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.

Read more!

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...!
Read more!

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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Thursday 16 July 2009

Quest Greenhouse Bears Fruit

Just for Andy...the first pictures of the very first Quest Overseas tomatoes. It looks to be a bumper crop out in the Quest greenhouse with a whopping 6 individual tomatoes merrily growing away at the moment. Lets hope these are the first of many!

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Friday 10 July 2009

Richard Dimbleby Lecture by Prince Charles

The Prince of Wales issued a stark warning about impending environmental catastrophe, telling an audience: "If we fail the Earth, we fail humanity."

Giving the 33rd Richard Dimbleby lecture, The Prince set out his vision for tackling what he said were the pressing problems of the "environmental crisis", and spoke of an economic system with "enormous shortcomings".

A new order was needed to combat these issues which moved away from a "mechanistic" approach to one that was more "balanced and integrated with nature's complexity", The Prince said.

You can see the entire lecture on BBC iPlayer here

The lecture is held in honour of the veteran broadcaster, who died in 1965.

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So Why Are Cheetahs So Speedy...?

Cheetah chasing chicken on a string...

Scientists at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are attempting to find out exactly what makes the cheetah the fastest animal on the planet.

Cheetahs can reach speeds of at least 104km/h (64mph) and they can achieve their top speed in just a few paces. This is 50% faster than any of the other animals the scientists are familiar with.

The study is being carried out with the help of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, where cheetahs in captivity are being enticed to run by tying chicken - wings and feet appear to be a cheetah delicacy - to a piece of fast moving string (pulled along by an electric motor. Special plates in a running track and 4 extremely high speed camaras monitor the cheetah as it runs.

Results so far are inconclusive, although the scientists have noticed that when a cheetahs run it does different things with either side of its body - it has an asymmetric gait. This could have something to do with it.

Unfortunately the cheetahs cant reach top speed in the enclosure at Whipnade - the team are hoping in future they will be able to continue their research using cheetahs in a larger area.

Watch the video and read the full BBC story here.

Spot cheetahs in Botswana during our 6 week African Expedition.

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Wednesday 8 July 2009

Harvard Admissions Tutor on the Benefits of Gap Years

In a recent article entitled "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation", William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at the prestigious Harvard University has extolled the virtues of taking a gap year and has recommended that more American students should consider the option of a year out between High School and college.

He says...

"Students taking a year off prior to Harvard are doing what students from the U.K. do with their so-called "gap year." Other countries have mandatory military service for varying periods of time. Regardless of why they took the year off or what they did, students are effusive in their praise. Many speak of their year away as a "life-altering" experience or a "turning point," and most feel that its full value can never be measured and will pay dividends the rest of their lives. Many come to college with new visions of their academic plans, their extracurricular pursuits, the intangibles they hoped to gain in college, and the career possibilities they observed in their year away. Virtually all would do it again.

Nevertheless, taking time off can be a daunting prospect for students and their parents. Students often want to follow friends on safer and more familiar paths. Parents worry that their sons and daughters will be sidetracked from college, and may never enroll. Both fear that taking time off can cause students to "fall behind" or lose their study skills irrevocably. That fear is rarely justified. High school counselors, college administrators, and others who work with students taking time off can help with reassurance that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Occasionally students are admitted to Harvard or other colleges in part because they accomplished something unusual during a year off. While no one should take a year off simply to gain admission to a particular college, time away almost never makes one a less desirable candidate or less well prepared for college. "

Read the whole article here.

To see all Quest Overseas Gap Year options click here!

For advice on how to choose a worthwhile and sustainable voluntary project take a look at

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New monkey found in Brazil!

Researchers have discovered a new sub-species of monkey in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest - the Mura's Saddleback Tamarin!

The newly found monkey was first spotted by scientists in 2007 in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and is related to the saddleback tamarin monkeys, known for their distinctively marked backs.

The small monkey, which is mostly gray and brown and weighs 213 grams, has been named the Mura's saddleback tamarin after the Mura Indian tribe of the Purus and Madeira river basins where the new sub-species was found. It is 24cm tall with a foot long tail.

"This newly described monkey shows that even today there are major wildlife discoveries to be made," Fabio Rohe, the lead author of a study confirming the new discovery, said in a statement released by the WCS.

The study found that the monkey is threatened by development projects in the region, including a major highway through the forest that is being paved and which could fuel deforestation.

"This discovery should serve as a wake-up call that there is still so much to learn from the world's wild places, yet humans continue to threaten these areas with destruction," Rohe said.

If you want to help protect the threatened species of the Amazon Rainforest, join our one of our Bolivian Animal Project teams next year
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Monday 6 July 2009

How to deal with homesickness while away

We all miss things while away from home, whether it's friends, family or bacon sandwiches. The good news is, the more you travel, the easier it gets, as you know you will be coming home soon (and let's be honest, not much will have changed). But if we're honest, we'll always miss something, no matter how much we've travelled, so it's nice to have a bit of reassurance that all is well at home from time to time.

Testament to this is our experienced expedition leader and Africa manager Andy Deaville. He's currently out in Africa visiting our project sites in Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya, as well as researching a new Expedition route through Uganda, very exciting! Whenever he contacts the office though, the first question we get is "how's my vegetable patch?"!!!

Well Andy, to help you sleep better at night under the African stars, here are some photos of your loved ones blossoming away the the office garden, we're taking good care of them!

To find out more about our expeditions in Africa, click here

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Nelson's Column Upstaged?

Wondering what to do with your summer? Perhaps you'd like to make a statement being a part of one of London's most famous monuments. If that does sound tempting, then you might want to join Anthony Gormley's "One and Other" project in Trafalgar Square. For the next 100 days, the square's "fourth plinth" will be occupied by a different person every hour, 24 hours a day. You can do whatever you like, the only rule - keep it legal.

The project has already received thousands of applicants but there is still time to try your luck, just go onto the one and other website for details on how to take part.

You'll also see there is a live video stream of the plinth on their website - if Big Brother has finally got too dull for you, maybe this will fill the gap...

Read more!

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Andy in East Africa

First of all I have to congratulate the entire Tanzania GAP 2009 team for their efforts at Waang'waray School. The new classroom is incredible and is already in use by the kids so that they can get top notch primary education. The task for the 2010 team will be to finish another classroom so that the School will have a total of 8 classrooms. They have also been experimenting with new techniques on the schools farm by growong vegetables in bags. This requires less water, the plants grow faster and they are less prone to disease!

Next stop is Uganda to check out some activities for Quest Overseas new exciting expedition as part of our Kenya GAP trip departing in January 2010. On the list are visits to monkey island and white water rafting. Watch this space for updates on our Kenya and Malawi Summer Projects over the next few weeks!

Andy - Africa Operations Manager in Arusha, Tanzania

Africa GAP 2010
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Tuesday 30 June 2009

See us at Cheltenham Ladies' College today!

Vicky & I will be at Cheltenham Ladies' College this afternoon from 2:30-4:30pm at their annual Gap Year Fair. Now exams are over it's the perfect time to start thinking about what you might want to do on your gap year - either this year or the year after. There will be representatives from loads of Gap Year Organisations there so do come along for a chat and to find out more about the projects we offer in Africa and South America.

Directions to Cheltenham Ladies' College can be found here!

Click here to see all the projects and expeditions departing next year!
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Thursday 25 June 2009

Gap Year Fair at Oundle School

Now that exams are coming to an end its a perfect time to start thinking about what your options are for a Gap Year next year. So why not come down to Oundle School in Oundle, near Peterborough tomorrow and have a chat with us to find out more about our projects and expeditions in Africa and South America.
We will be there (along with loads of other gap year organisations) from 5-7pm so do come and say hello!

Find out more about gap year opportunities with Quest Overseas in Africa and South America.

Read more!

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Run the Brighton Marathon for Quest4Change!

Exciting news - the 1st ever Brighton Marathon will be held next year on 18th April 2010 and places are going fast!

If you fancy tackling the 26 mile route taking in the best of the city centre, fabulous stretches of coastal road and stunning views over the South Downs why not run for Quest4Change and support our projects in Africa and South America. Over the last 13 years Quest4Change has raised over £1.2 million to alleviate poverty and protect endangered environments through the support of worthwhile and sustainable projects.

Be a member of the Quest4Change Brighton Marathon Team and we will help you with fundraising and training.

You'll receive:

  • Sponsorship Forms

  • A Quest4Change t-shirt

  • A marathon training program

  • You get entrance to a special "Charity Runner Hospitality" area at the start and end of the race which includes food and drink, extra toilets and a dedicated bag drop.

  • Information about the projects your fundraising will support

  • Marathon route through Brighton & Hove

    For more details take a look at the Quest4Change website or get in touch with Heather on 01273 77206 or by email

    For more information on the marathon itself visit

    Read more!

    Tuesday 23 June 2009

    Quest Lettuce

    Today marked a momentous occasion in the Quest office...after weeks of careful planting, re-planting and watering Andy's efforts to create a makeshift vegetable haven in the back garden have finally paid off. In his absence (sorry!) we enjoyed the first taste of Quest lettuce, hopefully soon to be followed by Quest courgettes, Quest tomatoes, more Quest lettuce, Quest aubergines and Quest chili this space!

    Not quite what the Quest Overseas greenhouse looks like...

    The verdict...tasty, in a lettucy kind of way.

    Read more!

    Friday 19 June 2009

    Come visit us at Eton on Saturday

    The forecast for this weekend is looking pretty good, but before you head on down to the beach, to the last day at Royal Ascot, or perhaps even to Silverstone, you might want to stop by and find out more about your gap year options at Eton College. We'll be there from 10.30am until midday, as will dozens of other gap year providers, so do stop by and ask us about our expeditions in South America and Africa.

    You can find out how to get to Eton on their website by clicking here

    Want to see your gap year options with Quest? Click here to see our team departures for 2010
    Read more!

    Tuesday 16 June 2009

    Repton School Gap Year Fair Today!

    Si and Jon will be at Repton School in Derbyshire this evening for their annual Gap Year Fair. The event starts at 7:30pm and finishes at 9pm. Click here for directions to the school!

    Do come along and say hello, ask questions about our projects or just for a chat about gap years, Africa or South America in general!

    Read more!

    Monday 15 June 2009

    Our nude Hero!

    A massive congratulations to Ted who in the name of charity exposed himself to Brighton and Hove. Wearing only socks and sunglasses (so to not get caught looking at the other riders privates) Ted managed the uncomfortable ride in aid of raising funds to buy two much needed wheel chairs for the kids of Casa Lar. Unfortunately he did however forget to wear any sun cream, silly Ted!

    If you want to know more about he effects of exposure to the sun please follow the link bellow.

    If you wish to know more about the reason behind the nudity and volunteering at Casa Lar then please click on this link

    A massive well done Ted!

    Read more!

    Friday 12 June 2009

    Quest Nudity on Southern FM

    Continuing the Naked Bike Ride theme, have a listen to Southern FM's interview with Heather about the upcoming big event to raise money for the boys of Casa Lar in Rio. To hear her 5 minutes of fame on the Southern FM website simply click on the link here! The bike ride kicks off this Sunday on the Level in Brighton at 12pm, before heading down to the nudist beach for a paddle and a picnic in the buff.

    To sponsor the guys to get their kit off and to help us raise enough to buy two new wheelchairs for Junior de Silva and Daniel Netto (and ensure Si and Heather have to join in!!) simply visit

    Read more!

    Thursday 11 June 2009

    Tanzania GAP 2009 video is here!

    Read more!

    Quest in the Mid Sussex Times

    Please click on the article to enlarge the text.
    Read more!

    Wednesday 10 June 2009

    Quest Gets Naked for Casa Lar

    This Sunday various members of the Quest Office will be getting their kit off to join the 4th World Naked Bike Ride, in Brighton. Ted, Heather and Si will be cycling along the seafront in the buff, paddling in the sea and getting involved in a very naked picnic.

    Please support Ted who is raising money for Quest4Change to provide new wheelchairs for Junior de Silva and Daniel Netto two disabled boys who live at Casa Lar in Rio. The new chairs will give Junior and Daniel (who is blind) the freedom to live more comfortable, fuller lives.

    If we raise £500 Ted will bear all, if we reach £750 Simon will join him and if we get to £1,000 in just 5 days then Heather will be joining the naked boys on the seafront for some cycling freedom.

    Life for the disabled boys of Casa Lar has never been easy and this year things have been particularly precarious. The boys are in desperate need of new wheelchairs and just £1,000 will cover the cost. So dig deep, charge your camera batteries and support staff nudity for this excellent cause.

    To sponsor Ted, Simon and Heather simply go to

    Volunteer at Casa Lar in Rio next year!

    Read more!

    Monday 8 June 2009

    Marlborough College Gap Fair Tomorrow

    Simon will be at Marlborough College Gap Fair in sunny Wiltshire tomorrow (Tuesday 9th) from 2-3pm. If you would like any information about any of our projects and expeditions, want some advice about gap years in general or have some questions about Africa or South America then do come and say hello!

    Directions to Marlborough College can be found here!

    Read more!

    Thursday 4 June 2009

    Lucy King single-handedly saves the Elephants!

    Okay, maybe that title is a little bold... but she has more than done her bit though. Ex Quest Overseas Africa director Lucy King has been working on a method of protecting both elephants and local farms in Kenya, as part of her PhD study. After discovering that elephants are scared of bees, they have started to construct fences around local plantations with bee hives incorporated in them. This stops the elephants from breaking into the plantations and devouring all their crops, and also means that local farmers don't resort to shooting trespassing elephants - everyone's a winner.

    Her work has had international acclaim, with National Geographic Magazine, BBC wildlife and most impressively Have I Got News for You (!) all having featured her work recently.

    You can read an article on the BBC website with more detail on her work here

    Well done King, we're proud of you!
    Read more!

    Wednesday 3 June 2009

    Send your Darwins this World Environmental Day

    In the run up to World Environment Day this Friday 5th June, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) want you to send them your “Darwins”.

    This could help FFI to:

    • Equip a ranger in the Democratic Republic of Congo with basic kit, so he is prepared to protect the world’s remaining mountain gorillas in the face of adversity.

    • Tag and ensure a safe passage to the ocean for one nesting female leatherback turtle on the threatened Nicaraguan coastline.

    Read more!

    Tuesday 2 June 2009

    Quest Overseas Staff selection for 2010

    Do you have a passion for travel, excellent leadership and organisational skills and the commitment to make our projects and expeditions a 'trip of a lifetime'?
    Are you looking to work in Africa or South America in 2010 leading groups of young people on challenging projects and expeditions?

    If this sounds like you then why not find out more about becoming a Quest Overseas leader. Just e-mail info@questoverseas for a leader pack and application form. If we think you have what it takes we will invite you along to our 2 day staff selection on the 4th and 5th September.
    Looking for experience in the Gap Year market, then why not volunteer with Quest Overseas?

    Read more!

    Monday 1 June 2009

    Crossing the South Downs for Malawian Orphans

    Here at Quest we are extremely proud of the partnerships we have with our various projects in South America and Africa. One which we are particularly delighted to be associated with is the Joshua Orphan Care Trust, which supports community-driven sustainable development projects to assist HIV/AIDS orphans, vulnerable children, and their families in Malawi.

    A good friend of Quest Overseas and the Joshua charity is currently preparing herself to support their cause some more. After visiting the orphanages in Malawi, Baz Troubridge decided that a fitting way to demonstrate the distances some of these kids have to walk every day, was to walk from Eastbourne to Winchester to help raise funds for the children they work with.

    So if you are on the South Downs Way in mid-June, do pack a little more water in case you come across Baz taking on the 100 mile trek (especially if it stays this warm!)

    In the meantime though, you can help further by sponsoring her here
    Read more!

    Memories of learning to ride a bike

    The Quest Overseas pre school in Villa Maria, Lima, Peru is going from strength to strength. Thanks to an increased donation from the charity La Vida, we have this year been able to double the number of free places at the school, with scholarships being handed out to those in most need of support.

    Peru doesn't need much excuse to have a party, this week's festival was "Pre school Week"! The school marked the occasion by holding a bikeathon, with some of the kids learning to cycle for the first time. Apart from a couple of grazed knees, it was a great day, keep up the good work guys.

    Read more!

    Friday 29 May 2009

    HOME - A film to be released 5th June

    HOME is a feature film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand shot from above in more that 50 countries.

    HOME addresses our impact on the planet and sets out our current situation but keeps the faith that a solution exists. More than a movie, HOME will be a major event all over the globe. On June 5th, World Environment Day, HOME will be released in over 50 countries and on every format : movie theatre, TV, DVD and Internet.

    The above preview helps to set the scene, come back here on the 5th to see the entire movie.

    For more information about the HOME, click here

    Read more!

    Thursday 28 May 2009

    Eton shut for a week, time to plan your gap year!

    Eton College is the latest place in the UK to suffer from swine flu. After confirming one student tested positive for the virus, they have decided to close the school for a week as a precautionary measure.

    As this is one of the finest schools in the country, we are sure that the boys won't be taking this week off to party all night and lie in til late, rather it is the perfect time to revise for exams, or maybe plan for your GAP YEAR!

    To help you with this, here are a few tips to get started. Quest Overseas is of course one option for your gap year, but to find out about some of the other established organisations out there, take a look at the Year Out Group website, where you will find links to all different kinds of structured placements.

    If you are thinking of volunteering, the Ethical Volunteering website gives you an excellent set of questions to ask any volunteer placement organisation, to make sure the work you will be doing is truly worthwhile.

    All being well though, the school should be open in time for the Eton College Gap Fair, on Saturday 20th June, from 10.30am to 12pm. We will be there, as will a number of other organisations. Make sure you stop by to learn about the wealth of options available to you!

    Any other questions, feel free to contact us.
    Read more!

    Wednesday 27 May 2009

    Brazil Project Close to Fundraising Target

    Although the team's time at the Rio project in Brazil over for the year, their work is far from done. They have set up a fundraising page to help support some fundamental needs which came to their attention while at the project. They are so close to their £4,000 target, if you feel you can help them please dig deep.

    Our project is based at Casa Lar in the Mangueira favela, a home for mentally handicapped children and young people. The campaign is to raise much needed funds to pay for new wheelchairs, medicine and sheets for their home. Every penny raised is going directly to support the project in Brazil.

    To donate to the Brazil project, click on their Justgiving page here

    To learn more about our project in Brazil, click here

    Read more!

    Money saving tips for gap year students brought to you from today's Telegraph

    The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service says that about 33,000 students are currently on gap years before they take up their university places in the autumn, and a similar number are expected to defer their entry this year.
    Many students are now using this time off to earn money to put towards higher education costs.
    With a typical three-year degree costing in the region of £42,000, according to the Children's Mutual, and many parents less able to help out with costs due to the recession, this is likely to prove a sensible option.
    Younger people often earn poor rates of pay, but the good news is that this month the Government announced that the minimum wage rate for 18 to 21 year-olds will increase marginally from October, from £4.77 an hour to £4.83 an hour.
    Employers will also be banned from using tips and service charges to "top up" staff pay to meet the minimum wage from October, which should help those working as waiters or bar staff.
    However, if someone leaves you a tip by adding it on to their debit or credit card bill, this money can still be used to pay restaurants' other expenses and so may not be passed on.
    It is worth making sure that if you are using your gap year to work, you don't end up overpaying tax.
    If you work and pay tax during the year, but earn less than your personal allowance, which is £6,475 for the 2009-2010 tax year, you could be eligible for a tax refund.
    You can complete a P50 to claim a tax repayment if this is the case. You will need to send it to your tax office with your P45, which you should have been given by your employer when you left your job.
    The time limit for making a repayment claim is five years and 10 months from the end of the tax year. So, for example, you must make a claim for repayment of tax paid in the tax year that ended in April 2004 by January 31 2010.
    For more information, HM Revenue and Customs has a website designed to make dealing with tax easier for students at The site also has a calculator to help students work out if they have overpaid tax or not.
    Students who want to spend part of their gap year travelling will also have to do plenty of financial planning.
    Comprehensive travel insurance is vital so that you will be protected if anything goes wrong, and gap year travellers need special cover which lasts the length of the trip. If you are planning to go away for several months, then you will need an extended travel policy rather than an annual policy.
    While annual policies provide cover for a year, each trip is usually limited to a set number of days.
    Comparison websites such as and can enable you to compare the cost of extended policies, but make sure you compare cover limits carefully, because cheapest is not necessarily best.
    If you are planning adventurous activities while you are away, such as scuba-diving or white-water rafting, check the small print on your policy to see if you are covered. As well as insurance, anyone travelling for a long period of time needs to work out the most cost effective way to withdraw cash while they are abroad.
    Most students wouldn't be eligible for a credit card, and should avoid them anyway to prevent running up debts before university, but for those wanting a debit card that doesn't charge over the odds for use abroad, Nationwide's Flex Account Visa Debit card is the best one to use.
    However, remember that from June 1 a 0.84pc fee will apply to worldwide debit card transactions, excluding Europe, rising to 1pc from July, so you won't be able to completely escape foreign usage charges.
    Another option is to take a prepaid card. The idea is that you load it up with money before you go and then use it to pay for things and withdraw cash whilst abroad.
    FairFX is one of the best-value prepaid cards and you can load it with either US dollars or euros. There is an initial application fee of £9.95, but after that the only charge is either €1.50 or $2 each time you withdraw cash.
    You can top up the card by bank transfer and you can only spend what is on it, so it can be useful for budgeting. The card can be used at any retailer with an electronic terminal that accepts MasterCard.
    Whatever post-exam plans A-level students might have this summer, and as boring as it may seem, a bit of careful financial planning is always wise, especially as every penny will count when it's time to start higher education.

    Read more!

    Tuesday 26 May 2009

    Thank you Zoe, Villa Maria will miss you!

    Zoe McGivern, pictured above sharing her fantastic cooking skills during the first cake making lesson at our Villa Maria school in Lima, Peru, has been supporting the teaching programme out there since September last year. Her main work has been teaching English to the school kids, aged 3 to 7, but that has been far from the full story of the help she has given. Building houses for single mothers, working in the community nurseries, helping in after school homework, sport and dance classes, helping to raise over £5,000 to pay for a young girl's life saving operation, and keeping the school dog Nena fit with her daily runs around the nearby track are just a few of the achievements she can boast.

    She has unfortunately had to cut her time there short by a couple of months, due to a family illness back in the UK, but thanks to the tireless effort you have put into your time there Zoe, you have a home and a family waiting for you in Peru whenever you have the chance to go back - thank you!

    This does mean however, that we are in need of an English teacher at our project in Peru. Whereas we normally put together teams of volunteers for our projects, this is a bit of a one off for us, so we are keen to find the right person. If you think you can help, have a look at the details of our Villa Maria Project and contact us with any further questions.

    Here is a video the kids put together for Zoe to say goodbye - very sweet!

    Read more!

    Holiday hustle

    Check out the new series of 'the real hustle' on BBC3 and find out how to avoid the con abroad. Episode 1 includes 'the teddy bear', 'fake taxi driver' and learning how to rip a phone book in half!
    Catch the programme on Mondays at 8.30pm or on BBCiplayer.
    Read more!

    Thursday 21 May 2009

    Gap Fair on Saturday - Rugby School

    Andy and I will be at Rugby School on Saturday for their annual Gap Fair so do come along and say hi. The fair kicks off at 9:30am and finishes at 11:45am - directions to Rugby School can be found here!

    If you have any questions at all about any of our projects or expeditions, Africa and South America or gap years in general we're more than happy to have a chat with you!

    Read more!

    Tuesday 19 May 2009

    Bolivia have decided to tunnel back to the Sea

    Plans for a tunnel linking Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean have been unveiled by three architects who say it could put an end to a 130 year-old dispute between the landlocked country and its neighbour, Chile.

    The three Chilean architects claim the tunnel would allow Bolivia to regain access to the sea since it was defeated by Chile in the Pacific War in 1879.

    This has been one of Bolivia's main demands for years, and is still strongly voiced by current President Evo Morales.

    The 150km (93 miles) tunnel would run from the Bolivian border to an artificial island created in the Pacific Ocean from earth dug to build the tunnel.

    For more information on this highly unfeasible project click here.
    Read more!

    Thursday 14 May 2009

    Special Internet Cafe moment

    What else are you meant to do when a classic such as 'Hero' comes on in an Internet cafe in Babati, Tanzania? Nice one Dixon and the girls!

    More videos from Tanzania are coming very soon so watch this space!

    Want to volunteer in Tanzania in 2010?
    Read more!

    Wednesday 13 May 2009

    Going Bananas for Fuel in Africa

    Researchers at Nottingham University have come up with an ingenious new and sustainable source of fuel across Africa....Bananas.

    Bananas are an important and versatile crop across many countries in Africa, being used for food, wine and beer. However, according to the scientists for every tonne of bananas, there are an estimated 10 tonnes of waste, generally made up of skins, leaves and stems.

    The idea for the fuel is simple and low tech. Rotting banana skins are mashed into pulp and mixed with sawdust, compressed and dried to make briquettes. These ignite quickly and throw out a steady heat which makes them an ideal alternative to firewood for cooking.

    The briquettes can be made by hand, meaning no large financial outlay is needed for countries to be able to produce them. This idea could not only alleviate burden of collecting firewood in areas where this is scarce, but will also reduce deforestation caused by the need for fuel.

    Countries such as Tanzania, one of Africa's largest producers of bananas, could find this new source of fuel ideal, as at present around 80% of its energy needs are met from burning wood, with serious environmental consequences.

    Read more about banana fuel on the BBC website

    Find out more about our projects in Tanzania!
    Read more!

    Monday 11 May 2009

    Employee of the Month Sarah Brimble!!

    The much coveted "Quest Employee of the Month" award for May has been awarded to our superstar leader Sarah Brimble. Currently assistant on the Bolivia Expedition, she not only quietly endures the rants of the team leader Matt, but also lovingly cared for the two students which weren't well enough to take part in the latest trek - we're now including "must be happy to collect student poo for hospital tests" as part of the leader job role. Sarah, you're the best!

    If you want to know more about the Ambue Ari animal park, (or Sarah) and how you can get involved with one of the most unique projects in the world please call us in the office 01273 777206 or click this link

    Read more!

    Dancing for Villa Maria

    Last week, Penny and Kevan Ashbridge organised a Salsa Evening in memory of their Daughter Katie.
    The pennies are still being counted, but latest figures suggest the event raised over £6000 for our project in Villa Maria, with which 12 families will now be built new homes, Katieville continues to grow!

    The night was great fun and for a great cause. Thank you to everyone who took part.

    To read more about the our project in Villa Maria, click here.

    Read more!

    Africa Unite @ Spiegeltent Brighton

    The Spiegeltent has come to Brighton and makes up part of the Brighton Fringe festival on now until the 23rd May. This Tuesday the tent will host a night of African fever with live sets by Yiri Baa, Nana Tsiboe and the Supa High Life Band. Check out details on-line now for tickets (£8) and join in with some outrageous singing and dancing!

    Check out some of the best sites and sounds that Africa has to offer with our 6 week summer expedition.
    Read more!

    Friday 8 May 2009

    The classic Expedition treat!

    All you need is some biscuits, bananas, condensed milk and some cream to make this simple pudding anywhere in the world.

    banoffee pie Pictures, Images and Photos

    Step 1: Crush the biscuit and mix with melted butter. Firmly press this into a cake tin or any other vessel you have which is suitable (i.e. Tupperware or a large sauce pan). Place in fridge or cold river to set.

    Step 2: Boil a can of condensed milk until the contents has turned to caramel.

    Step 3: Be extremely careful when opening the can, contents will be hot and under pressure. Pour onto biscuit base.

    Step 4: Remove skins and finely chop banana. Add on top of caramel.

    Step 5: Add cream to top and add a little crushed biscuit to decorate.

    Ingredients for 4 people:
    knob of butter
    1 large packet of biscuits
    3 bananas
    1 tin condensed milk
    some cream
    artistic flare
    Read more!

    Tuesday 5 May 2009

    A break from the gap fairs - phew!

    April has been a busy month. With an average of 3 gap fairs per week, we have been burning up the miles on the motorways with some gusto. It's been great to hear what everyone wants to get up to and see all the other options up there, but I think all the driving nearly sent Simon mad (see the photo of him above, at the last gap fair of the month in Berkhamsted).

    We've got a bit of a break from it all for a few weeks, but if you still want to ask about the different options for your gap year, do just get in touch

    Read more!

    Wednesday 29 April 2009

    World Mandela Day

    Two charities, The Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664, are calling for the establishment of a global "Mandela Day" to mark the former South African President's birthday on 18th July. The charities are hosting events in New York this year but want the marking of the date to be an annual, global event.

    The aims of the charities are for people in all corners of the planet to give 67 minutes of their time to good causes every 18th July. The 67 minutes reflecting the 67 years Mandela spent as an activist. 46664 and The Nelson Mandela Foundation hope that marking this day each year will be a "call to action for people to recognise their individual power to make an imprint and help change the world around them for the better".

    In a statement released by Mandela he says "We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation."

    The charity 46664 (the number Mandela wore during his years in prison) was formed to increase HIV/Aids awareness.

    Read the BBC news story here.

    Read more!

    Tuesday 28 April 2009

    Quest Overseas at yet more Gap Year Fairs

    Once again we here at Quest Overseas will be at various Gap Year fairs across the southern end of the country this week.

    Starting with Andy and Jon at Esher College in Surrey today. They will be giving a talk as well as attending the fair from 2 - 8pm so do go and say hi! Click here for directions to Esher College.

    Later today Si will be at Bryanston School in Dorset from 5:30 - 7:30pm. Directions down to the school can be found here!

    Tomorrow (29th April) Si will be giving a talk and presentation about gap years at Richmond College at 12:15pm. For information on how to find Richmond College click here.

    Thursday 30th April we will be at Berkhamsted Collegiate School in Hertfordshire for another gap year fair from 7pm. Once again click here for directions to the school!

    It would be fantastic to see you at these events so if you do have any questions or would like any advice about Gap Years do come and say hi to us!

    Read more!

    Boliva and Paraguay put a land dispute and war behind them.

    Bolivia and Paraguay have signed an agreement settling a border dispute, which led to a bitter war in the 1930s.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales, who signed the pact in Buenos Aires with Paraguayan counterpart Fernando Lugo, described it as historic.

    Argentina has played a key role in resolving the dispute.

    Mr Morales blamed multi-national oil firms - in their quest for natural resources - for fuelling the Chaco war, which claimed 100,000 lives.

    The key energy companies operating in the region at the time were US Standard Oil, backed by Bolivia, and the Anglo-Dutch Shell Oil company, supported by Paraguay.

    President Lugo expressed the hope that natural resources could now "be developed and used by both countries without any foreign intervention."

    Rich in mineral and energy resources, Bolivia is one of South America's poorest countries.

    From the bbc
    Read more!

    Monday 27 April 2009

    Well done to Quest Marathon girls

    It was a scorcher! But they all finished it, a massive well done to ex-Quest students Amy Hammond, Heather Rayment and Jenny Bloomfield for completing the 26.2 mile London Marathon yesterday.

    They made it look so easy, Heather was still waving at the crowds on the final straight, Amy had hardly broken into a sweat at mile 20 and Jenny was knocking back the Corona and lime within half an hour of crossing the finishing line - we'd like to think Quest helped make them like this!

    With the 2010 marathon already open for applications, the London Marathon website had crashed with all the hits from potential new runners - don't think Jordan's completing it makes it easy though (well done to Katie by the way - she raised £220,000 for her charity Vision!)

    Read more!

    Wednesday 22 April 2009

    Earth Day - What you do counts

    Today, April 22 2009, is Earth Day

    What are you doing to save the planet? Walking to work instead of driving? Recycling more than usual? Using less water? Or simply, not leaving appliances on standby? These are the sort of questions they are asking everybody this year for Earth Day.
    Earth Day has grown in momentum annually since its humble beginnings back in April 1970, over 500 million people in 85 countries around the world are expected to celebrate Earth Day this year.

    See whats going on this year on earth day and what you can do to make a difference.

    Earth Day

    What you do counts!

    Read more!

    South Africa Elect

    Today 23 million registered voters will decide between 156 political parties that have registered in South Africa's 4th general election held since the apartheid era.

    It is likely that the ANC (African National Congress) will remain in power under the leadership of Jacob Zuma (pictured far right). Under their charismatic leader Nelson Mandela (pictured middle) the ANC have faught against white minority rule. The issues facing South Africa continue with HIV, crime, unemployment and education at the top of the agender.

    The rise of COPE (Congress of the People) could gain 10% of the vote despite an unsuccessful election campaign . The break away party from the ANC formed in 2008 and was backed by former president Thabo Mbeki.

    South Africa's President will be chosen from the party with the majority vote by the National Assembly after the election.

    Check up to date progress here

    Learn more
    Read more!