In July/August 2019, working as Expedition Leader for World Challenge, I lead an expedition to China with a group from the Waddesdon C of E School. For the pupils this four-week expedition is the culmination of a two-year Leadership and Personal Development programme.

For photographs of this expedition see China – July/August 2019

This expedition is arranged by World Challenge

Build up Day

The team spend the day with me, preparing for expedition. They arrive with their bags fully packed with everything they intend to take on expedition (as per the kit list) and all their necessary documents.

14th Jul 2019

Departure Day. It’s finally here! Excitement builds knowing the much anticipated flight is just a few hours away. The team try to get some rest ahead of the life changing journey that awaits, double-check they have everything they need, say goodbye to loved ones, and head to the airport for their long awaited expedition.

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

15th Jul 2019

Arriving into Bĕijīng later today prepared to be dazzled by this enormous vibrant metropolis, blending ancient citadels and brash modern architecture in a spectacular fashion. The team make their way to their pre-booked accommodation to get some rest before the start of their adventure.

16th Jul – 18th Jul 2019

Rest and Relaxation in Beijing.

There are many sights to see in Beijing, the team have done some research beforehand and decided where they want to go. They visit China’s famous Great Wall, which stretches from the Liaoning province all the way across the country to the Gobi desert.

We also visit the Forbidden City, which was home to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and closed to the public for 500 years and Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world and the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven.

Beijing is a food-lovers paradise and there are loads of tasty (and creepy!) delicacies for us to try. We walk off our street eats with a stroll around Wanfujing night markets and the funky 798 art district and pick up some souvenirs!

19th Jul 2019

Travel from Beijing to Xi’an.

We spend the morning exploring the famous sights of this fascinating city before making your way to the train station in time for the overnight train to Xi’an. Our tickets have been pre-purchased. It’s a long journey, so we take some games and snacks to pass the time! We make sure we’re at the train station in Beijing in plenty of time as trains in China are extremely punctual!

20th Jul 2019

Rest and Relaxation in Xi’an. We visit the Drum and Bell Tower to hear a music concert. Dating back to the 14th Century, the bell rang at dawn and the drum marked nightfall. We also take a trip to the Muslim markets for a tasty meal.

21st Jul 2019

In the morning we take a cycle tour of the city wall. Then we visit the Terracotta Warriors – thousands of clay figures that date back to 210 BC which were discovered by accident in 1974 by local farmers.

22nd Jul 2019

Trekking in Huà Shān. Located 120km and approximately two hours’ drive from Xi’an, Huà Shān is a large granite outcrop in the Shaanxi province, which rises dramatically out of the surrounding flat plains.and is considered one of China’s five sacred Taoist mountains. We take the cable car to just below the popular North Peak and begin our trek from this point. The team climb both the North and Middle Peaks from here.

23rd Jul 2019

Rest and Relaxation in Xi’an. Stroll through Daming Palalce National Heritage Park and Taiye Chi Pool.

24th Jul 2019

Travel from Xi’an to Chéngdu . This afternoon we catch the high speed train to Chengdu. Our tickets have been pre-purchased. The journey will take approximately 4 hours, so we bring some snacks and games to pass the time.

25th Jul – 26th Jul 2019

Rest and Relaxation in Chéngdu.Visit the Wen Shu Temple, Jinli STreet and the Tibetan Quarter. Take tea in the People’s Park and visit the science museum.

Tip: This is a good place to buy your souvenirs. A stroll around this pleasant city then sit in a tea-house, soak up the atmosphere and sample some crazy-flavoured drinks! Later, visit the Sìchuan Opera, which dates back more than 250 years and is absolutely nothing like western opera!

27th Jul 2019

Travel from Chengdu to Wolong. Today we travel by bus from Chengdu to Wolong stopping on route to visit the memorial to the earthquake in  2008.

28th – 30th Jul 2019

Community engagement. We spend time at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda at Wolong. Here we clean out the giant panda cages and enclosures, make giant panda food and feed the giant pandas. We are joined by a professor from the centre, a world expert in giant pandas and also by a PhD student. We go into the forest to research giant panda habitats and attend lectures to learn more about the work at Wolong. We build and deliver bee boxes to the local community and help to harvest potatoes.

31st Jul 2019

Travel from Wolong to Chengdu. Today we travel by bus from Wolong to Chengdu.

1st  August 2019

Today we should have taken the 18 hour sleeper train to Kunming but recent bad weather had damaged the tracks and our train was cancelled. We spend another night in Kunming whilst looking at alternative travel plans.

2nd August 2019

Travel from Chengdu to Kunming. We fly from Chengdu to Kunming then we spend the day exploring the famous sights of this fascinating city.

Rest and Relaxation in Kunming. The capital of China’s southern Yunnan Province, Kunming is affectionately known as the City of Eternal Spring for it’s pleasant climate and flowers that bloom all year long. We explore the many temples and pagodas and visit the museum and gallery. Then we relax with a cup of tea in one of the numerous gardens and take a trip to visit the famous Stone Forest.

3rd Aug 2019

Travel from Kunming to Jinghong.This journey south-west by express bus towards the Chinese border can take up to nine hours so we make sure to get an early start.

4th – 7th Aug 2019

Trekking at Xishuanbanna. Our trek is located in a picturesque region home to a diverse array of Minority Cultures, including the prominent Dai people who share a common heritage with the cultures of Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.  The trek weaves its way through a mountainous area rich with agriculture and traditional lifestyle practices.  We hike through ancient tea plantations (including some trees up to 800 years old!), rice paddies and secondary jungle.  Every turn in the road offers another view of how the people here adapt to the environment and changing social conditions of China.

8th Aug 2019

Explore Jinghong. We take a stroll around this attractive city, home to half a million people. We stretch our legs in one of the city’s beautiful parks and gardens and explore some of it’s cultural attractions, temples and minority villages. We visit the Dia Cultural Centre for an insight into  Chinese heritage! In the evening we go to the Great Pagoda Temple of Jinghong and explore the incredible night market behind the temple.

9th Aug 2019

Travel from Jinghong to Kunming.Return by express bus takes up to nine hours so we make sure to get an early start.

10th Aug 2019

Today we spend at leisure at the Jingfang Forest Spa Resort and Hotel near An Ning City about an hour away from Jinghong.

11th – 12th Aug

Departure day. Time to go. We cram everything back into our rucksacks and set off for the airport. Check-in, sit back and reflect. We’ve just experienced something incredible. We arrive back on the morning of 12th Aug bursting with stories and cherished moments to share with our favourite people back home.


Steve holds the prestigious International Mountain Leader Award and also the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader Awards. He is a full member of BAIML and an adviser to Mountain Training UK&I. Steve has travelled extensively on six continents and has a wide experience, gained over more than thirty five years, of explorations and leading expeditions in remote environments on land – trekking in mountains, jungles, deserts and safaris and on water – rafting and canoeing. He works with his own clients and travel companies and takes adults and children on amazing adventures around the world. He has trained at and been assessed by Britain’s National Mountain Centres who are world class in the instruction and coaching of outdoor professionals. Steve is a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Accredited Expedition Assessor. He trains, supervises and assesses candidates on Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE Expeditions. He is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, has an enhanced DBS disclosure and his own public liability insurance.