Expedition Leader Training – Is this for real?!

Jade ELT Instructor

Hello! I’m Jade, one of the instructors on the Gapforce Expedition Leader Training course.

In the 13 years that I’ve been running this course, the number one question I get asked at the start of the training is…

“Is this for real?! Could this actually lead to me getting a job in the expedition industry? Can you really make a living doing this?”

So let me introduce you to some of our fantastic past trainees to help answer that question. Spoiler, the short answer is “yes, and it’s an unbelievably varied, fun and stimulating way of life!”

Kirsty ELT

Kirsty was seeking a way to make a balanced and exciting life in the expedition industry. Working freelance means you can choose the types of company you work for to be sure they fit with your ethics and beliefs. It also means you can be in control of your work-life balance so you can focus on what is important to you. Having blasted through the course with endless enthusiasm, Kirsty is now building a varied freelance portfolio working on DofE, outdoor activities and leading a group to Vietnam and Cambodia. Lucky for us she has found some time to lead a group to Tanzania later this year.

“For someone looking for a way into the travel and adventure industry the ELT course provides a brilliant platform to do so. The instructors are open and transparent about the industry and they facilitate your learning to the best of their ability. They also tailor the teaching techniques to fit the group so everyone learns at the same pace and progresses throughout the course- hence why everyone is so successful and thrilled at the end!”

Jeremie ELT

Having never left his home country of Canada, Jeremie was pretty nervous when I first met him on the course! But he soon settled into jungle life, and found he had a real skill for motivating people in these environments. Since the course he has led for Gapforce in Costa Rica and Australia. He is currently living and working in Australia leading outdoor activities at a luxury resort (sounds like a nice change from jungle mud and mosquitoes actually!).

“Applying and completing the expedition leader training was the best decision I ever made it helped me achieve many of my personal goal and lifestyle I was looking for. After putting hard work, discipline and positive attitude during my training I was given the opportunity by Gapforce to be one of their own expedition leaders. My dream job finally came true. I went from never leaving my own country to being an international tour guide in just a couple of months.”

Dominik already runs a survival company, so he was a huge asset to the team in the jungle. He came on the course wanting to gain new skills in expedition leadership and management to enhance the expeditions he has planned. Since leaving the course Dom has continued to grow his business and taken an expedition team into the Amazon jungle.

“Really good to get into this industry. It’s also good to prove yourself and get a better life experience. Overall I was able to gather many knowledge and skills that I can use for my private expeditions or for my company. But this is not a holiday trip! You should be fit, healthy and tough and bring some outdoor and life experience to get the best out of this incredible journey!”


Rob came to us having served his country as a Royal Marine. He was looking for an adventurous civilian life. This guy worked hard! He bought the skills and discipline of his military life, and mixed it with a new-found softer side to develop a leadership style that we all loved. Since the course he has been working in the outdoors on various charity challenge events, is about to lead a group in Cambodia and we are hoping he is available for work with us later this year.

“For me, the reason I chose to do this course was because I wanted a career change and this provided me with everything I was looking for. The course really helped me understand leadership styles and brought out a more thoughtful side of me I didn’t know I had. The fact that it’s in Costa Rica is an added bonus!!! Now I’ve finished the course and have a job offer from Gapforce I’m really excited to see what the future holds.”

Becca ELT

Becca turned up on the course with a very clear goal – to learn everything she could about expeditions as she was setting up her own company. Armed with a long list of questions and total dedication she committed 100% to learning everything about leadership, expedition planning, medical and incident management. Her wildlife expedition company had its first clients this year and I can’t wait to see how it keeps growing for some well-earned success!


Meet Sam. Sam came to us with no experience of working in the outdoors, but a whole lot of commitment to learning and self-development. He was absolutely dedicated to the course, and worked hard to pick up the skills he needed, learning from feedback and growing in confidence day-by-day.

“I have come out of my shell now, I have been able to make incredible unforgettable friends, and it has helped me make my career in the outdoors. I am lucky to be working in Australia as an outdoor educator one year on from having completed my course, and I believe the Gapforce program has helped me achieve this.”

Magnus ELT

Ex-military Magnus rose to every challenge we threw at him on the course with some seriously cool and calm leadership skills.  Straight after the course he led our South-East Asia trip and we were happy (but not surprised!) to hear from the group how much of a positive impact he had on their adventure:

“Our team leader Magnus really made the trip, consistently making everyone feel at ease and comfortable, and often going over and above to make you feel reassured in nerve wracking situations that will naturally come with being in an entirely new and different country. His support and knowledge was the best safety blanket as a first time traveller, whilst also a good insight into how to manage mix-ups and what to do when things go wrong.”

ELT Mike

31 years in the police force meant that Mike brought some considerable skills and experience with him to the course. As we spent time together in the jungle I also loved to see his sense of awe at the environment and all the activities we were doing. He always took the time to tell me how much fun he was having! He is currently leading our Europe trip and I have no doubt this curiosity and enthusiasm for seeing the world and having adventures will be rubbing off on the group.


Hopefully this answers the question!

Yes, a career in expeditions and the outdoors is possible. And yes, it is exactly as diverse and exciting as you are hoping for.

Get in touch if you want to know more. See you in the jungle sometime.

Jade  😊

Instagram · @jade_bielski

Marine Scientist Training - Costa Rica

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