Written by Molly, Year 13
On 16th July 2019, two World Challenge groups from Bury Grammar School headed to Manchester airport to start an amazing month-long adventure in Tanzania.
After two flights, we landed in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. We then took a day to acclimatise, where we exchanged our money, bought essentials for the next 28 days, and took in our new surroundings.
The first phase of the trip was our trek in the Usambara Mountains. Our trek leaders Jerome and Steve led us through lush rainforests and villages, whilst giving us interesting information about the area and the history of Tanzania. We stayed at some interesting campsites during the trek, including a farm, a nunnery and a church. We also spoke to many locals at the markets and learnt that we had to barter to buy all of our food!
The next phase of our trip was the community engagement phase. We set up camp in the grounds of a private school near the village of Monduli and prepared ourselves for the work we would be doing at the school. We spent a few days planting trees, refurbishing dorm rooms and sorting the school gardens out, but the best day was when we sat in on the lessons at the school. The children were aged 14-18 years and could impressively speak good English. They were very interested to learn about our culture and tried very hard to understand what ‘fish and chips’ was. In the afternoons of the week, we were shown different places around the village including the market, a coffee farm and factory and a Masai village. The chief who showed us around the village had 3 wives and 12 children, which we learnt was commonplace in the Masai tribe. None of us could imagine living in the Masai village, especially after trying the milk, which had the consistency of yoghurt and black bits floating about!
The next phase of the trip was safari. Personally, this was my favourite part of the trip, as we got so close to the animals. We saw several lions, hippos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and buffalo- it felt just like The Lion King! Our safari truck allowed us to stand up and see the whole of the Ngorongoro crater around us, whilst having the wind blow in our faces. The safari was an excellent day and definitely something we will all remember.
The final phase of the trip was rest and relaxation, arguably the phase everyone was looking forward to the most. A historical tour of a village called old Moshi followed by a steep trek to a waterfall was how we spent our first day of R&R. Having been one of the 4 who swam in the waterfall I can assure you it was refreshing and totally worth the chafing and wet socks on the walk back to the minibus! Our second day of R&R was spent shopping in the town of Moshi where we bought souvenirs and football T-shirts. In the afternoon we went to the Chemka hot springs which was a huge lagoon with a rope swing and natural lazy river. It was a beautiful place where we ate some great food and had a lot of fun together as a team.
For the final part of our R&R phase and the trip, we headed to the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. A 2 hour ferry journey took us to Stone town, Zanzibar’s largest town, where we stayed in a hostel and ate at a pretty questionable fish market. A highlight of our time in Stone Town was snorkelling in the Indian Ocean where we were able to see marine life at its best. Sunbathing on the boat was also enjoyable, even if it meant we all got sunburnt! For three days, we stayed on the other side of the island in a village called Paje. The views from our hotel were unbelievable and its beachside location made it a perfect place for sunbathing and chilling on the beach. In those 3 days, we all definitely had a well-deserved rest after the action packed month we had endured. Our last few days were spent looking back at the expedition, reviewing ourselves and remembering all of the memories we had made.
It then dawned on us all that it was time to go home. Reluctantly we packed our backpacks, said goodbye to the white sandy beaches and crystal clear water and hopped on the minibus to start our journey home. We jumped on the ferry and much to our surprise got caught in a huge rainstorm that resembled British Winter weather. The freezing hail soaked our clothes and most of us either ended up under the seats or stowed away like luggage in any compartment we could find. Our wet clothes made the trip to the airport less enjoyable but didn’t dampen our spirits as we looked forward to our first meals back.
Looking back, the trip allowed us to open our eyes to how people live in drastically different cultures to ours. Whether it was the 21 consecutive nights camping or the hours we spent on coaches with no air conditioning, we all experienced something new. The month was challenging and we were all pushed to our limits but we can all agree it was one of the best experiences of our lives. I would recommend World Challenge to anyone who enjoys adventure and doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone!