from fabrics such as canvas and natural fibres, so you can avoid plastic altogether. They generally aren’t too expensive either so if you are a regular shopper it shouldn’t be too long until your bag has paid itself off.

Get a Reusable Water Bottle

With a million plastic bottles bought around the world every minute, getting yourself a reusable water bottle is a great way to help prevent one of the biggest contributors towards the world’s plastic problem.

The Water-to-Go bottle is a fantastic replacement for single-use plastic water bottles. In addition to the reusable element of the bottle, it’s replaceable filter cartridge is able to filter out well over 99.9% of microbiological contaminants from any fresh water source. This means no matter the situation you’re in you shouldn’t ever need to revert to single-use plastic water bottles.

Just 75cl Water-to-Go filter will replace 400 single-use plastic water bottles. If we all adotped this principle and changed our mindset on plastic, just think of the difference we could make.

Opt for a reusable coffee cup

Similarly to water bottles, using plastic coffee cups for just one tea or coffee is another very wasteful practice, with 7 million disposable plastic coffee cups used every day in the UK.

A number of the big coffee companies such as Starbucks and Costa have started reusable cup initiatives such as money off your coffee if you bring in a reusable cup as well as starting to make their own reusable cups.

There are plenty of options for reusable coffee cups with many at a very reasonable price. So if you take advantage of the extra money off your coffee with the reusable cup you’ll be able to pay it off in no time.

Avoid plastic cutlery and plastic straws

Plastic Cutlery is something that has become common in many takeaway shops 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 single-use plastic knives and forks.

These generally come as a cutlery set of knife, fork and spoon with a case so that they are easy to carry around. Non-plastic straws are also widely available in a similar fashion to the cutlery sets. You can get these in a range of materials including wood, plastic and metal, although these will need cleaning fairly regularly.

Carry your own food and containers

Carrying your own food rather than buying, for example, a sandwich from a shop can help you reduce the amount of plastic packaging you are buying and inevitably your plastic waste.

By packing your own food in reusable containers you won’t need to buy food packaged in plastic, and your reusable containers will mean you won’t need to throw anything away either.

Plastic-free chewing gum

The majority of chewing gums are made up of a synthetic rubber which in essence is a plastic. In fact, 85% of people in the UK don’t know that these chewing gums contain plastic. So when used and thrown away most chewing gums are pretty much a single-use plastic.

So avoiding chewing gum altogether is one way to avoid this form of plastic waste. However, there are a few new companies that have been popping up making natural, biodegradable chewing gums. Iceland has now become the first UK supermarket to stock this form of chewing gum from a brand called ‘Simply Gum’.

Buy in bulk

Unfortunately, in today’s world, there may be times where avoiding single-use plastic is unavoidable. Despite this, there are still ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that you buy. One concern is when you buy products, such as clothes online or certain foods, they will always come in plastic packaging. A way to reduce the amount of plastic packaging you’re buying and inevitably throwing away is to buy in bulk.

Often when you buy in bulk you will be able to buy products that come in less plastic packaging than they would have if they were to be bought individually. In the case of online clothing, a lot of retailers will put more than one item of clothing in the same plastic packaging, meaning buying lots of pieces of clothing in one order will reduce the amount of plastic packaging they will send out and in turn the amount of plastic waste you are throwing away.

Keep watching for new anti-plastic initiatives

As people and companies become more aware of the world’s plastic waste problem, companies are starting to take action with new plastic-free products, such as the ones we’ve already discussed in this blog. So make sure you’re keeping an eye out for new ways to reduce your plastic footprint.

You can also get involved with non-profit organisations and initiatives which are helping to combat the plastic pollution problem. Incredible Oceans is a fantastic example of a not-for-profit organisation that are helping protect our oceans from plastic pollution. They run education programmes, events and festivals using charismatic marine creatures to tell critical ocean stories in engaging and entertaining ways.

These changes may seem small but if we all change our mindset around plastic, we can all make a huge difference and preserve the future of our planet. Join us on the Water-to-Go journey and together we will change the world, one bottle at a time.

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

Water-to-Go appoints new distributor for Spain and Portugal

Water-to-Go are delighted to announce that we have appointed a new distributor for Spain and Portugal. On 15th January 2019, the contract was officially signed meaning we will soon be selling our products in Spain and Portugal.

Our new distributor, MOS Supplier, are based in Quelez and are excited about working with us and distributing Water-to-Go products.

They are determined to get Water-to-Go into the major markets of Spain and Portugal so everyone can get their hands on our unique filter bottles. They are already getting plenty of interest so we are sure that they will do well.

This is a fantastic time for the business as we continue to expand and grow. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, 2019 is set to be a fantastic year for Water-to-Go and a new distributorship in Europe will certainly be a contributing factor towards that.

Part of our plan to expand as a business and continue our mission is to enter new markets across the world to get the product into key market sectors. Now that we have added Spain and Portugal to our ever-growing list of (over 50) distributing countries, it is another important milestone for Water-to-Go as we strive to get the product to those who need it the most. Our successful crowdfunding campaign will also allow us to develop the product, upscale the business and support our distributors further so we can get even more people to join our journey and help change the world, one bottle at a time.

Although this is very early stages, we are predicting big things for our new distributor in Spain and Portugal and we are looking forward to what the future holds. Follow our progress and join the Water-to-Go journey on social media.

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 9 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 is also going to be visiting the Destinations Show in February, where Water-to-Go will be exhibiting, so we look forward to seeing him there.

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.

Water-to-Go supports Echo in Africa project

Hello, my name is Sara and this is my story about a life-changing trip I recently took to South Africa. We all seek to make a difference in our lives and I was grateful to be able to do this for those less fortunate than ourselves. Thanks to Water-to-Go, we managed to provide the equivalent of 4,410 litres of filtered water for an underprivileged community we visited in South Africa. Read on to find out more about this project and why we were there.

South Africa is often not considered one of the African countries most ‘in need’ of support, perhaps because of some the extremes elsewhere in Africa. However, after visiting in 2018, it is clear there is a large number of South African people in need. This is where the Echo in Africa project came into effect.

Echo in Africa Project

I am a cardiac physiologist and have been working for the NHS for the past 4 years in London. This year my department has supported me in a life-long dream, sending me to Africa to diagnose children with cardiac disease. This has been made possible by the project ‘Echo in Africa’ created by volunteer cardiologists, physiologists, the British Society of Echocardiography and SunHeart Foundation.

The main focus was on rheumatic disease, an inflammatory reaction that can develop as a complication of a Group A streptococcal infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever. This disease affects the heart, joints, brain and skin, and commonly develops silently until the advanced stages of rheumatic disease. At least 12 million people are currently affected by this disease, with 2 million patients needing hospital admission and 1 million needing cardiac surgery in the next five to twenty years.

The water crisis in Cape Town caught my attention and then during preparation for this travel, I started collecting donations from all sorts of sources. These included clothes, toys, books, backpacks, hats, nappies, shoes, towels, baby clothes, sports equipment and so on.

I was aware that the children we would be screening are from extremely poor communities and settlements. How were they dealing with this water crisis? What kind of water are they drinking? I was thinking.

My research started around what could I do to help in this area. Ideally, the intention was to make the most of any water source available, so finding an effective and practical way of filtering water anywhere was essential.

Water-to-Go in South Africa

It was at this stage I found Water-to-Go. When I contacted the company and told them about the idea, they were extremely enthusiastic about supporting me in South Africa.

We came up with a code (EAPDONATE) that when someone bought a 75cl bottle, Water-to-Go would donate a second. Plus extra bottles on top of this were donated by Water-to-Go.

In my mind I had many questions, after the 200 litres (the life of one 75cl filter) what would the kids and families do with the bottles? It’s funny how your opinion changes when you are physically delivering each bottle. You realise that 4 months of drinking water is a true gift.

The bottles were given mainly to pregnant patients and kids, who currently live in an informal settlement called Freedom Farm. As a plan of action to provide as much safe drinking water as possible, I plan on returning to South Africa in 2019. I will take more bottles with me as well as replacement filters for those communities who have already been reached with bottles.

I can only try and express how good it feels to contribute towards the reduction of single-use plastic on this planet and far beyond explanation is the gratitude seen in the eyes of those receiving these gifts.

My Time in South Africa

After completing my mission in Cape Town, I travelled to the Kruger National Park passing Johannesburg on my way to Swaziland. In the Kruger National Park I camped for 3 hot days and 3 cold nights. We also embarked on 3 daily safaris each one lasting around 3-4 hrs. Water tended to run out in the first couple of hours, however with my Water-to-Go bottle I could fill up from any non-salt water source.

This bottle was my main company and has brought a conscious purpose to be added to the experience. It has also added to the intentions of projects like ‘Echo in Africa’.

Thank you Water-to-Go for the support, inspiration and materialisation of this essential tool. I’m looking forward to our next partnership.

Guest blog post from Sara Broring, Chief Cardiac Physiologist at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, London

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.