Starting at the edge of your comfort zone and taking you well beyond it, an expedition is not a holiday. In unfamiliar and extreme surroundings, it will at times be gruelling. There’ll be misery and you might wonder why the hell you ever signed up for this thing. But then, you’ll break through all of that. There’ll be moments of absolute euphoria, moments that make you realise what it is you’re really capable of and the moment your whole world shifts. This is the cycle of challenge.
Those challenges come in all manner of forms and can mean different things to two people stood side-by-side. It’s the reason Secret Compass started leading expeditions and why our adventurous teammates keep returning year on year. If in 2020, you’re looking to challenge yourself in one way or another, look no further. Below we’ve listed some of our most challenging expeditions complete, of course, with details of how to find out more.
Challenge your Fears: Abseil the World’s Highest Waterfall
At 1,283m of elevation, the top of Angel Falls stands 979m above the jungle floor below. To kick off the new year, we’re returning to Venezuela to abseil the world’s tallest waterfall. But this is no simple abseiling expedition – first you’ll need to get to the summit of the tepui.
Starting with the incredible views of the Kamarata valley, crossing through flat grassland, rivers and steep open hillsides, the vegetation will soon begin to change from a knee-high grass into the dense cloud forest full of life. At the base of the walls of Auyán-tepui, you’ll find steeper sections with fixed ropes to aid a scrambling ascent between great sandstone towers to reach Libertador, the summit of the tepui. From here, you’ll negotiate rocks, roots, trees and rivers to follow the ridge and eventually find the Kerepakupai river which cascades over the edge to form the iconic falls. After 7 days, you’ll start your abseil which will take two days as you rappel down over 13 pitches.
Challenge your Preconceptions: Discover the Reality of Life in North Korea
Featured more regularly in the evening news than perhaps your average holiday hit-list, North Korea receives just four-figures of international visitors annually. This expedition offers a unique opportunity to discover the nation for yourself, from the cities to the rural and rarely travelled national parks.
You’ll be immersed in local culture as you visit North Korea’s religious and monumental architecture, its cultural centres in Pyongyang and this secretive state’s troubled southern border with South Korea before heading out into the wilderness. Your fitness will be put to the test as you climb Piro peak in the Myohyang region and the UNESCO nominated Mount Kumgang and you’ll become one of the few people in the world to camp out in these pristine areas of wilderness. Go behind the headlines, and learn first-hand of the policies, ideologies and realities which define East Asia’s most enigmatic state.
Challenge your Limits: Summit an Unclimbed Mountain in Kyrgyzstan
Being part of a pioneering expedition to explore an untouched region and then facing and overcoming the hurdles on the way to summiting an unclimbed peak; now there’s a challenge.
And seeing as mountains account for over 95% of Kyrgyzstan’s territory, the country provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. Exploring the lesser-trodden regions of the Tien Shan, you can expect long, gruelling days as you explore the region, facing temperatures ranging from -10ºC to 25ºC covering rocky terrain and uneven trails. From an established basecamp, the following days will then be spent identifying new routes to unclimbed summits in the region of 5000m and working as a team to get there.
Challenge your Skills: Train as a Jungle Guide
If you’re looking to broaden your skillset or perhaps even aspiring to become an expedition leader yourself, this could be the challenge for you.
The Secret Compass Jungle Guides expedition is the key to learning and developing the skills you’ll need to lead a successful jungle expedition. Under the supervision of expert instructors, teammates will plot and navigate their own route through Panama’s iconic Chagres National Park. Effectively negotiating humid jungle terrain, river-crossings, and tree-clad mountain ranges will all be part of the challenge as the team navigates its chosen route through the jungle.