Friday 24 July 2009

Kenyans Invent Pedal Powered Phone Charger

2 Kenyan electrical engineering students have invented a phone charger which runs off the power generated when riding a bike.

It is estimated that some 17.5 million people out of Kenya's 38.5 million population own a mobile handset - up from 200,000 in 2000, however in rural areas without easy access to electricity, charging a mobile phone can be extremely difficult. People have to travel great distances to shops where they are charged $2 a time to power their phone, usually from a car battery or solar panel. Both coming from small villages, Jeremiah Murimi, 24, and Pascal Katana, 22, said they wanted to help those without electricity in rural areas.

Bikes in Kenya are already sold with a dynamo attached to the back wheel to power the lights, this instead can be plugged into the phone charger - about an hours pedalling will fully charge the phone!

Kenya's National Council for Science and Technology has backed the project, and at least one NGO working in Kenya are interested in testing the chargers, proving it to be an absolutely cracking idea. The students hope they will find a way of mass-producing the chargers. At the moment they have only hand-made 2 of the tiny devices using bits from scrapped radios and TVs.

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Thursday 23 July 2009

No longer just Justgiving

Virgin Money is launching an online fundraising site which will be the official online giving engine of the London Marathon, potentially sidelining Justgiving.The financial arm of the Virgin empire, Virgin Money has launched Virgin Money Giving, a website which will enable individuals to raise money for charities registered on the website for the London Marathon and other events and causes.

Virgin Money Giving will begin operation this summer to allow people to fundraise for the first Virgin London Marathon in 2010, the first of its five-year sponsorship deal with the event. Justgiving, meanwhile, has worked with the London Marathon since 2002, raising £62.5m for charities supported by runners.

The arrival of Virgin Money Giving could potentially dint the former’s hold on the lucrative fundraising event. However, Justgiving has officially welcomed the entry of a would-be competitor.

Managing director at Justgiving Anne-Marie Huby said: “We believe that anything that gives charities more choice in their online fundraising is a great thing, so we welcome Virgin to the sector.”

This launch, many would say, is coming at an opportune moment, since the recent launch of the new Justgiving site was riddled with problems. It seems Sir Richard has got it right again...!
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Wednesday 22 July 2009

Amazon in final for "new" Seven Wonders!

As of yesterday lunchtime the 28 finalists for the new Seven Wonders of the World were announced! These were chosen from a list of 77 nominees by the New7Wonders Panel of Experts.

Among the 28 final choices are the Amazon River and Rainforest, Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, Angel Falls, The Galapagos, The Grand Canyon and The Great Barrier Reef.

The Amazon Basin spans 7 million square kilometers and the forest occupies some 5.5 million square kilometers; it is located within nine countries: Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana; Suriname and Venezuela. It represents over half of the planet's rapidly disappearing rainforests and is the largest and most species-rich area of tropical rainforest in the world!

The Iguazu Falls consist of 275 falls along 1.7 miles and are nestled on the boarder between Argentina and Brazil and taller than the more famous Niagara Falls.

Competition organizers expect more than a billion people to participate in the online voting, which will continue into 2011, when the 7 finalists by categories will be announced, so still plenty of time to vote at !

Check out our South American Gap Trips and Summer Trips for the chance to experience both living in the heart of the Amazon rainforest and to venture to the amazing Iguazu Falls !

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Monday 20 July 2009 - a workable solution for the planet? was founded by U.S. author Bill McKibben, who wrote "The End of Nature" in 1989, a book regarded as the first one written for the general public on climate change.

It is based on a statistic provided by scentific research, and backed by climate experts and many governments. 350 parts per million of CO2 is considered the maximum safe level for humanity to exist on the planet for the long term - we are currently at 390.18! Current environmental targets set by the leading governments will not reach this target of 350.

October 24th has been set as the international day of climate change, and people round the world are encouraged to speak up on this day, so that the worlds leaders will take notice in advance of the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December this year.

Find out more about the campaign at and watch the video above.

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Quest Leader setting new challenge

For anyone who has a Facebook account (or any online presence for that matter), you will have received at least the one message about a friend or relative doing some crazy fitness challenge. Marathons, triathlons, epic cycle journeys, who says we live in an obese Britain?!

Anyway, it seems this "challenge fever" has hit our Quest leaders this year as well. One of the treks which many of our teams in South America enjoy is into the Colca Canyon, three days trekking the 1000m vertical to the bottom, and then back up again! It's a beautiful trek, taking us through local villages and over raging rivers, lots to see.

With super expedition leader Robert Thoren though, he decided to use the route as a time trial. Having a bit of a break between leading teams, he decided to run the three day trek, in 4 hours 29 minutes! This is annoying for two reasons: firstly, because it really is just showing off; but secondly, because the rest of is won't be able to resist trying to better it!

Damn you Thoren!

To see how to enjoy this trek at a pace where you can actually take in the views (!), check out our Andean Expedition.

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