At the beginning of the summer holidays, a group of 14 Sixth Formers plus Mr Allen and Mrs Allen embarked on the 30 hour journey to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. We arrived at the wilderness foundation exhausted but increasingly excited about the adventure ahead. After being briefed on our plans for the next day, we went straight to bed, anticipating another early morning rise! In the morning we hastily packed our belongings and headed off on the first part of our trip: the village stay.
The village stay was enlightening, we experienced a completely different culture that was unlike anything we had known and fell into their way of life immediately. When we arrived, we made lunch and ate together, then separated off into groups of threes and fours and were introduced to our home stay ‘mothers’. Our hosts became like family, we helped cook meals, clean and entertain each other which included a lot of dancing and singing! Our project while we were there was to help clear and create a gated garden for the village people to grow fruit and vegetables. After we successfully completed this, we visited a school that supported people with disabilities where we alternated between planting onions and pillow making, which were then sold to raise money for the school.
After packing our backpacks, we said our goodbyes and headed out into the wilderness. Separated into our two groups, we hiked through the bush until we reached our first camp. Situated on a large rock overlooking the river, our camp was in an idyllic spot. After unpacking and setting up the camp, we prepared and ate our well-deserved meal, played multiple games of Uno and then headed off to bed. Night watch was something that we were all dreading, however, many of us found it strangely peaceful. It entailed keeping the fire going and ensuring no animals came near our camps - with only one incident occurring when one of the guides had to chase away a cackle of hyenas which strayed a little too close to camp! During the following days we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras and wilderbeast and, before long, it was time to head home.
This was a once in a lifetime experience for all of us, the trip brought us closer together as a group and friendships evolved into what we know will be life-long bonds. The night watch allowed us to reflect deeply on our experiences and what we wanted to gain from this somewhat emotional venture into the wilderness.
Tegan, Year 13