“Hey Jen! We need you in Borneo. Would you be able to pop over there to interview and train some of our new guides, complete our risk assessments and check all our jungle camps?” Not a question many of us get asked by our boss… But that is the great thing about working in the school expedition and travel business.
In January I got to escape the cold UK and jet off to the hot tropical sunshine of Borneo; all in the name of ‘work’. One of the exciting things about working at The School Travel Consultancy is our commitment to the use of local leaders. Indeed, spending time with our in-country Leaders is truly inspirational. Listening to all the experiences they’ve had and how they have worked with so many clients over the years, I felt humbled that part of my reason for being in Borneo was to deliver The STC Leader Training Package. Being local with an extraordinary depth of knowledge, STC Leaders enhance what is an exceptional place to visit.
For a UK school, Borneo is a brilliant destination. Everywhere you go you are greeted by smiles, openness and wonderful hospitality. The variety of activities is without question incomparable. Within six days our leaders safely escorted me as I ziplined over to a tropical island, rafted down a jungle river, hiked in the volcanic mountains and drove out to a remote scientific station in the middle of the rainforest. Here I was joined for dinner by wild orangutans who come and feed from the fruits trees next to the dining area. No other place boasts such a wonderful combination of culture, activity, beach, volcanos, jungle and wildlife. Our commitment to sustainable and ethical tourism is well known and the students can experience first-hand the conservation issues Borneo is facing. Flying across the land I was saddened to see fields of palm oil where once there was jungle! Students will be able to see how this global issue has a real impact at a local level!
All our itineraries are tailored to suit the needs of the individual school, but consistently we are asked for hands-on experiences for students. I was lucky enough to see where school groups get to spend time and become involved with important scientific research projects. I met and spent time with the farming communities students can meet on our Geography trips and discussed with guides the opportunities for climbing a volcano too! Our school expeditions can be a combination of challenging adventures such as hiking to the top of Mt Kinabalu, jungle treks and survival, as well as working on sustainable and desperately needed maintenance work on village schools. These projects are community driven and the costs are separated out to ensure clarity for all parties. All trips include a visit to Sepilok the famous conservation centre for the Orangutans.
My time in Borneo allowed me to see that the itineraries we put together are exciting and jam packed with adventure. I got a real insight into how we facilitate learning and enable students to see the global issues affecting Borneo. The trip also allowed me to see first-hand how our experienced, qualified and knowledgeable local leaders are able to help educate students about the wonderful flora and fauna, visit the projects and experience first-hand the exciting activities which the students will take part in. Where will I be checking out next?