Who are we?
We're 4 students from the University of Cambridge all with an interest in the effects of climate change and a passion for adventurous travel. After meeting through the expedition society we've realised that we could combine these interests with this research expedition to Northern India.
What are our aims?
Our aim is to investigate and document the ways that rural communities are dealing with the demands of climate change, especially changing water availability, from a number of directions. And create a social narrative about how these changes are affecting the people of Ladakh. We're determined to share our knowledge on these matters and so will be working with school children in Cambridge and Ladakh as well as creating a large social media presence through real time blogging so as to spread our findings to as many people as possible.
Olivia, the team leader, has a special interest in attitudes local people have to the adaptations made to combat water shortages, Henry will be researching how methods of livestock husbandry, methods that are key to existence in such a harsh environment, vary throughout the Zanskar valley and differ from those in the UK. Hannah and Charlotte are masterminding the ways in which we will maintain contact with the public. They'll be using photography, film and blogging, through our website (visit it here to find out more about us http://cambridgezanskarexpedition.wordpress.com), to tell the world what we're up to both during the planning phases and whilst we're in the field.
Where are we going?
Ladakh is an outstanding region in Northern India. In the foothills of the Himalayas it is effectively a high altitude desert, hence the problem of water shortage, and our journey will take us across the valley at 3,400m and over passes up to 5,500m! This incredibly landscape harbours spectacular mountains and glorious valleys but, in our view, the most wonderful aspect of the area is the people. We'll be staying with the locals in home-stays so as to immerse ourselves in their culture and maximise what we'll learn during our stay.
How will we do it?
The expedition will be spread over 6 weeks from the beginning of August to mid-September 2014. We'll start by flying to Delhi then getting a connection flight to Leh, the regional capital in Ladakh, where we spend a week acclimatising to the altitude, visiting a local educational charity, SECMOL, and generally immersing ourselves in the local lifestyle. From there we'll go for 4 weeks travelling across the country by 4x4 vehicles and, mostly, by foot. In total we'll spend 3 weeks staying with local people in a number of villages where we will work with a translator to conduct the necessary surveys for our research. The remaining time will be taken up with travel between villages. Finally we'll return to Leh and then on to Delhi for the return flight. But the work doesn't end there! Once back in the UK we'll compile our data for presentations to local schoolchildren and members of the public as part of our goal of spreading the word regarding this aspect of climate change. We're all so looking forward to finding out about the attitudes, culture and way of life of the people in Ladakh because, after all, it is how they perceive their environment that will shape the ways they have had to adapt to the impact of a changing climate. Travel between the centres of study in a place where roads are few and far between will require plenty of challenging trekking. Fortunately we're all more than eager to meet the challenge!
Are we up to this?
Yes! We're all keen adventurers with bags of experience in the outdoors!
· Olivia's CV of adventurous travel spans numerous continents from trekking in Iceland to a past expedition to Ladakh, hence the initiative for us to travel to this part of the world this Summer. Moreover as president of the university Expedition Society she's more than capable of seeing that all the planning pays off.
· Charlotte's past experiences of trekking has seen her travel through New Zealand and across Europe and into Asia when she followed the Trans-Mongolian trekking route last year.
· Hannah's travels have taken her to South-East Asia where she encountered jungle terrain that posed quite different set of challenges to those she'll meet in Ladakh. An experienced photographer and filmmaker Hannah is looking forward to making her biggest movie yet when she documents the expedition from start to finish.
· Henry's love of outdoor travel extends back years to his early camping expeditions in the mountains of the UK. Wild camping in the Lake District and Snowdonia threw up a number of challenges but has not diminished his drive to see more of the world with a front seat view. As the medical officer Henry has undertaken several wilderness first aid courses and will be incorporating knowledge from his university studies to ensure that everyone arrives home safely.
How can you help?
We're all confident that we're going to make this fantastic expedition a once in lifetime opportunity to discover more about our fellow people on this planet, whether they are here in the UK and want to learn how to organise an adventure of their own, are lay-people with an interest in climate change who want to find out more about the effects it has on communities or are out in Ladakh and don't know how their lives will be shaped by the changes to their environment that are occuring year by year. To spread the word to all these people and more is the real aim of our project but to do so we've got a significant amount of fundraising to do.
The total cost, including travel, in country guides and translators, accommodation, vaccinations, medical training and travel insurance is estimated reach £9000. Obviously we're taking every opportunity to appeal to a number of bodies for funding but as ever every little helps! We'd be incredibly grateful for any contribution you could make to help us reach our target because we're so keen to see our dedication to the project pay off.
To express our gratitude we've put together a number of rewards for all our supporters. Take a look and we're sure you're find something you fancy. Thank you so much for considering our project and just by reading what we've said you've already helped us make a step towards spreading the message regarding climate change across the globe.