Laura Bingham: Expedition Leader, Adventurer, Cyclist & Motivational Speaker
#Essquibo #World-first #Adventure #Kayaking #Motivation #Cycling
Laura Bingham lead a world-first expedition to navigate the Essquibo river in South America from source to sea in 2018.
From its remote jungle source in the Acarai Mountains on Guyana’s southern border with Brazil, the Essequibo River flows north through rainforest until it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Laura Bingham led a team of two other women, Ness Knight and Pip Stewart, through tough terrain to find the source on foot and then paddled down the river negotiating rapids and waterfalls through stunning jungle with rich biodiversity regularly spotting caiman, jaguars and various species of monkey along the way.
Laura Bingham cycled 7,000 kilometres through South America in 2016. She achieved this inspiring journey without money by visiting local communities and working in return for food and shelter as she crossed the continent. The generosity of strangers remains her abiding memory of her expedition.
Cycling in extreme weather across tough terrain and often hungry, this expedition taught Laura many lessons about staying motivated. 'It has been a huge challenge. I've had to summon courage, determination and strength to overcome 7,000km of mountains, hunger and no home comforts.' She shares her story, both the highs and lows, as she crossed the Andes three times, foraged for food, picked through waste looking for anything edible and appreciated all the help she was given. Many recognise that this was an audacious expedition. Laura began her epic trip in Manta on the coast of Ecuador, and she cycled through Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay until she reached Buenos Aires on the coast of Argentina. All without money. As Sir Randolph Fiennes put it: ‘Laura is a very brave person.'
Her story is about taking on a challenge when the odds are against you. Laura believes that you can develop yourself and your skills and your fitness if you have the courage to start.
Laura is passionate about encouraging others to lead a more active and adventurous life.
'I did this because I think there are a lot of young women out there I can encourage, and show them what is possible. You don’t have to stay at home, there are just as many opportunities for a woman as there is for a man. On Instagram someone said I inspired them and they want to get out there and travel, and it touched me so much.'
Laura (interview, Lonely Planet)
It is often the small things that can transform motivation when things are tough. Laura knows the importance of taking time to smile and the importance of generosity to others. One of her motivations for the trip was to raise awareness and funds for an organisation called Operation South America that gives food and shelter to girls and young women who are homeless, vulnerable and have been abused. She was thrilled to able to visit the charity in Paraguay during her expedition. Travelling with no money, Laura began to catch a small glimpse of a life without financial or social stability.
Still in her mid-twenties, Laura has accomplished much already. Leaving home at eighteen to travel widely all over the world, Laura has worked in a variety of jobs from modelling to helping train horses for competitive polo. In 2014, Laura Bingham worked in Mexico teaching English and during this period, she developed her own skills at speaking Spanish that was to prove so helpful for her bike ride across South America. At the end of this trip (and not one to stay in her comfort zone) Laura found herself considering the best way to return home to the UK. She decided to sail the Atlantic ocean en-route. A novice sailor, Laura was able to join a crew sailing a Trimaran for the two-month voyage back to Britain.
Laura is available to speak at your company event or your product launch. She is also particularly keen to speak in schools (addressing students of all ages, from primary to sixth form) as well as university groups to encourage young people to get out of their comfort zones, follow their dreams and become the best they can be.
Laura is married to Ed Stafford and they have a young son Ranulph (Ran).
'Laura proved both a confident and passionate speaker for our panel discussion on the theme of modern exploration today. An inspiring young woman and one we felt privileged to be able to work with.'
Tessa Packard London
'Laura was one of the main attractions at the VeloVixen Women's Cycling Hub - one of the highlights of the 2016 Cycling Show for many visitors. She gave a fascinating talk that had the audience riveted.'
'Her easy-going style created a warm and engaging atmosphere and the anecdotes came thick and fast. She painted a gripping and often hilarious picture of a trip that was a true test of human spirit in even more testing circumstances.
'We can't speak highly enough of her eloquence, inspirational storytelling and adventurous spirit - all of which added hugely to our event.'
'I thought her talk was fantastic. She's a very confident speaker.'
'We were very impressed by Laura's talk to the students and they certainly enjoyed listening to the challenges that she overcame. Please tell Laura that we thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and wish her the best for her next adventure.'
Crompton House School
Quotations from the Media
‘The kindness of strangers: model and adventurer cycles 4,000 miles across South America braving hunger and extreme weather (without spending ANY money). Stunning blonde 23-year-old adventurer spent 164 days cycling across five countries from Ecuador to Argentina. She left her wallet at home, instead testing the kindness and generosity of strangers and offering her skills for free.’
The Daily Mail
‘Her journey has been one of extreme highs and lows, both physically and emotionally. Having crossed the Andes three times, firstly from the Ecuadorian Coast to the Peruvian Amazon, from the Amazon to the Peruvian Coast and from there into Bolivia, Laura has cycled in some pretty thin air at altitudes of 5,000m. She says the toughest country by far was Ecuador, where temperatures plummeted and the rain didn't stop.’
‘Whilst I was training for my cycle across South America with no money, the longest bike ride I had ever done was 100 miles over two days.’
Laura Bingham quoted in International Business Times
‘Some people develop a sense of adventure over time, while others are born with it – and 23-year-old Laura Bingham definitely falls into the former category. She’s just arrived back – yesterday, to be exact – from a 7000km cycle from Ecuador to Argentina with absolutely no money. It’s not the first adventure she’s been on, nor will it be the last, but it was certainly difficult without any cash.
The Lonely Planet
Laura Bingham is a British adventurer. She is best known for completing a cross continent cycle of South America in July 2016, covering 7,000 kilometres (over 4,000 miles) over a period of nearly 6 months with no money.
Since her childhood, Laura has always valued the opportunity for travel and was able to study at a South African boarding school for a term strengthening her passion for travel and exploring other cultures. She left home at the age of eighteen to travel to Greece and then Belgium finding work and enjoying the opportunity to experience other European cultures. She then moved back to South Africa where she lived with a local family working on their farm.
With a love of horses since childhood, Laura returned to Britain in 2012 to work within the polo industry spent 2 and then travelled to work in Spain and USA. After a period exploring if a modelling career was the right path, Laura decided to set her sights on adventure and travel.
In 2014, Laura Bingham started work in Mexico teaching English and during this period, she developed her own skills at speaking Spanish. She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to help Jaguar conservation in Mexico. Later that year, contemplating the best way to return to the UK, Laura decided that she would sail the Atlantic ocean to return home. (Why settle on the easy and more usual route and catch a flight?) A novice sailor, Laura was able to join a crew sailing a Trimaran for the two-month voyage back to Britain.
Most recently, Laura took herself out of her comfort zone once again when she decided to cycle an entire continent. Although at this stage she was an inexperienced cyclist, Laura believes that you can develop yourself and your skills if only you have the courage to start.
In January 2016 Laura set out to travel west to east across South America by bike. At different points in the journey, Laura was accompanied by friends and her fiancé explorer Ed Stafford and she kept a journal and filmed her journey aiming to write a book and develop a documentary about her journey. There was a twist to Laura's expedition aims. She was determined to cross the South American continent without spending any money. One one hand, Laura has experienced tremendous kindness and generosity as people shared food and offered her a place to camp. She also went some way to understanding what it feels like to be worried about the next meal. She fully understands that her expedition had an end-date and she would return home to relative luxury but the experience deepened her compassion for others and she is using her expedition to raise awareness and funds for a charity in South America who offer shelter and food to girls and young women. Find out more here: Operation South America
On the first of July 2016, Laura returned to the UK having cycled 7,000 km over 164 days, from coast to coast. Laura began her epic trip in Manta on the coast of Ecuador, and she cycled through Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay until she reached Buenos Aires on the coast of Argentina.
Acknowledging the scale of the difficulty, renowned British explorer Sir Randolph Fiennes commented that: ‘Laura is a very brave person.'
Laura is currently working on a book and documentary about her South American crossing.
'I want to know that I have experienced everything that I can and to know that I have chosen how I live my life. I want a life like no other. I want to be one of those ‘how does she do it’ people. I want a life of extraordinary tales. Every step I take gets bigger but I had to start off with one baby step; things don’t just happen, you work up to them step by step.'
An unexpected roadside lunch
An interview with Laura before she set out to cycle South America
How to book Laura?