Redland Green School

RGS Bristol

Zambia Expedition Report and Journal

17 July – 8 August 2013

Last summer saw our 2013 expedition team travel to Zambia to spend three weeks travelling, trekking and taking part in a local community project. This was the culmination of 18 months of hard work, determination and commitment to enable the students to fundraise the £3,000 cost independently. This included everything from evening and weekend jobs, endless refreshment stalls at school events to organising large community events such as the Christmas Market.

The team consisted of nine Post 16 students and from both Year 12 and Year 13. The trip was a truly incredible experience involving trekking through the Batoka Gorge along the Zambezi River, just downstream from Victoria Falls, and taking in the sights in and around Livingstone including, a visit to the breath-taking Victoria Falls, both a sunset cruise and morning river float on the upper Zambezi and a safari through Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.

The most rewarding and enjoyable part of the trip, however, was the community project. The team travelled to the remote village of Mwandi for a week where they were tasked with building a mud house for a grandmother of six whose previous house had burned down. In a country where almost one in six adults aged 15-49 have HIV/AIDS, grandparents are often the lynchpin of their respective families and communities.

Huge thanks must go to our partner company True Adventure (TA) who organised and coordinated the expedition. Our TA leader Anna led the trip superbly and every student had the opportunity to lead the team as well as taking on specific roles within the group, such as accounting or managing transport or accommodation arrangements. True Adventure’s philosophy is that students take ownership of the whole process, from beginning to fundraise through to landing safely at the airport 18 months later. It was fantastic to see the students living up to this challenge and show such remarkable development in their personal skill set. To support the students throughout this whole process was a pleasure and I felt immensely proud of the team for everything they achieved. I now hope that many more students take up the opportunity to experience something just as special on future adventures.

Mr A Smith, Teacher of Chemistry and Expeditions Coordinator

A Few Extracts for the Teams' Journal

Friday, 19 July (First morning in Lusaka)

Got up and ordered ‘full English breakfast’ from hostel for all 11 of us for K75 (around £6.50!). K is for Kwacha, the local currency, which completely stumps us all as previously in the year the Zambian government had changed the currency so that instead of K8,000 to £1 it is now just K8. For a moment we thought we were richer than we had ever been! Leave the hostel and travel to Lusaka bus station. Bus station is mental with loads of people hassling us to buy things or travel in their taxi! Get tickets for Livingstone. Bus is pretty nice and even has movies! Clare needs constant explanations of the ‘plot-line’ to Olympus has Fallen and Anna [our enigmatic True Adventure Leader] cries incessantly to Hotel Rwanda. Jaya and Becky have a good sleep. Arrive in Livingstone. 

Saturday, 21 July (First day of Batoka Gorge trek)

Early start with trip to Shoprite [South African version of Tesco] to buy loads of food and supplies for trek. Lift to trek from crazy old-school South African guy called ‘Fans’ (short for Stefano - aptly christened The Fonz), who looked like the sort of guy who had at some point in his life killed a man with his bare hands. When quizzed about the ‘bullet-hole’ in the windscreen of his converted pick-up truck with benches along the back, he says [cue strong SA accent], ‘Yah, some bloody owl came out nowhere eh’. Phew. Arrived at the start point of trek to find we could leave all our tents and unneeded gear behind as we would be camping open-air, next to the Zambezi River for next two nights… wow! Walked through the bush for a while before descending down a steep valley into the gorge. Views just incredible. Terrain very rocky and tough but made really good pace as a group. Made camp at rapid 17 and collected wood for campfire to cook dinner on. Made a ‘sparkler’ game where we spelt out words with a fire-stick and had to guess the word. Amazing banana boats for dessert. Incredible night open-air, wild-camping by the river with a full moon. Sensational! James sick during the night…first man down…

Thursday, 25 July (Rest day for R&R – visit to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park 

Picked up 7.30am by our guide Morgan and taken to park. Saw loads of warthogs, or ‘Pumbas’ as Clare says, which
trotted around and were sooo funny. Saw impala too – like African Bambi. Then saw giraffes, which were less yellow than we expected and some African buffalo. Morgan got out the car and walked toward the buffalo whilst describing how they are very dangerous and kill loads of people every year. Caught a glimpse of zebras too. Then met park rangers who said that the really rare white rhinos were in their mating season and hiding away in a corner of the park being looked after. Morgan had a quick chat with him and before we know it we are making our way across the park. We meet with loads of other park rangers (with guns!) and they take us on foot to see the rhinos. Unbelievable!! Can’t believe we got so close to wild rhinos. Morgan takes us to Livingstone Crocodile Park where we see loads of crocs that have been captured as they were being a ‘nuisance’ eating people! Morgan gets in the cage with this one called Godzilla(!), who is absolutely huge, and starts tapping it on the head with a stick while it snaps at him! See some deadly snakes and hold baby crocs before waving goodbye to Morgan and his well-earned tip. Lush group dinner at Olga’s Italian Restaurant for lunch. What a morning…

Saturday, 3 August (We finish the house!)

Our mud throwing from the last two days had dried out and now it was time to smooth the walls. It was a really quick but satisfying job. You got a lump of really wet mud and get to smooth out all the lumps and bumps by smoothing it with your hand. We had loads of help from the locals (they all turned out for the easy bit!) and so finished up by midday. We flicked water on the walls when it started to dry to make it look even smoother. We made a ledge around the bottom of the walls to protect them as well as the floor inside. We were told the house was for 7 people!!

Said our goodbyes to the lady and her family and had a group photo. Matt cooked chilli-con-carne (and a chilli-non-carne for Jaya, Clare and Anna, which tasted amazing).

We leave Mwandi tomorrow, but then fun R&R days before the long journey home.