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BBC Radio 4 logoJourney of a Lifetime

If you are passionate about travel and excited to find new ways to tell original stories in sound, the Journey of a Lifetime Award, given by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), in partnership with BBC Radio 4, offers you the chance to make a 'journey of a lifetime' and to tell the world about it in a memorable piece of radio documentary-making.

The award offers a £5,000 grant for an original and inspiring journey anywhere in the world. The award recipient will receive training in radio broadcasting from the BBC and will record their experiences for a BBC Radio 4 documentary


6 November 2017


Applying for the Journey of a Lifetime Award is easy. Please read the application guidelines below and email your pitch to JOLT@rgs.org.


Please contact grants@rgs.org if you have any questions about the award or the application process.

This year's recipient

Nicole Bennett-Fite: Tajikistan - Finding the Woman of Stone

© Nicole Bennett-Fite

The 2017 Journey of a Lifetime Award recipient is Nicole Bennett-Fite, a Californian undergraduate student studying anthropology at Stanford University. For six weeks during May and June this year, Nicole travelled around the small Central Asian republic of Tajikistan and visited the remote Yagnob Valley, home to the last speakers of the Yagnobi language. Nicole recorded her journey for a BBC Radio 4 documentary that will be broadcast at 8pm on Monday 2 October.

Previous Journey of a Lifetime Award recipients

2016: Nina Plapp: A Cello in the Desert

Musician Nina Plapp travels to Transylvania and Rajasthan to trace the roots of Roma music. Travelling with a cello, Nina meets the Roma people and the desert nomads and immerses herself in their rich musical culture. Find out more about Nina's journey on her blog and follow her on Twitter @ninaplapp

Find out more

2015: Rhiannon Adam: Big Fence: A Portrait of Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn is Britain’s last remaining overseas territory in the Pacific, the world’s least populous jurisdiction and one of the most remote places on the planet. It is only accessible by sea, measuring just one mile wide, by two miles long. Rhiannon spent three months on Pitcairn, living with the islanders and gaining a unique understanding of this isolated community. 

Find out more

2014: Peter Geoghegan: Wrestling with Modernity in Mongolia

Life in Mongolia is changing quickly. As the country’s mineral-rich economy booms, today’s top Mongolian wrestlers enjoy celebrity status and huge financial rewards. But for lesser-known wrestlers, life is still a struggle between work and competition, a choice between the mine and the city. Peter travelled to a training camp for wrestlers in rural Mongolia. Living among them in ger tents, he learnt how to wrestle - and about life in modern Mongolia - before competing himself in a summer competition.

Find out more

2013: Will Millard. Downstream: A journey by raft through the heart of Sierra Leone and Liberia’s Peace Park

In 2013 Sierra Leone and Liberia combined their portions of the Gola forest to form one of the largest and most ecologically important National parks in West Africa. Will Millard packrafted 100 miles down the remote Mano River, through the heart of the ‘Peace Park,’ meeting the local people, ecologists and unique wildlife on an extraordinary journey at the very frontline of African conservation. Find out more about Will's journey on his Blog or Facebook.

Find out more

2012: Jas Jhalli.
Indians and Cowboys

Jas Jhalli goes in search of Argentina's legendary cowboys, the gauchos, in a horseback voyage to the southernmost tip of the Inca empire.

Find out more

2011: Jane Labous.
The Sand-diggers of Mali

Jane Labous travels to Mali to meet the men and women who face hardship every day as they eke out a living digging and diving for sand and gravel from the bed of the River Niger, for the growing construction industry.

Find out more

2010: Nick Hunt.
From Riches to Rags: Dubai to India

Nick Hunt follows the journey of Indian migrants, from Dubai back home to India, having lost their jobs in Dubai’s construction industry due to the economic downturn.

Find out more

2009: Dan Box.
The flood: Onboard the Carteret Fleet with climate change refugees

Dan Box attempts to reach the Carteret Islands where a mass evacuation is taking place as the sea level rises due to climate change.

2008: Emily Ainsworth.
The Romance of Reality: Traveling with a Family Circus
Emily Ainsworth travels to Mexico to join a family circus, Circo Padilla, where she becomes dancer Princess Aurora.

2007: David Waldman.
From Mountain Tribe to Olympic Gold: Why Kenyans are the World’s Runners
David Waldman travels to Kenya's rift valley to live and run with the Kalenjin, the world's fastest long distance runners.

2006: Jessica Boyd and Bill Finnegan.
Deep into the Rubbish with Cairo's Zabbaleen

Jessica and Bill journey to Cairo’s biggest rubbish tip to meet with the Zabbaleen community, originally of rural Egypt, who make money out of Cairo’s waste.

Find out more

2005: Chris Brown. The high snows of Ladakh

Chris Brown travels to Ladakh and encounters the coldest winter for 30 years. Travelling with nomadic peoples, Chris seeks out a great friend he met on a previous journey.

Find out more

2004: Luke Freeman.
Cattle roads and motorcades

Luke Freeman fulfils his dream to drive a herd of cattle along the old drove-paths of Madagascar and ends up jetting around Africa as chief speechwriter to the President.

Find out more

2003: Andy Home and Grigori Gerenstein.
Land of black snow

Journalists Andy Home and Grigori Gerenstein visit Russia's most polluted town where the snow is black and life expectancy is 10 years below the national average.

Find out more

2002: Damian Welch.
Hoping for a miracle: Tokelau

Damian Welch travels to the tiny atolls of Tokelau in the middle of the South Pacific. He meets with the Tokelauan people, skilled fishermen who run a co-operative so that their catch is shared fairly amongst the population.

Find out more

2001: Tessa McGregor. 
By rocket to Tigerland

Tessa journeys into the heart of Sundarbans, the wildest tract of mangrove forest in the world and the only forest of its kind inhabited by tigers.

About the Award

Established in 2001, the Journey of a Lifetime Award is a collaboration between the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and the BBC, and is generously supported through a private donation. The award aims to support informed travel and learning, through experience rather than scientific research, and to discover new radio talent. The outcome of each of journey is a BBC Radio 4 travel documentary.

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