Hannah, Brooke and Ollie (Ellon Academy) were supported by a SAGT Fieldwork & Expedition Grant.
Three teams of Challengers from Ellon Academy headed off to Tanzania in July 2014 for the experience of a lifetime. The teams set off one day after another and spent a month in country, away from the luxuries of home. They had to take 3 flights in total to get there, and travelled for almost 24 hours. They arrived early morning and straight away we were hit by the mass poverty.
To fund our trips it took a huge amount of effort and a great number of fundraising events. These events included a ceilidh, car washing, bake sales, sponsored runs, abseiling and generally a lot of hard work. The majority also got part time jobs to help earn this money. The hardest part of saving the money was trying not to spend it.
The first thing every team did was their acclimatisation trek. Team 1 went to the North Pares Mountains, Team 3 to the South Pares Mountains and Team 2 trekked up Mount Longido.
Team 1 climbed three of the Pares Mountains with three local guides. While we were hiking we experienced the local way of life and daily activities. They camped in the grounds of a secondary school and some of the local women cooked them meals so that they could experience some of the local cuisine.
Team 2’s acclimatisation was the toughest one that World Challenge could throw at them. From the top of Mt Longido there was the spectacular view of Kenya in the distance. Mount Longido took one day with a 3 hour walk, followed by a day with a 10 hour walk and then finally another day with 3 hours walking.
Team 3 went to the Southern Pares Mountains. The treks were challenging but gave a reality check for when they did their main trek.
Each of the three teams had different project phases.
Team 1 painted a girls’ orphanage and built a security fence around it. They met the children and played games with them.
Team 2’s was to source out materials, make bricks and then construct a wall around a football pitch. For the people of Longido this was a big thing as the wall would stop the football from going onto the road and bushes. It also stopped the government from building there as there would be a wall.
Team 3 helped in a primary school near Kilimanjaro building new walls and roof struts for an extension. All the children were incredibly polite and curious about what was happening. The project meant that the school could take on more pupils as they had a new classroom.
Main trek (Kilimanjaro)
The main trek up Mount Kilimanjaro took place on various weeks throughout the trip. After arriving and registering at the Kilimanjaro National Park, a trip partway around the mountain took place to start on the Rongai Route. The trek took 7 days and 6 nights. The walking was done ‘Pole pole’ (slowly slowly) all the time to make sure the teams saved their energy for the last few days that would be more difficult. On the way up the lower parts of the mountain the teams saw some of the wildlife including black and white Colobus monkeys. The first night’s camp ‘Simba camp’ was incredibly overcrowded and there was very little room for anyone else. Here, the teams met their chefs and waiters.
The second and third days were much the same as the first but upon arrival at the camps the teams had a short break then carried on walking for an acclimatisation trek; walk high, sleep low; so that they acclimatised better. The guides, chefs, waiters and porters and then they sang some traditional songs; after this the teams returned the favour and introduced themselves and sang some Scottish songs and other favourite songs.
The fourth day was a long day. The walk was not steep but there was a great distance to walk. But once we arrived at the third camp ‘Mawensi Tarn’ it was almost forgotten, as the views were beautiful. But still the teams were exhausted and it was tiring to even try to tie shoe laces! After a short break another acclimatisation trek took place up a small part of the jagged Mawensi peak.
On the fifth day the teams hiked to base camp, ‘Kibo camp’. This was one of the longest days. The walk was completely flat but it was obvious how barren the landscape was as there was very little vegetation. There was even a crashed plane by the path. The guide explained that planes get trapped in the conflicting winds between the two peaks and sometimes crash. Once at Kibo the teams had something to eat, packed for summit night and then went straight to bed as they would have to get up to depart at midnight. Reluctantly, breakfast was eaten the summit ascent started. Unfortunately in teams 1 and 3, some people had to return to Kibo camp and did not make it to the summit. However everyone in team 2 successfully summited making them the first World Challenge team that season to do so. Once everyone was safely down from the summit there was a short break to pack up the tents and eat, before the one and a half day descent down the mountain. On the way down we saw different types of wildlife and a fascinating variety of plants. Reaching the bottom was probably one of the best feelings that anyone could have.
R & R (safari and beach)
Throughout the month all the teams went on a 2 day safari in some amazing places. All 3 teams went across the Rift Valley and up its steep sides, towards Ngorogoro crater, a massive basin filled with amazing wildlife including lions. Animals would approach the safari truck and overall it was an incredible experience.All the teams in the last few days travelled back to Dar Es Salaam and to Kipepeo Beach where a few days were spent relaxing on the beach, snorkelling and swapping stories.A huge Thank You to SAGT for the generous grant the teams received to help pay for this fantastic and life changing experience. A mass of geographical features were seen and experienced, which really brought the subject alive.
Hannah, Brooke and Ollie.