So, this will be a first....a girl posting on the Joe Brown Blog!
Probably a bit over due, but back in July I led a school on a months expedition to Zambia.
The Team arrived in Lusaka and spent 2 nights at Lusaka Backpackers settling into the Zambia vibe....it was on the 1st night that I discovered that my cat didn't take too kindly to being left for a month so had sneakly clawed my Prolite 3 Thermarest! I really regret not taking a Thermarest Universal Reapir Kit with me!
Our first stop was up north to the Copper Belt to the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage. Founded in 1983 by David & Shelia Siddle, the Orphanage is home to over 100 chimps & various other animals that have been given or rescued to the orphanage, where they are introduced to the other chimps and make up families. Chimps are not native to Zambia and many of these rescued apes were either pets, performing chimps (one used to sit in a bar drinking whisky with a 20 a day habit...) or orphaned as their mothers have been killed for bushmeat.
The Orphanage employes local people and trains them in caring for the chimpazees and a sight not to be missed is Billie, the resident pet hippo. Billie was found at 10 days old on the river banks lying under her dead mother's body.....now she acts as Shelia's 2 ton guard dog!
After 2 facinating days spent with the apes, we made the long journey to Mkushi, where we were to spend a week at the Itala Foundation School helping with some much needed work. The foundation was started in 2003 by 2 teachers from Wales (co-incidently, not that far from Llanberis!) and offers free eductaion to children of all ages, many of whom are orphans of Aids or malaria.
The school currently teaches 1200 students with 6 class room. The students attend school in 3 hour shifts depending on their school year.
The Team's aim was to buy materials and start the laying of foundations for a new Science & Technology block. This involved the moving of 1300 bricks, the carrying of several tons of sand and the skill of transporting gallons of water on our heads (harder than it looks!) When not partaking in a bit of manual labour, the team were found in the classroom teaching maths, english, science or on the field loosing at netball or football!
We stayed here for a week, and the team had their 1st experience of trying to cook for 15 people on Trangias. We had many “interesting” meals and the team weren't afraid to experiment but the best meal had to be the freshly bought chicken rubbed in salt and fried in the pan, cooked by one of the Foundation's teachers. Yum!
Our water was sourced from the local hand pump and every now & then came out a bit silty so fortunately the team's teacher, Elaine, had bought a Katadyn Hiker Water Filter which meant we had clean clear water every day & the Folding Bucket came in quite hand to get it from the pump back to camp.
Due to the lack of running water, I was very grateful that Elaine had also bought with her a Portable Solar Shower! A few hours out in the sun and there was enough hot water for several people to wash their hair!
With the foundations sucessfully laid we headed off towards the Mosambique boarder to Bridge Camp to untake the trekking phase of our exped. The Team had chosen to trek a nice relaxing canoe assisted route along the Luangwa River. We met our Guide, Geri and his crew and headed off on our 3 day walk. It was great experience trekking through the remote villages along the river, and the village kids would walk with us for miles.
We camped each night on the white sandy beaches of the river, and cooked our dinner on the open fires that the crew prepared for us. A few brave ones (me included!) even took a dip in the river whilst Geri & his team kept an eye out for crocodiles! My Giant Travel Towel definately came in handy then as all the local kids thought it was fasinating to watch me wash & then try to get changed! We then made the return journey back to Bridge Camp by floating back down river on the canoes.
After all our hard work, we made the very long journey to Livingstone where we visted the spectacular Victoria Falls (don't even bother with Gore-tex, you're guarenteed to get soaked!), followed by a sunset cruise down the Zambeiz. We also took part in a walking safari where as well as seeing zebras, giraffes & warthogs, we saw the only surviving White Rhino's in Zambia (a total of 5!) which was very lucky to see them all together.
So after a successful 4 weeks travelling around the country, it was time to leave and say farewell to my Team. It was quite a sad moment for me to leave them all at Heathrow, but after 4 weeks of cooking & cleaning for themselves, budgeting, haggling, and generally taking control of the exped, I felt sure they could make it back to Edinbugh on their own.....Thank Team!
Other bits of kit I took that I recommed are my Mountain Equipment Alpamayo Jacket, which was essential for those cold African nights, as was my Sea to Summit Silk liner & my Icebreaker Pocket 200 hat. I took Life Venture All Purpose Soap for washing my clothes and midge repellant to keep the bugs at bay.
Thats all for now.....Kelly