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Johnian magazine issue 50, spring 2023

Becca Jevons: since St John’s

Written by Becca Jevons (2010)

5 min read

After reading Geography at St John’s, Becca Jevons (2010) worked for a number of years managing projects in Africa. Becca’s passion for adventure, nature and wildlife eventually led her to launch Wild Expeditions, a company which takes individuals to remote locations while supporting wildlife conservation in these areas.

As the first in my family to obtain a degree, and the first in my school to head to Oxbridge for years, my place at a university was never a foregone conclusion. Luckily a teacher saw my potential and encouraged me to attend the Sutton Trust Summer School. Designed for those who had received free school meals or attended underperforming schools, it was a transformative experience which changed my life course.

I could have happily studied any one of my A Level subjects at university, but I chose Geography for its broad and encompassing themes. From biodiversity to the history of the British economy, I was able to learn about a myriad of topics. I also threw myself into university life. I captained the College mixed lacrosse and ladies’ squash teams, played College-level hockey, University-level squash and was on the student committee – all in the same year!

Becca Jevons
Becca Jevons (2010). Photography: Wild Expeditions

Rather like my step into university life, my journey to expedition leading has also been an unlikely one. After Cambridge I pursued a Master’s which led me to work in West Africa for around four years, managing projects with UNICEF during the Ebola outbreak and large-scale educational projects in Nigeria. Eventually I became disillusioned with the industry, feeling as though the positive change I hoped to make was actually a long political battle I couldn’t win. I returned to the UK with little idea of what I was doing with my life. I wanted to do something meaningful, but didn’t know what that meant to me. All I knew was that I loved adventure, going to unusual places, spending time outdoors and having a positive impact on people and places.

Then one day my partner came home from a trip to Kyrgyzstan filming snow leopards
for the BBC and said, ‘It’s just so beautiful, we should take people there’. And just like that Wild Expeditions was born.

Photography: Wild Expeditions

Wild Expeditions takes people to some of the most remote and wild places on the planet to experience once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters. Our guests range from die-hard wildlife camera operators to those just looking to get out of their comfort zone. Central to our mission is promoting wildlife conservation in remote locations by supporting local communities, working closely with conservation champions and raising the profile of the unique places we go to through photography and film.

Working with these local communities and organisations allows us to optimise our activities and align them with goals for biodiversity protection. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, we actively hire rangers who typically earn their income from hunting. The work we provide is easier and better paid, which has already begun to disincentivise hunting activities. All of our Kyrgyzstan expeditions are run in conjunction with the Snow Leopard Trust who have decades of experience in protecting iconic species in the remote reaches of the Tian Shan range and are able to advise us on our activities.

Photography: Wild Expeditions
Photography: Wild Expeditions

This year we’re working with the Wild Chimp Foundation in Côte d’Ivoire to develop a wild chimp expedition, as well as a small expedition company in Guyana who work to protect the harpy eagle.

Being part of a conservation success story is as rewarding as seeing our guests step into the unknown and come back with an experience they’ll never forget.

Working as an expedition leader has been extremely fulfilling and an unexpected turn. Taking the risk to leave behind a steady income for a new venture in an uncertain world was not an easy decision, but it has certainly been worth it.

The responsibilities of an expedition leader are all encompassing: budget management, group management, risk assessments, evacuation plans, local liaison and creating plans B, C and D! Expedition leaders need to be prepared for all manner of situations and have the ability to show leadership in a moment of crisis, make big decisions and do it all under pressure.

Photography: Wild Expeditions

But the best part is making sure everyone has fun! Understanding the needs of your group is critical; after all, they’re paying you for an adventure of a lifetime. Expeditions are tough – they’re not tours – there are few home comforts and individuals often find they’re stripped back to their emotional bare bones, which for many people is a once-in-a-lifetime experience in itself. Recognising this challenge and showing empathy and support is a critical part of being a good expedition leader.

We have big plans as a company for 2023. Our expeditions to spot snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan are running in October 2023, with new expeditions to Guyana and Côte d’Ivoire launching as well, all alongside filming logistic work for some big broadcasters.

Quick-fire Q&A with Becca

What is your best advice for adventuring closer to home?

I’ve always found Facebook groups to be an excellent source of local knowledge and can lead to fantastic experiences you might otherwise miss if only using a guidebook. I’ve also found some great adventure companions through Facebook groups, which is an brilliant resource if you’re friendship group doesn’t have the same outdoor ambitions as you.

If you could travel to one place you’ve never been, where would it be?

The frozen Arctic ocean. With climate change, unfortunately it won’t be there forever, and with every year it’s becoming more and more dangerous to explore. Its remote vastness, incredible wildlife, and unique cultures, as well as the challenge of the extreme living conditions makes it a brilliant challenge. I’m currently working on the skills I’ll need to lead groups in arctic conditions and look forward to both taking on solo challenges and leading teams alike.

What is the one thing you never travel without?

I would never travel without my AirPods. Expeditions aren’t all action – there’s a lot of down time for travel and long evenings. Relaxing with a podcast or audiobook can do a lot to help you prepare for the next day of challenges. They’re very small, lightweight and don’t require too much charging to keep them going, so they’re perfect for trips where pack size matters.

Photography: Wild Expeditions

If you would like to follow Becca and the Wild Expedition team’s journey, please check out their Instagram page:, or website: Any Johnians booking in 2023 will receive a 5% discount on their booking.

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Becca is Co-Founder and Expedition Leader at Wild Expeditions, a company which takes individuals to remote locations while supporting wildlife conservation in these areas. She previously worked in West Africa for around four years, managing projects with UNICEF during the Ebola outbreak and large-scale educational projects in Nigeria

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