Exploration Revealed Issue 2

Page 1

COUNTRY PROFILE Sweden Unplugged pg.24
Photo: Anna McWilliams Sweden Unplugged



Oman by Kirsten Hamilton-Sturdy


List of editors for this issue:

Dr Alicia Colson

Alyssa Sargent

Briana Gervat

Briony Turner

Emma Miller

Samantha Moore

For our academic articles, we acknowledge and thank the input of our Peer Review Panel. Members include:

Dr Emma Barrett OBE FRGS, Professor of Psychology, Security and Trust, University of Manchester, UK.

Dr Richard Byrne, Rural Security Research Group, Harper Adams University, Newport, UK.

Dr Susan Canney, Department of Zoology, Oxford University, UK.

Professor Mark Mulligan, Department of Geography, King’s College London, UK.

Dr Ross Piper FRES, Fellow, Royal Entomological Society, UK.

Professor Andrew Shortland, Professor of Archaeological Science and Director of Cranfield Forensic Institute, UK.

Dr Shane McCorristine, Lecturer, School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, University of Newcastle, UK.

Dr Ash Routen, Research Fellow, Leicester Diabetes Centre, Leicester General Hospital, University of Leicester, UK.

Dr Carina Ren, Professor (Associate), Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark.

Design and layout for this issue: Scientific Exploration Society Chief Executive Officer Henrietta Thorpe

Photo: Aneeshwar Kunchala

Outstanding 2


Animals behaving badly by Dr Eleanor Drinkwater 4




If a tree falls by Richard Pyshorn

Rewording by Christopher Sweetman 6 28


Arctic expedition tourism by Joshua Powell 10



Junior Editor Rowan tries out ... CAVING!

My first encounter with Albatross by Aneeshwar Kunchala 16 18


Sweden Unplugged by Anna McWilliams 20

Outstanding Oman by Kirsten Hamilton-Sturdy


The return of Nellie Bly by Rosemary J Brown 22


Learning through experiences by Aneira Williams 30


Bosnia to Italy by Hannah Parry

Camera setup blunder with Charlie Hewett 15 40


Advice from the river by Emma Miller 34 42 FUNDWORTHY EXPEDITIONS

Basic psychological needs on expedition by Dr Nathan Smith and Dr Robert Wuebker

Exploration Revealed is a hybrid magazine that aims to advance knowledge about and provide peer-to-peer support for scientific and adventure-led expeditions. It has been created with a view to learning through support, shared experiences, and the passing on of knowledge.

Exploration Revealed is a publication of Scientific Exploration Society, a UK-based charity (No 267410). It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivaties 4.0 International License.

Read more at www.ses-explore.org

32 24

ANIMALS BEHAVING ODDLY: TOP TIPS for publishing animal behaviour observations from the field

with Dr Eleanor Drinkwater

The Australian magpie deliberately wiped the katydid again in the shallow pool. Julia and I looked at each other – this was weird. We were working on a project looking at defence displays of the mountain katydid (a stripy colorful katydid with outrageous defences), and had expected to see Australian magpies attacking these invertebrates, but preparation of prey was not expected at all.

After returning to our base, we shared the footage with Dr. Kate Umbers, the project lead, and the rest of the team to the general agreement that, “that’s weird”. Other birds are known to wash food, but this behaviour is not recorded in this species.

Science very rarely hinges on “eureka” moments and giant leaps, more often science progresses at the pace of a methodical snail, punctuated by “that’s weird” or “oh no” moments. Working in animal behaviour research, this is particularly true, as observing something odd has had me searching through archives even as

far back as the 1800s for scribblings by researchers who meticulously noted anything strange they watched, often with wonderful asides, including comments about having to take a break from observations to have tea with relatives.

We therefore decided that this magpie dunking behaviour was worth sharing. We sent the recording to ornithologists, and the discussions which arose from this eventually led to a natural history paper, which has since been used in work to bring together other observations of this species.

Recording and publishing records of anecdotal behaviours is important, as single observations of strange behaviour can be impossible to interpret alone. For example, is this rodent displaying an unusually energetic defence display, or is it googly-eyed with sugar after consuming an entire bag of Haribo from the campers across the road? Publishing observations allow others to cross-reference their own observations with

published findings. These combined observations can be key to our understanding of a long list of weird, and unusual behaviours in animals.

While in the field you may well come across some weird and wonderful animal behaviours. These behaviours may be completely outside of your research question, but could provide a key insight for someone studying bats or beetles on the other side of the world. Recording and sharing your observations could increase the impact of your expedition, as well as possibly making someone writing a thesis somewhere breathe a contented sigh of relief as your anecdote explains an anomaly in their data. While there is no one way of getting research published, here are some top tips for publishing anecdotes of unusual animal behaviour:

1. Grab a camera – If possible, film the behaviour in high definition. This would be the ideal way of capturing the behaviour. If you do not have a film camera, then take a series of high-quality photos.


2. Take as many details as possible – Record as many details as you can, for example: the weather, the temperature, and GPS co-ordinates. It is easy to think you will be able to remember things like this, but a year or two down the line you will be thanking past you for remembering to note these down.

3. Do a background check – Have a look online to see if the behaviour you have observed has been noted somewhere already.

4. Contact an expert, or even several experts of the species you have filmed – If it does not look like the behaviour is known, send the clip to the experts and ask if they think this is interesting, and if they think it would be worth publishing. Also, if someone has given advice, do remember to acknowledge them in the paper you write.

5. Look for specialist journals, for any mention of publishing natural history notes – Specialist bird journals are particularly good for this, and give good guidance on the structure required for these types of publications.

6. Submit your article – Make sure to double check you have the layout that aligns with the journal requirements.

7. Dealing with acceptance/rejection – If it gets accepted, that is great, go and eat ice cream. If it is rejected, go eat ice cream, but also think about resubmitting it, either to another journal or in another form. You may even consider publishing it on your expedition blog, YouTube, or emailing it to researchers you think may be interested in your observations.

Dr Eleanor Drinkwater is a lecturer and researcher with a specialism in understanding animal personality. She is passionate about conservation and working in jungles.


Innovation in the field IF A TREE FALLS

A famous philosophical thought experiment exists which asks:

If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there, does it still make a sound?

For Richard Pyshorn, of Cornwall-based Secure Forests CIC, the answer is a definitive yes. “With the livestreaming acoustic sensors that we’ve installed high in the canopy of a tropical forest in Belize, we can hear chainsaws, vehicles, gunshots and, yes, falling trees at home here in Cornwall.”

The headquarters of Secure Forests is situated in Mount Edgecumbe Country Park, on the Rame Peninsula 5,000 miles from the acoustic sensors in Belize. Here, Pyshorn and his team can listen live to the sounds of the forest’s inhabitants in order to protect them from illegal loggers and poachers (for security reasons the protected area is unnamed).

“The sensors capture all the acoustic data within a square mile”, explains Pyshorn, “both natural and unnatural. A machine-learning algorithm sifts out the sounds that we are particularly interested in, such as a chainsaw or a vehicle. It sends an alert text message to the rangers’ phones, their operations centre, and our team here in Cornwall. We then collaborate with the rangers on an appropriate response.”

The acoustic sensors, developed by US non-profit Rainforest Connection, aren’t the only technology

deployed by Secure Forests, a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), which helps defenders of the forest to keep their protected areas secure.

“We use a satellite monitoring Geographical Information System platform called Ecometrica developed with funding from the UK Space Agency. With this capability we can identify the loss of a single old growth tree, point the rangers in the right direction to verify the loss and capture any evidence of illegal activity on the ground.”

Secure Forests was founded by three British military veterans with an affinity for forests through jungle deployments after they realized that their skills were very useful at the “riskier end” of conservation. Richard Pyshorn was a jungle warfare instructor who had run courses for UK troops in Belize and Brunei as he intended to the Training Warrant Officer at the UK Defences Survival School at RAF St. Mawgan. Pyshorn has run training courses for forest rangers in Belize in Central America on subjects such as operational planning, tactical patrolling, and field medicine.

“Innovative forest surveillance technologies are potential game-changers,” says Pyshorn, “but you still need boots on the ground to verify and respond to illegal activity in protected areas. Our training helps them to do that safely and effectively in what can be very high-risk situations.”

Richard Pyshorn FRGS Alladale Wilderness reserve, Scotland’s largest rewilding project, Highland cattle are in important asset inbreaking down soils, to encourage new growth of riparian habitats.

Pyshorn and his team are testing technology such as Earth Ranger, a data fusion platform. It was developed with funding from the late Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) and has proven to be effective in dealing with counter-poaching in Africa. It is provided free to approved projects as “philanthropic technology.”

Earth Ranger enables Pyshorn’s team, and their forest ranger clients, to view the sensor alerts and ranger movements on one map-based visualization.

“In the military we called it a Common Operating Picture,” explains Pyshorn, “and it’s essential if we’re to take a more strategic approach to forest security and conservation.”

The system captures data inputs such as information on patrol reports and community insights to be processed by a machine-learning algorithm [called ‘ML’ in the Artificial Intelligence community] to generate predictive analysis. ML is useful as it can reveal connections, by drawing inferences, between random bodies of data. The algorithm imitates the manner in which humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy

Richard Pyshorn as a veteran and a passionate conservationist, is very focused on utilizing his skills and knowledge to make a lasting change to the planet. Taking action from “National Security to Natural Security.”

so is trained to make classifications or predictions, uncovering key insights within data (this is data mining).

Pyshorn has an intriguing story regarding prediction using Machine Learning.

“In Malawi, park wardens were directed towards a particular location by Earth Ranger and four minutes after their arrival there was a poacher’s gunshot! Whether this was an AI prediction or a pure coincidence, it illustrated an increasingly plausible scenario in which machine learning enables preemptive forest security operations.”

Secure Forests believes that pursuing funding enables them to expand their innovative approach to forests deemed ‘at-risk forests’ globally. They work with veteran support organizations in order to develop

Rainforest (photo by Simon Werry).

Innovation in the field IF A TREE FALLS CONT.

training courses for former military personnel interested in entering what is a burgeoning industry of forest security.

“Our aspiration is for British military veterans trained here in Cornwall to be deployed around the world to help forest defenders in their vital work to secure forests and the biodiversity and carbon within them. We think of it as making a transition from national security to natural security.”

Secure Forests has established a new and developing project in the Highlands of Scotland, Alladale Wilderness reserve, Scotland’s largest rewilding project. The estate’s custodian and his team are dedicated to returning 20,000 acres of Glens’ rivers and mountains back to their original condition. So far, one million plus tree species have been planted such as pioneering species such as birch and the native Caledonian pine. Over 30,000 metres of deer fencing protects the planted species from mainly red deer populations has increased exponentially over the years. Endangered native species such as the “Scottish Wildcat” and the Lynx will be reintroduced. Secure Forests provide the latest technology and consultation to support both the estate manager and team in the protection of this long-term investment. Innes, the estate manager, argues that one of the

significant threats to this development is the increased fuel load due to the planting of trees and not burning the Glens’ heather, not the deer population. Secure Forests provides data, situational awareness tools and technologies in order to monitor the entire estate remotely and provide early warning of any threats.

Secure Forests believes these projects across the globe are timely initiatives because during 2020 more than 12 million hectares of tropical tree cover was lost globally, including 4.2 million hectares of previously undisturbed primary tropical forests. This represents a 12% increase compared to 2019 while the global economy contracted by around 3.5%. This data reveals that the pandemic-related lockdowns contributed to this global forest loss as it limited the mobility of forest rangers to patrol the forest. This loss was in turn exacerbated by a global urban-rural migration which increased pressure on fragile forest resources.

Pyshorn explained “the longer we wait to stop illegal logging the more likely it is that our natural carbon sinks will be cut down or go up in smoke”.

For more information on Secure Forests and their work, visit www.secureforests.com

Philanthropic technology, such as Earth Ranger, enables a more strategic approach to forest security.



A Ranger in Pooks Hill, Belize receives alerts from an acoustic sensor. Richard Pyshorn event recorded by EcoMetrica satellite application during COVID-19 lockdown, Belize.



Expeditions involving paying members of the public are increasingly common in a range of extreme environments, from the polar regions to the deep ocean and even space. This raises two questions: first, what is the impact of expedition tourism on the place that is visited and second, what is the impact on the participant? In this research note, we discuss the latter and describe a short study using an intervieweradministered questionnaire of expedition cruise participants in the Baffin Bay region of Greenland, Denmark and Nunavut, Canada, an approach which has the potential to be used with different types of expeditions and locations. Initial findings question commonly stated assumptions about the personal impact of participation in expedition tourism. In this study, there was found to be no statistically significant difference between participants’ opinions on the environment and environmental challenges, such as anthropogenic climate change, at the start and at the end of the expedition. A high level of interest in the environment among participants before travel to the Arctic is suggested as one reason why this was observed. In contrast, it was socio-cultural issues in the Baffin Bay region, particularly those pertinent to Inuit communities, where there was the greatest growth in interest. We discuss measures that could be implemented by expedition tourism providers in

the Arctic to increase the impact of the expedition experience for participants.

Key words

Arctic, Baffin Bay region, Cruise tourism, Expedition impact, Polar tourism.


Expeditions are organised journeys undertaken for a specific purpose, for example scientific research or fieldwork, or feats of physical endurance. This definition encompasses a diverse range of expedition formats and activities. Expeditions which focus on experiential learning and have a primarily touristic or educational nature have a long history (see Williams, 1859; Conway, 1897), but since the 1990s have increasingly begun to encompass such remote and challenging environments as the polar regions (Cajaiba-Santana et al., 2020), deep ocean (Gross and Sand, 2019) and even space (Benjamin, 2018). Proponents of these expeditions have suggested they create opportunities for transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991) about the planet, a process which is considered ‘life-changing’ as participants’ values or practices change as a result of their experiences.

This has coincided with growing scholarly interest in the impact of expeditions, of a scientific (Johnston et al., 2014) and commercial (Coghlan, 2008) nature,

Joshua Powell Arctic expedition tourism participant perspectives.

and focussed both on the participants themselves (e.g. Smith et al., 2020) and the environmental, social or economic contexts in which they operate (e.g. Grimwood, 2014). While the experiences of paying expedition participants have begun to draw increased focus (Maher, 2010), the diversity of activities, remoteness of the locations involved and the difficulties associated with research there (Marquez and Eagles, 2007; Cajaiba-Santana et al., 2020) mean that further work is required to provide a comprehensive picture of the breadth of expedition tourism and its consequences.

The Arctic has experienced substantial growth in expedition travel in the 21st century (Stewart et al., 2005; Cajaiba-Santana et al., 2020), ranging from independent expeditions to organised expedition tourism. Measured in participant numbers, the most common form is a type of expedition tourism known as “expedition cruising” (Buckley, 2005; Pashkevich et al., 2015; Shijin et al., 2020), a ship-based tour typically featuring lectures and shore excursions. Recent work has investigated the growth of expedition cruising in footfall, size of vessel and geographical coverage (Palma et al., 2019) and changing passenger demographics, notably the declining age of participants (Grenier, 2021). It has also raised concerns over the lack of information regarding the impact and sustainability of expedition cruising (Stewart et al., 2010; Grenier, 2021), with larger cruise tourism operations more commonly in focus (e.g. Johnson, 2002; Lester and Weeden, 2004; MacNeill and Wozniak, 2018). Vila et al. (2016) questioned whether expedition cruise participants act as ‘polar ambassadors’ within their social networks, but research on the precise nature of information sharing around tourist expeditions and its consequences (for example, in encouraging pro-environmental behaviours) has been limited.

This short study illustrates how a quantitative survey could be used to gather preliminary information about participant experiences in expedition tourism. This approach was applied to an expedition cruise in the Baffin Bay region of Greenland and Nunavut, Canada. In order to investigate the claim that participation in expedition tourism is ‘life-changing’ (see, Dorsey et al., 2004, compared to Ballantyne and Packer, 2013), we explore the impact of participation on travellers’ perceptions and intention to take action, two gradients of change, around two broad types of issues facing the Arctic: ‘environmental’ (for example, biodiversity loss) and ‘socio-cultural’ (for example, loss of traditional knowledge). The techniques utilised would be applicable to other forms of expedition tourism, operating in different environments.


Data was collected between 11th-23rd July 2016 onboard an expedition vessel travelling between Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and Baffin Island, Canada. Approval for the study was sought from The Explorers Club and the tour operator, who jointly reviewed and approved the research plan. Researcher-administered questionnaires were used to survey 50, from 180,

travellers who had paid to participate in the expedition cruise (not staff or accompanying researchers). For practical reasons, travellers were selected using systematic random sampling; the researcher asked every 3rd traveller to pass survey points around the ship whether they would like to participate. If affirmative, questionnaire surveys were conducted verbally and answers were recorded by the interviewer in the presence of the participant. If negative (two occasions), the researcher asked the next traveller.

Over the subsequent 12 days, participants engaged in various shore- and ship-based activities organised by the tour provider, including wildlife-watching, community visits, guest lectures and workshops. Shore-based activities were provided daily, except while crossing the Davis Strait. The programme was selected by the Expedition Leader and determined by staff expertise, weather, opportunistic encounters, and logistical considerations. Activities were led by the expedition team, which included indigenous Inuit team members. Participants were able to individually select which activities to join. A second survey was conducted at the end of the journey. Surveys were recorded anonymously and a unique participant reference number allowed survey pairs to be compared.

To analyse the data, independent sample t-tests were used to compare participant responses at the start and end of the expedition, testing for significant difference in responses to questions. Analysis was conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 21 (SPSS INC., Chicago, IL). Statistical significance was set at P<0.05.

Joshua Powell is a conservation biologist and a PhD candidate at ZSL and UCL. He was awarded the 2019 SES Explorer Award.



Expedition Impact


Questionnaire data is presented in Table 1 and Table 2 with the number of responses per question recorded, as incomplete questionnaires were not discarded. Some key findings are highlighted below:

• Over half of all participants surveyed had visited the Arctic before (52.0%).

• 74.0% of respondents described their environmental motivation as high at the start of the expedition and there was no increase after participation.

• Participants overwhelmingly agreed that Arctic conservation was important and the slight increase recorded (98.0% to 100.0%) was not statistically significant (independent t-test: t = 1.000; P = 0.322).

• When asked about anthropogenic climate change specifically, the slight increase in number of participants who believed it was a major cause of environmental issues in the Arctic, (68.0% to 72.9%), was not found to be statistically significant (independent t-test: t = 0.528; P = 0.598).

• By contrast, 97.9% of respondents felt they were more interested in socio-cultural issues in the Arctic region following the expedition.

• When asked whether participation in the expedition will cause any change in their behaviour, 50.0% of respondents believed that it would. 18.8% of respondents stated that participation had inspired them to make changes, but that they did not know what to do.

• 80.4% of respondents at the start of the expedition felt that their experiences during the expedition would influence their social networks. In follow up questions, participants often noted that this would be achieved through talking to friends or family in-person about their experiences. Less than half of participants described themselves as active social media users.


This study found little evidence that participation in Arctic expedition tourism was ‘lifechanging’ regarding participants’ beliefs about the environment and environmental change, which is consistent with Ballantyne and Packer (2013). This does not devalue expedition tourism, but implies a need to change the way its benefits are articulated. While it has long been suggested that tourists need be made aware of ecological sensitivities (Moscardo, 1999), for Arctic expedition tourism this is likely a case of preaching to the converted. Instead of changing perspectives, the expedition appears to have boosted intentions to take action among participants. As previous tourism research has questioned whether intentions regularly lead to practical change (Ballantyne and Packer, 2013) and 18.8% of participants in this study wanted to make a personal change afterwards but were uncertain how to (Table 1), one step that commercial operators could take would be to provide practical

recommendations for personal action at the end of an expedition.

By contrast, 97.9% of participants stated they were more interested in socio-cultural issues in the Arctic following the expedition. Previous authors have noted that rich encounters with Inuit communities could be particularly impactful (Stewart et al., 2015). Programmes which are led by indigenous expedition staff, incorporate topics relevant for local communities, and are rooted in cultural sensitivity and reciprocal benefit for participants and local communities (Viken et al., 2021), may have considerable potential to act as socio-cultural educational experiences for participants. The significant increase in participants who identified activities by local communities as a cause of environmental issues in the Arctic (independent t-test: t =2.281; P = 0.025) may thus appear counter-intuitive. However, this would align with the view that participants developed a more nuanced understanding of human activity and interaction with the natural environment in the Arctic, in contrast to common romanticized stereotypes (Pashkevich and Keskitalo, 2017). Indeed, participants often saw the expedition as the start of a process of growing personal interest in environmental or sociocultural issues in the Arctic. The high number of repeat visitors to the Arctic recorded (52.0% of participants), considerably higher

No Desire to make change, but do not know what steps to take
(50.0%) 15 (31.3%) 9 (18.8%)
Table 1. Responses to survey question at end of the expedition cruise, ‘Will participant in the expedition cause a change in any aspect of your behaviour?’
(N Respondents: 48)

Table 2. Selected survey questions distributed to expeditions participants, at the start and end of the expedition.

than Maher (2010) reported in Antarctica (12.4%), would seem to support this.

Overall, 81.3% of participants viewed the impact of Arctic tourism as positive. However, when responding to this question, many participants made the observation that they were concerned about the future sustainability of Arctic tourism, with increasingly large ships and tourist numbers, and fears that the almost unique tourist experience offered by the polar regions might be lost with mass-commodification.

This study suggests that it is pertinent to consider the impact of expedition tourism upon a participant’s social networks (friends, family, and acquaintances). While there has been interest in the role of social media in potential dissemination of information around the environment and pro-environmental behaviours (e.g. Hynes and Wilson, 2016), this may be less important in the case of expedition cruising, given fairly low rates of social media usage among participants (44.0%). Instead, in-person engagement and traditional storytelling were regularly highlighted. However, patterns of information sharing may change over time, with increasing penetration of social media and decreasing age of expedition cruise participants (Grenier, 2021).

There are some important limitations to highlight. This study was only able to conduct a quantitative analysis and the preliminary findings identified here should be explored further with appropriate qualitative methods. For example, demographic data and its potential impact on participant responses was outside the scope of this study. There was no opportunity to complete a third

survey once participants returned home; therefore, like most studies of this nature, only intentions were measured, not actions. (For an example that managed to follow participants over a long timeframe, see Hehir et al., 2020).

This study provides initial insight into visitor experiences in the Baffin Bay region, a gap in the polar tourism literature. We hope the discussion here will serve as a starting point for further research, where priorities should be to: a) evaluate the impact of different expedition cruise itineraries on participant perspectives, which could help inform expedition planning by tour organisers; b) explore the impact of information sharing around expedition tourism; c) expand the range and types of expedition tourism considered, which may vary in scale of operation, location of activities, interaction with local communities, and participant demographics. This will help improve our understanding of the potential impact - and limitations – that different types of expeditions have as learning experiences.


This study was made possible by the support of a ‘Young Explorers Program’, jointly organised by The Explorers Club and the commercial operator. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The researcher received no paid employment from the commercial operator and had no other role on the vessel beyond collecting data.

See overleaf for References



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Benjamin, S. (2018). Exploration to exploitation: An industry analysis of suborbital space tourism. New Space, 6(1): 87-98

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EPIC FAILS: andsmall blunders!

Charlie Hewett shares her blunder so that others won’t find out to late that they’ve set the wrong frame rate and resolution when using a camera and macro lenses for filming wildlife.

While on a walk around my local area, I found my way to the Brook. To my surprise it still had water in it.

Rather cautiously, I edged down the bank (having previously fallen into this part of the Brook!).

Curiosity taking hold, I knelt down and peered into the water discovering a whole array of macro life that I had never noticed before.

Greatly inspired by this site, I rushed home and grabbed my camera and macro lenses thrilled to have found an opportunity to film wildlife so close to home.

For the following three days under the hot sun, I laid upon the wooden bridge leaning over clasping my camera trying to get the perfect shots. During this time, I noticed rather sadly that the Brook was rapidly drying up. This only fuelled my determination to capture all that I could on film.

On day four I walked up to the Brook to find it empty.

‘No matter’ I thought to myself - now was the time to start editing the films into a sequence. It was then that I discovered I had spent the entire time filming in the wrong frame rate and resolution. This meant that I could not slow down any of the footage like I had imagined or stabilise it without losing quality. I was devastated and annoyed as I had made the

same error before. Yet again in my excitement I had forgotten to double check the camera settings. However, I soon smiled to myself and begun to appreciate the experience of facing the challenge of filming in such an awkward place and having the opportunity to explore the often unseen macro world. I now treasure the footage that I do have and look forwards to trying again when the opportunity arises.

Charlie is a camera operator focusing on exploration and adventure - using her work to promote awareness about the natural world and the need for conservation.

with Charlie Hewett
The Brook and the wooden bridge.
Macro life in the Brook.


My name is Rowan, and I am nine years old. After interviewing John Volanthen (who is both an awesome caver and a Cub Scout leader) for SES Exploration Revealed, he very kindly arranged for me and some of my fellow cubs, beavers and scouts to go caving in Goatchurch Cavern in Burrington Combe, Somerset with his wonderful colleagues Mark and Stuart as our cave guides.

I had never experienced anything like caving before, so I was excited and nervous. When the caves got narrow, I was glad the cave guides were kind and understanding as I got a little frightened and they helped me to keep moving forward. The cave had a complex system, so I was thankful the guides were

For an annual subscription of £35 you can become a SES UNDER 25s member. This gets you free access to future issues of Exploration Revealed, free access to the SES Explorer Talks, and many more benefits.

Rowan, SES Junior Editor (photo by Janric Howe) Junior Explorer Rowan, aged 9 from Gloucestershire, is a future Marine Biologist who wants to explore the seas of the World to find undiscovered marine species, classify and protect them.

so knowledgeable and extremely grateful for their planning and expertise. I was amazed and thrilled to see Lesser Horseshoe bats which used the cave as their home. I was also very relieved I was wearing a helmet as I bumped my head a few times and it saved me from injuring myself.

One of the other children in my group was a young beaver and I was given the responsibility of helping her through the caves and looking after her. She was really brave and I think it helped me too as I concentrated on making sure she was OK and could make it through the obstacles rather than worrying about myself.

My favourite parts of the trip were when we had to slide down a sloping rock face, which I felt was very adventurous, as well as the part where we had to get back to the surface by climbing a rock face by using my hands and feet simultaneously to find any nooks or crannies, which tested my climbing skills.

I would love to cave again as I really enjoyed it and it tested my nerves and abilities. I would very much like to thank Mark, Stuart and John Volanthen for helping to make this amazing caving trip reality.

Bat photographed on the expedition (photo by Janric Howe) Before Caving: Rowan, far left, with fellow cubs, beavers and scouts getting ready to go caving (photo by Janric Howe) After Caving: Rowan, second from left, with fellow cavers at the end of the adventure (photo by Jim Fearns)
tight squeeze!
A (photo by Janric Howe)


beautiful moment to capture in my eyes. I was totally amazed when I saw my First goldcrest, the tiniest bird in UK. It’s very difficult to spot as it is so light and well camouflaged in the trees.

If you ask me what my favourite place is, I will say “Bempton Cliffs”. Located on the Yorkshire coast, it is home to half a million sea birds, and it’s an amazing spectacle. I visit the place each year to see the beautiful puffins, gannets, razor bills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, Herring gulls, shags and the majestic albatross.

I love observing the birds, I find it very interesting and challenging at the same time. It’s fascinating to see their special powers and the beautiful moments with baby birds. My love for birds started when I was four-year-old. My dad had spotted a Robin’s nest in my garden. It was magical to see the Robins hatch and fledge. I was over the moon when one of the hatchlings visited me and I named it ‘Regee’. I believe that he

returns every year in spring to say ‘Hi’ to me.

I love spending time in the local reserves watching birds. Kingfisher is one of my favourites; I like the blue and orange dash as it flies above the water. I haven’t seen the Kingfisher dive yet. I’ll wait for this

I can find birds in the local reserve, but to see sea birds I would need to travel to the coast. What could be a better place than Bempton Cliffs to see these beautiful sea birds, not hundreds, not thousands, nearly half a million! It is called the ‘home’ of sea birds – how lovely it is.

When I saw my first puffin, I jumped in joy. No wonder they are called the clowns of the sea, with their bright and colourful beaks. Puffins’ beaks are bright during the breeding season and loose the colour after that. The puffins I saw were Atlantic puffins and they come back to Bempton Cliffs every year to nest. After the breeding season, they spend the rest of the winter in the North Sea. Each time I go to Bempton Cliffs, I learn something

Aneeshwar and Regee. Aneeshwar Kunchala

speaking to the knowledgeable people around here. I learned rather a cool thing about puffins. When the puffins gather, it’s called a circus! They are clowns of course!

I love watching gannets saying hello by rubbing their beaks. At Bempton Cliffs, we can see different stages of gannets. Gannets can dive from heights of 30 metres and at the speed of 60mph. How can they even do that! They have nostrils inside their mouths rather than on beaks, unlike other birds. Also, they have air sacs between their muscles and skin which acts like a cushion when they do the majestic dive.

I thought gannets are the biggest birds at Bempton Cliffs, until I saw the browed albatross. It was not easy to see the albatross as there is only one bird which returns to Bempton Cliffs each year.

I was lucky to witness the albatross flying display twice. My mind exploded, when I saw it for the first time. It’s


Aneeshwar is a seven-year-old conservationist. He loves wildlife and he is on a mission to save the animals through his art and documentaries.

a big bird! There were few times when I have waited patiently for the whole day in the hope of seeing the albatross but it did not turn up. Maybe it has decided to take a good rest after all the long flight it takes on the sea. Albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird and it can go for years without touching the land.

All these sea birds return to the cliffs each year during the spring to nest, as long as there is plenty of fish to eat and feed their hatchlings. We can do our part by not disturbing their world. Please save the nature and make sure the world looks beautiful.

Sea birds are the bio indicators of the health of the ecosystem. The more sea birds mean the sea is healthy and there is plenty of fish to feed on. At the same time, sea birds feed on the fishes and leave the droppings and help fertilise the corals, which gives a home sweet home for the fishes.



When I first went to Oman in 1986, I was 15. It was a very difficult place to get into then, and we (my parents and I) only managed to get a five-day visa. It was a trip that was to stay in my mind for a long time; little did I know then that I was to return 15 years later to live and work there.

I lived in Sohar, which is equidistant between Muscat and Dubai, in the UAE. This was a smallish town on the Batinah coast with about 150 ex-pats and the only white fort in all of Oman. By the time I left eight years later, there were about 30,000 ex-pats, and a huge port was being built with Dutch help. However, long before all of this, Sohar had been noted by 10th-century Arab geographers as a wealthy city with an important port for trade. It was also known as the place where Sindibad (or Sindbad as westerners know him) hailed from. Tim Severin, the Irish explorer, did extensive research in the 1980s when he set out to have built, in the traditional way, an Arab dhow and sail it from Oman to China. He named the dhow the Sohar, and it now sits on a roundabout just outside of old Muscat near the Al Bustan Palace hotel.

The city of Sur is 94 miles along the coast from Muscat, the centre of Omani dhow building. Today you can still wander amongst the boats and see the Indian artisans that have continued a cultural tradition of working on Arab dhows. From Sur, a new superhighway takes you on towards the desert. We hired two 4x4s and, with a local guide, went through the orange sands to the sea, passing villages with the only sea Bedouin in the world: and then onwards to the salt plains. After that, there is an immense emptiness of land that is so flat that it is hard to gauge the speed you are driving at.

Further south, you finally reach the huge Dhofar mountains, which rise up like a natural barrier. In this region of Oman, during August/ September, the monsoon or Khareef hits the Arabian Peninsula resulting in the area becoming green and tropical. It could be described as Scotland with camels, as the mists drift down the craggy newlygreened cliffs and waterfalls flow. It harbours unusual flora and fauna, especially its frankincense trees, which dot the hills. This honeycoloured sap has its own historical trade route to the churches of Europe and is still used in Omani

homes today; to waft over your clothes as you leave: warding off evil.

Turning inland from Muscat, however, you will find Nizwa. One of my favourite places in Oman- a city embraced by mountains and dotted with palms. The golden evening light gives a magical peachy glow to the mountain peaks and the fabulous fortified old city with its vast, impressive tower. It’s hard to believe this buzzing city once was too dangerous for Wilfred Thesiger to enter.

Now people flock to Nizwa to see the Friday goat market. Get there early to look at the surprising array of goats, some small and woolly, others tall, horned and haughty. As the circling auction takes place, you become enthralled by the noise and the action of buying livestock.

Just out of Nizwa is the town of Falaj Daris which is known for its falaj- the ancient irrigation system in Oman. It’s an ingenious way of taking stored water from underwater sources and then funnelling it down, often gravity-aided, to terraces and fields further away. These ‘open-air channels’ are often spotted on the edge of mountain ridges and wadis.

Kirsten Hamilton-Sturdy

There are three major types: Gahaili (a surface channel), Dawoodi (deep underwater tunnels) and Ayni (from a spring: fresh, salty or hot water). Hot water springs flow into the wadis at Rustaq and Nakhal: beautiful cities known for their date palms and fairytale forts.

About 55 miles from Nizwa is the stunning Jebel Shams (mountain of the sun): Oman’s Grand Canyon. It may lack the scale and colour of America, but to a geographer like me, it is a dream. Its huge rock slabs can be seen twisting and turning through the ages. As giant sections of oceanic rock heaved upwards and folded back on themselves, limestone and ophiolite were exposed. Greens, greys and browns dominate, and the huge chasm turns purple and mauve as evening falls. Just under the rim is a small path that hugs the cliff to a terraced village with houses reminiscent of Mojave houses in the United States. Tribal warfare was still prevalent right up to the early 60s, so people lived in safety there. Jebel Shams is perfect; the crisp air, the soft light, ridge after ridge of mountains... the feeling of freedom, the force of nature. It is truly awesome.

After an 11-year absence, I returned in December 2021 with my children, who were born there, and my parents. We marvelled at how beguilingly beautiful it is and how there is still so much to explore — Oman...outstanding... in any field.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: The Sultanate of Oman, formerly the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman (also thought to be the country of Magan in the Bible). SIZE: Slightly smaller than Poland but the biggest Arab country on the Arabian Peninsula after Saudi Arabia. POPULATION: Approximately 4.5 million people. LOCATION: South-Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula next to both the Persian
Kirsten Hamilton-Sturdy is a contributor to Bradt and Adventure She magazine. She was born in Northern Ireland,
up in strange wonderful places and worked in others. OMAN
Gulf and the Arabian Sea 21.4735’N, 55.9754’E. LANGUAGES: Arabic, but also Shehri and Mehri (in Dhofar near the Yemeni border) and Kumzari in Musandam (influenced by trade and culture of Iran across the Hormuz straits). GEOGRAPHY: Fjords in the most northern point, Musandam (detached from the rest of Oman. Site of Telegraph Island, important for British telegraph communications with India in the 1800s). 1,967 miles of coastline. One of the few deserts that reach the sea, with the only sea Bedouin in the world. - Salt flats. Huge caves: Al Hoota and Majlis al Jinn Mountain ranges: Hajar mountains, Dhofar mountains, Jebel Akhdar (3,000 metres) and Jebel Shams (3028 metres)


Expedition Influencers

Trailblazing journalist Nellie Bly raced around the world faster than anyone ever had in 1890. 125 years later, I re-traced her journey to get her ‘back on the map’.

Eight years ago, I had never even heard of her. But as soon as I discovered Nellie Bly (1864-1922), I knew I had to get this intrepid journalist, adventurer, and humanitarian ‘back on the map’. In an era when synthetic celebrities vie for our adoration, we needed a genuine heroine to inspire us, someone who defied convention, achieved the impossible and championed society’s most vulnerable.

On 25 January 1890, Nellie Bly stepped off of a steam train in New York City and into the headlines. She had circled the world faster than anyone ever had – 72 days. Bly had achieved ‘the most remarkable of all feats of circumnavigation ever performed by a human being,’ The New York World declared. She raced through a man’s world – alone and literally with just the clothes on her back – to beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional record in ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’.

Along with establishing record time, Bly’s race proved the world was connected. Ocean liners, transcontinental railroads in America and India, and the Suez Canal in Egypt, brought far-flung destinations within reach. She had demonstrated the ‘perfection and simplicity’ of modern methods of travel, and ‘established a record which within her own lifetime would have been regarded as chimerical as a journey

to the mountains of the moon’, said The New York Evening Journal. Her voyage made the world a smaller place and brought humankind together. She became the ‘best-known and most widely talked of woman on earth,’ the papers said.

In time the accolades vanished and Bly like other trailblazing women, disappeared into yesteryear. Yet, the more I got to know her, the more I was enthralled by her determination and daring which sent her exploring the globe solo. That drive also led her

to pioneer a brave new journalism – investigative reporting – when she feigned madness in 1887 to go undercover in the New York City insane asylum on Roosevelt Island. Her exposés of the atrocities inside led to sweeping reforms across America. Throughout her career, Bly’s reportage pursued justice and challenged oppression.

That we had allowed this fearless journalist and adventurer to fade from history fuelled my determination to revive her. As a journalist with an eye for adventure, I set out re-blaze her global trail. I wanted to pay tribute to Bly and other women like her who defied the establishment, to explore the distant corners of the world.

Nellie Bly - Pittsburgh Press Gazette. Nellie Bly Portrait US Library of Congress LC-USZ62-31519. Rosemary J Brown

My expedition began 125 years after Bly’s, and like her, I travelled alone with one small bag. The ocean liners which transported Bly have disappeared, so I took to the skies with a round-the-world ticket. I departed in September 2014 on my global expedition registered with the Royal Geographical Society that led me from London, across Europe, throughout Asia, to America where Bly’s travels began and ended in New York City.

I returned to London 33 days later, my adventure in Nellie Bly’s footsteps behind me. But the journey has not ended as I continue to share my Bly-inspired travels in newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts, in lectures and conferences, and more importantly with the publication of “Following Nellie Bly: Her RecordBreaking Race Around the World” (Pen & Sword Books, 2021) where I capture both of our stories.

The true culmination of my quest to get Nellie Bly ‘back on the map’ – the confirmation that she had indeed been rescued from obscurity – sent me travelling again, back to New York City’s Roosevelt Island where Bly had made history in 1887 with her newspaper exposés. On 10 December 2021, a monumental installation entitled ‘The Girl Puzzle’ was unveiled which honours her life and legacy. Named for her first article in which she boldly defied discrimination; the monument was dedicated on International Human Rights Day. At last, her iconic role is acknowledged in a remarkable commemoration created by American artist Amanda Matthews, of Prometheus Art.

Nellie Bly’s face, sculpted in silver bronze, presides over a 60-foot walkway shared with the faces of four women from diverse or marginalised communities which represent the types of vulnerable females she had championed. Three progressively larger mirrored spheres reflect the growing impact of her newspaper reporting. The largest sphere represents travels around the world that I’d re-enacted in her honour. Groundbreaking in many ways, The Girl Puzzle also helps to address a shocking inequality — less than 8 % of statues in America commemorate women.

Nellie Bly embraced risk and defied convention to become one of the greatest female journalists and adventurers we had never known. Until now. In the centennial year of her death, Nellie Bly is back.

Rosemary J Brown is a London-based journalist, author and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society aiming to get female adventurers ‘back on the map.’ She was awarded a Churchill Travel Fellowship.

Nellie Bly on her travels. @Rosemary_Nellie



The Stockholm archipelago (a chain of islands) is located in the Baltic Sea, within the territory of Sweden. It’s considered the largest archipelago in Sweden and the second-largest in the Baltic Sea.

SIZE: The archipelago is estimated to consist of up to 30,000 islands and islets.


‘Allemansrätten’ is Sweden’s freedom to roam custom, which allows access to, experience and use of nature as long as you do not destroy nor disturb. There are rules specific to regions and to parks across Sweden.


The archipelago, called the ‘skärgården’ by locals is minutes away from Stockholm, extending eastwards into the Baltic sea. From Öregrund in the north it follows the coastline of the Södermanland and Uppland provinces through to Landsort in the south. 59.38778’N, 18.73581’E


Swedish is the official language of Sweden. Formally recognised minority languages include Finnish, Yiddish, Meänkieli, Sami, and Romani.


The biggest towns of the archipelago are Stockholm, Nynäshamn, Vaxholm and Norrtälje. However, only a small area, 150 islands, is inhabited with ~10,000 people year-round, with a larger influx of seasonal residents during the summer. The Baltic to Stockholm shipping routes pass through the archipelago.

The Stockholm archipelago has many hiking trails and as Sweden has an extensive “right to roam” you can reach most areas and even wild camp a night or two as long as you respect nature and leave nothing but your footprints when you leave.


An adventurer’s guide to exploring the Stockholm archipelago with two screen addicted children – making the most of your own backyard.

• ‘Turn off the computer and come down!’

I’m standing at the bottom of the stairs calling to my sons upstairs. My words seem to disappear into nothing. I wait a moment.

• ‘Come down now or I will turn the internet off!’

Yes, I have become one of those mothers that threaten such things as no internet. It’s very effective and two grumpy children make their way downstairs. Into the car we pile. All the way they grumble and argue in the backseat.

We turn into a small dirt road and park at an open space by a beach. Reluctantly the children get out. We find the path and start walking and this is when it happens, it almost always does, the children forget that they were angry with me, that they had to stop their game and that they didn’t want to go outside at all. It’s like the wind and the air blows all that negativity out as the stones, the sticks and the trees become a playground that requires all their attention.

My adventures used to involve archaeological digging or field walking in foreign lands of desert sand or tropical humidity; pyramids in Egypt, temples in Italy or remnants of 20th century conflict in the Alps. Most of my research these days is desk based and COVID-19 put a stop to adventures abroad. In addition, two screen addicted children and restrictions stopping us from doing many of the things we normally do, and has also forced us to find new adventures outdoors in our local area. I have to admit we are pretty lucky. We live in Roslagen in the Stockholm archipelago. This provides us with some great options when it comes to mini-adventures. We have the open sea, shores, forests, islands of all shapes and sizes as well as lakes at our fingertips.

The Stockholm archipelago is shaped by thousands upon thousands of years of natural, as well as human, interaction. Ice Ages have formed the geology and as we head out we spot glacial striations and sheepbacks formed by glacier movement. Since the ice receded land has been rising with around 3-3,5 mm/year, areas once covered by water are now land.

Anna McWilliams


My trained archaeologist eye scans the landscape to assess what areas would have been above or under water during different periods. This helps us search for remains from the Bronze or Iron Age. We spot old moorings for boats on what is now well over the water’s edge and wonder who the people were that anchored their boats here. Bunkers along the coast connected to Sweden’s defence tell us about last century’s violent conflicts.

suddenly two heads pop up above the surface. Two seals play hide and seek with us, providing our lunch entertainment. For the longest time we sit there and try and guess where their heads are going to pop up next.

This former military station at Arholma, one of the furthest islands out in the Stockholm archipelago, provides an interesting history lesson of 20th century conflict.

The one thing that is always around us is nature. The trees that I hug (which embarrasses my sons!), the stones we rest on and hide behind for shelter when it’s windy, the moss where a thousand creatures co-habit, the mushrooms that we pick in the autumn and the birds that we try and learn the names of but somehow always get confused by when we hear their sounds, and the water. The ever-present water. Lakes, open sea and shorelines. Those are the places we love the most. It allows us to swim in the summer, take unbelievably cold dips in the winter. We kayak and stand-up paddle. When solid in the winter it allows us to skate. Finding a perfect waterside campsite for our tent is one of the best feelings.

So, what happened with those grumpy children that I forced off their computers you wonder? Well, we continue along the path. Perfect sticks are found and we find tracks from boar and deer. We reach that favourite spot on top of a Cold War bunker at the point where the forest meets the sea. I unpack one of my absolute favourite belongings, my tiny gas cooker, and I start frying some eggs. As we eat our sandwiches and sip our hot chocolate we look out over the water and

No matter the weather cooking outside makes the food taste all that much better.

I miss my adventures in foreign lands and look forward to them again when the time is right. The one thing that I have learned during the pandemic is that adventures do not have to be somewhere far away or exotic. In fact, anything can become an adventure with the right attitude and a flask of hot chocolate. Even the most screen addicted child cannot resist the magic of nature and the good news is that these adventures can be found anywhere; your own back garden, the group of trees at the bottom of your road or that park at the edge of your town that you have not yet sought to discover. We’re off to stack some stones at the beachwhat’s your next adventure?

Anna McWilliams is an associate professor at the Swedish Defence Research Agency. Her love for adventures takes her on research, as well as recreational trips to places near and far.


No matter the weather cooking outside makes the food taste all that much better.

Swimming is not just a summer activity even if a woolly hat is recommended when crawling in for an icy dip.


Innovation in the field

Rewording is a popular pastime with outdoor magazine gurus, mountain sports companies and social media influencers to convince us to adopt their terminology for an adventure activity but why?

Every so often some outdoor magazine guru, mountain sports company and in recent times social media influencers convince us that the activity we have known since forever under a certain name decide that it is time for a change. Taking lightweight camping as an example we have the following additional rewords relating to this activity: Wild camping, Bivouacking, usually reworded to Bivving, and Backpacking. So why is there a need for all this rewording for lightweight camping?

All these terms relate to selfpropelled journeys in the countryside using a lightweight portable structure for overnight accommodation. So, the first question is why do we need three more different rewords for the same adventure activity? Second question is how did these rewords come into being? Third question is how did these rewords gain acceptance within the adventure activity community?

Wild camping

After the first Covid-19 lockdown was lifted in the summer of 2020 all and sundry headed to the great outdoors taking tents of various sizes with them. In the aftermath the outdoor media were shocked at the way the general press reported ‘wild’ camping as participants behaving badly, trashing the environment and leaving every trace that they have occupied that particular space! This contrasts with what the outdoor media deem as the true version that of camping in wild or remote areas where participants take care not to leave any trace that they have been in that environment.

Ultimately, which side is right with their interpretation? Well as an act of endorsement Mountain Training has chosen the outdoor media’s version and wild camping is now used in their current Expedition Skills Module [1] replacing ‘mobile camping’ which had been used since their 1984 training manual [2]. Looking at the following scenario if you were teaching Expedition Skills to a group of 16–19-year-olds would you use the reword Wild camping? In my 25 years teaching Expedition Skills at a local college I certainly didn’t!

formed and books were published where Backpacking was included in the title. Using this reword its own marketing segment was developed which must have been a boom for manufacturers and advertisement agencies alike because a lightweight sleeping bag and a 60 litre plus capacity rucksack could be sold as perfect for Backpacking. In reality that sleeping bag was already available in a manufacturer’s range and that rucksack may have been remodelled to have a couple of extra pockets added as Backpackers, according to some contemporary publications, like to have everything in order and in its right place.

Image inspired by one of my student’s sketches when they were on an expedition to Snowdonia. “Wild Thing” is what they called my Wild Country Trisar the tent I used.


Backpacking as a term is an American import which found popularity in the mid 1970’s in the UK to promote a mobile walking activity involving overnight camping where all you require for the journey is carried in a backpack. UK outdoor print media during the 1970’s adopted Backpacking as a reword as they felt there wasn’t any viable British alternative but looking at the description this could easily be shortened to ‘mobile camping’, but I guess this didn’t have a marketing ring about it. This could also be said for lightweight camping which has been a term used in the UK since the 1930’s and Camp and Trek one used in the 1950‘s and both meant the same thing as Backpacking.

However, the media won out and to endorse acceptability a British club using Backpacking in their title was

Today in the USA Backpacking still means mobile camping but in other countries it has come to mean a person travelling the globe by any means available with all their needs carried on their back in a pack. However, this backpack is a special world traveller version as manufacturers have again realised another marketing opportunity and have devised packs especially designed for this variation of backpacking. Nowadays if I used the term Backpacker people might think I was a contestant in the ‘Race Across the World’ television programme [3].


In military and mountaineering parlance Bivouacking involves using a lightweight shelter for overnight camps. In the former a bivouac refers to a light tent usually for two soldiers and in the latter a minimal form of shelter that a mountaineer would use either for a planned overnight camp or for survival in an Alpine environment. Going back to the military designation that lightweight tent would today be reworded as a tarp because it didn’t have a sewn in groundsheet.

Even in the 1970‘s the British Army bivouacs issued were made from cotton canvas where the doors were tied together using tapes and the

Christopher Sweetman FRGS FRIN

structure was held up by wooden poles and a few pegged out guy lines. This bivouac was based on a typical Alpine tent design dating from the late 19th Century. It is interesting that there is now an industry involving rewording a tent without a sewn-in groundsheet to become a tarp. This is a marketing dream come true by using an old idea and wrapping it up as the next best thing in overnight shelter! A whole industry has evolved from making tarps, publicising their use in expeditions and on multi-day trails promoted in magazine articles and on social media, and there are even books solely dedicated to using them. In reality a tarp is the same as that cotton canvas tent available from the 1950‘s minus the poles and with the material used is now ultralight space age nylon.

Maybe the choice in this rewording game is yours but then again maybe an outdoor magazine guru, mountain sports company or social media influencer has chosen on your behalf. To me rewording feels like a case of making it up as one goes along! On a personal level I prefer the term lightweight camping. However, feel free to decide which term you choose to call your type of camping as there is no need be swayed by the media or anyone else, just follow the Countryside Code, leave no trace and enjoy.

Now for the mountaineering side and today Bivouacking has been reworded to bivving. Again, another industry has set up to provide a range of bivvy shelters from survival bags made from polythene, the cheap end, to full spec versions made from Gore-Tex, the expensive end, with all sorts of materials between these price points. To overcome the shortfall of feeling constrained manufacturers have included bivvy bags in their range with oversized hoods and some designs feature a hooped pole to keep the fabric off the face of the user.

Going back in time I once used the term Bivouacker in a conversation with my students but they miss heard and thought I said bushtucker no doubt due to the television series on at the time called ‘Bush Tucker Man’ [4]. Then I had to reassure them that I didn’t wander around the Aussie Outback in my summer holiday eating ants and grubs and digging for water!

Rewording – a case of making it up as we go along Going back to the three questions mentioned in the introduction.

Q1: Why do we need three more different rewords for the same adventure activity?

Q2: How did these rewords come into being?

Q3: How did these rewords gain acceptance within the adventure activity community?

Marketing always feels the need to diversify and promote new ideas and activities such as this can increase sales potential for their clients’ products. In this it greatly assists to have a range of terms to utilise and at times change meanings to these to suit their purpose. Media will then take onboard these ideas and promote them through publishing articles by wellknown practitioners. Whether these ideas will gain acceptance depends on the take up by participants and organisations like Mountain Training.


[1] [Online]. Available at: https:// www.mountain-training.org/ qualifications/walking/expeditionskills-module (Accessed: 11 January 2022).

[2] E. Langmuir, (1984). Mountaincraft and Leadership. Edinburgh: The Scottish Sports Council & The Mountainwalking Leader Training Board.

[3] [Online]. Available at: https:// www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/ m0002tvs (Accessed: 11 January 2022).

[4] [Online]. Available at: https:// bushtuckerman.com.au/ (Accessed: 11 January 2022).

Chris is a qualified mountain leader and has for over 25 years taught land navigation and expedition skills to young people with limited means. He currently leads walks for the Ramblers and the LDWA.

Camping books through time. L-R: Camp Trek, Jack Cox, 1956; Backpacking, Peter Lumley, 1974; and The Ray Way Tarp Book Essential, Ray Jardine, 2011.


Tales from the field

I’m not sure what I expected when I signed up to volunteer for a conservation project in Costa Rica, but a PhD in Biology was not it.

A year after graduating with an Arts degree, I was bound for the Osa Peninsula on the southwest coast of Costa Rica. I grew up in Yemen, Paraguay, and Nepal, so the idea of travelling to a different country was normal for me, and Costa Rica was everything everyone said it would be. The food, the people, the country, and the wildlife were amazing. But when people asked me, ‘have you ever been to the tropics?’ My reply, ‘ No, but it will be absolutely fine,’ was a little naive.

My first night was spent watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean while a dog ate a turtle egg. It took a while before the horror of what I was witnessing dawned on me, and I joined the group swiftly removing the dog and re-burying the nest! I had never seen a turtle or even a tortoise before. The next day involved a four-hour hike up a ridgeline; having spent several years in the Brecon Beacons (and the Himalayas), I figured that would be fine. It turns out humidity is a real thing, and it makes life quite hard!

A baby Olive Ridley turtle

I didn’t learn much from my first experience, which was made painfully clear to me on my next expedition, where I found myself in Peru training with the British Exploring Society to be an expedition leader. What are the first things you think of when you hear ‘rainforest’? Trees and rain, right? I forgot the rain bit and didn’t take any waterproof clothing with me. After 14 hours of continuous rain, I was wet, cold and defeated. This is where the rest of the team came into play, distracting me, lending me blankets to keep me warm and teaching me techniques to cope with stressful situations, the latter of which I still use to this day. After this experience, I relaxed into the jungle, getting up early to watch Macaws flying to their salt licks and listening to howler monkeys calling.

My most recent field experience saw me fly into Lilongwe International Airport at 1.30am to find that no one was there to pick me up. A lone female late at night, wishing I had listened to my sister (who lives in DRC) when she said to have a backup plan. Eventually, I found myself in the middle of the bush, determined to enjoy myself. To this end, I joined another wildlife group learning how to survey and identify hippos and elephants and sitting up until 2am watching a herd roam through the camp, meters away from me. But my main objective was to collect bat ectoparasites for my dissertation.

I spent the next four weeks catching bats in people’s homes, chatting to them about their jobs (one being a microbiologist), the pros and cons of cattle passports in Uganda, and eating baklava. I was trying to make the most of my new situation, and very grateful that I was still able to do something I found myself loving more and more every day.

My next adventure is just beginning as I plan to collect parrasites from bats from the Peruvian Amazon.

My first bat catching night saw us using bamboo poles to erect mist nests under the watchful eye of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and Chengeta Wildlife rangers. When we caught our first bat, I was ready, tweezers in one hand and collection tube in the other. What was missing? Gloves. As I wasn’t handling the bat, I didn’t think they were necessary until the split second where the Yellow Serottine bat’s head swivelled round to face my fingers. I escaped with only my pride hurt, but what could have been that night – a fast car drive to the nearest airport at 11pm, to be flown by helicopter to South Africa for a post-exposure shot, sticks with me to this day.

A week later, I was relocated to Lilongwe as political unrest made it hard for us to remain where we were.


1. Research where you are going, plan and prepare, and have backup plans.

2. You are part of a team, always support them, and you never know when you may be the one in need.

3. Please do not assume you know everything; go with the flow and make the most of your time in the field; it is always limited.

Images provided by Aneira Williams Looking towards a salt lick. A mother and baby African elephant near our bush camp. Aneira Williams

Expedition Revealed BOSNIA TO ITALY

An expedition contains elements of risk, but for people fleeing war and persecution, the stakes are high. Trek for weeks across the mountains or face violence and illegal deportation. Hannah Parry provides an insight into perils encountered and pressures on the local landscape and resources, important considerations for those readers planning scientific or adventure-led expeditions along this route.

The trek between Bihać in BosniaHerzegovina and the Italian city of Trieste is one that is well travelled. The route traverses the Dinaric Alps - a huge mountain range covering 654 square kilometres. The first day is tough, Mount Plješevica stands tall and imposing as the first challenge, capped with snow. The wildlife in this area includes rare snakes, Eurasian bears and even wolves, but it’s not for these interesting animals that most people are walking this route. The only way to safely claim asylum within the European Union depends on this journey.

Millions of people every year are forced to migrate from their home country. War, famine and

persecution make life unbearable, and many are forced to flee for their lives. Whilst most of the world’s refugees remain in an adjacent country, some decide to travel further. The route for people from the Middle Eastern countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran often leads them on the so-called Balkan Route. Travelling mostly on foot, people leave their lives behind for new hope in Western Europe.

Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is a small, Muslim nation on the Balkan Route. Volatile internal politics continue to plague the country as it slowly recovers from the war in the 1990s. Red warning signs litter the countryside, warning against the landmines which still hide underfoot. In the western city of Bihać, bullet holes pepper the facade of city centre buildings, remnants of the brutal siege.

The scars of the past, however, are now dwarfed by a new issue, people-on-the-move (an umbrella term for refugees and asylum seekers) become trapped in BiH, the last country before the European Union. Illegal pushbacks frequently occur from Croatia and Slovenia to

Bosnia. People have their request for asylum ignored by authorities and often face violence and theft as they are taken back. The common belief among these people is that, if you can make it to Italy crossing Croatia and Slovenia undetectedyour claim for asylum will be listened to and you can start a new life.

There’s a name for this journey: “the game”. Ahmed, Said and Bilal have tried the game dozens of times, only to be returned to BiH with nothing. “Last time we walked for 10 days, we were sleeping in the woods when the commandos came,” said Ahmed, referring to the brutal officers of the Croatian border police. He and his friends are all from Afghanistan. Bilal was studying law at university when the Taliban tried to recruit him; when he refused, his life was in danger. Said’s brother was a translator for UN forces during the war, when troops were withdrawn, some people were resettled to the countries that they helped, but even being vaguely associated with foreign troops put Said’s life at risk. Ahmed was in the army, “I used to be very strong, but life here is so hard,” he said, referring to sleeping rough in a derelict house. It’s illegal


in BiH for people without documents to rent a house and there’s discrimination which leads to some shops not serving them. Smoke inhalation from cooking fires and poor diet are just some factors that make life here hard. Yet, when it comes to preparing for “the game”, the friends encourage each other, joking about previous mishaps and believing in their eventual success.

generous. At one house near the border where people are pushed back to, a family helps with clothing and food for people who arrive exhausted. But there are too many and Bosnia is a poor country. “We used to let people stay on our land,” one person said, without wishing to give a name, “that’s fine with four or five people, but forty or fifty is impossible.”

Ahmed, Said and Bilal have been on the trail for 13 days. They haven’t eaten for over 48 hours and their shoes are broken from the tough terrain. After dozens of disappointments, Italy is within sight. This time their hard work has paid off, they are exhausted, injured and hungry, but they are safe.


Talking in fast Dari, the guys fill their bags with high calorie foods. With sleeping bags slung over one shoulder and just one phone and powerbank between them, the group start hiking towards the mountains. They sleep during the early evening, ready to cross the border at night. The crack of branches in the pitch blackness could signal police, they tread as quietly as possible. Water is scarce, after six days they have finished their supplies and resort to unclean puddles, they conserve the battery of the phone, and use GPS only when they really need to, to avoid roads and towns as much as possible - anything to avoid detection.

During the Spring and Summer months, northern BiH is host to thousands of people-on-the-move searching for a better life. The Bosnian people are kind and


Considerations for expedition planning along this route:

1. Plan for food and water self-sufficiencythere are already considerable pressures on local resources and the hospitality of local people.

2. This route crosses international borders - ensure appropriate passport and visa requirements are met.

3. Check your route against landmine maps which can be accessed through the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center. Obey red warning signs at all times.

4. There is no specific marked trail - ensure sufficient navigation equipment including GPS capabilities

The Bosnia Mountains from Bihać. A group set out for the game.
Hannah Parry is a British journalist and aid worker writing about the refugee crisis in the Balkans, France and the UK. She is also a professional church organist and scuba divemaster.


Mind Matters and Bodily Functions


Why do some individuals thrive in expeditionary environments, while others experience poor psychological health? This article discusses how recent insights in psychology about basic psychological need satisfaction and frustration might be a key differentiator.

Key words

Psychology, health, expeditions, individuals, differentiator.

Expeditions are purposeful journeys usually undertaken for reasons Of adventure, exploration, and scientific discovery (Johnson, Anderson, Dallimore, Winser and Warrell, 2008). Whilst on expedition, travellers are likely to encounter combinations of physical (e.g., extreme temperatures, arduous terrain), psychological (e.g., sleep disruption, danger), and social (e.g., separation from friends and family, lack of privacy) demands (Smith and Barrett, 2019). For those planning and participating in expeditions, it is critical to understand and be able to predict how individuals (and teams) might respond to those demands, and what can be done to effectively manage risk, support psychological resilience, and maintain safety, performance, and mental health. This is a pertinent topic given the serious consequences that impaired performance and mental health may have in these settings. It is also important to understand expeditions can have impacts far beyond the experience of the expedition itself. This article considers the broad range of expedition contexts and the experience that people have during and after an expedition, and asks: what do we know about how to make this experience as good as it can be?

As it turns out, there is a large and active literature that documents the psychosocial experiences of individuals and teams in expedition settings (e.g., Atlis et al., 2004; Blackadder-Weinstein et al., 2019; Corneliussen et al., 2017; Smith et al., 2021; Suedfeld et al., 2017; Wagstaff and Weston, 2014). Individuals have documented expedition experiences going back hundreds of years (Beaglehole, 2017; Jackson, 1978). Scholars have drawn on this source material to develop and test new ideas about how to support expedition teams in a wide variety of contexts (e.g., Allner and Rygalov, 2008; Suedfeld, 2010).

While prior research provides a detailed description of human responses to expeditioning, scholars still lack

a coherent and comprehensive explanation as to why certain individuals are able to cope and thrive both during and after the expedition, whilst others experience poor physical and psychological health. Drawing from our knowledge of the expedition literature and own prior work on individual and team dynamics, we believe that a theoretical construct in psychology that has garnered a great deal of empirical support—namely, the basic psychological needs (BPN) for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Vansteenkiste and Ryan, 2013)— offers a powerful explanatory mechanism for differentiating between different positive and negative expedition experiences. This article—along with a growing empirical literature on individuals and teams in business, sport, health care, military, and space exploration—makes the case that a better understanding of basic psychological needs can help expeditioners unlock better performance and wellbeing in expedition settings (e.g., Goemaere et al., 2019; Ng et al., 2012; Raabe et al., 2020; Smith, Thiel and Wuebker, 2021; Van den Broeck et al., 2016). From a practical perspective, the broad conclusions gleaned from the research on basic psychological needs offers actionable implications for expeditions of all kinds—from resource-intensive, long-duration expeditions, to two friends bagging a local peak, to a solo traveller in a remote or unfamiliar environment.


Regardless of recreational or occupational goal, expeditions are more likely to be safely and successfully completed when members of a team (or individuals, in the case of solo expeditions) stay physically fit by avoiding injury and illness and maintain a healthy psychological state (Smith et al., 2021). This might sound straightforward. However, the physical, psychological, and social demands encountered on expeditions often stretches the coping capacity of individuals and teams. Indeed, for many individuals participating in expeditions the goal is to get out of one’s ‘comfort zone’. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that many of the early psychological studies in the expedition literature focus on questions related to stress and coping (Palinkas and Suedfeld, 2021; Sandal, Leon and Palinkas, 2006). What stands out when reviewing both historical accounts and recent literature on expeditions is that the events most commonly reported by expedition team members tend to be positive (Leon, Sandal and Larsen, 2011).

Dr Nathan Smith and Dr Robert Wuebker

Across a wide range of field studies where data has been collected daily, weekly, and monthly whilst on expedition, individuals have consistently and most frequently reported relatively low levels of stress and feeling in control, enjoying the environment, being able to cope, taking satisfaction from achieving goals and making progress, and experiencing camaraderie with teammates. These positive experiences have been associated with a range of adaptive performance and physical and psychological health responses, such as increased task performance, feeling more physically fit, and experiencing heightened positive emotion (Leon et al., 1991; Kahn and Leon, 1994; Smith et al., 2018; Smith et al., 2021; Wagstaff and Weston, 2014).

While it is true that positive accounts tend to take precedence in this literature, historical and scholarly accounts of expeditions also document a variety of negative events and emotional reactions. Most of these negative events and emotional reactions are quite general and cut across various expedition settings and contexts. They include fear of injury, concerns about weather and conditions, problems with equipment, lack of sleep, as well as a range of negative emotions including anxiety, boredom, frustration, and anger. Crucially, one insight provided by this prior work is that many of the most commonly reported negative events during an expedition are socially referenced (Sandal, Leon and Palinkas, 2006). In particular, findings highlight expeditioner concerns over teamworking, as well as individual challenges that occur independent of the team such as missing connections with friends and family, lacking privacy, and feeling homesick. The negative events and emotions reported by expeditioners have been associated with a host of maladaptive performance and psychological health responses. Wagstaff and Weston (2014) suggest that although negative experiences tend to be reported less frequently, they have a greater impact upon the performance, health and wellbeing of both the individual and team or group. If left unchecked, it is these negative experiences that may lead to a decline in physical and psychosocial function (Temp, Lee and Bak, 2020), potentially risking the abortion of an expedition or more serious consequences such as injury or death (Anicich, Swaab and Galinsky, 2015; Leon and Venables, 2015).

Collectively, prior work has emphasized the importance of personal agency, task ability, and social compatibility for the sustained performance and psychological health of expeditionary travellers (Gunderson, 1973; Palinkas & Suedfeld, 2007). When these personal experiences are limited or degraded, individuals (and teams or groups) are more likely to struggle. In the broader psychological literature, and in other occupational and performance domains, closely related variables of autonomy (i.e., a sense of agency and volition), competence (i.e., a sense of effectiveness) and relatedness (i.e., a sense of trust and belonging) —the conceptual pillars or foundations of BPN theory—have been extensively researched as universal (applicable across cultures) determinants of performance, health, and wellbeing (see Vansteenkiste, Ryan and Soenens

(2020) for a recent review of this literature). Based on the pattern of findings from prior expedition research, and the seeming conceptual alignment, we suggest that in fact BPN may play a critical intervening role in expeditioner safety, performance, and psychological health. For practitioners, policy makers, and scholars, this advance would fill a significant gap, providing a unifying, theoretical lens through which one could explain the considerable variability in individual responses to different expedition environments and demands.


Whilst a complete review of the literature on basic psychological needs is beyond the scope of this short perspective piece, there are several books, chapters, and review articles detailing the inception and evolution of the BPN construct itself, and how it has been subject to testing across a variety of contextual and occupational settings at both the individual and the team level (Ryan et al., 2021; Vansteenkiste, Ryan, Soenens, 2020). BPN satisfaction, represented by the positive expedition experiences discussed earlier (e.g., feeling in control, satisfied with progress, enjoying camaraderie), has been associated with a diverse array of adaptative affective, cognitive, behavioural and physiological responses. Fulfilment of basic needs has been positively implicated in the coping processes, sleep quality and the rest-recovery cycle, psychological thriving under pressure, and healthy transitions across the lifespan (Brown et al., 2021; Campbell et al., 2015; Cunningham et al., 2022; van Hooff and Geurts, 2015). Especially relevant to expeditioning, the satisfaction of psychological needs has also been shown to predict positive outcomes even when physical safety needs are lacking (Chen et al., 2015). In psychophysiological studies, BPN satisfaction has been associated with lower cortisol release (a catabolic hormone associated with health risk) and challenge stress appraisals, which reflect a resilient response to stress—crucial for maintained function in demanding expeditionary settings (Quested et al., 2011). Experimental neuropsychological research suggests that need satisfaction may contribute to effective self-regulation of health by enabling individuals to flexibly monitor and detect threats and foster effective high-stakes decision making, likely important in dangerous expedition settings, by helping individuals quickly resolve decision conflict (Di Domenico et al., 2013; van Hooff & Geurts, 2015).

In contrast, need frustrating experiences, likely captured by the negative reports in prior expedition studies (e.g., uncertainty, fearing injury, tension with teammates), have been associated with a plethora of maladaptive affective, cognitive, behavioural and physiological responses. This includes, amongst other responses, increased negative emotions and depressive thoughts, oppositional defiance and poor interpersonal function, and a perturbed immune response (Bartholomew et al., 2011; Campbell et al., 2017; Rouse et al., 2020). Few (if any) of these responses are likely to be beneficial to individuals, teams, and larger groups in the expedition setting.



Mind Matters and Bodily Functions

Overall, existing evidence situated in both the BPN theory framework and expedition literature, leads us to suggest that maximising need satisfaction and minimising need frustration would likely be beneficial for operating effectively, making good individual and team-based decisions and maintaining safety and psychological health and wellbeing in demanding expedition settings. Emerging findings from our own and others’ early studies employing BPN theory principles directly in expeditionary contexts provide support for this view and attest to the explanatory power of BPN theory tenets in these settings (Cunningham et al., 2022; Goemaere et al., 2019). To bring this work together, we present, in Figure 1, a simple process model linking contextual demands and opportunities to performance, health and wellbeing outcomes via basic psychological needs.

In brief, this model suggests that contextual factors can shape expeditioners’ experiences of autonomy, competence and relatedness satisfaction and frustration, which in turn have potential positive or negative performance and health impacts respectively. This is both an active and dynamics process, where individuals’ self-regulatory practices influence how contextual demands are appraised, shaping the subsequent impact upon needs (ideally promoting need satisfaction and minimising need frustration). Importantly, and represented by the connecting line at the bottom of Figure 1, how individuals respond to demands in a given moment also shapes future functioning. For example, in recent expedition work, we have observed that need satisfaction on one day can impact upon how people feel and behaviour on the next day (Cunningham et al., 2022).


As an evidence base is constructed, there are many ways in which an understanding of BPN could inform the policy and practice of individuals and organizations involved in expedition activities. The ideas discussed in the present perspective might, for example, shape risk assessment and mitigations, particularly those related to the psychological and social aspects of expeditioning. To illustrate, training and pre-departure preparation activities might use BPN as a frame to help leaders and team members understand how to engage in empowering need-supportive communication (and minimize disempowering need thwarting communication) within expedition teams (Goemaere et al., 2019). The same BPN principles may also be used to equip individuals with the coping strategies and regulatory skills to self-regulate their own need-based experiences (i.e., take control of promoting need satisfaction and minimizing need frustration) (Sheldon et al., 2021). Because of the beneficial outcomes of enhancing need satisfaction and minimising frustration, both of these activities could play a valuable role in optimising traveller experiences. Need-based principles might also provide a decision support framework within which to rationalise difficult choices that might have to be made. For example, an understanding of psychological needs might be used to inform the approach a leader takes to effectively manage a disruptive team member, shaping the way the leader interacts (through what they say and do) and the mitigations they might put in place. Broadly, these types of evidence-based training and intervention would be ripe for attention given recent research that has raised questions regarding the quality of mental

FIGURE 1: A simple process model linking contextual demands and opportunities to outcomes via basic psychological needs


and psychosocial support available to expedition and remote fieldwork populations (e.g., Barrett et al., 2018).

An important area of future research would build on initial studies exploring gendered teams, which has focused attention on female expeditions (Blackadder-Weinstein et al., 2019; Kahn and Leon, 1994) and couples (Leon and Sandal, 2003) to explore broader themes about diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion could be treated as an input to team dynamics on expeditions, building on a longstanding stream of research on diversity in teams in the broader psychology and organizations literature; and, carrying forward a central insight from more recent work in the BPN literature, as an important output.

Finally, a more complete integration of BPN across expedition settings and contexts seems to us to be another fruitful avenue for future research. One of the central pillars of BPN theory is its grounding in modern psychology: all individuals have basic needs, these needs may vary at the level of the individual, and that the broad environment, including team dynamics, generate contexts that support or thwart individual needs. Knowing this suggests that individuals and teams that know themselves in terms of their current basic needs status (are they satisfied and/or frustrated?) and their coping capability has important implications for an individual’s lived experience of an expedition and their interactions with others. Questions connected to this integration could be readily tested on expeditions.


This article makes the case for BPN as a potential explanatory variable underpinning individuals’ performance and psychological health experiences in demanding expedition environments. Findings from existing expedition studies point toward the importance of agency, task competence, and social factors in manifestations of expeditioner performance and health. These factors closely align with the tenets of BPN theory, which in the broader psychological literature have been identified as essential determinants of resilience, performance, health and wellbeing, and thriving. We showed why basic needs are relevant to the expedition setting, and how this knowledge might inform practice. Confirmatory research with expedition populations would establish the validity of the propositions herein and advance scientific and practical knowledge by providing testable and theoretically informed contributions to the expedition travel literature.


There are no acknowledgements and the authors have declared no conflicts of interest.



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Van den Broeck, A., Ferris, D.L., Chang, C.H. and Rosen, C.C., 2016. A review of self-determination theory’s basic psychological needs at work. Journal of Management, 42(5), pp.1195-1229.

van Hooff, M.L. and Geurts, S.A., 2015. Need satisfaction and employees’ recovery state at work: A daily diary study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 20(3), p.377.

Vansteenkiste, M. and Ryan, R.M., 2013. On psychological growth and vulnerability: basic psychological need satisfaction and need frustration as a unifying principle. Journal of psychotherapy integration, 23(3), p.263.

Vansteenkiste, M., Ryan, R.M. and Soenens, B., 2020. Basic psychological need theory: Advancements, critical themes, and future directions. Motivation and emotion, 44(1), pp.1-31.

Wagstaff, C.R. and Weston, N.J., 2014. Examining emotion regulation in an isolated performance team in Antarctica. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 3(4), p.273.

Oman (photo by Kirsten Hamilton-Sturdy)


Mind Matters and Bodily Functions

In December 2021, I spent ten days and 88 miles floating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Starting at Lees Ferry, we journeyed down Marble Canyon, deeper and deeper into the history of the earth, until we squeezed through the dark, majestic inner gorge. It feels like we’re not meant to be there. Old rocks of Vishnu Schist and Zoaraster Granite surround us, black and polished by 1.8 billion years of existence. In more recent geologic time, for almost six million years the waters of the Colorado have carved deep canyons through the Colorado Plateau to provide life and sustenance to the South-West, USA.

The Colorado is my most epic river trip to date. We are self-supported in rafts and kayaks. I love engaging in nature this way but have swum in post-monsoon Himalayan rivers and witnessed others be swept away in daunting sections. I have great respect and trepidation of the power of big white water.

These are five lessons from my time on the river. Not only do they apply to expedition life, they transcend

to front-country living. They are the intersection of adventurousness and my knowledge as a Positive Psychology Coach.


The simplicity of gliding a paddle through the wave train invites presence, groundedness, and eliminates stress and busyness. Research suggests simplicity nurtures increased wellbeing, life satisfaction, meaning, richer relationships, and balance (Rich, Hanna, Wright, & Bennet, 2017).

You can’t push the river; we journey at its pace. Notice, appreciate, savour, and move safely and efficiently through this dynamic, shifting landscape. The unknown is around the next bend, regardless of how much stress or busyness we shoulder or create. Your wellbeing is waiting at the confluence of simplicity, acceptance, and contentment.


As humans, we are wilderness. Modern life pulls us away from our natural bodies and minds. As we travel through the rocky layers of

deep time, I am reminded that for us to thrive we must re-discover, re-engage, develop, and LIVE the wildness that exists within us, becoming immersed in nature to understand and remember interconnection, healing, and transcendence. Studies suggest spending time meditatively in nature increases environmental and psychological wellbeing (Unsworth, Palicki & Lustig, 2016).

3. THE OBSTACLES ARE WHAT MAKE IT FUN; NAVIGATE THEM WITH GRACE AND EMBRACE JOY Expeditions are an intensified metaphor for life, experiencing challenge, risk, fear, unknown and uncertainty. Explorer-adventurers actively seek adversity to grow; transforming our skills and capabilities to transfer learning to post-adventure life. Therefore, we can greet our suffering and challenges as an opportunity for growth, and expansion. On the river, I watch my husband, Liam, play in the boils and eddy lines. The river’s obstacles bring him joy. For those less expert, they can induce fear and aversion. Invite intentionality with how you navigate obstacles. View

Emma Miller The author, Emma, gazes at the Red Wall Limestone walls of the Grand Canyon. What an honour to be of this earth, mindful in this space, present, content, and simple. Fully here. (Photo by Liam Kelly)

them as opportunities, know them intimately, create space from their emotional and cognitive intensity, and move with them so you can move through them.

offer gratitude, pay homage, and feel humbled by grandeur as we watch the layers of earth’s history grow above us, until we are in the bowels of deep time. This landscape holds the origin stories for many tribes whose ancestors guard the steep walls. I marvel and question the stewardship and privilege of my position. We have a responsibility to be intentional and sensitive with how we use space, connect with environments, and consider peoples. I make the commitment to learn more, be a better advocate and ally.

I hope this advice from the river inspires and reminds you of the possibilities embracing an Adventurous Way of Being to live a self-transcendent, connected life, in the moment, simply, as one’s real self and embracing the ebbs and flows of the journey.

Yours in exploration, Emma


We do not often invite discomfort. However, we can cultivate skills and space of knowing that life entails suffering; it’s how we hold, measure, and engage with our discomfort that allows us to either flail or flourish. Experiencing uncertainty through adventurous experiences, we learn to work with fear. Embracing discomfort can alleviate anxiety, where we meet uncertainty with optimism, even viewing it as positive. With each adventure, we are reminded of our capability to deal with challenge and discomfort, expanding our inner resources of resilience and grit.


We were travellers, guests passing through this corridor, blessed with safe passage. It is impossible to not


Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M., 2014. The concept of flow. In Flow and the foundations of positive psychology, 239-263. Springer, Dordrecht.

Rich, S.A., Hanna, S., Wright, B.J. and Bennett, P.C., 2017. Fact or fable: Increased wellbeing in voluntary simplicity. International Journal of Wellbeing, 7(2).

Unsworth, S., Palicki, S. K., & Lustig, J. (2016). The impact of mindful meditation in nature on self-nature interconnectedness. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1052-1060.

Emma Miller is a Wellbeing Specialist, Positive Psychology Coach MSc., Award Winning Explorer and Founder of Wellbeing Explorers.

emma@wellbeingexplorers.com www.wellbeingexplorers.com

Emma and her husband Liam enjoying the rapid together. (Photo by Emma) The team scouting Hance rapid, the most technical yet. River mile 77. (Photo by Emma) Floating the flat water, immersed in the vastness of geologic time. (Photo by Emma)



How do we ensure that tree-planting initiatives go beyond carbon capture to benefit local people and ecosystems? To inform and improve ecological restoration in a biodiversity hotspot, this project will assess plant-insect interactions in reforestation plots, early successional areas, and remnant forests in eastern Madagascar, and work with local treeplanting teams to implement techniques informed by our results.

eva.colberg@gmail.com @evacolberg

ecologisteva.wordpress.com greenagainmadagascar.org


8crockp@gmail.com 8crockp@googlemail.com

life_through_a_pinhole petercrockett.com

Eva Colberg Peter Crockett
We will travel to the isolated, biodiverse island of St Helena to research and document the community-led transition to 100% renewable energy. We will explore the island on foot and use my handmade cameras to produce a photojournalistic case study that globally helps communities envision a future of carbon neutrality and inspires change.



Vietnam is one of the most well-known countries in the world in terms of herpetofaunal diversity. However, reptiles and amphibians are threatened by extinction, and major threats to their populations are habitat loss and overharvesting for human consumption. We have been planning research to discover new species, identify critical habitats and priority sites for biodiversity conservation and provide recommendations for appropriate conservation measures.

hamanh@hus.edu.vn cecad.vn


Each year through its Explorer Awards programme, Scientific Exploration Society runs an open call for applications from pioneers with purpose and scientific trailblazers who are looking for grants to fund scientific expeditions that focus on discovery, research and conservation in remote parts of the world offering knowledge, education and community aid. We asked SES Explorer Awards and Expeditions Manager, Nikki Skinner, to share a selection of fundworthy expeditions from the last batch of applications. Please do contact these inspirational pioneers with purpose if you can help them seek funding for their expeditions.


Join today!

Join a community of like-minded people who are interested in learning about and conserving the world we live in. Support the longest-running scientific exploration organisation in the world and help it continue its quest to enable the next generation of scientific explorers.

• Complimentary access to all issues of the Society’s digital publication Exploration Revealed.

• FREE admission to a full and varied programme of Explorer Talks.

• Invitations to take-up opportunities to go on exciting SES Endorsed scientific expeditions.

• Invitations to attend charity events and the annual ‘Oscars of Exploration’ presentation ceremony where grants are awarded to inspirational individuals leading scientific expeditions.

• Keep up to date with the latest scientific exploration news and views via the Scientific Explorer Annual Review and e-Newsletters.

• Enjoy discounts from outdoor adventure stores and on SES books, expedition DVDs, and videos.

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© SES Explorer Reza Pakravan - The World’s Most Dangerous Borders (Amazon Prime Video), funeral in the Dogon County in Mali (photo taken by Mark Game)
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