Learning skills from the bushmen of the Kalahari and helping to protect rhino are just two of the tasks that students are tackling on the trip of a lifetime to Africa. The party of 16 students and four adults has an action-packed month planned including trekking, safari, community projects plus rest and relaxation.
The group had a ten-hour flight to Johannesburg followed by a six-hour bus journey to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. After acclimatising they spent four days in the desert with the Kalahari bushmen, learning hunting and trapping.
They will return to Gaborone for supplies before heading north to the Okavango swamp, the world’s largest inland delta. There they will take to the waters in two-man canoes for four days of safari, exploring the waterways and looking for wildlife.
Afterwards they will visit Victoria Falls in Zambia for a possible elephant spotting safari before travelling into the deserts of Namibia to the Waterberg Plateau. There they will renovate huts used by a wildlife preservation project where rangers patrol to stop rhino poachers. The updated huts will mean that the rangers can spend longer on the plateau rather than making frequent trips home. The students will also get involved in a community project to transform primary school premises, currently housed in a garage, into more of a classroom environment by supplying books and shelves.
Frequently the students will be around 80 miles from the nearest shop and miles from water as well. They will take it in turn to lead the group, organising transport, sourcing food and keeping control of the budget.
Abi Wells said: ‘I am most looking forward to renovating the school with the children and giving them toys.’ Raymond Gosliga added: 'When you travel, the great fun is that you learn about things you never really knew existed, or never thought about before.’
Teacher Mr Nicholls said: ‘The students will have to handle the massive culture shock after coming from our well-to-do society into what will be very, very poor communities with no facilities; no running water, no electricity. They are going to see the kind of lives people have lived in these countries for hundreds of years. At the same time it will be amazing as Africa is full of contrasts.
‘I am looking forward to witnessing our youngsters coping with what will be an enormous change for them and seeing what their reaction is, how much they understand. They are going to be coping with quite a lot of physical discomfort and inconvenience. It will be real education. Once they have done this the world is their oyster, if they succeed at this they will be able to go anywhere. They will have the knowledge, the rucksack, the boots, the world is open to them.’