Rare Adventures was created by a small group of enthusiasts who share a joy of real adventure, with the commitment to do the right thing. Bringing together the best of the charity and business worlds, we started with the simple idea of creating experiences that are off the beaten track for those that dance to the beat of a different drum.
We believe that there’s a Rare Adventurer within all of us. A spirit that desires more than a travel package, a spirit that longs for fresh horizons and a spirit that wants to share the journey with the friends we make along the way.
Using our knowledge of international development and our passion for the cultures we visit, we set out to create adventures that are as ethical as they are exciting. For us this meant many things; for charity challenge events it meant not taking profit from publicly fundraised money, for our international partners it meant a fair deal that invests in every person who helps deliver your adventure and for the environment it meant a commitment to making the world a better place than we found it.
We are fully compliant to the British Standard for overseas expeditions and adventures (BS8848), and demonstrate a rigorous approach to the safe planning and management of our adventures.
By forming strong, lasting partnerships with our in-country teams, we ensure that from start to finish, each of our trips allows you to immerse yourself in another culture, safe in the knowledge that your well-being and enjoyment are our priority.
Meet the Team
Phil Asher – Chief Operating Officer
A career in the Royal Marines spanning more than 20 years means Phil has a wealth of experience in project and operational risk management. With qualifications covering long range jungle patrols, wilderness first aid and mountain leadership, he ensures that each one of our adventures is delivered safely and efficiently.
In his most recent role as Risk Manager for a large corporate, Phil enabled the company to allow up to 75 employees a year to participate in an award-winning school building programme in Tanzania. The scheme won the prestigious Business Charity Award for ‘Best Overseas Project’ because of the innovative way teambuilding, problem solving and company-wide engagement was built into the programme.
Phil is at his happiest when helping other people realise their dreams in challenging environments.
Jan Smolaga – Head of Programmes
As an experienced project manager and logistics specialist, Jan has successfully helped organise and deliver over 3000 adventure travel experiences. With talents ranging from making complex international flight bookings look easy, to close liaison with our trusted in-country experts - Jan ensures that each of our trips is smoothly and efficiently managed.
A keen photographer, Jan is a traveller with a love of adventure who has trekked and hiked his way across The Great Wall of China, the Camino de Santiago and the Sahara Desert, along with successful summits of Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Toubkal. He has also volunteered on charity projects in Nepal, Morocco & Tanzania.
Hannah Sampson – Executive Assistant
Hannah is an advanced administrative professional as well as being a fully qualified physiotherapist. Her role involves working closely with Rare Adventures' CEO on business office decisions and strategy, whilst also promoting Rare Adventures as a highly-regarded and fun employer to work for in the UK. Keen on adventure and hill walking, Hannah has spent time travelling around the world, with time exploring South Africa and Mozambique being the most memorable.
Qualified as a PADI scuba diver, Hannah has also assisted on international conservation projects, volunteered on charity school building projects and fundraised to take part in a trek through the jungles and cloud-forests of Costa Rica. When not exploring the world, Hannah can often be found sewing with a large mug of quality ethical coffee.
Hannah West – Account Specialist
Hannah is an experienced customer services professional who manages all of our adventure teams with a confident and reassuring approach. From the moment you sign up, to when you return home, Hannah is on hand to make sure you have all the information you need and are ready to take on the adventure of a lifetime.
She has also volunteered for several charities whilst studying for her MSc in Biology at Nottingham University, which included time working abroad for several weeks as a voluntary teacher in Tanzania.
Hannah enjoys trekking off-the-beaten-track, and when not working to deliver high quality experiences for our customers, she can be found on the lookout for new music or films.
Shauna Ryan – Customer Service Specialist
Shauna is our customer service guru, and is on hand to help out with any questions you have about your adventure. Whether it's setting up insurance, checking what visa you need, or making a change to your booking - Shauna will be able to help.
Having worked around the world, from New York to London, in a variety of roles, Shauna will the calm voice you hear when you call in to the office.
Dave Routledge – Chairman
Dave is a highly experienced executive and non-executive director, with extensive knowledge of strategic organisational development and operations leadership. He has served on the main board of listed and private businesses worldwide.
As an executive director at Eaga Plc, a FTSE 250 listed company with an £800m annual turnover, Dave authorised adventure travel for hundreds of employees, to take part in projects in Africa and India. From this experience, Dave became a keen advocate for the positive business impact of this type of Corporate Responsibility venture.
Dave is also a committed adventurer, having recently undertaken a 1500 mile off-road motorcycle trip through South Africa, completed a 100 km cross-country ski expedition across Norway, and is currently planning a motorcycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia.
Firoz Patel – Non-Executive Director
Firoz is the founder and CEO of Childreach International, views himself as a social entrepreneur and is passionate about unlocking the potential of children & young people. He is a strong advocate of how charities can best use event-based fundraising to both engage a new generation of supporters and raise vital funds to support their work.
Having recently successfully summitted Kilimanjaro, Firoz has nothing but praise for the expertise of the Rare Adventures team in Tanzania. “The guides and porters on the mountain were second to none, patiently supporting and encouraging us as we climbed. Their knowledge of not just the mountain, but also the flora and fauna along the way, was the high point for me.”