Life after the Expedition Leader Program

Chloe was one of nine participants who joined us on our Expedition Leader Program in June 2019, to embark on a 12 week adventure through Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, China, Laos, Thailand and Nepal. Chloe kept the world up to date with their journey throughout the three months and has kindly shared with us her thoughts and reflections post program.


When I left Quebec to join the Expedition Leader Program (ELP) team in June, I had no idea how much knowledge I would return home with three months later. I was expecting to learn the general stuff outlined in the syllabus such as leadership skills, travel management, logistics, cultural knowledge and other hard skills – and I did. Never in a million years did I imagine how much I would learn about myself, and the world.

During our last few days in Nepal we took time to reflect on what our main takeaways from the program were. As we sat at Jiva’s Café in the heart of Pokhara and listened to each other’s thoughts, it became apparent that the ELP had achieved exactly what it was set out to do, and more. We were departing from the ELP as stronger, wiser and all-round better individuals than we were at our time of arrival in Quito only three months before.

I have now been back home in Canada for a little over a week. I still spend a ton of my time thinking back on those moments of reflection and what I took away from the ELP, which I am sure will be a part of me for the rest of my life. If you’re reading this blog you may have already heard many of us participants, or even the Pure Exploration team, talk about what an incredible experience the ELP was. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll ever stop expressing just how incredible it was. No words will ever do justice to the truly life changing 3 months we just had. However, for those who didn’t join us on this life changing journey, here is my best attempt at doing just that, putting it into words, by creating a list of what learnings and reflections I took home with me after my time on the program.


A sense of belonging

I always knew that there had to be more of us dreamers out there who want to see it all and do it all. I felt that the place where I come from had always made me feel quite lonely in that sense, as I wasn’t surrounded by fellow dreamers. A few weeks prior to departing for the ELP I had finished a university degree. I believed that society’s expectations for people like me were always a little different and a lot more structured than what I had in mind for myself. After traveling with like-minded individuals who are equally passionate about the world, I am so happy to have decided to break the mould and follow my own path. If you are aching to do the same, please do it. The world is too beautiful for you to miss out on. You can’t miss out on seeing the beauty the world beholds because of what others have planned for you. Once you put yourself out there you will find the people with whom you belong and with whom you will build incredibly strong, life long and beautiful relationships.

Renewed optimism

It is often difficult to see the “good” happening in the world when we are sitting in our own little corner absorbed in the news on the television and the stories on the internet. Trust me when I say that there is so much of it out there, there is an abundance of goodness in the world. I experienced the purest forms of goodness whilst on the ELP. From dancing and playing with children during community projects, to laughing with street food vendors late at night, or singing with a taxi driver in the middle of traffic. I am now so certain that people are good regardless of where you travel. Our group were greeted with the most welcoming smiles in every country we visited and treated like family on countless occasions. The negativity we see in the media accounts for less than 1% of what is truly happening in the world. You realize this very quickly when you get to experience so much of the world in such a short period of time, as we did during the Expedition Leader Program.

Humans need to understand their connection to nature

We were lucky enough to experience nature in so many ways during our three months travelling; through our environmental project in Cusco, learning about conservation in the Galapagos, and by being fully immersed in it during our multiple treks through the mountain peaks and luscious rainforests. I have always felt a strong personal connection and sense of appreciation for nature. This feeling of being at one intensified throughout the trip and I would love all humans to have an opportunity in their lives to feel this bond in its purest form. Being immersed in nature makes me a happier and healthier human being. I feel every human who got the chance to experience the great outdoors and all it has to offer would feel the benefits also.

Humans are all interconnected

Our interconnectedness as human beings allows us to communicate and form such strong connections without having to worry about language barriers. We are all one and the same. We all feel love and pain. We all share smiles. We all have our own version of struggle. There is a depth in all of us that allows us to connect on such a basic, important and beautiful level. Disconnect between people of different cultures, races, religion and so on can be entirely attributed to a lack of effort to understand. We share so many of the same ideas and basic emotions. We all crave a good life, good health, happiness and love. We simply need to take the time to listen.


I could likely keep adding the things I’ve learn for hundreds of pages, but I think these four key takeaways encompass a lot of what will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can’t speak for the others on the program about what their most important takeaways were, but I can say one thing for sure, we were all shocked by the type of knowledge we were leaving with. While the program was built on strong foundations that would enable us to learn more about ourselves and the world, it is incredible to think how much everyone on the team took the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the experience. I strongly believe that when it comes to experiences like these, you get out what you put in. I think we all left with more than we ever expected to and that was because we gave more of ourselves than we ever thought we could.

I should also add that I come back home with 10 new best friends. All of us joined the program with different life experiences, values and beliefs. These 10 friends taught me so much over the three months. Here are some final words to thank those who quickly became my family.

Jessica T - Your endless enthusiasm and passion for the world around you is contagious. Thank you for being your beautiful self.

Keri W - Passion, reflection and curiosity makes you one heck of an admirable and inspiring woman. Thank you for allowing me to experience your beauty and knowledge.

Sarah P - Vulnerability and strength should always go hand in hand. Thank you for being a relatable source of support and love.

John M - Creating your own path to happiness is key to not missing out on this wonderful life we were given. Thank you for lighting a fire in me that will forever push me to chase my dreams.

Jessica M - It's when we are pushing what we thought our limits were that we truly begin to shine. Thank you for reminding me to keep stretching my comfort zone.

Zoltan L - Your ability to adapt and turn every situation into a good time is remarkable. Thank you for reminding me to always live life to the fullest.

Caitlin F - Learning, reflection, love and kindness suit you so well. Thank you for being a source of light in my life.

Miranda J - Curiosity and passion make the best citizens. Thank you for reminding me that there are so many good people who truly care.

Zack O - Compassion and care are underrated. Thank you for always taking the time to show us how much we all matter.

Chloe H - A listening ear and a big hug goes a long way. Thank you for being the loving shoulder I was able to lean on.



If you'd like to see more photos from the June intake of the Expedition Leader Program you can do so here. Pure Exploration would love to say a huge thank you to Chloe and each of the Expedition Leader Program participants (mentioned above) for your incredible energy, enthusiasm, support and adventurous curiosity over the last three months. We've loved sharing in this transformational journey with you! We'd also like to give a huge shout out to Program Instructors Keri and Jess who went above and beyond absolutely everything - thank you for your hard work and for being so amazing at what you do! You can find out more about the Expedition Leader Program here or alternatively you can send us an email for more information.

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6 weeks climbing in Thailand? Sign me up! Spend this June and July gaining epic new skills, getting qualified as a climbing guide, keeping fit and exploring paradise... does it get any better?


Following on from the success of the Expedition Leader Program we asked one of our keen and incredible alumni, Chloe, to share her stories and give you guys some further insight into what this three month program (which explores Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, China, Thailand, Laos and Nepal) is like in reality! It's a windy day in Canada, so apologies for the background noise, but every word Chloe spoke came across so authentically that we thought it didn't need redoing, it was perfect as it was! Thank you for your ongoing support Chloe, we love following your adventures - you guys can follow her too on Instagram; 📷 @chloslife2go


Welcome to our January Adventure Guide Program team! Hailing from all around the world we have an awesome bunch joining us from the UK, France, America, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Chile, Ireland and Canada as they hike, climb and canyon around some of the most dramatic and beautiful terrain the South Island has to offer! Keep checking back here and make sure you're following our Instagram account @pureexplorationnz to hear about their latest adventures live from Queenstown, NZ!! 🤙


Did you know we have an Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, in the deep south of Argentina? Our first ever program in this region kicked off in November last year, with another one scheduled to embark on their journey of adventure in only a few weeks. Andrea, from Canada, took some time out to share a blog she's written on what every day life is like on program based out of El Chalten, the expectations she had, discoveries they've made and the skills she's learnt and sharpened along the way. If you're curious as to what the heck you actually do on a Pure Exploration Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia, this could very well be what you're looking for.


The new year (and new decade!) symbolises new beginnings. As our Queenstown programs wrapped up at the end of last year and our graduates are now contemplating their 'next steps', whilst still processing their journey of development, we thought it would be the perfect time to share the below. Liz, who graduated from our Adventure Guide Program in December, reflects on her 12 weeks spent on the program and the learning's that have unfolded, the memories she's made and the lessons that will remain. And what's next for Liz? She's landed herself a job working for our sister company, Pacific Discovery, as a Program Instructor for 10 weeks. Liz will be joining the pool of Pure Exploration Graduates who have gone on to lead overseas programs and we couldn't be any more thrilled for her!


Australia is in a state of emergency as they are currently experiencing one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history, as rampant bush fires spread fiercely throughout parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. We are truly in awe of the strength our Australian neighbours have shown over the last few months as they have demonstrated true resilience and perseverance as they battle the flames. The Australian Fire Service and those voluntarily joining the firefighting efforts have shown bravery in its purest form, they are truly inspiring and deserve tremendous recognition for their efforts. Amongst the news of devastation, losses and heartbreak there are powerful and positive stories of love, community, generosity and hope, which are touching the hearts of many all around the world. We aren’t discounting the sadness of the bush-fires that Australia is experiencing, but we thought we’d use our social platforms to share some of the positive news stories that are being shared that are sometimes overlooked in the media. - Australia has received support from all around the world as firefighters, military support and even teams of wildlife specialists have flocked to assist with the crisis. New Zealand sent firefighters, military and helicopters to support the Australian Defence Force. The US deployed a team of 100 firefighters, with a further 200 volunteer firefighters joining the efforts from the US and Canada. Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Fiji have also offered military support, with Vanuatu pledging $250,000AUD to assist the Rural Fire Service. - Members of the public have been donating money from all around the world to help the Australian bush-fire crisis. Comedian Celeste Barber set up a fundraiser that to date has raised $47 million AUD for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades. Phenomenal amounts of money have been donated by the masses all around the world. - Animal Rescue Collective has been inundated with offers to make bat wraps, koala mittens and animal beds from keen crafters for wildlife rescue centres. - Emergency accommodation has been provided by residents all around Australia, with strangers opening their homes to families who have found themselves homeless in the wake of fires. New organisation Find A Bed Australia received offers of accommodation from more than 3000 people in only four days. - There has also been a remarkable amount of financial donations from Australian businesses, and celebrities from all around the world. This list could go on and on with heart warming stories that we've heard, and no doubt there are many, many more. Australia, our thoughts and prayers are with you, and it would seem the whole world are behind you too. 🌍💕🙏 If you'd like to donate and provide financial support during this crisis here are some organisations and fundraisers that may help. Australian Red Cross, GIVIT - Goods For Good Causes, The Salvation Army Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services - QFES, CFA (Country Fire Authority)


And just like that... it was Christmas 2019! To all our Pure Exploration family, friends, followers, supporters and everyone else - we wish you an awesome festive break full of adventure, exploration and good times! 🎅🤶🎄⭐✈


A massive congratulations to "Team Kevin", who were our final Adventure Guide Program intake for 2020. We're so incredibly proud of you guys; you tackled everything we threw at you, smashed through your assessments and had some pretty incredible banter 😆 We loved watching you grow into a close, loving family over the 12 weeks. Good luck with everything, we're looking forward to following your future adventures!


As you may already know, our first ever Patagonia Adventure Guide Program is in month two of three, with ten awesome humans on the ground in Argentina as they hike and climb the incredible terrain the region has to offer. It's always a nail biting time as we want to make sure the team is having the best experience possible in this new Pure Ex territory. Therefore we were truly stoked to have the below feedback in our inbox this morning 😍 "I can genuinely say that the program has exceeded my expectations so far! El Chalten is an amazing village where hiking and climbing is easily accessible. The group setting is pretty sweet too... i definitely enjoy cooking and sharing meals with the gang every night! I am excited to celebrate christmas with this new family :) Rosey is an amazing instructor... She is very laid back but still so organized and efficient!!! I really enjoy that she takes her role to heart... she is always around and available for any questions we might have. She also has so much valuable insight for the development of both hard and soft skills... I see her as a inspiring role model and mentor for this great new career change! I am very grateful that i get the chance to live this adventure abroad with Pure Exploration. I really feel like I am living an authentic Patagonian experience and getting the most i can from the area. I am excited to use this program as a launch pad for travelling and working abroad!" We get the warm and fuzzies whenever we get feedback about the program, and especially when it's about our awesome instructors who are out in the field leading. Thanks Andrea, we're pumped to hear you're having a great time and we're super grateful for the update! 🙏😊🗻🧗‍♀️ P.s This is Andrea jumping off an iceberg by the Huemul Trek. Pretty sweet eh 🤙


New program announcement! Introducing our brand new 33 day Service Learning Leadership Program, kicking off in Cambodia this July! Are you interested in learning how you can maximise the impact you have when volunteering in developing countries? Would you like to become a valuable contributor and not just a volunteer tourist? Do you want to genuinely learn about communities and then apply best practices so you can most effectively create positive change? This program will introduce you to the tools needed to succeed in the service learning space. We're excited to share this program with you, as it's something we're deeply passionate about. If you'd like further information please visit the website link below, or flick us a message!


Did you know we have a 6 week Adventure Guide Program for those of you who are unable to sign up for a full 12 week program? Kicking off on 17th January 2020, we still have a few spaces left for those looking to immerse themselves in hiking, climbing, exploring and frankly, solid good times 👌 Plus you'll walk away with your Pre Hospital Emergency Care and SWIFT water rescue training and certification! Check out the link below for more info 😆


We'd love to share another great blog from our AGP participant, Liz! Hiking can be hard, something mother nature doesn't provide pristine weather conditions and sometimes we feel our motivation levels drop abruptly as a result. Do these challenges mean you can't or shouldn't continue? Absolutely not. Are you the first person ever to feel these frustrations and feelings of defeat? We guarantee you aren't. Are the feelings of accomplishment, perseverance and adaptability heightened once you succeed? You know it. We are true believers of "the view is always worth the climb". Liz speaks to this as she eloquently tells her story, hiking through the 'wet and soggy' in New Zealand, whilst on our Adventure Guide Program. Enjoy!


*Last shoutout in 2019, promise!* Living in Queenstown and keen to experience some of the best climbing and hiking that New Zealand has to offer? Do you have a spare day over the next couple of weeks and keen to get involved in an epic day mission? Flick us a message, we have our last 2019 AGP undertaking their client and assessment days and need awesome human beings to join them! Please email the team here: Cheers!


Fairly new to hiking and looking for some great tips as to how you can prepare to tackle some of the more challenging trails? Check out this brilliant blog from Guided Walks New Zealand!


Did you know we tend to internally recruit graduates from our Adventure Guide Program and Expedition Leader Program, placing them as Program Instructors with our sister company? We currently have three Pure Exploration graduates leading gap year semester programs overseas in Nepal and Tibet, South East Asia and New Zealand and Australia! Nothing makes us prouder than seeing our Pure Ex family grow and succeed!


We are thrilled to have 5 of our recent Adventure Guide Program graduates join the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. based up in Waitomo as Adventure Cave Guides for this summer season! They'll be joining Shannon, pictured below, from Canada who joined the team earlier this year upon graduating! Are you interested in the AGP and keen to hear more about employment opportunities post program? Flick us a message, we'd love to tell you more!


Heard about our Adventure Guide Program in Patagonia but wasn't sure what to expect? Welcome to our AGP team, joining us from all around the world! Sweden, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Germany, France and Mexico!


Living in Queenstown and keen to experience some of the best climbing and hiking that New Zealand has to offer? Do you have a spare day over the next couple of weeks and want to come join us on an epic day mission? Flick us through a message to! See info attached 😆🤙


We love that our program participants join us from all different walks of life (no punn intended), and really enjoy hearing about the experiences that have been had - both mental and physical - on program! It's our pleasure to share Liz's story with you all, her journey from a "complete beginner" at climbing, to the end goal of being an NZOIA qualified climbing guide! Thank you for the inspiration, Liz Lucas Coaching!