Six Ellesmereian Adventurers Go to Tanzania

Two years ago an idea formulated to take a group of Ellesmerian students to Tanzania.  With the help of World Challenge this was soon put into action.  Our small team was formulated and then the task of raising the money began in earnest.  Fortunately with the college, parental and the Old Ellesmerians help this was not too much of an ordeal.

The departure date seemed an eon away but all too quickly it came to build up day and all our preparations were finally going to be put to the test.

On the day we met the 8 girls and Chrissey the link teacher from Scarborough VIth Form College together with Paul our team leader.  They were collected from the train station and whisked back to college who hosted the build up day.  The kit that we needed out in country was issued ie: tents and mosquito nets plus the trangias (our cookers).  The formidable McDougals, the food stuff of campers and adventurers was also distributed; it just needed to be re-hydrated for a very long time.

Our final goodbyes were said and the 24 hour journey began.  We arrived at Dar es Salaam late on Friday to find that one of the team was with out their ruck sack.  It eventually caught up with us 5 days later to every ones relief including Owen; he now had clothes and a sleeping bag.

Meanwhile we continued to acclimatise to the heat, carrying our own possessions and walking as a group by trekking in Lushoto and the surrounding Usambara Mountains; a very luscious green section of Tanzania.  We stayed in a variety of campsites including an idyllic Catholic convent where the nuns found our camping skills amusing.  By this time a few of our 16 strong were beginning to feel slight stomach problems but over came them within days.  We battled on regardless; meeting the locals especially the children raised our spirits.

Phase 1 over, an 8 hour bus journey took us to civilisation: - Moshi.  A most eventful trip, standing for the whole journey in very cramped conditions certainly focused the mind.  The transport police really had no chance of monitoring what went on in these very rural and quite basic charabancs.

A few days of rest and plenty of pizzas we were ready for our biggest challenge.  The ascent of Mt. Meru, a mere 4566m high taken in 3 stages covering 4 days.  An early awakening 12 am ready for the final push to the summit.  With early cup of tea and a few biscuits we started walking at 1am.  All bar 3 made it to the Socialist peak and signed the book.  If any of the readers wish to go then you will see Ellesmere in the log book and the relevant comments which matched the mood of many who had taken like me nearly 8 hours to reach the top, only to see cloud; typical of English peak baggers.  There was a welcome cup of tea and more biscuits at the top which our porters and guides had carried up for us.  The return journey was now in the daylight and we could see the ledges and rock faces that we had scrambled over just hours before.  A most welcome meal awaited our return, some 12 hours of walking but we saw and conquered.  Due to altitude we descended the same day to Mirakamba hut to make our final night on the mountain more comfortable for every one.  We had an armed park ranger who kept a vigilant look out for straying buffalo.  As our pace was very slow (one of the group had suffered with knee problems) darkness was upon us, so extra rangers were despatched to aid the decent.  Fortunately no buffalo were seen but plenty of evidence that they had been in the area was walked through and pointed out to us on a very unnerving regularity.  Our Mt. Meru trip was coming to a close, the main group made the final decent on foot to Momella Gate where the rest took the transport only available for the sick and infirm.  The ride was no quicker as the roads were very bumpy and riddled with pot holes.

A jubilant return to Moshi for more pizza, and a chance to do some very important laundry, one ruck sack does not give you a lot of space for clothes, 3 pairs of underwear, 2 t-shirts, a pairs of shorts and trousers was the limit.

A couple of days rest then off on Safari our destination the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National park.  I must admit the campsite was very appealing:- a swimming pool.  We saw some wonderful sights and everyone took many photos of the big five.    (Lion, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Leopard and Buffalo).

One of the main challenges that we were all looking forward to was the project phase.  This was in Little Sowetos Valley View primary and secondary school.  Lillian the administrator gave us a quick tour and we soon found the essentials, the shop that sold the Coke and Fanta in a variety of flavours.  Everything looked good; we were going to complete a classroom for the school as well as visit many classes and interact with the pupils and staff.  On a few occasions some of us were invited for lunch with the staff to sample the local cuisine, it did not necessarily go according to plan.  The director of the school invited us all for dinner at the local hotel, all 16 climbed into the back of a dala dala (the local pick up truck)  and we rode of into the sunset for ugali, chicken, goat and coleslaw, the cows intestines were a little too chewy for some of the challengers palate.

Once again the sickness bug hit us and our illustrious leader was one of the main casualties.  He wrote a little ditty in the wee small hours of the many mornings that he failed to sleep which we could all identify with.

Im feeling rather rough

And my bodys had enough

Of aching black and blue

And running to the loo

The turtle and its head

Have packed and gone away

Theyve left me my own Mt. Meru

Erupting night and day

Id really like to sleep

I need the rest and recover

Im a fully grown man

But right now I want my mother

Well I feel a little better

For sharing this with you

Ill take it like a woman

Its only aches and runny poo

                                                                   By  Paul Boggis

Towards the end of our plastering and laying of cement floors we found that in a number of tents the floors were not as stable as they once were.  The tiger ants had eaten their way through the ground sheet.  Camp disbanded and we returned to civilisation and the comfort of a bed, shower and flushable loos in Moshi.

Our last phase was a much better; the bus journey back to the capital was luxury, our own seats followed by a short coach trip across the ferry onto our own little island of paradise, Kipapaya.  Sun, sea and surf for 5 days of rest and relaxation.  A well deserved end to a very busy and challenging 4 weeks.

All the challengers deserve a pat on the back for, from my point of view a most enjoyable and rewarding adventure.

I think we all would recommend a trip similar to this for any one seeking a challenge or who has a sense of adventure or for travel.

         The Intrepid 6:-                 Debbie Joynson-Brooke

Owen Edwards,  Elizabeth Swinnerton,  Iain Disspain,  Abigail Merrill      and           Niall Crispin

14th July 2005  Back to News