Are you tough enough?

Trekforce Expedition Leader Training

The ultimate adventure travel experience, gain high quality training in Jungle Survival, Expedition Management, Wilderness Medicine and Expedition Leadership on this unique and challenging personal development course!

This is not a holiday! Run in the stunning jungles of Costa Rica, this is a challenging training course designed to produce quality Expedition Leaders. Built for those looking to enter the industry and lead expeditions, our course is also a genuine once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Will you pass as a Gapforce Expedition Leader?

Perfect for: Adventure Travel and Outdoor Courses.


  • Action packed personal development & expedition leadership course.
  • Gain high quality training, nationally recognised qualifications and experience in the adventure travel industry. 
  • Develop the skills and expertise needed to plan and lead expeditions around the world.
  • A unique and intensive personal development opportunity. 
  • Job offers for high performing graduates (details apply).

For the lastest ELT news check out our blog post written by one of the Instructors including interviews with past trainees!

Welcome to the Jungle! 

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable! After landing in Costa Rica, we will pick you up from the airport ready to start your training! You'll meet your fellow fresh-faced and enthusiastic trainee expedition leaders and under the guidance of your Instructor Team you will start to get to grips with your kit and living and working as part of a team. In the first few days you will be introduced to basic navigation and complete your Activity First Aid certificate. 

This first phase is great preparation for those with limited adventure experience and ensures everyone is on a level playing field ready for their time in the jungle! You will start with the basics of fire lighting, machete use and learning to operate safely in the rainforest. After enhancing your skills with survival training from a local indigenous guide you will spend your first night alone in the jungle. 

The physical challenges will come thick and fast, individually and as a team with multi-day treks, jungle navigation exercises and the ultimate test of your skills: "belt kit" - a three day solo survival experience which is seen as a rite of passage for all Gapforce Expedition Leaders.

Medical and Incident Management Training

Learn to think fast, stay calm and look after your team in a crisis with Gapforce's rigorous expedition and wilderness medical training. Training scenarios take place day and night, in jungle and rivers to prepare you for any eventuality. 

Outdoor Skills

Enhance your skills in a variety of activities including cycling, kayaking, snorkeling and trekking. Learn how to keep teams safe in a range of environments and develop your skills in coaching others in the outdoors. 

Leadership Training

Our instructors will coach you throughout the course in a multitude of leadership theories to help develop your own personal brand of leadership. There will be ongoing feedback and assessment from your instructors and also your peers as part of this process to maximise your growth.

You’ll also gain experience of life behind the scenes. Our comprehensive expedition management training will reveal the planning involved in creating the trip of a lifetime.

At the end of an arduous and rewarding three months you may be successful in securing work with Gapforce leading groups across the globe. ELT graduates have gone on to work for us and lead trips in South America, South East Asia, Australia and Costa Rica!


We need high quality staff, so your course is designed to make you the best. The course is run as a continuous assessment, with your instructors mentoring you along the way and assessing you in key areas of Expedition Leadership. For many participants knowing you have completed your ultimate life challenge is success enough, however the skills and qualifications gained in this course can also lead on to exciting work. Upon successful completion of the course, and subject to your assessment score, we will contact you to discuss job opportunities available with Gapforce.

Previous leaders have also volunteered abroad working for aid agencies in world conflict zones, led school and charity groups overseas, as well as becoming outdoor instructors or teachers at some of the UK’s Leading schools. This ultimate challenge, our job support plus the network of contacts you will gain, is an ideal first step into the world of adventure travel.


For more interviews with past participants of the ELT course check out our YouTube page.

12-weeks: £8750

For available start dates check out the 'Dates & Availability' section below - you may need to scroll right to view the prices and book on! You can secure your place on your chosen adventure with a deposit of either £300 or 10% of the trip price, whichever is higher.

What's Included

  • Comprehensive leader training on a huge variety of modules
  • Nationally recognised certification and training including RGS Off-Site Safety Management, Activity First Aid, First Aid for Mental Health & British Canoeing Paddle Awards 
  • In-house certification in expedition leadership, expedition and wilderness medicine, expedition planning and incident management.
  • Gapforce instructors coaching and mentoring you throughout the course. 
  • A leadership development journal to structure and evaluate your progress.
  • Expedition and wilderness medicine handbook.
  • Gapforce certificates of your achievements during the course - vital for employers.
  • Careers guidance and support after the course for getting into the industry.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure support.
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off plus all ground transport in Costa Rica (flights not included)
  • All accommodation
  • 3 meals a day
  • 24/7 UK emergency backup.


The Gapforce Expedition Leadership Course is made up of nationally recognised and in-house qualifications that prepare you to run expeditions.

Nationally Recognised Certifications:

  • Activity First Aid
  • First Aid for Mental Health
  • RGS Off-Site Safety Management
  • British Canoeing Paddle Awards

In-house qualifications

You will be rigorously assessed in four key areas:

  1. Expedition Leadership
  2. Expedition Management
  3. Expedition & Wilderness Medicine
  4. Incident Management 

You will also be trained and evaluated in the following:

  • Jungle Leadership
  • Kayaking Skills and Leadership
  • Trek Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Spanish Skills
  • Cycle Skills and Leadership

In addition to these qualifications and your skills training, the course provides leadership experience in an intensive environment that can be beneficially taken into any field. Our emphasis on your personal development will ensure a tailored and transformative experience. 

On successful completion of the course you will be awarded a final grade and may be eligible for work with Gapforce as either a Leader or Assistant Leader on one of our global programmes. 

You will also receive your log book complete with your certificates and a summary of your achievements from your instructors, a valuable keepsake for your future career path. 

Who is this course for?

The Expedition Leader Training (ELT) program is an intensive professional development course that provides a platform into the outdoor and expedition industry.

This is not a Gap Year holiday. It’s a physically and mentally challenging training scheme designed to produce quality Expedition Leaders. The course is built for those looking to enter the industry and lead expeditions, but it’s also ideal as a primer for military training, for specialists in wilderness medicine or another medical profession looking to boost their experience, and for career breakers looking for a genuine once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

A reasonable level of fitness is required to participate and you must be able to swim 200m. Download the program brochure for full details!

Greatest four months you could ask for

Didn't know what I had gotten myself into when I first signed up to the course. Now having completed it I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences I have had in the past 6yrs of travelling the globe. learnt many new sills as well as developing some very essential life skills that transfer to multiple situations and industries. Can't fault the course in any way. If you are thinking about doing it, don't hesitate and jump in. You won't regret it.

Jared, Australia

Would do this again

I had no specific reason for signing up to this course other than reading the description and immediately feeling like I must.The only hesitations I had were to do with the quality of the course (is this actually worth spending so much money on?) and the kind of people I'd find myself doing the course with.To those who might have the same hesitations, it turns out I had no reason to be concerned at all. The course fully delivered what it promised AND teachers and peers were such enthusiastic, open, driven people that I rarely felt so supported in my learning efforts. A wonderfully motivating atmosphere.Other than the above, it's been one of the most rewarding experiences ever, and I take back skills I will be able to apply no matter the field of work. Would do this again.

Sara, now a Gapforce Expedition Leader

ELT course

Where to start on a whirlwind beginning of the year. It’s tough being away from home over Christmas while being plunged into the deep end of immersive adventure. This course taught me the value of being bold, concencoius, thick skinned, courageous and even being silent when it’s necessary. It’s been sometime since I’ve stressed about coursework, but now it’s all wound down to an end, I almost miss the rush of the stress. I’ve always had a penchant for adventure, but it was everything else that encompasses the adventure which I had no idea about, so to finally learn about budgets, itineraries and other mandatory documents was a real eye opener. The leaders were true inspirations and I hope to work side by side with such people one day. Thank you for making me a better person - I’ll be sure to go home near unrecognisable when I cook an mesmerising meal for 10 people without breaking a sweat!


The most pertinent investment I’ve made in my pers

I stumbled across this course a month before the departure date. To sign up would require quitting my job, letting my house out and a few other boring real world problems, so after 3 days of trying to talk myself out of it I bit the bullet and booked my place.I’m writing this review sat in my office - a beach in Thailand, or at least that’s today’s view. This is my first contract working with Gapforce having graduated the Expedition Leader Training Course and it’s reaffiriming my decision to do it every day.If you have an adventurous spirit and fancy the idea of being paid to travel to exotic locations, inspiring like-minded people in the world of adventure travel and exercising invaluable skills in leadership, logistics and interpersonal relationships then this is for you.The course itself is fantastic in every way. Even if you have no aspiration to be an expedition leader, as an experience and for the transferable leadership skills you learn that could be taken just as easily into the field as into any corporate environment, it is a worthy investment.For any outdoors enthusiast with a penchant for travel, a thirst for adventure and a need for a challenge I cannot recommend this course highly enough!

Gaz, now a Gapforce Expedition Leader

Amazing Adventure Experience!

The ELT course program was an AMAZING experience full of adventure, personal growth, challenges, team work and incredible instructors! I highly recommend the course for anyone interested in working in the expedition industry or if you're interested in seeing if you have it in you. It was not not easy by any measure but the experience is worth every bit of sweat and effort! It changed my life in many different incredible and enduring ways!

Jon, 37, USA

Got grit?

The hardest and most rewarding four months of my life. Expect dirt; hunger; a brutal workload; high stress; perilous wildlife; unforgiving environments and the need to find reserves of physical and mental resilience you didn't know you possessed.Gapforce's Expedition Leader Training Program is not for the faint of heart, but provides a unique fast track into the industry with good employment opportunities for those who do well. If nothing else you will come out of the course with a host of transferable skills and the knowledge that you achieved something remarkable.Oh, and you get to keep your machete afterwards.

Will, now a Gapforce Employee

Expedition Leader Training Course

What an excellent 4 months. I had looked into the course for 2 years, eventually I signed up. From the time you sign up to the day you finish you are supported by Gapforce staff.I have found this course to be extremely fulfilling, it has challenged me in different ways; mentally and physically. I feel I have grown as a person, improving self confidence, interpersonal skills, understanding others and personal ability in the course content.


A fantastic development experience

I came into the ELT course not knowing if being an expedition leader is something I wanted out of this course. That being said and now having completed the course I can still say it was an amazing experience. Definitely is challenging and everyone will be challenged more at different parts of the course than others. But it’s incredibly eye opening in showing you what adversity you can push through and what obstacles you can overcome.


Expedition leader (tired) but very well trained!

Whether you’re interested in getting into the industry or not I cannot recommend this course enough. If you’re currently sat in a grey office wondering if this course is worth the investment then I can 100% confirm that signing up will be the best choice you make.


Adventure of a Lifetime

This course was the most amazing experience. The chance to live in the jungle, learn from indigenous folk and learn important life skills is priceless and an opportunity most of us will never have again. Over the past 4 months I have become a more confident, well-rounded and employable person, enjoying every second of it. The staff are supportive and are passionate about what they do. If you want into the adventure travel industry, this is your chance! Gain skills, memories and friends for life!


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View dates
  • Costa Rica
  • Duration: 12 weeks
  • Departures: February, October

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