SES Cadogan Tate explorer Olivia Taylor heads to the Himalayas
At the end of April we revealed the two winners of the Cadogan Tate Explorer Awards, selected to head off to far-flung destinations in the name of scientific research and exploration. Matthew Jasinki won for The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Expedition and Olivia Taylor for The Cambridge Zanskar Expedition. Both expeditions will make valuable contributions to their areas of study and provide useful learning for the future.
We recently caught up with Olivia, who took some time out to talk to us about her final preparations before The Cambridge Zanskar Expedition departs overseas.
How many months before the expedition departs do you have to start preparations to get things like visas, customs forms, shipping, travel etc organised?
“In my case, the difficult elements of the preparation were setting up the in country support and contacts in the area we want to visit, which I started doing about 10 months before the expedition departure. Visas can be arranged a few months before departure, and all our expedition luggage will fly with us.”
Why is it so important that scientific expeditions like yours take place?
“I think there’s just a lot to be understood about the world.The golden age of exploration may be over, in the sense that we know where places are located, but as a geographer I’d say it doesn’t mean we understand anything about the actual geographies of these places; the communities, social structures, histories, physical characteristics etc. In terms of expeditions being important, having an infrastructure and team is really the only way you can do fieldwork in remote places.”
What advice would you pass on to other young scientists who want to head out to study in the ‘field’?
“I’m not sure I could advise other young scientists/researchers since I am one myself! But more broadly, to other students/young people looking to head out on expeditions, my advice would be to approach it with a mix of caution and confidence. You need to make sure you’re properly trained and have enough experience, but at the same time need to have the confidence to go for it.”
What’s the most difficult part of transporting large amounts of expedition baggage, specialist equipment and apparatus across the World?
“Actually, on this expedition we won’t be carrying large amounts of equipment at all: the problem is the exact opposite of trying to condense everything down to be the lightest possible so it can be carried by ponies during our trek through villages. I’ve always found expedition packing to be a slightly stressful last minute activity, so having pre-packs and separating out any non-essential items is helpful.
Looking after crucial kit like satellite phones requires a bit of care and robust and waterproof containers!”
What’s the biggest personal challenge you face?
“This is a very different expedition to my previous experiences and I’ll be time pressured to get enough research to be able to put together my dissertation from the expedition, so I’m expecting this to be a bit stressful, potentially!”
What will be your ‘Desert Island’ luxury item you can’t leave home without?
“My iPod, I bring a mini solar charger for it – brightens up long drives and bad weather days.”
With exams out of the way and preparations complete, Olivia’s expedition will leave later this summer. Matthew Jasinki ‘s expedition left this week. We wish them both good luck and all the best for a safe journey and a successful study.
Cadogan Tate has over 30 years of experience in moving precious possessions around the globe. Experts in overseas moving and international removals, our specialist teams’ tailor make our services to the exact needs of our discerning customers, from transporting a single, precious work of art, to packing, shipping and storing the contents of a 20 room family home.
To read more on the The Scientific Exploration Society click here.
To follow Olivia’s expedition click here.
Thanks to Sally Sally Reid of The Scientific Exploration Society for her contribution.
Photo: Ladakh and Zanskar: popularly known as “The Land of Mystic Lamas” courtesy of HIMAdventures