'In the summer of 2000 ten sixth form pupils set off for a month on a World Challenge Expedition to South Africa. We had been saving for this trip for 18 months, through our own jobs and through group fundraising. At school we had organised Disco's and a tuck-shop on Sports Day. We also did car boot sales and a sponsored walk around Virginia Waters. The cost of the trip was £2,500 but on top of that we had to buy or borrow equipment and have some spending money, so there was a lot of saving involved.
To help prepare for South Africa we went on a training weekend and we also tried to do regular activites to keep us fit. Finally after the training, the saving, the preparation and the planning we were ready to go. There were two build-up days before we left where we discussed safety, what we were going to do, health and hygiene and other such issues, met our leaders and played some team building games. After everyone was packed and we knew we had what we needed we were ready to depart.
The journey to Johannesburg took about 10 hours so we didn't arrive until the next morning. We staying in Johannesburg until the next day and then travelled to Sabie where we started our first trek, on the Fannie Botha Trail. During this trail we saw some amazing scenery as we trekked through indigenous forests and past beautiful waterfalls. Each night we slept in huts that were situated along the route and we managed to complete it in five days.
On the final night we stayed at a safari backpackers and the next day when out on safari. It was brilliant although we did not see any big cats or rhino's. We did see the other three 'big' animals (elephant, buffalo, and hippo) as well as many other species. On the next night we stayed at a nearby traditional African villiage belonging to the Nyani Tribe. We sang, danced and played games with the villagers and then slept in their traditional huts.
Our next move was to Dundee and a Zulu village called Rorke's Drift. We stayed at the school in the village for the next five days. Whilst we were there we played games with the children and the boys organised a football tournament. We also painted their doors and window frames, painted a school sign for them, fixed some of the door locks and taught in lessons. We made some really good friends in the village and felt really appreciated. At the end of the week they pu on a performance for us, dressed in traditional clothing to show us tribal dancing and singing.
Our next move was to the Drakensburg Mountain range. This was our main trek and we spent seven days in the mountains. At night the temperature was always below zero and so we had to sleep in our clothes, in either our tents or in caves. During the day it was warm and the sun was always out so at least we had good weather to trek in. The views in the mountains were breathtaking. One day we sat at the top of the Tugela Waterfall, which is one of the highest in the world, and we could see straight down to the ground at the bottom of the valley below. All around us as far as the eye could see there was mountain after mountain. Once we had finished the trek all that was left was 'rest and relaxation'. We stayed at the Cathedral Peak campsite for two days and then travelled to Durban for the last four days in South Africa, where we shopped, sunbathed and swam during the day and ate out in the evenings.
We all know that we have benfited and achieved a lot through participating, planning, funding and leading our expedition and I would recommend the next expedition to anyone. It was hard, but definitely worth it!'
Obviously I must have toned down my report for the rest of the school as I remember some eventful days and nights not mentioned above, but none the less this brings back some great memories and it was the start of my desire to explore as much of the world as possible.