Into the Depths of the Amazon 2018-Expedition Return


Just arrived home to the UK and now sitting in my car outside Plas Y Brenin, the National Mountaineering Centre on a misty Saturday morning, looking towards a hidden Snowdon.

Just starting to process the last few weeks on expedition.

The aim of the “Into the Depths of the Amazon 2018” expedition was to take “normal” people with an interest in expeditions; science and being part of a research expedition. These “citizen scientists” came together as a group to work together, alongside expedition professionals and zoologists to travel to a remote part of the Peruvian jungle to study the biodiversity , and in particular the weird and wonderful world of the insects, sometimes overlooked for more “gucci” wildlife.

After 2 weeks of living in our remote base camp the team left the jungle and returned to Cusco.

2 weeks of building the temporary camp, helping to do all the cooking, carry water from the water point, traveling out every day to monitor insect traps, camera traps and our survey sites.

Using all the skills in the group this group of people worked really well together and threw themselves into all aspects of the expedition. Meaning that they transitioned from individuals with different motivations and aims, into a functioning team collaborating and buying in to supporting each other and the expeditions vision.

And this is part of what expeditions do, they are about the participation of the people. And it’s the people who are the real success story of this expedition.

During our time in the field we have collected thousands of samples of bugs, beetles ( there is a difference!!) And flies. All of these will be sent to the Natural History Museum in London, where it is hoped that they will be studied and possibly we will find that some are exciting new species, or help us understand the range of other species, this is the legacy of the expedition and it is exciting to think that the work our participants undertook over the last few weeks will lead to broadening and widening our knowledge of the world!

In my slightly tired coffee addled brain this morning writing this post has made me realise how proud and excited I am by what we have achieved on this expedition, even before we have started the work of sifting through the collection from a scientific perspective, or reviewing our performance and logistics.

I am very proud that the idea that we proposed 18 months ago to engage a broad group of people who want to do something important and different in an expedition perspective, has proved successful.

And I am excited about the next steps, both the science findings, as well as the possibility of future expeditions in this style!! So stand by on both fronts.

Expedition Assemble!

So the team are starting to arrive!

A day of packing ahead, food for 11 people for 12 days on the ground, and enough kit to set up camps and undertake our science projects.


After arriving in Cusco yesterday morning Ross and I headed to the Crees Foundation offices to start checking through our kit, this also included all the ropes and equipment needed to undertake some interesting studies of the canopy using a unique piece of equipment, this is so that the canopy is more accessible for people to haul themselves into this unique environment to study the animals and insects that live there.


Once we finished we started to meet up with various team members who were trickling into the city, so by the evening 6 members of the team had arrived.

Ross was booked to do a talk at a indigiounous peoples cultural arts centre called Xapiri in the evening, so we all trooped along to hear him regal and inspire the audience with the reasons we know so little about life on earth, and talk about the work we intend to do. All expeditions need to have a legacy as well as a real purpose, so doing this talk and spreading the word may help people learn more and think more about protecting the environment.


The whole team will be assembled ( just like the avengers!) By this evening , and tomorrow we start early on the road for the 9 hour journey into the Amazon, our route takes us over the Andes mountains and down through the cloud forest to the hot jungle and our study site.

The next time you hear from me will be in a few weeks time when I will be able to talk about some of the activity we have been involved in and have some stories to tell…..!

Expedition Departure

With a few hours to go till departure thoughts are turning to the aims and objectives to what we are planning to do on the expedition.

Equipment is all packed and pretty much ready to go, paperwork is stacking up, making sure we have all the participants details and information, all the planning is in place and we are nearly ready to fly!

By lunch time tomorow the advanced group will be in Cusco, the historic city of the Inca’s, high in the Central Andes. With its clear air and colonial buildings Cusco is the jumping off point for tourists and explorers heading to the high mountains, Machu Pichu or the southern amazon.

Here we will spend 2 days sorting food and logistics and packing this into a truck that will take us over the Andes and drop down into the hot and sweaty Amazon basin.

While here we will also get to meet up with our great group of participants, who have come from a range of backgrounds , with a common interest in science and exploration. These ” citizen scientists” will be the driving force of our research and with Dr Ross Piper and Dr Sussanh Cass help will explore deep into our research area starting to scratch the surface of the biodiversity of this area of the Amazon. Our participants for this expedition are students, retired dam builders, research scientists, a psycologist, a science communicator and an insurance broker!!!

One of the highlights of my job is meeting so many interesting people from all walks of life , finding out about their background and learning tons from them as well. Sometimes they test your skills and character but it is definatly one of the great challenges of my job.

Very soon I will be saying my goodbyes to my family which is always a hard moment before any expedition, a chance to reflect and to expect them to have changed by the time you get back.

It is sometimes hard to find the right words to say to my kids, I don’ want them to miss me too badly, I want them to carry on with their lives just with daddy away at work, as if it is normal (obviously in our house it is!!) but at the same time I love enthusing them with my adventures and the wildlife I might see, and for my older son to inspire to develop himself and follow his own dreams and adventures.

So a mixed set of emotions before I get my head in the game (to quote high school musical- that should please my daughter!!!) And get on with the job at hand, to focus my attention on doing a great job and really enjoying what we are going to find, discover and learn while we are on expedition.

Next time I post we will be in Cusco and the team will be together!!

Into the Depths of the Amazon 2018- Blog#1

20180502_110600When I was about 10 years old I remember being fascinated by David Attenborough’s “Life on Earth” book, the pictures of tropical islands, jungle animals, trees and plants took me on an imaginary journey across the world and into the depths of dark jungles, magnificent vistas and the lives of amazing wildlife.

I have never forgotten these dreams and throughout my life have pushed towards trying to see and experience as much of the world as I could.

Not being too good at school and more distracted by other activities and interests I didn’t pursue a career in biology, but have continued to be fascinated by the natural world and wildlife.

Next week I embark, along with a team of “Citizen Scientists” and some great scientists, on an expedition that really is the realization of a dream.

The “Into the depths of the Amazon 2018” expedition that I have set up with zoologist and entomologist Dr Ross Piper ( aims to search one of the most bio-diverse locations in the world for new species, particularly for insects and in micro- environments. I don’t know masses about this work but I am so excited to be heading of and learning tons from the participants.

My job and expertise is to set up these expeditions, make sure all the logistics are in place, and while the scientists are exploring to make sure that they are safe, but whilst there I hope to be fully involved in the research.

For me taking “normal” people to these environment means that more people can experience their dreams to visit remote places, and to be involved in exciting and interesting research. If people can touch these environments and then return home to tell their stories, they spread the word about protecting remote environments and the wildlife that lives there. This is why it is so important to communicate these wonders to wide audiences, especially school children and future generations, we were hoping to run some lessons from the jungle and beam them to classrooms around the world, with an brilliant project, but unfortunalty we couldn’t get the kit to the jungle in time!! This is something I am hoping to develop on future expeditions, and in the mean time we hope to do a bit of a tour of UK schools and groups, talking about the research and the importance of protecting remote environments, so if you know a school or youth group that might be interested let us know!

I encourage everyone to hold on to their dreams, keep them in mind and work towards achieving them, one step at a time, and they are achievable.

Over the next few weeks I will try (when possible) to blog about what we are up to and experiencing, in the mean time I’m putting the finishing touches to the packing for the expedition!!

To find out more about the expedition


Blogging- A New departure!

Afternoon all,

So I have finally made the move and decided to start this blog.

For a while now I have been interested in developing my writing, finding a voice and talking about expeditions, adventures and topics close to my heart. Through this blog I intend to use it to create conversation, develop my writing style and subject area, as well as blog about my expeditions and adventures.

As this blog starting coincides with my latest expedition, the next few weeks will be about our adventures as we travel “Into the Depths of the Amazon” in the Manu region of Southern Peru, searching for new species of insects and studying the biodiversity of this region!