DUCK Expeditions offer Durham students the journey of a lifetime – a journey of cultural discovery and personal development, as well as contributing to DUCK’s charitable legacy in communities all over the globe.

 Entirely student-run, DUCK Expeditions are offering you the opportunity to volunteer and travel in one of ten stunning destinations around the world next summer, in teams of 8-12 Durham students. Whether caring for rescued elephants in Thailand, teaching kids in Cambodia, running extra-curricular for street kids in Peru, bonding with orang-utans in Borneo or climbing Kilimanjaro – there’s many more opportunities available. And there really is something for everyone. For summer 2018, we’re adding two new and exciting expeditions: to Tanzania and to Nepal, including a trek through the Himalayas. A once in a lifetime experience, wouldn’t you love to join in, and give both time and money to great international causes?


For more information about getting involved please contact Rachel, our Expeditions Officer at dsu.duck-expeditions@durham.ac.uk




Includes one lead (selected, already completed at least one DUCK Exped) and a deputy leader


Amazing destinations

Explore all our incredible expeditions below and click the links to learn more


weeks of experiences

Volunteer with projects working with small NGOs or partner projects then travel after


The project

Our teams volunteer for 3 or 4 weeks working with small NGOs or partner projects. Many of these only exist due to previous DUCK funding. Projects fall into three broad categories, with most expeditions a combination of two: kids, animals, building construction/renovation. In addition to Kili, 3 expeditions feature treks – Peru to Machu Picchu, Nepal through the Himalayas, and Borneo up to Mt Kinabalu. Each participant donates up to £1000 to selected charities, including the Project itself.

If you are interested in working with DUCK Expeds as an external partner, please visit our Charities page.

The destination

Projects are usually off the beaten tourist tract allowing participants gain a unique and eye-opening insight into these countries – beyond the tourist screen. Our teams can immerse themselves and discover so much about unfamiliar cultures, as well as contribute to the local communities. It’s eye-opening, the polar opposite to the Durham bubble, but it’s also enticing. Each team then has at least one week of travel, to make the most of their exotic destination!


Expeditions 2020



A chance to truly immerse yourself into the local culture as well as making a real tangible difference in the lives of the children and youth you encounter, supporting the entire Maasai community.


Costa Rica

Live on an idyllic secluded beach for a month whilst participating in invaluable conservation - what more could you ask for!



Help promote gender equality in the Ndhiwa community through a variety of different educational programmes among children.



For people looking for something a bit different, more challenging and very exciting. DUCK Nepal promises to be a cracker.



Leave the classic Indian tourist track behind and truly embrace Indian wildlife on this expedition whilst experiencing a culture like no other.



Working in an after-school club for less-privileged children, contribute to making a real, lasting difference in the community.



A paradise in the Far East, where you can help the local wildlife- only sun-bears, orang-utans and turtles.



Work alongside English and PE teachers as well as at an animal sanctuary to make a global impact.


Previously run expeditions


Sri Lanka

Volunteer with children and animals in one fo the most spectacular locations on earth!



Abused, pitiful and now rescued elephants are waiting for you. But this DUCK expedition also features running summer schools for Burmese refugee kids. Have fun, and make an impact.

Statement on voluntourism

We absolutely do not support voluntourism in any form, and we take every effort to ensure that our expeditions are sustainable. This is why all expedition participants are required, as part of the expedition costs, to donate £1000 directly to the charity (or charities) with which they volunteer - to really make a long-term impact on the project. An expedition comprising ten participants would therefore donate £10,000 directly to charity - and with ten teams running each year, this is something we are extremely proud of. 

The DUCK exec, and all expedition leaders, are aware of the damage caused by voluntourism and therefore entirely refute any implication or accusation that DUCK expeditions somehow contribute to the dangerous consequences of unethical volunteering. All our expeditions work with local NGOs to ensure that we are really working alongside the local community.  We do not claim to be changing the world; instead, we simply seek to make a difference to charities in need of financial support and free labour. 

 Please see our ethical principles section below for examples on how we make our expeditions are ethical as possible. 

Ethical Principles: 

  • We ensure that all of the charities support responsible and ethical volunteering so that the work being done is focused on the animals and the community rather than just volunteer experience. All of our projects engage with the local communities to involve them in developments. 

  • We carefully selecting charities that align with DUCK values as well as the UN Sustainable Development goals

  • We aim to provide financial transparency from our expeditions by providing each expedition participant with a breakdown of costs and only working with charities that are equally transparent and publicise their finances. (if you wish to access the charities financial reports please visit their website or contact the Expeditions Officer who will be happy to pass these onto you).

  • We ensure that on any project where volunteers might come into contact with children or vulnerable young adults sufficient background and DBS checks have been obtained. 

  • Ensuring that each project has an educational aspect that informs the participant about both the issues that are working in and the local culture. 

  • We aim to promote sustainable and responsible tourism not only for participants on expedition but extending our advice to the student body. By creating an awareness of issues with tourism we aim to help combat harmful practices affecting children and the environment.

  • We are committed to ensuring that all of our participants are adequately prepared for their volunteering experiences before embarking on their expedition. This ensures that they are equipped to provide the best support at the project. This can be done through orientation sessions with the project and pre-project planning such as lesson planning.

  • We strive to make our expeditions as sustainable as possible and this involves making a long-term impact to all of our projects. One of the ways we do this is by making a donation of approximately £1000 per person to the project. This means that we make a substantial donation that can help support the project especially considering many of our expeditions have been visiting these projects year after year. Our donations help to establish a lasting relationship and legacy with our charity partners

  • We want to be able to actively engage with conversations around voluntourism and issues with international development and volunteering. As part of this we want to promote sustainable tourism and give advice on how to travel responsibly. 

  • Engage with the issues that we are working towards preventing- educating people on the work our charity partners are doing and also issues such as environmental, tourism, - we do so by actively promoting and educating on social media and through educational speakers and talks


How it works



Don’t panic! We don’t expect you, at all, to pay for DUCK Expeditions out of your pocket - nor out of the Bank of Mum and Dad. Instead, it’s all about fundraising. Done badly, it can be a horrendous drag. Done well, fundraising is not only successful, but fun, satisfying, and rewarding. You’ll develop so many skills along the way, from event management, to interpersonal communication, to time management and organisation. And you’re not alone, we’re here to help - as the Expeditions Coordinator, the DUCK exec, and the team leaders.



You may not be the leader, but as a participant you still have a large degree of responsibility, both for yourself and to those in your team - DUCK Expeditions are entirely student run after all. Your leader is in charge of logistics, of team well-being, and above all it is their responsibility to lead the team through the expedition and safely back home. But for many participants, this is the first time travelling without parents or teachers. And that’s a whole new ball game of travel, but one which I can’t recommend enough. Participants develop a whole host of skills, from confidence and self-assurance, to creativity to cultural awareness.


Making Memories

Peruvian sunsets over the highest lake in the world, bungeeing into a Ugandan river or climbing Mt Kinabalu in Borneo - DUCK Expeditions offer you incredible travel opportunities with your team, which you'll plan together. And that’s additional to the joy of volunteering - of feeding an elephant homemade banana balls, coaxing a smile out of a shy poverty-stricken child, or watching a mother turtle lay her eggs as dawn breaks over the Pacific. These are moments in life that you won’t forget, ones that you’ll always remember with a smile.


MOney Matters

DUCK Expeditions contribute both time and money to charity. To some, it may seem odd to pay to volunteer. However, it’s all about sustainability; Project costs cover your expenses, i.e. accommodation, transport, in-country support. We then choose to donate £1000 per participant to the Project/related charities in order to leave a real lasting impact and legacy. DUCK’s short-term and intensive volunteering is an incredible boost for the Projects that we work with, and the donation enables them to continue their work long after the DUCK team has returned home.

Once flights, insurance and any trek costs are added in, Expedition totals vary between £1800-£3000An estimated cost will be available in early October on each specific page.

*Kit costs, vaccinations and extra travel costs are additional and, although team leaders will offer all necessary advice, are at the participants’ discretion.


Self-knowledge and Maturity

Ultimately, Expeditions are difficult. They’re a unique challenge like no other, and you’ll be pushed to your limits at least once. In fact, you’ll probably feel like you've taken a running jump miles into the deep end. But never once has a participant failed to swim rather than sink. And that’s the awesome thing. When you’re on the edge of your comfort zone, you’ll learn more about yourself than you thought possible, you’ll know what makes you tick and learn to deal with challenges which seemed unsurmountable. And you’ll learn to do this as a team member, supporting others as much as they will support you. That’s what being a team is about. DUCK expeditions are an incredible opportunity to challenge yourself in a new and exciting way - because if life was easy, wouldn’t you get bored?

Above all, DUCK Expeditions will test, grow and catalyse your maturity above any other uni experience.


Forming Friendships

Each team is a real cross section of the student body, a complete random mix of colleges, years and subjects. It may seem daunting, but it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the challenge. Meet people you’d never have known but who share similar outlooks and aspirations and form solid friendships though unique memories and experiences. You’ll get to know each other through socials and meeting throughout the year.