Updates from our 2023 Expeditions

By British Exploring Society,

Welcome to our 2023 expedition blog.

All updates received from our Young Explorers while out on expedition will be posted here.

Please note: Our expeditions take place in the remote wilderness. Because of limited connection in these environments, priority needs to be given to operational communications and so our expedition teams will only be able to send us blog updates as and when they have sufficient signal. Please be patient and check back periodically for updates.

The Kyrgyzstan team is home

29th August

After five weeks away in the At-Bashi mountains our Kyrgyzstan Young Explorers have landed back in the UK this evening. With that, our 2023 expeditions are officially all back from the field.

Every young person will come home feeling they achieved something significant. Whether that’s an individual goal or as part of a team. As our community of supporters, we want to thank you for all of the different ways you have helped to make these lasting achievements possible. But the end of summer expeditions doesn’t mean we’re taking a break!

The processing of feedback, reports, expedition photos, videos, Fire journals, reflective blogs and knowledge projects is underway. We’re also planning for our end of programme event (check out our latest Supporters newsletter for a sneak preview) and for next year of course – look out for further updates very shortly.

That's a wrap in Scotland!

22nd August

This year’s Hartz Scottish Explorers expedition is officially complete! Young Explorers set off for home today after two weeks exploring the hills and shores around Loch Tay.

The end of the expedition was timed with the arrival of our Chair Ian Maginnis, who got into basecamp in the Highlands a couple of days ago after having completed a 560-mile solo charity cycle starting in the South Downs five days prior. In doing so he raised £5900 for British Exploring Society. You can find out more about his journey and fundraiser here.

Reflecting on life in the hills

21st August

A short message from Freya in Kyrgyzstan:

“Let me start by saying that HAFE [ High-altitude flatus expulsion] is most definitely a real thing. Do I see a problem with this? No. Do my camp mates see a problem with It? Probably. Anyway, going to a country that I hadn’t even heard of a year ago was always going to be hard, especially with people who I’d only met a couple of times before but despite this I thought ‘Yeah why not’ and here I am.

Kyrgyzstan is a real hidden treasure and one I’m so grateful to be experiencing. Being introduced to the culture and wildlife here has truly been an eye opener for me.

The weather here is very unpredictable. One minute you can be washing in the river in the sunshine, and the next you can be rushing to get the washing in from the makeshift washing lines, made out of shoelaces and walking poles, because you hear thunder and see the rain about to arrive. I believe we have been very fortunate with the weather so far, as it has allowed us to summit a 4000m peak to watch the sunrise at four in the morning, without any cloud or wind. However, waking up in the morning to a frosty tent and a frozen water bottle isn’t the best way to start the day, especially if we need to get packed up quickly.

I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.”

– Freya

Ben Lawers & Beavers

18th August

Hartz Scottish Explorers 2: A Fire enjoying the view from Ben Lawers and very clear beaver activity near Base Camp.

Kyrg teams out in the wild

18th August

Kyrgyzstan: Our time in Kyrgyzstan is flying by and it’s hard to believe we will be landing back in the UK in less than two weeks.

Our Fires are now further out into the wild than ever, sharing hidden valleys with families of Golden and White-tailed Eagles, exploring the incredible geology of the mountains, and continuing to enjoy the welcome and hospitality of the Kyrgyz herdspeople. Young Explorers have been practicing their Kyrgyz and Russian and some have been invited into yurts to sample local bread and butter.

We were lucky to experience the Perseid meteor shower under the darkest and clearest sky’s most of us have ever experienced. Our resident Young Explorer geology graduate in Fire 3 has been teaching us about the incredible mineralogy of the area, and has found an amazing example of jade in the Alt Bashy river – he’s kind enough to let us down gently each time we (incorrectly) think we’ve found a piece too!

Other natural history treasures of the mountains include Oryx horns and eagle feathers (although they have a habit of turning out to be ‘just’ Black Kite feathers too…). Fires are now putting all of their new found knowledge and skills to practice in the final stages of expedition, reflecting on group and personal goals, and starting to think about the impacts they will take back into life at home.

DNG are back in the UK

17th August

DNG Iceland: The Explorers and Leaders from Iceland have returned back to the UK after 3-weeks of exploring. We are looking forward to hearing all about their adventures and highlights from their time away.

Yukon teams are home

16th August

Canadian Yukon: The Yukon team have landed back on UK soil and there have been some wholesome reunions. Looking forward to hearing all about their adventures in the Yukon.

Exploring the Highlands

15th August

Hartz Scottish Explorers 2: Fires are out exploring the highlands of Scotland and finding some beautiful locations to pitch their tents.

Fire 4 in Canadian Yukon

14th August

Canadian Yukon: Fire 4 have had the pleasure of relaxing next to Kathleen lake, forgetting all their worries for a moment.

Wildlife spotting in Scotland...

11th August

Hartz Scottish Explorers 2: Over the last 48hrs since the Young Explorers arrived at base camp alongside their training and mini hikes, we have been setting up camera traps to find out who we are sharing base camp with.

Excitingly, we have had success and found we share the site on the banks of Loch Tay with; voles, mice, heron, pine marten and mink.

All videos have been taken within 15m of our base camp and 5m of the resident beaver lodge.

Our young explorers are today heading out for their first wild camp away from base camp carrying their kit before planned longer excursions further afield.

Deputy Chief Leader

Exploring in the Yukon...

11th August

Canadian Yukon: The Young Explorers are in good spirits out on adventures in the wilderness of the Canadian Yukon…

Fire 1 are currently out camping at Lake Kathleen, Fire 2 have been spotting wildlife close to camp, Fire 3 are about to embark on a 4-5 day hike and Fire 4 are getting ready to depart on a canoeing adventure! They are really making the most of their time out in the Yukon…

Amazing night skies and cows...

10th August

Kyrgyzstan: Hello from Kyrgyzstan:

The 2023 Kyrgyzstan expedition is nearing the halfway point. It has gone very fast and all the Young Explorers have got thoroughly stuck into expedition life, even with a few setbacks thrown in their way!

The weather has become a little more temperamental, with strong winds, hail and, for some Fires (groups), snow! We are fast approaching the autumn season here, we haven’t yet resolved the local cow issue, we can’t quite get the accent right on the ‘Ooussshh!’ so they ignore us, though this does mean they occasionally raid supplies and rip tents!

This has not stopped the Young Explorers though, the four Fires are spread out exploring different areas, and they are reporting sightings of Camels, Yaks, Vultures and many other types of birds of prey. Some are visiting the local mountain lakes, and others are exploring the various mountain passes that cross the ranges here.
Here are a few of the quotes from this week:

“As we climb higher the night sky lights up in vivid detail and explosive displays of shooting stars”
“My plaits have never been so full of dust – pretty sick views though”
“Definitely like cows a lot less now, great views though and amazing stars”
“I honk”
“Life is great”

That’s all for now, next week is more of the same, exploring new areas. However, we are hoping for a weather window for an upcoming meteor shower…wish us luck!


Hartz 2 have arrived at basecamp...

10th August

Hartz Scottish Explorers 2: The Young Explorers were all very excited yesterday on the coach at Edinburgh Waverley. Some meeting for the first time and others reconnecting after the training day.

They have now arrived at basecamp, are settling in and will begin planning their first adventures.

We look forward to hearing what they get up to.

Adventures in Iceland...

8th August

DNG: We received a check-in call from our Chief Leader in Iceland where the weather was currently sunny. The past week has been a good one for the teams in Iceland, with mixed weather – sun, rain, temperature a bit cooler and windy at times.

All Fires (groups) have been out of Basecamp and exploring down to the southern area near the volcano. Some Fires have already been venturing up the volcano! Last night Fire 1 were back in basecamp and Fires 2 and 3 will be coming back in the next couple of days. The plan is for Fire 2 to head towards the Botany Hut in the middle of the week.

Fire 1 wanted to share their experience so far with you: “We’ve climbed a volcano had some hot chocolate in a hut and had a birthday party, pancakes and a curry. We are having so much fun….especially when the sun’s out!”

Fire 1 in the Canadian Yukon

7th August

Canadian Yukon: Fire 1 have been out exploring and want to share their experience with you.

Sunny Kyrgyzstan

4th August

Kyrgyzstan: The Kyrgyzstan expedition have been in country for over a week now, settling in to life at Basecamp Alexander and successfully completed training tours in the neighbouring valleys. Highlights of the first tour included spotting golden eagles, finding a Marco Polo Oryx horn, and learning a little more about Kyrgyz herder life from the friendly locals.

Local cows have been a little less friendly to our tents – over enthusiastically licking them in the night – which means we have all had to perfect the local cow herding “Ooussshh!” noise. In contrast so far the weather has mostly been kind, with distant thunder rumbling around mountains on the horizon but avoiding our camps. We have battled some high winds, and Fires departed for Tour 2 on an uncharacteristically grey and wet day, but thankfully normal sunny service has now resumed. We hope it stays that way as Fires continue to push out further into the wild.

Deputy Chief Leader, Susannah Cass

Canadian Yukon - Fire 4

3rd August

Canadian Yukon: Fire 4 has written a blog they would like to share with you.


Canadian Yukon vistas...

2nd August

Canadian Yukon: The team in Canada have been treated to some exceptional views over the last week.

Fires 1 & 3 are exploring the area around Lake Kathleen, whilst Fire 2 are exploring on the river Dezadeash.

Anna & Isabel from Fire 2 share some of their experience in the Yukon so far:

“Since we have arrived in Canada, we have experienced so many amazing things. Our Fire (group) has been on two mini expeditions. The first one included a lot of bushwacking in a dense forest alongside a beautiful lake. On our second night of this expedition we were incredibly lucky to see a lynx!
The second expedition had a long hike up Mount Martha Black to see a long glacier. This is where the photo was taken. We also found many snow drifts and had a snowball fight in July! So far we have seen some bears that were seen from the safety of a van. We are going canoeing today and hoping to see much more wildlife”.

Scottish update...

31st July

Hartz Scottish Explorers 1: The Young Explorers have been making the most of the good weather in Scotland and have been excited to get out and about away from Basecamp.

Fire 2 have been out wild camping around Loch Tay and up on Ben Lawers. They summited Ben Lawers (1214 metres) yesterday, and are now heading back to Basecamp.

Fire 1 has been out in Glen Lochy, camped out by the river and venturing out daily to get involved with knowledge projects. They plan to be out for a few nights, heading for Ben Lawers.

Fire 3 have walked out to the south of Basecamp and are venturing further afield. They are planning to do a two-night outing to get involved in some science projects, before heading to Ben Lawers range to finish off.

We look forward to hearing how the other Fires get on in the Ben Lawers range in the coming days.

Update from Iceland:

31st July

DNG: The Young Explorers in Fire 1 wanted to share what they have been up to over the weekend in Iceland.

“We’ve had our first night away from base camp and everyone’s doing good. The weather’s quite nice and we’re all enjoying the sunshine”.

We hope the sunshine continues for the Young Explorers out in Iceland and look forward to hearing from the field team soon.

Getting ready to explore Scotland...

28th July

Hartz Scottish Explorers 1: The Young Explorers spent yesterday training, they went for an afternoon walk to explore to the south of Basecamp.

Today they have progressed to a full day of walking to get used to their rucksacks and boots.

It has been a wet start to the expedition but the sun has finally come out on the banks of Loch Tay!

Adjusting to expedition life...

28th July

Kyrgyzstan: The Young Explorers are in very good spirits. Happily adjusting well to life on expedition and doing well with the change in heat and altitude.

They have been training for the past two days and intend to explore a little further afield from Basecamp tomorrow. We look forward to hearing how they got on next week.

DNG have started their adventure.

28th July

DNG: The DNG team have landed in Iceland and after a long coach journey to Base Camp, they have arrived and are spending the day resting and settling into their home for the next three weeks.

Once rested and settled, the Fires will begin to plan their adventures and where they want to go exploring first.

This is a group photo taken before they caught their flight.

Hartz team have arrived at Basecamp

27th July

Hartz Scottish Explorers 1: The Hartz Scottish Explorers expedition is underway, having spent their first night at Basecamp last night.

The forecast is looking a little wet today but the sun is due to make an appearance tomorrow so the team should get a beautiful view of the surrounding hills.

We look forward to hearing more updates from the field.

Yukon are out exploring!

26th July

Canadian Yukon: All teams have left Basecamp for the first of their exploring adventures;

Fire One are out on a canoeing adventure on the river for two-three days.

Fire Two are out walking on the trails around Basecamp.

Fire Three are out walking on the trails in Oreo, camping overnight in the national park.

Fire Four are out walking by the lake in the national park and plan to camp out overnight.

Kyrgyzstan team have arrived in Naryn.

26th July

Kyrgyzstan: Everybody has arrived safely in Naryn.

The team will be resting today, ready for their journey to Base Camp tomorrow.

A picture we took of one of the teams at the airport, before they all headed through security.

First teams to arrive

25th July

Canadian Yukon: Everybody has arrived safely at Whitehorse.

Here is a picture of our Basecamp in the Canadian Yukon before the team have set up the tents and the Young Explorers arrive.

We look forward to further updates from the field.

Expeditions begin!

21st July

Our Canadian Yukon expedition is ready to go, and so our 2023 expedition season begins!

The Canadian Yukon Advance Party set off last weekend to get basecamp ready, and the main party of Young Explorers will be joining them this weekend. First though they’ve got a long flight ahead of them.

Interestingly, their flight path is the same as the one that was taken by Young Explorers who headed on our 1986 Canadian Yukon expedition. That expedition also went to the same mountain range that our expedition is headed to in 2023. Here’s a flight map drawn by one of the Young Explorers who took part in that expedition 36 years ago.

Final Preparations

3rd July

This week our Expeditions Team are hard at work in the British Exploring Society stores, divvying out the kit for each expedition. Amongst the kit are core things like tents, sleeping mats and bags, cooking equipment, and medical equipment.

There’s also lots of specialist kit for science and media based activities which will take place on expedition – each Knowledge programme has been designed by our expert Knowledge Leaders whose backgrounds range from meteorology and videography to everything in between.

More updates coming soon!

Three weeks to go

30th June

T-minus three weeks until expeditions officially begin! First to depart will be our advance parties. Their job is to set up basecamp in country, ready for the Young Explorers to join them a week later. This year we have expeditions headed to the Canadian Yukon, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan and the Scottish Highlands.

In the meantime, everyone is hard at work getting things ready. From our HQ Team, to our amazing volunteer Leaders and our cohort of Young Explorers.

In case you missed it, this year’s Young Explorers have so far raised a combined £155,954.88 towards the charity. It’s a huge achievement. A testament to an inspiring group of young people – and evidence of the skills they’ve all developed in the process.