The number one question that Bucketlisters-to-be ask about our trips is, “how hard is it?”
Unfortunately for us, this most common query is also the most difficult to answer.
Why? Well, there are a few reasons. We don’t have a contextual framework to work with when answering this question – we don’t know how much experience each individual has with different kinds of activity, for example, or even how physically fit they are.
But the number one reason why the difficulty of our trips is so, well, difficult to pin down, is because the entire concept of adventure is so different from person to person.
Over the years, we’ve tried to help prospective Bucketlisters to easily identify the intensity of each of our trips by introducing rating systems.
At first, we called these ‘difficulty ratings’, but we soon realised that this could be deterring people who definitely could achieve certain trips, but saw a high ‘difficulty rating’ and doubted themselves. We also realised that ‘difficulty’ was too rigid a term to quantify trips with very different elements. For example, some people may find trekking hard and scuba diving easy, but for others, hiking is relatively easy, and the process of learning to dive is much harder.
So we went back to the drawing board. We wanted a term that was more positive and encouraging, indicating how much of a challenge each trip is generally considered to be, rather than appearing like a barometer of fitness.
At this point, we came up with the idea of an ‘adventure rating’. The term ‘adventure’ is much more inspirational, and we felt that the trips with higher ‘adventure ratings’ would seem exciting (which they are), rather than intimidating.
At first, this seemed to be the perfect solution. But soon, we began receiving queries from Bucketlisters asking “what exactly does adventure rating mean?“
We found ourselves once again in muddy waters, quickly realising just how subjective the idea of adventurousness is. It also dawned on us that our trips with lower ‘adventure ratings’ risked seeming boring to some based on their rating – which they definitely are not!
It was time to put our heads together and really work out a quantifiable, easy-to-digest rating system that would work – and that we could all explain in simple terms!
So we had a bit of a group huddle and eventually came up with our new (and, we think, final) choice: ‘challenge ratings’.
‘Challenge’ is the perfect word for our trips – it gives the sense of pushing yourself, but in an aspirational, enjoyable way. Challenge gives a sense of growth and adventure whilst still providing the all-important element of a measurable scale.
We also put pen to paper on exactly what each level of our challenge rating, from 1 to 5, involves.
So now we have a definitive answer for all of you when asking how difficult a trip is. Just check out the challenge rating on each trip, and if you’re still unsure, refer to the key below and, voila! You’ve got your answer!
Trips with a challenge rating of 5 involve mountaineering at 6000+ metres. These trips will involve ropework and other elements such as crevasse crossings or learning ice axe arrests.
Trips with a challenge rating of 4 involve long-distance treks at altitudes of up to 5500+ metres. There may be specific skills involved such as the use of crampons or glacier walking – but you will be trained in these elements during your trek.
Trips with a challenge rating of 3 involve multiple days of hiking at altitudes of over 3,000 metres. However, there will be no specific skills involved, so anyone with an average level of physical fitness will be able to take part!
Trips with a challenge rating of 2 will involve multiple days of trekking a row, but not at altitude. Anyone who is able to hike will be able to partake in these adventures!
Trips with a challenge rating of 1 are essentially great fun! They will involve elements of physical activity, so you will need to be mobile and free of major injuries, but these are not intense trips. Any days of trekking will be broken up with more easygoing activities, and you won’t need any specific preparation to take part.
Trips with a challenge rating of 1 include the Jordan Eco-Adventure, Croatia and Montenegro Active Adventure, India Himalayan Adventure, white water rafting, husky sledding, the Ultimate Tanzanian Experience, and our Gozo scuba diving trip.
Of course, these ratings are still just a guide – your perception of how challenging each trip is will depend on your strengths, experience and which kinds of activities you enjoy.
However, we hope that our new challenge rating will provide a useful framework from which to begin researching your next big bucket list adventure!