During the first week of the summer holidays 24 College pupils accompanied by Mr Mattingly and Miss Briedenhann departed on an ambitious adventure to Kenya. The expedition had been planned by the pupils around three main phases: a project phase (working in a remote local school), a challenge phase (climbing to the summit of Mount Kenya) and finally a rest and relaxation phase (a safari).
On arrival in Nairobi the group travelled north by road to the town of Nanyuki where they stocked up on supplies before moving on to the remote school where they were to carry out their projects. The group was divided into two teams: Team One’s focus was on teaching and playing with the pupils, while Team Two’s project was to help build a new classroom for the school.
The work for both teams was relentless but immensely rewarding. The Eastbourne visitors learned a great deal about the everyday hardships faced by many families in this remote part of Kenya and felt humbled by the fantastic reception they received from the children and staff of the school. After some tearful goodbyes, the two teams left Nanyuki to start the challenge and relaxation phases of the trip.
For the safari phase the two groups travelled by jeep to the camping sites deep in the Sweetwater game reserve, which has one of the highest densities of game in any Kenyan National Park and where they were fortunate enough to see lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and antelopes.
The Mount Kenya trek was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip for both teams. The journey to and from Point Lenana, the trekking summit of the mountain at 4985m, took seven days. The first two days saw the group trekking through the hot and humid rainforests before they caught their first glimpse of the summit on day three. The following evening the group retired to bed early, in preparation for rising at 2.00am in order to reach the summit by sunrise.
The final ascent was extremely cold but both groups reached Pont Lenana with just minutes to spare before the sun rose. Trekking for a sustained period up to this altitude was a great physical feat for all involved but the sheer elation and sense of achievement at reaching the summit made it all worthwhile.
With all of the planned phases completed by both teams there was just enough time for them to enjoy a celebratory meal in Nairobi before heading home. The pupils can reflect back on this superb trip knowing that they overcame many personal challenges and gathered memories to cherish forever.