THE TRIBE, THE RAINFOREST AND ME
an interview with anthropologist Camille Oloa Biloa
Hi everyone, Secret Compass 2.0 as we’ve been calling it behind the scenes is now here: meet your new website! This renamed Journal, The Compass, is just getting going and will be filled with adventure tales and fuelled by the inspirational men and women we come across out there in adventure world and beyond. We’ll note down our pick of the crop and bring them to your attention and if there’s anyone, or any awesome bit of kit, or any adventure events you want to see on The Compass, get in touch and we’ll do our best to share them with our adventure community. Always keen for new writing talent too – and to hear from former teammates – so get in touch if you’ve got great words and pics you want to see here.
As some of you might have noticed, things have changed a bit here at secret compass.com. Firstly, the new site is responsive across devices so that you know where you are whether on your phone, your tablet or your PC. Secondly, we hope we’ve answered many of your expedition FAQ in the new way we talk about our teams and our destinations, giving you fuller information from the outset to help you decide if the team you’ve found is the right one for you. Thirdly, dates and costs are all much clearer to make it easier than ever for you to pick out and to apply for your ultimate expedition team.
The new site has a brand new Expedition Basecamp page, the starting point for what will amount to extraordinary adventures for hundreds of you in 2017 and beyond. This is where to start if you’re at the point where you want to learn about what expedition teams are coming up now and next with Secret Compass. So how does Basecamp work?
Well, you are all different. Some of you like to search by date, as you know exactly when you’re off work. Others like to search by region, as you know that this year – you’re finally going to book that epic African trip. The rest of you like to choose by trip type. Do you want to learn, to experience or to achieve? For this reason, all team expeditions are now easily filterable so you can view all by the what (type), the where (region) or the when (date) in one simple click. Hopefully this will make your life a lot easier when faced with a wall of awesome adventure options.
The major filter we’ve organised our expeditions into is the new ‘search by expedition type’ function. Your four options are Epic, Classics Redefined, Cultural Immersion and Adventure Academy. Those new to adventure and expedition ‘veterans’ might just as easily find themselves side by side on an epic expedition as on an Adventure Academy one, as both have lots to offer. Have a browse through the type of teams in each category and you’ll soon get a feel for the type of expedition team you want to be a part of.
Secret Compass’s Epic Expeditions are just that. They are ambitious undertakings that might involve a world first, or doing something more traditional but using an innovative mode of transport to achieve the expedition’s aim. The new Classics redefined category involves taking a classic adventure challenge, such as Kilimanjaro or Iran’s Mount Damavand, but carrying out the expedition in a team-focussed, expeditionary style, often by a lesser-used route to maintain a feeling of remoteness (as far as is possible on these hugely popular mountains). As long as you lead a fit and active lifestyle and meet our minimum fitness requirements, you’re very welcome to apply to join one of these teams.
Cultural Immersion expeditions do what they say on this tin. These expeditions can be as physically taxing as the Epics or Classics (take our Dolpo Pa expedition to Nepal for instance), but the focus of their journey is cultural rather than physical. The aim of the expedition will be to get to know a people (perhaps a nomadic tribe) rather than climbing a mountain. Though some Cultural Immersion teams also have mountains to climb too! These expeditions are real, raw and unstaged, with teammates expected to truly embrace the local culture, perhaps wearing what they wear, eating what they eat, sleeping how they sleep.
The Adventure Academy is something we are very excited about and we hope you will be too. It might be just the step you’re ready to take if you’ve been toying with the idea of joining a team for a while but haven’t quite got to the booking stage because you’re not sure if you’re ready. Adventure Academy expeditions help you learn adventure and expedition skills in real-life expeditionary settings rather than classrooms. Academy expeditions for 2017 already include an Alpine skills course carried out in an epic setting as you tackle a 5,00m+ mountain in Georgia; a hill and expedition skills course as you trek Iceland’s iconic Laugavegur Trail; a Wilderness Tracker course with Namibia’s San Bushmen; and a whitewater course in Papua New Guinea no less. Open to all as long as our minimum fitness requirements are met, we’d love to see a few new faces on these unique expeditions next spring and summer.
Just wanted to say a huge thank you to our totally brilliant web design and web development duo. John Summerton is a design maestro and bringer-to-the-world of any sane person’s favourite adventure magazine online or in print, Sidetracked. Steve Perry Creative is our web developer and solver-of-all-eleventh-hour-tech-problems hero. Not only could this project not have happened without them: if we didn’t know them and their work beforehand I don’t think we’d have even considered trying to launch a new website in the week before Christmas. So, massive thanks both for all of your input, advice and assistance. We did it despite the cyclones and the pre-booked annual leave that threatened to wreak some deadline-derailing havoc…
Right. That’s enough from me. I’ll leave it at that and will just wish you a happy holiday season and an enjoyable browse of The Compass. Oh and a quick word of advice: if you are already thinking New Year’s Resolutions or planning annual leave and want to achieve the extraordinary in 2017, get yourself over to our Secret Compass Expedition Basecamp page now to search by the what, the where or the when and then get applying before your number one team fills up. With just 12 spots on each of our teams, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Enjoy exploring the new site and I’ll look forward to chatting with and meeting many more of you personally in 2017 and beyond, perhaps on a UK adventure weekend. Happy hols wherever you are in the world,
Kerry and team SCHQ
This site wouldn’t look half as good as we hope you think it does without the really quite jaw-droppingly brilliant imagery kindly given to us by our fantastic expedition teammates and leaders, and other select friends of Secret Compass. Huge thanks to teammates Glen D., Tracey C., Tom H., Mark S., Heather G., Elaine, Naomi P., Jerome, Tom McShane, Richard Wain-Hobson, Alastair Humphreys, Tom Allen, Luca Alfatti, Paul Taylor, Dave Lucas and everyone else. If I’ve omitted a (c) on a key image and you’d prefer one just let me know. Many thanks too to photographers whose images are available for our use through Flickr’s Creative Commons licensing.
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See you on a team soon…