pioneer expeditions teamAbout Pioneer Expeditions

Our Pioneer team are constantly searching the globe looking for new destinations, new experiences and new adventures.    Travel with us to the world's most spectacular, remote and extraordinary places whether you are looking to join one of our scheduled small group adventures, or on your own private tailor-made trip. 

Pioneer is a specialist adventure travel company this is owned and managed by its directors. We have been successfully focussing on 'overseas adventures' since our launch in 2006. We are different from virtually all other adventure companies in that our background is in organising major international expeditions and as a result we now work with a unique network of like-minded partners from around the world. We have a passion for bringing the very best travel experiences to our clients from some of the most remote corners of the world.

Why Choose Pioneer

  • because we are an adventure travel specialist. There's more to an adventure than the mainstream, mass marketed holidays that repeat the same itinerary countless times. Real adventures involve new, exciting and pioneering experiences.
  • we have years of experience of undertaking pioneering trips, and ensure our experience of organising major international expeditions to ensure that your trip runs as smoothly as possible (even when truly off the beaten track)
  • we don't believe in repetitive sight-seeing tours, instead we organise scheduled trips for small groups and tailormade itineraries to allow you to explore countries in an original and unique way.
  • our adventures tend to be more active than many others and we get into more remote (less touristy) areas compared to many 'adventure organisations'.
  • All Pioneer expeditions are organised and led with a commitment to maximising the benefits to the local community and environment and minimising the negative impact associated with tourism. We employ local agents and staff, not just to benefit the local economy but also to give you a real sense of the local culture.
  • we focus our attention on you and plan everything around your requirements to ensure a truly memorable experience, we are a small company with a big passion for travel and adventure and we never forget that every adventure has to be a holiday of a lifetime.
  • Your booking with Pioneer Expeditions is covered by UK law and if you book your flights with us (flights originating from the UK) your whole trip will be fully protected under our ATOL license.

Our UK Office

NEW Office

Pioneer Expeditions have recently relocated our Head Office to the delightful market town of Wimborne Minster in Dorset.
We previously (since 2006) operated from a small office near Winfrith Newburgh, but decided to move to a more prominent office in Wimborne, high street (above Crew Clothing).

If you live nearby or are visiting the area, do please pop by, we would be delighted to meet you.


Philip Beale

In and around Wimborne

Philip Beale
Philip Beale
Managing Director

Philip has been passionate about adventure travel since his early school days which culminated in him winning a place on Operation Drake at 17 to visit Fiji and Papua New Guinea. He then read Politics at Hull University and joined the Royal Navy to pursue his interest in maritime exploration. He is a keen adventurer and traveller with has a special interest in pioneering historic “Kon Tiki” type expeditions.
In 2003/04 Philip organised and led the building of a replica ancient Indonesian ship and sailing it across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope to West Africa. This project, known as the Borobudur Ship Expedition ( was successfully directed & completed in March 2004 and Philip was awarded a state medal for Services to Indonesian Culture by the President of the Republic of Indonesia. Philip is our Indonesia expert.
He also recently completed an historic sailing expedition recreating the first circumnavigation of Africa -further details can be found at


Laurenne Mansbridge
Laurenne Mansbridge
Operations Director

Laurenne also got the 'travelling bug' when she was at school and took time out before university to explore the world. After working in corporate management for 10 years she decided to follow her dreams and along with her husband set off for another long term travelling adventure.

Now happily able to combine her passion with her work, Laurenne manages the expedition organisation and product development for Pioneer Expeditions.  

As an active directer she is involved in all aspects of the running of the expeditions and the company and is totally committed to providing the best customer service.  Laurenne is our Central America and Madagascar expert.

Laurenne loves the water and is a keen sailor, diver, kayaker and rafter. On land she enjoys hiking and all wildlife. Her recent adventures have included Madagascar, Costa Rica and Honduras.

Our New Zealand Office

Laurenne Mansbridge
Sarah Hill

Sarah has always had a love of travelling, inspired by family holidays to far flung European destinations and America. She studied a degree in Tourism Management at University and has worked for leading tour operators and smaller incentive travel companies in the UK.

In search of her own travel experiences, Sarah took a career break and travelled extensively for 18months throughout South America, the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
Falling in love with New Zealand, Sarah, her husband and three year old son now call New Zealand home.

Sarah is a keen skier, runner, cyclist and enjoys Kayaking and Camping around the east coast of New Zealand, occasionally catching the odd snapper.
Sarah is excited to be opening a new branch of Pioneer Expeditions in New Zealand, knowing that the Pioneer experience is one that adventure seeking Kiwis will relish.

Meet our local agents and guides

Philip Beale
Local partner

Born in Marseille, Gilles spent 20 years between the French coast and the Alps on the sea, rivers and mountains with incursions in the Dolomites, Chamonix and Zermatt. He claims this made him ‘hooked on travelling, its mysteries, beauties, pains too’. Gilles then spent 5 years travelling around North America (mainly between Yosemite and Big Sur Area), central America, and around Africa. He lived in Comoros for some years then, in 1991, settled in Antananarivo where he still lives with his wife, son and three daughters. As Gilles puts it: “I can feel this land and I know I found what I was looking for!”

Starting from scratch after a rather sudden departure from Comoros, Gilles started a new concept in this country. Outdoors sports were a real alternative to classic tourist development and, combined with eco-tourism, Gilles has found his niche. “Gilles is your man to float any of 13 rivers in Madagascar's backcountry” Grayson Schaffer, ‘Red Island Revival’, Outside Magazine. January 2005

Philip Beale
Local Operations Manager

Manantenasoa (or Manantena) is in charge of all the operations. She is responsible for ensuring the itineraries flow, that guides are available, logistics and hotels book.

Based in Antananarivo whe is married and a mother of two girls. She was always fascinated by travels as a child so chose to study tourism. She started working for Gilles in 1999 and trained with them. She did a rafting training course in the Vallee d'Aoste in Italy and is the ONLY girl in Madagascar who is qualified to steer a raft.

Before settling down in the office based jobs, Manantena used to lead long treks in the forest and paddles and openend up several rivers over the 13 years she has worked for Gilles.


Dominy Dawson

Haingonirina (or Joe as he is known) is one of our main adventure and rafting guides. Joe is responsible for keeping you happy and safe on your trip - whether you are rafting down a river, exploring a National Park or having lunch in town. Joe is most known for his laughter, Joe is never without a smile on his face and his laugh is infectious.

Born in 1984 Joe is married and the father of two children. Orginally from the South of Madagascar, Joe was abandoned by his parents and spent his early childhood growing up on the streets of Tulear & Tana. At the age of 12 he joined a centre for street kids where he learnt many life skills and also managed to get a diploma in 'Youth Leader and Educator'.

In 2005 he met Gilles who took him under his wing and helped train him up in all of the skills for necessary to become a great guide - including how to lead a rafting team, as well as English and French languages. He has never looked back

Dominy Dawson


Resume coming soon

Dominy Dawson


Resume coming soon

Dominy Dawson

Andry is one of our adventure and rafting guides. He is equally at home trekking, rafting or kayaking. Andry is responsible for keeping you happy and safe on your trip - whether you are rafting down a river, exploring a National Park or having lunch in town.

Born in 1976 Andry is married and the father of 2 children. Born in Antisirabe he went to first school there before continuing high school in Tulear where he also studied to become a music studio engineer.

He spent 5 years as a saphire prospector before starting work for Gilles. He has since assisted with many different expeditions and particuarly loves the adventurous treks and rafting expeditions.

Dominy Dawson

Jenita, has studied  Geography at the University of Antananarivo and learned English at National English Teaching Center of Madagascar (CNELA).

Authorized Guide by the Malagasy Government as well as by Madagascar National Parks , Jenita is a Naturalist Tour Guide who has been in tourism and guiding since 2006.

Dominy Dawson


Our History

Pioneer Expeditions was originally founded in 2006 to offer real adventures achieving extraordinary 'Pioneer Firsts' - such as the North - South traverse of Liverpool Land in Greenland, the first group to trek the length of the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru. Many of these original itineraries were only run once and since this time we have developed these trips, added new ones and formed local partnerships with other local pioneering adventure travel companies. In November 2012, we opened our first overseas office in NZ.

Our Trips

Nature and culture are important to us and there are plenty of opportunities on every trip to explore the fascinating flora and fauna, unusual places and landmarks around us. And after comfortably 'roughing it' in the wilds, we tend to spend the last few days relaxing in more luxurious accommodation. We try to make life as comfortable as possible, even when camping out in the wilds.

We use highly experienced local guides and experts to work with us as we know that no one knows a place better than the people who live there

On some expeditions we aim to be the first group to achieve an unusual objective or particular mission. Canoeing a river from source to sea, climbing a remote mountain or volcano, swimming a volcanic lake, trekking a glacier or traversing a tropical island; we are constantly researching new ideas and experiences.

You will not need any specialist skills to come on a pioneer expedition – though you may leave with some – and age
is no barrier.

Enivironmental, ethical & responsibly sourced adventures

All Pioneer expeditions are organised and led with a commitment to maximising the benefits of our trips to the local community and minimising the negative impact associated with tourism. We employ local agents and staff, not just to benefit the local economy, but also to give you a real sense of the local culture. To greatly reduce our impact on the environment there is a maximum of 8-12 team members, which helps to minimise the damage associated with large scale tourism.

On our trips we do not leave anything behind where we camp, trek, raft, kayak or sail. We leave places like we found them, in fact we sometimes leave them in better condition. Most of our expeditions do involve some sort of environmentally friendly power such as trekking by foot, paddling a raft or sailing a boat.

To support the local communities, we sleep and eat in locally-run establishments where possible, and interact sensibly with locals as we believe in positive cultural exchanges so as not to change their lives – this means trade not aid.

Pioneer Standards

We at Pioneer lead and encourage our clients to take responsibility for the environmental impact of the expeditions and we try to minimise the impact of our challenges on the environment within which we operate. We are therefore committed to continual improvement in our environmental performance, preventing pollution and minimising our effects through a complete programme of annual reviews of our expeditions and try to make our activities environmentally and socially positive.

Our local guides always include details of the impact of tourism in the area and the positive and negative aspects. Where possible they will encourage participants to follow local customs and adopt practices that work in harmony with the habitat and environment. They will brief on the rights of the porters and muleteers and lead by example in their interaction and conduct.
We will ensure that:
• We pay a fair income for all locally employed staff
• Use local equipment and vehicles when we can
• We purchase food from locally sourced providers
• Use locally owned and run accommodation where possible
• Discourage local begging and giving of cash gifts
• Employ local agents therefore ensuring income is kept in country whenever possible
• Encourage maximum communications between locals and participants to encourage mutual understanding and respect between cultures

As well as the effect we can have on local cultures we also ensure that we consider environmental, cultural, economic and political issues in the planning stage of an expedition. Further considerations are:

• Achieve zero litter, and when appropriate remove local litter
• Avoid pollution from our camp and accommodation activities
• Achieve zero damage and impact to local flora and fauna
• Encourage understanding of the local environment and its fragilities
• Encourage the eating of local foods therefore preserving traditional farming practice
• Encourage the use of biodegradable products especially washing products.
• Ensure good practice on all toilet activities, i.e. avoiding pollution to water courses
• Ensure waste is minimized and recycled whenever possible
• Minimise the use of water

Our commitment to our environmental policy extends to our working environment and all staff recycle and make business decisions with an ethical dimension such as using public transport and maximising the use of email. We are committed to running a business that has as little environmental impact as possible.

Expedition Ratings


Refers to the level of physical activity the expedition involves and what level of fitness you should meet.
1 Easy level – approx 1-2 hours of activities per day, a basic level of fitness is required but should be well within the physical capabilities of people of all ages
3 Medium – 2-5 hours of activities per day, you will need an average level of fitness
4 Difficult – 5-7 hours of activities per day (or difficult terrains for shorter periods), you will need more than a basic level of fitness and some specific training may be required.
5 Very difficult – challenging activities for more then 7 hours per day. You will need to be fit and training will be required!

Financial Security - ATOL Protection

Pioneer Expeditions holds an ATOL License 10113 under our corporate name: Pioneer Expeditions Worldwide Ltd.

To acquire an ATOL license we have to undergo a very rigorous inspection from the Civil Aviation Authority.

The ATOL license guarantees and protects consumer funds for all our flight-inclusive programmes from the UK

"All the flight-inclusive holidays on this website (assuming you are departing from the UK) are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you
will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure
that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it.
Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to:"

If you are not booking a flight with us (or if your flight originates from outside of the UK), you will not be covered by our ATOL license, however instead your monies are held and protected in our Client Trust Account until the completion of your holiday.

Are we members of ABTA?
No - and this is very deliberate. We do not intend to become members of ABTA because it really isn't relevant to us. Here's why...
ABTA stands for the 'Association of British Travel Agents' and we are not a travel agent. It is merely a trade association, one of several organisations (like the Passenger Shipping Association) and is a kind of club for members who have things in common. ABTA is mainly a club for retail Travel Agents, rather than Tour Operators, so it really doesn't apply to us, or our style of operation.

Disclosure Policy

Business Description

Pioneer Expeditions Worldwide Ltd have a network of experienced travel industry professionals and local agencies which enable us to create and organise original scheduled expeditions, tailor made trips, group and corporate challenges as well as provide TV expedition logistics.

Our company registration number is: 05781320
Our company VAT number is: 974 5278 76

Privacy Policy

  • Your privacy is important to us. We will only use the information that we collect about you lawfully, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 ("data protection laws").
  • We collect information from you for operational purposes: to help process your booking, brochure, dossier and availability requests, and to help us provide you with a more personal service.
  • We use your personal information to provide you with trip information and special offers which we think may be of interest to you.  If you do not wish to receive any of this information please let us know and we will delete your details upon request. 
  • Upon booking we may disclose any relevant personal information in the form of a manifest to our local agencies and/or tour leaders.  This is solely for the purpose of the trip organisation. We DO NOT sell, rent, trade or give away any of your personal information for any purpose.
  • We do not store any credit card numbers, so if you wish to use a credit card for any part of a booking (deposit or balance) you will need to phone us with your credit card details.  After taking payment, these details will be shredded.   .

Delivery policy

  • Prior to completing your booking form and sending Pioneer Expeditions a deposit, we will reserve a place on a trip for up to 2 weeks to ensure your choice of holiday is available
  • Upon receipt of your booking form and deposit we will email you confirmation of booking
  • All monies from your deposit and your balance are held securely in a client trust account until successful completion of your holiday.
  • Pioneer will send you joining instructions which includes kit list, visa and medical information.  It also includes your personal details, flight information, insurance details and next of kin details, so you can confirm these are correct.
  • Full balance for your trip is due 56 days before your trip is due to commence. Pioneer will email you an invoice for this balance prior to this date. 
  • Upon receipt of your balance, Pioneer will email you any final details and vouchers if applicable.
  • At all stages between booking and your holiday, we are always happy to assist and will be able to answer any queries by email or phone.

Cancellation policy

  • At time of booking, Pioneer Expeditions will inform you whether the trip has reached minimum numbers to go ahead.
  • Occasionally, we may have to cancel a booking. We shall cancel a trip no less than 28 days before the start date. If we cancel, we will offer an alternative holiday or refund all monies paid by you, but we shall be under no further obligation.
  • If you cancel following receipt of your written confirmation and invoice, or if you fail to pay the full cost of the holiday within the specified time, you will be liable to pay cancellation charges.  These are calculated according to the date when we receive written notification of cancellation or the date upon which your cancellation is treated as occurring because of non-payment.  The changes are based upon a proportion of the total cost of the holiday as follows:

    More than 71 days    -  loss of deposit
    Between 70 & 56 days - 40% of invoice
    Between 56 & 14 days - 90% of invoice
    Less than 14 days - 100% of invoice

Contact Us

If you have any questions about Pioneer Expeditions Worldwide Ltd, our trips, specific country information, or assistance with any aspect of your trip booking, please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Phone - 0845 0047801 (available 24/7)
when not in the office this number is transferred to an out of office mobile.  Please leave a message on the mobile and we will get back to you within 24 hours at the most.

By Email - - this email is constantly monitored on a daily basis.  We often respond within 2 hours, however we will always will endeavour to respond within 24 hours (except on Sundays).

By Mail - Pioneer Expeditions, 4 Minster Chambers, 43 High St, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1HR, UK

For all New Zealand clients, please contact our New Zealand Office