It was a long and arduous plane journey to Zambia leaving Tring School at 4.00pm and arriving exhausted in Livingstone via Johannesburg the following day. We went to Jolly Boys campsite in a mini bus and as soon as we arrived we pitched up our tents and went to get some food.
Trekking along the Zambezi River
We started off the trek on grassy terrain however within an hour of walking it was rocky underfoot which was incredibly difficult to walk on because our ankles were twisted. The scenery was amazing along the river, watching the monkeys climbing on the rocks and seeing the different rapids of the Zambezi River. We even saw some people canoeing along the river into the rapids which looked great fun and dangerous. The trek lasted 4 days with only pasta, porridge and bread to eat and every night we slept on little patches of sand in between the rocks. This was basic living and different to what we are used to in Tring. The only way out of the trek was by climbing Jacobs ladder which is grassy land going up in zig zags until the top when there is a little wooden ladder to climb. The ladder didn’t look at all safe and very dodgy but we all managed to get up safely. We then had a further two and a half hour walk before we got to the campsite. The trek was most definitely a challenge physically but worth every effort!
The Butterfly Project
Our project phase was at a little school in a village called Kamwii. As we arrived, the children at the school were running after the mini bus and were really excited to see us. We set our tents up by the school and the children came running over. As soon as our tent was up, my friend and I went to play football with the children. There is no such thing as a language barrier in a game of football and it was great to have something in common with these young children although they don’t play by rules over there and I was shocked when one child picked up a rock and threw it at another child just because he was tackled.
Unfortunately though we weren’t there to play football all day and for the majority of our time at the school we were either painting classrooms or building a shop for school equipment so that the children didn’t have to walk miles to the next village to get their equipment. Most of the children who went to the school were orphans which was very sad. My favourites were twin boys who were adorable. Their Mother had died giving birth and their Grandmother was unable to care for them so they had been left as new born babies on the roadside. Luckily they were taken in by the Butterfly Project and they are both now thriving.
We experienced how tough life is for the people in Kamwii who don’t have the luxuries that we have at home. Every time we needed water we had to roll a big blue barrel down a hill to the water pump, fill the barrel up and then roll it back up. That was really hard work. We had to wash our clothes by hand because there weren’t any washing machines. I wasn’t very good at this but the children at the school were really helpful because when they saw us washing our clothes, they would come over and say we were doing it wrong and then they would do it for us. Every time we needed the toilet, there was a hole in the ground that we had to go to and no flush to get rid of it!
It was very sad when we left the school because the children looked so upset to see us go and as the bus left they were running after it.
This was an amazing part of the trip and I feel very privileged to have experienced it. As we walked around the falls we could feel the bits of drizzle spraying off from the falls. We walked to the top of Victoria Falls where the water came from and we had a break there and then went to the bottom of the falls. It’s hard to describe how magnificent and powerful the falls are and how small it makes you feel. It was stunning to see a rainbow as you looked through the falls down the gorge.
On our last full day we went on a safari in Botswana, a small country next to Zambia. We started on a boat safari which was amazing because we saw lots of hippos and crocodiles. We then went on a car safari in which we saw a lot more animals including giraffes; buffalos; elephants and lots of different types of birds. It was incredible to be so close to these animals that I have only previously seen at the zoo or safari park. It felt special to see them in their natural habitat.
The day ended with us driving back to Livingstone in the minibus and I’m sorry to my team mates for being sick on this journey.
If you want to see more about the Butterfly Project you can go to their website:
By Joel Munt
In July, I was lucky enough to be able to go on a world challenge expedition to Zambia for two weeks. During our time there we did a three day trek down the Batoka Gorge, a project at a school in Kamwi, visited the Victoria Falls and went on a safari in Botswana.
Once we arrived in Zambia we had half a day at our camp in Livingstone, before we got picked up to go to another camp at the start of the trek. We would be drinking the river water and going without showers for three days! After a night at the second camp we headed off on our three day trek, with our 65+ litre rucksacks full of group food and kit as well as our sleeping equipment. We had two guides who would be helping us to get from the start to the finish. First we had an hour and a half walk down the side of a cliff, to reach the gorge. At the bottom we were surrounded by rocks and boulders, to everyone’s surprise, as this is not what we expected. Once we finished a quick drink and cereal break, we started our way to the place we would be sleeping for the night. 5 hours later we reached a little beach alongside one of the rapids. We set up our mosquito nets and cooked dinner. It started to get dark at 5:30, so by 7 we were all in bed gazing at the amazing stars. The next day was the same, except we were trekking for 8 hours. There were points where we had to be careful and help each other as we could easily slip and seriously injure ourselves. By the third day we were exhausted with our hips hurting from the weight of our bags. We had to walk just under 2 hours to reach Jacobs ladder, which was our way out of the gorge. With the sun beaming down on us, it took us about an hour climbing up the ladder and steep terrain to reach flat land! After a short biscuit and drink break we had a 2 hour walk back to our camp. Once we arrived, we were rewarded with a coke and a dinner of lasagne, stir-fry, salad, followed by sponge cake and custard. It was heaven compared to porridge and plain food! We all slept extremely well!
The next day was a relaxing day at a five star glamping and hotel back in Livingstone. We had burger and chips for lunch which we all had craved on the trek! We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and showering, preparing ourselves for the project the next day.
We were picked up at 9:30 the next morning to head to the project in Kamwi. Once we arrived, we met the children who were all very cute and loved our cameras and sunglasses, we then started to continue building the shop and painting more classrooms. The other team had already started building the shop and had painted one classroom, whilst we were on the trek. We worked until it started to get dark and were covered in paint, which was very difficult to get off. The other 3 days were the same, starting at 9 and finishing at 5 with a break for lunch. At the end of our time there we had painted and decorated 3 classrooms and built the majority of the shop. We left the locals enough paint to finish the last classroom.
The last morning on the project we were picked up to go to the Victoria Falls but took a detour to go to a market to buy presents for our family. Once at the Victoria Falls we went straight to the first viewing spot; it was amazing! We continued around the falls and went down to the boiling point and behind where the water falls. It was all incredible! We stayed there for 3 hours until we were hungry so we left to go and get something to eat. There was also a big market outside the Falls, so we spent a good hour shopping for more presents! We then went back to a camp where we would be sleeping for one night in our tents. We all went to bed early as we had to get up early the next morning to go to the safari.
At 5:30 the following morning we woke up and had to quietly back up our tents as we were getting picked up at 7 to go the Botswana border. Across the border we were picked up in safari trucks to go to a café, where we had coffee, tea and cakes. Once we finished we got into a boat, which would be taking us on one part of the safari. We saw hippo, elephant, water hogs, iguana, a crocodile plus multiple species of birds. After 2 hours on the river we went back to the café where we had a buffet lunch. We then got back onto the safari trucks which took us to a safari park. This time we saw giraffe, buffalo, more elephant, water hogs and hippos. At 4 o’clock we went across the border back into Zambia to our 16 bed room, where we would all be sleeping for our last night.
At this point, the realisation finally came through, were leaving today. It was upsetting; yet I was excited to go back home and have a hot shower and a bed! Before we left to go to the airport, both teams met at the project to look at the finished shop and say goodbye. We got to the airport and had a 2 hour flight down to Johannesburg. In Johannesburg we had our last meal out as a team and got ready for our 10 hour overnight flight home to England.
Thank you for supporting me to go on this wonderful trip. It has been an experience that I will never forget.
By Ella Fordham