To achieve this aim we have made a number of conscious decisions. Firstly, we have prioritised managing risks rather than increasing profits. Secondly, we have opted to keep small to allow us to ensure our risk controls are implemented. Finally, we have designed a planning process that keeps the Directors in personal contact with all of our expeditions and programmes, so they can support their safe delivery.

Our safety approach

  • Transparency in our risk management practices: We are open about the company processes, risk assessments and decisions.
  • Informed decisions by participants and their parents/guardians: We can’t reduce risks to zero but we can ensure participants and their parents/guardians understand the risks, mitigations and residual risk on our expeditions.
  • Use of competent expedition leaders: A well-planned trip relies on dynamic decisions in the field. Therefore the judgement of our expedition leaders is a critical control. We work hard to get the best leaders with an aligned approach.
  • Personal involvement by the company Directors in assuring both the overall process and each expedition.

The planning process is overseen and verified by the Directors. A key stage is the final assessment by the expedition manager, business manager and Directors that the expedition is operationally ready to go.

The difference

The business manager of Wilderness Expertise individually selects expedition leaders. The vast majority of leaders come from our sister company which delivers personal development training in the UK. This allows us to match expedition teams with the right leader for their needs. Leaders know us and our philosophy and we know their skills and judgement.

To ensure the expeditions match the competence of the participants, we provide pre-expedition training and assess each participant’s medical information with our company doctor. If required we can alter itineraries or request additional information from participants or their doctor.

The company Directors individually assess and sign off each expedition. In addition the Directors run the expedition on-call system, which allows our leaders direct contact with the company directors. This allows for judgement decisions to be discussed and for evolving risks to be managed.

We acknowledge that we don’t get everything right, however we are committed to learning and stopping repeat mistakes.

Our systems, processes and regulation

Over the years we have developed robust systems and processes. These systems are assessed by external and internal professionals. Our systems are assessed from a UK activity provision by the Adventure Activities Licensing Service. In addition our systems are assessed internally by the Directors using BS 8848:2014 as a benchmark to identify any shortcomings.

In addition we assess each expedition for compliance with BS 8848:2014 and a proud to state that:

All expeditions provided by Wilderness Expertise Ltd conform to BS 8848:2014 “Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom.”

A summary of what this includes can be found in this consumer document produced by BSi:

Safer adventures: Managing the risks of adventure travel. Your guide to the British Standard for adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom (BS 8848:2014). 

Our Impact

Our influence has extended beyond Wilderness Expertise and we have had a positive impact on the wider expedition travel sector.

Over the years we have pushed the boundaries of safe practices, including:

  • Support to the Royal Geographical Society in acting as a forum for sharing incidents and learnings (1996 onwards);
  • Pioneering the fair payment of leaders, recognising their professional skills (1996);
  • Providing satellite phone provision to leaders to assist in managing incidents and improving support from our UK office (1998);
  • Support to the Young Explorers’ Trust in its efforts to bring together the expedition sector (2002-08);
  • Founding the Expedition Providers Association to share practices and learnings (2003);
  • Developing the “Learning Outside the Classroom” government supported expedition badge standard which defined minimum operating requirements (2008);
  • Developing the British Standard in Expeditions (BS 8848) as part of the drafting committee (2008, 2011 and 2014);
  • UK co-convenor of the ISO Adventure Tourism standards (2011 and 2013) which targets improving safety management and the provision of information to participants (2014);

Initiative to share incident data to identify trends and case studies to inform participants, Leaders, directors and wider stakeholders.

We may be small, but we are at the heart of UK expedition sector.