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Belinda Kirk (Adventurer)

Belinda Kirk is an explorer and author who advocates the benefits of adventure. She has led many expeditions across countries like Nicaragua, Africa, China’s Desert of Death and the United Kingdom for over twenty-five years. Belinda’s most recent book is called ‘Adventure Revolution’ which explains why experience can be beneficial to our wellbeing. Drawing on lessons from leading groups into wildernesses and the latest findings in neuroscience as well as psychology, she shows how adventure can transform someone timid into a confident one or addicted ones into recovering ones; it breaks people lost down so they find their way again – purposely wandering through life rather than aimlessly living it out

She has led numerous youth development challenges, pioneered inclusive expeditions for people with disabilities and managed scientific research missions in the Amazon, Sinai and Alaska.

This is the last episode in Series One and a sneak preview into what Season Two offers. On the podcast today, we talk about her incredible life and how it got started. We delve into her story in the Amazon with immersive sound effects and music.


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Transcript of our Conversation

Belinda Kirk

[00:00:00] hello and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast where explorers and adventurers tell their stories. I’m John Horseville. And on this weekly podcast, I talked to adventurers and explorers from around the world who have made remarkable and daring journeys in recent years from Everest climbers to polar explorers, world record holders, and many.

I hope this podcast, sparks ideas and inspires you to go on an adventure of your own, but what is left for the adventurers and explorers in the 21st century? Well, let’s find out my next guest is the creator and founder of explorers connect a website that connect explorers from around the world to go on expeditions together.

She is also an author and has done numerous expeditions over the years. I am delighted to introduce Belinda Kirk [00:01:00] to the podcast. Hi, thanks for having me. Absolute pleasure. It’s so good to have you on. We had a bit of trouble last week recording, but I am so thankful to get you back on to sort of talk about your story and some of the amazing stuff that you have done over the years, not in particular, sort of with explorers connect, which is connected.

So many people, you know, around the world to do adventures together who otherwise couldn’t we’ll probably jump into that, but I always like to start at the beginning and sort of about you and how you got into this line of work and these adventures that you do. Oh, it’s Dana. How far to go back? I think probably when I was a kid, I grew up in different places, but for a good few years, I was very lucky to grow up on.

Which is one of the channel islands and it’s a tiny little island. And so we, I had a completely free childhood there. There’s very few there’s very [00:02:00] little traffic and everyone kind of knows each other. There’s a lot of curtain twitching. So people didn’t worry about their kids running roaming about, you know And so I had a lot of freedom and I think I sort of always remember first becoming an Explorer when I was about seven, eight years old.

And I would go from my bike all day or I’d sort of explore the caves and all the there’s a lot of world war two bunkers and, and kind of in placements, battling placements and stuff there. So there’s all these kind of structures and I don’t know, dessert. Bits and bobs that you can kind of go and explore and also have this secret garden.

That was my favorite place to go. And I used to pretend I was like David Attenborough and I’d go there and record the plants and the animals and the insects. So I just had this incredibly free few years where I could just roam as a child. And I [00:03:00] think really that is, I think that set up something that freedom.

So. A outlook, but as always, I’ve always come back to when I, I kind of, we moved away from the channel islands several years later. And by the time I was about early teens, I’d kind of, I wasn’t really going outside very much, doing much adventure. But then Jacob Edinburgh award came up at my school and I just, I launched onto, I just knew I had to do it for the expeditions as well.

Mostly. I know that there’s lots of elements to it, but it was really the expedition part of it that drew me to it. And it lit a fire again about getting outside, exploring, going to places, finding things and doing things I’ve never done before. And that then led me on when I was 18 to going to Africa.

And having my F and joining my first proper expedition. And that was [00:04:00] really where everything changed. It was, I, I, I suppose in some ways, like many teenage girls, I had a real self-esteem problem. I had a, I was very low in confidence and going to Africa and actually surviving it and coming back and actually knowing that I’d done this thing, that I couldn’t even believe that I’d done myself.

I just, it just gave me incredible. Not only did I find something I loved, but it also gave me the confidence to go after what I now had found that I loved, which was to find a way to keep adventuring, to keep exploring to even to try to dream, to be an Explorer in some way. And so, yeah, Africa was the turning point.

I, if I can survive that, then I can do, and I can sort of, I could try it. I think it’s very true. I think we’re the adventures. You sort of go out into the unknown sometimes [00:05:00] with a slight sort of sense of naivety. And when you come back after sort of putting yourself sometimes three such extremes as sort of gives you the confidence that in everyday life, you can pretty much.

Not be invincible, but in terms of just build your confidence up to be able to achieve whatever you sort of set out to achieve something like, I don’t know for you was going to Africa. I don’t know for me was America. And while after doing those, you sort of come back like, oh, I, I did it. Was that the sort of feeling that you got?

Absolutely. And I think it’s one of the greatest gifts. Adventure gives us that you can’t get for much else in. That might, I might, I particularly, for example, love taking people on their first summit because you don’t even have to go to America or Africa or do anything quite that big because it is hard.

It’s a hard first step to do that. For financial reasons and everything. When I, when you take people to [00:06:00] top of the first mountain, They look out on the world differently. Their view of the world is different, but the view of themselves is different than the idea of, like you say, it’s the idea it, if I can do this, if I can climb a mountain or if I can go to America or Africa, then what else can I do?

And I think that’s an amazing, amazing thing to learn or to help someone else to find because then you approach everything in life differently. And your. I dunno. I can’t imagine anything else unlocking your potential in the same way. Yeah. I th I think it’s always that first step, which terrifies people, it’s, it’s actually, when you, when this is sort of why I sort of set up the podcast was, you know, the more you sort of speak to loads of those people, the more you sort of hear about it, the more I hope that people can sort of be like, oh, if they can all do it, then I’m sure I can.

It’s. [00:07:00] And that was sort of one of the things it’s actually, when you think about it, it’s slightly terrifying, but also quite exciting. And then you sort of, as soon as you take that first step, you suddenly realize it’s so much easier than you ever imagined. Yes. It’s either easier than you imagined or you completely fail, but it’s okay.

Because you also realize that failing is all wrong. I’m failing is the only way to be successful and to find out what you can do. So you either, like you say, you find out that you can do much more than you thought you could, but you don’t even have to succeed to get them to do it. I think. And also I think it’s important.

I, I give talks and stuff and there’s all, we’ve got all these amazing influences and people who give a of tools, but I think the kids. I’m like what I’ve always tried to do to explore as connect is getting the message across it. These aren’t [00:08:00] superhuman people. These are just people. The only difference between me and them and anyone else is that they’ve gone and done this stuff.

Anyone can actually go and do it. It’s like you say that first step that’s so hard. But if you can just mustard. If you can just find your way to make the first step, then I think you get this positive feedback, but every other step afterwards is easier. So that first big adventure, or maybe make it a smaller adventure, because then you’re more likely to do it and less likely to be put off by the fear of failing or the fear of like just it being a disaster.

Is it each time you do something, it, you kind of push yourself, you take it. And then you get this amazing feedback of achievement and confidence and everything else. And so every other adventure after all or anything else, that’s scary in life. Everything else after that is easy, slightly easier. Yeah.

I think you [00:09:00] know, I remember my first one was and like actually quite a few people. Like we had Leon McCarran on last time and you know, his first one was cycle touring and cycled. Taurine is like two different things you can do. As someone wants described to me as credit card Turing, where you carried nothing on your bike, other than like a crap, a credit card or debit card, you go and stay, you do it and you bomb around.

But if you actually in proper cycle touring with pioneers, you can live incredibly cheaply and you could do a week for, I don’t know, under a hundred pounds. Once you have the stuff in terms of doing that. Absolutely. I think people think you need a lot of money to do big trips. I think it depends what you’re doing.

If you’re going to the optical ocean rowing then yeah. Sailing. I mean, goodness, you’ll need millions, maybe not millions for ocean Rome, but you’ll need a lot of money. But if you’re doing so many other things [00:10:00] walking, cycling, it’s really depending on how you do it. And you can do. I suppose the other big challenge for people is time.

So you either have to get a sabbatical or quit your job. I mean, that’s the big one. And then you have to save the money beforehand and be brave enough to come back to England or wherever with no job waiting for you. But maybe I reckon if you go and do an adventure like that, you might not want to come back and do exactly what you were doing beforehand.

Anyway, you might want to change, but no, you don’t need masses of money. There’s a beauty to the simpler, the simpler you make. It. There’s a, there’s a beauty to that. A lot of people go on expeditions and try not to do it with all you know, not try not to do it where you just pay for everything, but you can try and bargain for staff work for.

You know, there’s amazing. I’m my next, the next thing I’m looking at is doing maybe books or trying with my families were thing that if you’ve heard about [00:11:00] woofing yes. The world organic farming. Is that the one? Yeah. Yeah. You basically go and work on an organic farm somewhere. Learn about farming and, and be part of a family.

And that doesn’t cost anything, you know? Okay. You have to fly out there. I know that’s not quite an expedition. Exactly. Like my pastor. It’s all adventuring and there’s, there’s just everywhere you look, you can find, you can either be inventive. That’s usually the way you have to do stuff to be going on the cheap, or you can eat there’s even these amazing things like woofing and stuff.

And there’s things like cold showers or hot showers, hot chaplains, warm showers. That’s it. There’s all these things out there that make it so much easier now. Yeah, so you definitely don’t need lots of. Yeah. And I suppose after you came back, was that the inspiration for you to start explore as connect came back from that first?

Oh no, no. [00:12:00] For about a decade, I worked doing all sorts of expeditions and some of my own personal challenges taking a lot of youth development expeditions, which is still the things I’m most proud of. Taking young people on expeditions and changing their path. Well, helping them to, they do the hard work.

I just sort of put them a bit. And then I worked in TV for about alongside that I worked for about 13 years. I worked in television setting expedition, sort of remote filming trips for bad grills. Ramirez, Chris Ryan, all sorts of natural history, filming with gorillas and all over the I’d say all sorts of stuff all over the place.

So my expedition skills transferred well to taking remote filming trips and being responsible for teams in remote areas that they weren’t on an expedition, but they kind of were, but they were [00:13:00] filming. So I’ve kind of, my career has always been around adventure, but I found, I love learning new stuff basically.

So I’ve found different ways to make a little. ’cause my, my number one is I want to have a varied life and have experiences and be rich and experiences. And money’s always come after that, or even much less than actually make friends and family come before. But it’s, it’s meant that my decisions haven’t been based on a career ladder.

It’s more like, oh, that sounds awesome. I want to do that. So I’ve had a mixture of expedition leadership. And remote film trip leadership, but also I was a diver for about a year. And I was a exhibition photographer for a little bit. And now I’m writing, I’ve written a book recently.

Dabbling in it. We’re not happily. I mean, it’s, it was really hard work and it is [00:14:00] hard where I’m still, I’m still progressing on that. But yeah. I do teaching as well, so I teach expedition leadership. And I used to teach navigation, all sorts of things, say different stuff. As long as I’m adventuring and as long as I’m learning new things, then I mean, 26 years I’ve been taking people on the bench.

So I’ve done all sorts of stuff under that. God. Absolutely amazing. And I suppose that’s, that’s, what’s given you such these rich experiences is the sort of varied job titles that you’ve done, and it’s allowed you to sort of travel all over the world for people listening, I suppose, how it sort of came to you with this and you got your expedition leader course, is that.

So what I did was I just, and I’m a great believer that this is still the best way to get into the expedition [00:15:00] industry is to build up experience. You, there are some great skills and qualifications that you need to get from the mountain leaderboard to first aid courses, and there’s all sorts of things at the IML.

And look, there’s all sorts of wonderful qualifications, and you should look into that. But I think you have to pair that with experience and way back when I started, there were less, there was less of a focus on qualifications. There were less qualifications around, it was more about where have you been?

What have you done? Who have you been responsible for? So what I did was my first exhibition. I simply saved up. I worked all sorts of part-time on jobs at university and stuff saved up and after university just worked up as much money as I could to pay to go to Africa. Then I came back from that and I thought, right, I need to, I got this, I got this very clear [00:16:00] equation in my head.

If I can get paid, even if it’s small amount to go on expeditions, if I can make a living going on exhibition. I can go on expeditions all the time. Whereas if I go and get a job and pay to go on expeditions, I can only do it like once a year or so. And so it was like, right, I’ve got to just somehow become valuable to people that they’ll pay me to be on these expeditions.

So I just did more and more expeditions. And initially I paid, then I got some of my expenses paid, but my flights paid and then I got my insurance and my flights paid. And then I started getting paid a little bit on top of the. Until I became useful and then people would seek me out and go, can you take this team to pack them gone?

Does it in China or wherever? So I think if you, once you get to know weird places as well, and you’ve taken teams into unusual places where no one else has people come to you from different areas going from different industries. And can you help us get here? So. I [00:17:00] just, I kind of did an apprenticeship and I think that’s a great way of doing it.

Make your mistakes on your own time, because once you’re responsible for the people, you need to know what you’re doing. You don’t want to be messing up. Yeah. Very true. And what would you think the sort of one expedition that really has stuck out for you over the years that has sort of transformed either your lives or someone that you’ve taken with you?

Oh, it’s hard to pick one all so hard to get what, probably three immediately spring to mind my first ever expedition. And that was to Africa that we’d sort of talked briefly about that changed my life. And I think your first adventure is always so important also an expedition. I I was part of the, I led a team to the PSU to that’s where I met my partner.

Jim who’s, we’re still together. 25 years later or something [00:18:00] a long time ago we sat and got married, but that we’ll do that eventually. So, but also any, probably all in any youth development expeditions that I’ve been involved with and probably the Amazon sticks out the most for me. And it’s the most, it’s got the most fond memories, both because for me it was a huge step in the career ladder, I suppose.

I was 26 years old and I was the youngest chief leader, the British exploring society though, perhaps. So for me, it was a massive thing to lead this expedition, but also because it totally made clear to me how important adventuring and expeditions are and how life-changing and transformational are they are and how we need them.

And it made me evangelical after that about the power of adventure. And the expedition [00:19:00] basically was 20 years ago, I think now probably crazy. Thank you. It’s that long ago? I had led some expeditions, some small, some smaller teams for the British exploring society. Before that I had a lot of jungle experience.

I’d probably been doing jungle expeditions eight years. And I particularly focused on jungle expeditions from stone. I suppose. That’s where I started or just because I was a biologist by training and I love animals. I love being in a. Some people hate jungles because they’re so alive, but I love them because they’re alive.

Okay. I don’t like parasites. Like anyone, nobody likes digging things out of your legs and stuff, but but that’s just part of it. Isn’t it us department, sometimes it’s not the end of the world. I got this, this position. I had 120 people. 70 [00:20:00] of them were young, British explorers. 20 were Peruvian, local young people.

And then the rest of the team we’re made up of all of the staff that I had to follow and which included jungle leaders and people with sort of real jungle survival skills to lead the teams, but also scientists by UK. And also, I really wanted a lot of previous scientists as well. So we worked with the university.

The local university and my favorite guy, Dr. Luquillo. He was he was my, he was just a fantastic guy at the university there in a ketose and opened all the doors. And we, we worked on all the science together to really make it impactful and meaningful. And so the science we were doing out there could be incorporated into all sorts of longer long-term studies that they were doing at the university as well.

We were doing so what I, what I did with this 120 people basically is that they all [00:21:00] worked in different groups spread around the Pacaya Samiria reserve. And they were some were studying bats because we have this expert Ben, and so we were doing back studies. We were doing also long-term studies on the birds that were incorporated with B.

The previous scientists also the pink river dolphins. They, we were surveying them all sorts of amazing biological survey, survey survey going on. And we were out there. I can’t remember exactly, I suppose, at about six or seven weeks. The idea of the expedition, they are, they’re pretty exploring society is very much about youth development.

And for me, it was really important that a, we included the local people in what we were doing. So it was meaningful, but also, but also they said that we would create a project that was really useful and not just part of youth development, which is important, but there’s something extra. [00:22:00] So our two aims of the expedition with.

Show these young people that they could do more than they CA they thought they could. But also this work with the scientific research. Now, this is the part of the podcast where we jump into the story and head over to Peru and into the Amazon rain forest. We joined Belinda at the start where she setting everything up in camp and join her as her journey.

Yeah, we got all of our base camps in, we’ve got everything sort of set up. Some of the, some of the teams were actually working from boats because it was flooded forest. So some of the lucky teams got to level and he’s amazing. I dunno, it’s a bit like, I didn’t know how to explain them. These Amazon riverboats, that beautiful boats, they’d all sling their hammocks underneath in this big open space in the.

More informed about the bottom rung of the boat I space, but I’m left with the boat and then live on the top. That’d be sort of the kitchen and stuff, [00:23:00] rudimentary kitchen, not that, but there was these beautiful boats at some that two of the teams were moving on and they were doing the stuff like the river dolphin work.

This up has to be assessable. We got all the logistics set up based from set up and then the team’s feeling. With all the young people. My job then was to just kind of make sure all the teams were doing okay. And I, I loved this part of the trip, but it was part of the expedition because I would, I would go out and visit each of the groups and just check the leaders where I okay.

Check the young people are okay. Her team would Trek out and being a scientific expedition. It gave her an idea. The opportunity to experience some of the most amazing wonders that the Amazon rain forest had to offer some of the groups on boats or somewhere on these jungle counts. So I’d be, I’d walk out to the junk accounts [00:24:00] that might take a day or two, some were back lifting.

So they were doing different things. So the Butler thing team, I really loved going that was really fun because they would get up in the dark, not necessarily the time, but they’d do a lot they’re netting obviously night. So they would have these huge. And that’s that they’d set up in the day and then we would check them in the day and check that there was no tears or whatever.

We’d we’d go back out as it was becoming dusk. And we’d start to collect as the bats would fly into the next week, you’d have gloves on and stuff. We’d measure them weigh them. Became quite good at, but that’s identification, sex them and all of those sorts of things. What I loved about that was being usually when you work in jungles, you te you are active in the day, and then you, you get your wet pits.

You’ve got your dry, who is wet and stinky and [00:25:00] damping your wet. And then you take that off. You get into your camp, you set up and all you you’ve already got. You put your hammock up, you put your dry kits on, you get straight into bed. The best thing about jungles is you have masses of sleep. It’s wonderful.

It’s the best thing about jungle expeditions. You just don’t move at night in jungles. It’s just not, it’s just not the way I was trained. I was trained by a lot of military. Most of my expression training has come from ex military people. So you just don’t. There’s no need to move and you can’t get much done.

Anyway, you’ve bound to walk into something not nice if you’re operating in. So, but what was really different for me, it was like we actually had to do stuff in the dark and it was like, this is really quite exciting and interesting, but also risk assessment wise. It’s like, oh, terrifying. So we have these really strict principles about Ritz and, and just protocols, how you move and so on and so forth, because it’s really easy to get lost in the jungle anyway, but in the [00:26:00] dark it’s even worse.

But we would check her out to these different backlifting areas and checklist bats, and there’d be small teams of us. And then we’d go round, swap in, wake up another set of another team. They all, hopefully they should be ready already. They’d think go back to the back nursing. Once we’d caught enough, we didn’t go all night.

We’d take the buckets down. We didn’t want to touch backs and just leave them there. And so it was this exciting. And because the guy who was that, the particular scientists for that particular team, he was real, he was out a real incredible passion for bats. Like he was missed the backbone basically, and his whole PhD and his MSC and everything he’d done after that was all very much about bats or it he’d worked all over the world doing that stuff.

So it was really it’s very exciting to work with people who are knowledgeable about. Yeah, it was just very exciting [00:27:00]for the young, for me, but also obviously for the young people, but in such a hostile place with such a big young team to look after something was bound to give. And Belinda soon had trouble ahead for one of her girls.

So the scale got better and I hope to to get her own. I actually, I think I had to call the flying doctors from that one. So we had to walk to them. There is. And then the flying doctors came because I couldn’t take a day and a half to walk her back. We had to get her a big nasty injection in her stomach at the hospital.

I don’t know if it’s this now, but back then, even if you’d had your rabies jab, if you’d gotten bitten by something like that, one thing that could have rabies, you’d have to have this like booster I spade. And back then it was this nasty, massive needle in your stomach. And so. But I just said, we’ve got to get to hospital, have an injection.

So we got this. So she was really excited because she was [00:28:00] going to get me. I’m flying doctors, airplane. So me and her flew off on this amazing, you know it, the airplane came in, landed on the water. We got in flew off to the airstrip at the hospital. And he actually said, I don’t normally, but I’ll bring you back.

Unless a call comes in, you’re going to be getting her back, going to take you a week to take your days to get back. It was like excellent. Right. Even if we wait on the airstrip and you have enough things, if we can get lift back, one thing I really that’s really important when you’re doing expedition planning is try and make.

Get a rapport with your emergency people, because there’s one thing, cooling people when you’re in dire straits saying, we need help, but if they’ve met you beforehand, they know what you’re there for. You’re there with a bunch of young people, you know, and you get rapport with them. They will always go the extra mile, I think.

Anyway, so we went into the hospital, this poor [00:29:00] girl lay down on the bed and I sort of said, So actually these injections going to be in your stomach, but the doctor will come and explain the rest. And I just want to going to pass over that needle was enormous. I mean, I was even, I was just like, oh, try not to look.

Shocked, but bless blesser. She had the injection everything was fine and I got shot. I can’t remember if we stayed. I’m pretty sure we just said, look, if anything happens, come back. But I think we just left basically. They made sure that we actually didn’t have a reaction to meet immediately.

We were back on the plane a couple of hours later. And back into the answer, the teams all had fantastic names, like, like the Spanish words for things like Delta, like dogs. See two could, I think they were the two can group and yeah, we got back. She had a tale to tell thankfully didn’t get in trouble with her parents when we all got back to England.

[00:30:00] I suppose that needle is enough to put anyone off ever going to the jungle, but throughout the six weeks they grew as a team. And now they were experiencing so much by the river. Well, I love doing on the riverboat teams, particularly. It was, we did some Cayman survey and so Cayman come out again at night.

Actually, there’s a theme here. I haven’t realize I liked getting into. But what you would do in order to find them is we’d go out and on this floor pecky packages, which are kind of dug out canoes and some had outboard motors and some didn’t mostly, we use the ones we’d just paddled. But I think for Cayman survey, we have to have at least one with with a mater.

And so we’d go out and we’d we’d shine. You shine a torch into the forest along the riverbanks, trying to. And what you do is you basically get this. I shown there was a specific size and color. You’d be like, [00:31:00] right. That’s a Cayman I’m actually, if you kept your torch on the Cayman in, on this side shine, they would kind of friends.

So then we would get closer and closer and closer stick. We have this big stick with the last few on the end and then last to its net and pull it into the boat, which sounds a bit stupid. You got teenagers, right? We did have like all the right scientists are helping us do it, but like the whole point was that the teenagers learn how to do it as well.

So we all had to go, but you, you, you drank it in. And this was all done for scientific research. This wasn’t done in humanely, but then you’d pull water. You kind of massage it stomach and pull water down it stomach. Yeah. I mean, T T to town, they’d probably find. So they’re quite happy. It take a few of you and you’d like, tick them over enough to then wash out their stomach contents survey.

What they’re reading now I did was to find out what were these guys eating? [00:32:00] And the university of previous Amazon, which is university working with Dr. Luquillo, particularly his fate. His main thing was this long-term study on the different came in in the area and what makes it, so we have this amazing team in the end.

Teenagers from like London or whatever I’m doing by the end of the expedition, they all learn. They’re all different jobs into how to do this and they were doing it themselves. And you would watch these like 18 year olds or whatever. You’d never been to the jungle before. And they were like catching Cayman, S muscle GMs, stomachs, and like doing this incredibly important science work and just owning it.

And I love that. I love the font, but. I was all, it’s all about facilitation. That’s the big, big buzzword. When you work with any of these organizations at the beginning of the expedition, you are in charge, you meet everyone, you met and [00:33:00] feel comfortable. Hopefully you train them. You, you start to you at first.

You just try to win trust and make them feel confident enough not to just put, to go home. Cause it’s all terrible. But what you want to do is over time is facilitate as much as possible. The idea that they own the exhibition. This is what these expeditions are all about, making people own it, and that can have a transformative effect on them.

Give them the competence to tackle anything. And six weeks in the hostile jungle can do just that. There was this particular girl called. And she had really struggled from day one. She was, I suppose, the person I had, she was the young person that I’d put the most time in. I had the most trouble with was most concerned for cause I didn’t want him to give up, but she had a [00:34:00] history of a long, she had a history of self harm and so on.

So she had. And she had not, she had, she wasn’t quite fitting in at school with everything. So she had some, she had, she was, she was struggling at home. So she came to the expedition and she didn’t quite fit in straight away. Most people were trying to like make friends straight off and, you know, you want to find your little band because it’s all very scary.

The whole thing is so new to everyone and she really struggled. So I could see that this was a problem. I didn’t know her background at the time. I didn’t know that she’d had self-harming. I I could just tell that she wasn’t fitting in quickly at the start and say I did what I could to try and incorporate her into her team and that wasn’t working.

So initially, eventually I said, right, here’s an actual job. This is a job that involves you talking to all of the team [00:35:00] members and facilitating and taking on responsibility for prepping the all science work. Right. Sort of logistics to the planning for the team to, to have all the right kit to go out with for the science and also actually for the bed for that camp.

And so she had to talk to every team member, make sure that everyone had the right stuff, but also between them that as a team, they had everything and she, she took on the role and it really, you could see that it was really helping her. She started to make a few more bonds and she was she was talking to people more.

And so it helped her to make those first steps that she was finding. She was struggle. It’s having this job. Weeks later, I went out to her expedition camp and we walked out and I found this young woman striding around the camp, bossing everyone around. And I was like that soundless. And I was like, that is not the girl I met on the plane.

That is this wow [00:36:00] versa. She was quite bossy. It was quite good. When she she’d found like this confidence that she had. She, she obviously well she told me she never had that sort of, she’s never been given that sort of responsibility knowing to trust the terror at schools with anything like that.

And she was like, yeah, I really enjoyed it actually. So then I wanted to be the camp manager and I took that on as well. And as she was, she would kind of, she was basically the other leader in the leader team by this point. And she was really she was really running things. And you could tell that that the team members not only respected.

But also they liked her for it, you know? And, and she liked herself for it as well. I think we come back and then after we’ve all come home back to Britain six months later, or so we all meet up and have this gathering at school and that’s at the Royal geographical society. And you present your exhibition.

I was everyone was stood in the queue, in the rain. And I was saying hi to all the, all the, all the [00:37:00] team. Cause I hadn’t seen him since. And this woman came up to me and she said what have you done to my daughter? And also on that, this is the Batman, this is the, this is the mom of tobacco. Or maybe it’s one of the kids you’ve got malaria.

And maybe she’s like, I couldn’t, you can’t stop kids. Somebody going to get married. You know, we gave all the light prophylaxis and all that, but I was like, I’m in trouble. And then she just gave me this enormous heart. And also I like. And I was just really confused for a second or so. And then she said Alice has just completely changed.

And Emma herself she’s found herself was something like that. Just come out of herself when she found herself. I can’t remember the exact words, but I just remember him saying, what have you done to my daughter? And then hugging me. And I was like, Alice. Oh. And so six months later, she explained to me how Alice was now doing really well.

Because she was [00:38:00] making, she she’d made some friends, her, even her grades come up, not that’s the priority, I don’t think. But she had started to really build her confidence had built. And so therefore she had, she was happy in herself and life was going better for her. And she was saying she helps out at home with all the chores and without being asked and just her general happiness level of.

And how she was approaching the life and therefore how she was going to go through luck. And it was such an extraordinary moment for me because I thought it’s not just me, that my life has been changed by in searches and expeditions. And it’s not just on expedition that I see these incredible cancellations it’s long lasting.

You can actually impact people’s journey through life, through these wonderful expeditions. And it was an, it was a big moment for me. So I was like, no, there’s something to this. And I really want to understand it. [00:39:00] And I spent the next 10 years trying to understand it. And that’s why I bet she wrote a book about why adventure is so essential for wellbeing, because I couldn’t, I just, I think we don’t in our world, in our society now we don’t appreciate.

You know why adventure is so good for us and what an incredible opportunity it is. And it doesn’t have to be a big expedition, even smaller adventures close to home. You know, there’s this wonderful opportunity for personal and personal development and, and healing and transformation. And and I’ve all, I’ve seen that for 26 years, I’ve seen that of all sorts of ages and backgrounds.

I’ve seen that transformation through adventure. And so that’s where I think that’s where I really, I, the first time I was like, I am now going to, I’m going to tell everyone about why they should be going on exhibitions. That was the most incredible story. And now we [00:40:00] circle back to our conversation that Belinda and I had about this expedition and something that I don’t think people really understand until they’ve sort of done it in a sense.

And that sort of story of Alice is just such an amazing story to sort of tell because it’s sort of. People the understanding of just how powerful to go on. I don’t know, one of these trips or to go outside your comfort saying can do to your confidence and your own self-esteem. Yeah, it really is. And I think at that moment it was all about expeditions.

I set up explores connect. Cause I said, I was, I was always telling people, expeditions, change your life. Everyone should do one expedition, at least in their life because it will. It will empower you. It will show you what you can do. It’ll change, it’ll help you. So I was all, I always used to say, expeditions change lights, and but then over the years, [00:41:00] as I’ve understood it more and I’ve done smaller adventures and take people on small adventures, not just big expeditions it’s adventure, it’s this idea of choosing a challenge, a very natural challenge, choosing the unknown, going into the unknown, the great unknown knowingly, you know, choosing.

And also this idea of choosing adversity, because an adventure is not an adventure, unless you’re cold and wet and hungry or something at some point the type to find exactly. And so I think there’s this. Yeah, there’s this wonderful opportunity to to go on an adventure. And I think if you’re the same.

Yes, I we’ve got terrible. We have a real mental health crisis in the, in the country at the moment, but we also have a health crisis, physical health crisis. And I think you can, you’re all under so much pressure to like go to the gym or eat less sugar do all this stuff. And it’s a little bit boring [00:42:00] and a bit, a bit difficult to do because you don’t really want to do that.

So I hate to do. But going on an adventure, this will help you physically and mentally. Oh, okay. That’s a bit more in depth and it’s a bit more inviting, isn’t it. And I actually went to get once, as you say, once you do one you’re hooked, you have to go on these things. You know, whether it be small ones regularly or big ones, every, I think you need a big expedition like that.

Every turning point in your life like, you know, getting married, having kids, all of these, these big turning points in life, you should go on a big expedition to kind of redefine you and what’s Kate you’re capable of and what you want in life and your values. So that, yeah, it’s no matter what size of adventure you need.

It’s such, there’s a great opportunity out there to be your best self, to live your best life through adventuring and. What a nice thing to do. It’s fun. It’s absolutely [00:43:00] amazing. And you know what a story and for anyone listening, you know, it really shows the power of the sort of trips and these expeditions.

There’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week. With the first being on these trips and expeditions, what’s the one gadget that you always take with you? Very exciting. I used to take a pen knife on every exhibition and then hardly ever used one off the time.

Joe, I’ve got my favorite water bottle. It’s all exciting. You always need water. My water bowl is this old SIG bottle. It is battered and busted, but it means the world to me because it’s been with. Since I was 18, I spent on pretty much every expedition with me. Let’s say funny, so’s mine. Mine’s like a red SIG bottle.

That’s got every sort of puncture from being dropped in the mountain to be stood on, you know, all these sort of markers of each [00:44:00] adventure. Really? Yeah. Mine’s red as well. It’s a red symbol is battered. Got the story. Absolutely battered. What about your favorite adventure or travel book? Oh, do you know, probably the one that impacted me.

Ha I mean, there’s so many, but just pick one that pops into my mind into the wild. I’m a great fan of that, but it’s extraordinary journalism and extraordinarily written, but it’s mostly because the story is just, I don’t know. It’s about Chris McCandless and. I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a story. It’s a very sad story, obviously, but it’s a story that we can all learn from, I think.

And I think that something about that book made me realize I’m not the only one who has this yearning to be in the wild to, I don’t know. I think it speaks to every age [00:45:00] or, sorry. I think it is timeless and speaks to every generation. I’m not swiped still out there because it’s it doesn’t it doesn’t age.

It’s it’s it’s got a very important message. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s a re I think, you know, we all have that yearning to be in nature and, you know, over the blast as human beings over the last sort of 200 years, we’ve sort of moved out of nature into more urban environments and. You know, it’s slightly unnatural.

And I think every, a lot of people have that yearning to get back to that sort of natural habitat in a sense. Does that make sense? I’m not sure. Yeah, no, it sounds like you’re reading from my book. I completely agree. Then it tightly, we are, it is the most natural thing in the world going into venture and to spend time in nature, I think, especially in wild nature though.

And wild, uncontrolled, unknown. And [00:46:00] it’s why when you see those tents, when you see those pictures from 50 years ago and like nothing’s changed in those no houses and they cities have been built on it. You’d take a pitch from 19 50, 2 hour and 2020, so 70, but you know, 70 years later, it’s still exactly the same.

Yeah, that picture quality picture, but that’s all. Well, there’s probably, this probably leads on nicely to your book, but why are adventures important to you? To me, adventure has changed my life and continues to obviously there was the, when I was 18, it totally changed my path through life. I think I’d have been a very self I’d had a very sensible career.

If I hadn’t gone to. I’d be like a solicitor or a doctor, and those are great jobs and we need those people, but it’s not who I wanted. It’s not actually the authentic me, that wasn’t where I wanted to really go. But I think I would have been sensible [00:47:00] if I hadn’t gone to Africa. So Africa and adventure has shown me the confidence to, to go after what I want, but it’s also given me the authenticity to find my own voice.

So adventure to me personally. It’s an essential part of my life and continues to be because even recently I have taken, I became a parents. I’ve got little one becoming a parent is an enormous life change. And I took my own advice from my Birkin, from my research, but I, we needed as a family to go away.

We needed to step outside of every day, we needed to go and do a challenge that brought us together to do something that we were doing together. And we started walking across the Canary islands. As a family we’ve never been closer and, you know, the destination was for us to, to become a [00:48:00] strong the family and to improve the relationships between us.

We were doing pretty well, but like my, my partner, Jim, and. Never been closer and I’d say we, all of us, all of us have, we’ve all changed from it. So adventure is an essential part of living my best life, our best life. And I think past that and talking about that, encouraging other people to understand, helping other people to understand that right in my book about it, so that we understand that we give adventure time.

Adventure is important for me because it, it feels like the meaning of my life is to put back, put that back as well is to help other people see that encourage other people to do adventuring through explores connect. It’s all through reading the book and going, okay. I’m going to make time for some adventures just to see if this works.

Yeah, meaning it’s given me great meaning. Nice. And [00:49:00] what about your favorite quote?

Any questions, travel. Oh gosh, I can’t think of one, one that I quoted to someone recently because I keep having to sell myself. This is cause I I’m a worrier I have to, I can really get into anxiety if I’m not careful. So adventures been part of the reason why I’m quite, I’m better at dealing with that.

And mark Twain had a great. I’m probably going to misquote this, but I just had someone recently, most of the things I’ve worried about in life never happened. And this idea that we can spend so much time stressing about things going wrong and they w you know, they probably won’t even go wrong. You know, instead think about all the things that could go, right.

So go be brave. Do stuff, jump on an adventure, even though it’s probably not the best, most sensible thing, because mapping sense, poor living life is why we’re here. Not about being. [00:50:00] And just, yeah. Any of the worries that you’re worrying about and they probably won’t even happen. So just might as well just go and go for it.

Yeah. It’s something like 85% of the things you worry about. One won’t happen and two completely out of your control. So yeah. Might as well try and control the things you can control and not worry about this stuff. Either you can’t control it probably wouldn’t happen anyway. Yeah. People listing always keen to travel and go on these sort of grand adventures.

What’s the one thing you would recommend to people wanting to get started?

Because procrastination is let’s face it. We all do it. It’s human nature. It took me seven years to write my book. I’ve been talking about this stuff. About eight years, nine years. It took me seven years to actually write the book. And that’s only because COVID the lock to be down. Procrastination is a disastrous thing and it will keep you from living.

So just do something, book the flight today, or [00:51:00] do something, just make, if, if it’s too intimidating, what you have in your head, then do something smaller, but make some steps, do something. I think the key is just to start don’t plan and think. Whatever procrastinate, just do. Just commit. Do you know, once you bought the ticket, once you’ve quit your jobs and in your resignation letter asked for sabbatical, you didn’t have to quit the job you asked for a sabbatical or whatever it is.

Once you’ve told everyone I’m doing it, that’s a great way to do it. Tell everyone you’re going to do something. Then the embarrassment of the social embarrassment of not doing it is greater than the actual fear of doing it. So sometimes it makes you get on and get on with it. Tell everyone, right, I’m going to do this.

And that’s it on Facebook. Tell all your friends in the pub, then you’ll have to go there. There’s a weird psychology behind that. Sometimes it’s something like they get, there was a study done and they gave, you know, 15 people they’d have to tell them. [00:52:00] That they’re going to do it. And then six months later, they’d find out if they actually did it.

And another 15 who were told whatever you do, do not tell anyone, write it down and go into it. And they found that people who didn’t tell anyone actually had a higher success rate of actually going out and going to achieve it. It’s a very sort of, it’s really weird psychology behind her. I’d love to read that.

My way of catching myself from not being, letting fare, beat me is just to tell people I’m doing something. And it’s often, you know, usually after gin and tonics and we’re getting right, we’re going to get right around Britain. And then I’m kind of like, Ooh, I have to do that. But that’s interesting that you found something that says maybe it works well.

It’s, it’s, it’s weird because like we had Jody Stewart on episode four, who said, you know, like once you book the flight, that’s a great motivator or put down the deposit on something. That’s a [00:53:00] great motivation. But just telling people, apparently the sort of psychology behind it is that your mind has already told you that you’re doing it.

And that sort of sense of elation or whatever it is in your head has already come about rather than waited.


Because you still have to get over this embarrassment of telling everyone, oh, actually I never, we never got to the start line. I suppose things that are B you think might be beyond you or something by today, maybe that’s when it works best. Oh, I’ll tell when there’s no going back in a sense, like you’ve booked the flight or you’re ready to go, and then you tell people, so there’s no sort of, oh, I can’t get out of this.

Yeah for me, definitely. It still works. If, once I start telling people I’m doing it, [00:54:00] it’s like, it’s part of reinforcing. Yeah. I can do this. I’m going to do that. Let’s just do it. Okay. Let’s do it. But maybe it works with certain things, not others, but adventure stuff. It seems to it taking on big adventures.

It always seems to have worked for me anyway. Yeah. I know I’ve different, different food, different people. I sort of agree with you on that. Definitely sounds like it’s the better thing to do. The main thing is get started. Isn’t it just get on with. I’m a great, I think Heelan’s procrastinate because fear gets in the way and also stuff busy busy-ness gets in the way.

So, you know, our society is so busy. It’s like, it’s a nightmare, isn’t it? So you just have to make the space for it. Now you have to do something now. Otherwise it won’t happen. Yeah. Very true. And finally, what are you doing now? And how can people follow you in the future? I’m doing I’m doing lots of ventures, my little lawn.

[00:55:00]I’m I’m, I’m running a few courses. I, I’m talking a lot wherever I can and, and spreading the world word wherever I can about the power of adventure for wellbeing. So I’m doing a lot of speaking and bits and bobs like that. Incredibly interesting meetings with people trying to get.

To get change to happen, basically to get adventure into our society in a more structured way, protects it, essentially. So all sorts of things like that, I’m still running explorers connect. That’s all about helping people to find other people for expeditions and adventures. I’m running a few small adventures of my own that I take people on as well.

But I, I, I, I don’t even want a few of those nowadays while my little one saved little so lots of things, but it’s all very adventure-based I’m on all the social medias things explore [00:56:00]what is it at? Explorable Linda also, you can contact me through explorers connect. Yeah, my books out there it’s on all the usual platforms.

Kindle or audio book, aura, or I happy to send you a signed version? Yeah, may see. I’m just, I’m being a mom and I’m trying to get the word out there. That adventure is important to our wellbeing because I think there’s a great opportunity that we are missing out on. And it’s a fun opportunity. Yeah, that’s mostly what I’m doing.

Well, we’ll leave a link in the description to explore as connect your, your book and your Instagram account so people can find you there and yeah. Go check out her book. The adventure revolution, adventure revolution, and well, Belinda, it’s been such a pleasure listening and talking to you today and I can’t thank you enough for.

It’s been great. It’s been really [00:57:00] nice to reminisce about Amazon. It’s been a, it’s been a heck so long time. It’s been really fun to think about it. It’s an incredible story. Thank you. Thank you for listening with that episode, that draws a line under season one, and it’s a little snippet into what season two has done.

This podcast has always been about letting people tell their stories. And with the new season, just around the corner, it will be a new format and a new style, but at the heart of it, there’ll be letting people tell their story, exciting adventures all around the world, but until then have a great day and happy adventures. .

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