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A Gap Year Expedition to Borneo


Emily Johnston, 18, joined Trekforce on a gap year expedition to Borneo. There are also expeditions to Central America, Papua New Guinea, Amazon-Andes, Morocco, Nepal, Australia as well as an Expedition Leader Training Program, all with Trekforce.

What did you expect to gain from this gap year experience?

I wanted to do a gap year to experience something that not many people in the world get to do. I also wanted to come away with new friends I’d met and more skills I’d have gained. I did.

Why did you choose a volunteer gap year in Borneo?

I had already been to South America and wanted to experience a different part of the world. Borneo is off the classic travellers track. I am so glad I got the experience to spend my gap year under the safety wing of Trekforce.

What did you do on your volunteer conservation project?

We started the ball rolling as volunteers for a new Orangutan Rehabilitation Programme similar to that of the famous sepilok centre. We built two feeding platforms and two storage buildings, cleared a 6km trail and formed a helipad in the heart of the Tabin Reserve, Sabah.

What was the best moment during your expedition?

The best bit for me was being around 30 volunteers who all had similar interests all enjoying every minute of their gap year, being in the jungle, loving the mud and rain, swimming in rivers and waterfalls...doing something different yet amazing everyday. Never a dull moment on a gap year volunteer placement with Trekforce…through heavy rains we worked through to finish the project!

What do you feel you have learnt from your volunteer experience?

I have met lifelong friends on this gap year and feel I have learned so much about different ways of living. I was able to see past the bubble of living in the real world and had 2 of the happiest months of my life.

Any advice for people thinking about doing a conservation volunteer gap year?

I recommend Trekforce, for the biggest, greatest adventure life can throw at you. I would seriously consider becoming an conservation expedition leader so that I could be a part of Trekforce once more. 3 months on, I miss it like it was yesterday. I would go back to the jungle with my Trekforce team in an instant.