Association of Mountaineering Instructors British Association of International Mountain Leaders Mountain Training Association

Rebecca Coles

I am an expedition and adventure travel specialist. I have led expeditions, travelled and climbed on all 7 continents and in over 70 countries and this has given me a unique breadth of experience and knowledge

Wanting to help people plan their own expeditions as well as travel adventurously and independently was my motivation for setting up …all but essential travel…

Working as an expedition leader I have led over 40 expeditions in places such as Chile, Madagascar, Nepal, Borneo, Zambia, Botswana, India, Tanzania and the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. I have a Geography PhD from the University of Sheffield and am a qualified International Mountain Leader and Mountaineering Instructor (MIC). I am also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and regularly write travel articles accompanied by my own photography.

Where I’ve been

The countries Rebecca Coles has travelled to.

When I am not helping others to plan their travels, I am leading overseas expeditions or planning my own trips.

In 2010/11 I travelled overland from Kathmandu, Nepal back to the UK. I crossed 20 countries, spending the most time in Central Asia (the ‘Stans), mountaineering in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal, then crossing the Caspian Sea on a cargo ship to the Southern Caucasus (Azerbaijan,

“The list of places I want to go gets longer, rather than shorter, the more I travel.”

Georgia, Armenia). Some of the mountaineering elements of this trip were funded by the British Mountaineering Council (Julie Tullis Award), Mount Everest Foundation and Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust.

My personal trips have varied from one to the next. I’ve climbed 4 first ascents in South Georgia, Antarctica, climbed Peak Lenin (7134m), Kyrgyzstan, backpacked alone in Ecuador and Mozambique, trekking in Alaska, South Africa, Nepal and New Zealand to name a few. I’ve cycled solo up Lake Malawi not deterred by the fact that I didn’t have a bike when I arrived, instead buying one locally and setting out on the open road. The list of places I want to go gets longer, rather than shorter, the more I travel.

I have led expeditions in the Mongolian Altai, on Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Stok Kangri, India, Toubkal, Morocco as well as Zambia, Borneo, Madagascar, Chile and Peru. Trekking trips in the Swiss Alps. Led Geography field studies in Iceland.

My most recent personal expedition involved making a first ascent of Lasarmu La in western Nepal. Check out the interview here.

…all but essential travel…

In the role as an Expedition Leader I have to prepare groups for their trip ahead. Although physical preparation is important I spend more time on talking about the culture and customs which will be encountered, giving tips on travelling well, staying safe, being a responsible traveller and knowing how to enjoy the fantastic local food. Travel isn’t just work, however, and I am often off exploring on my own trips. When I get home people ask me questions; but what was it like as a woman in Afghanistan? Did you get sick in Nepal? How did you travel through northern Mozambique alone? Where are the best places to stay in Georgia?

The people who have the most questions would love to travel on their own terms, writing their own itineraries as they travel and exploring but don’t quite know how to get started or lack the confidence to take the plunge. Having a sounding-board to talk through travel plans, develop ideas and get practical advice is all that is needed and the concept behind all but essential travel… Workshops.

The consultancy element of …all but essential travel… uses my knowledge of working with people in remote environments and network within the commercial expedition and travel industry, as well as academia and science, to help organisations and individuals get in place all the administration prior to going on a trip as well as management whilst away.