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WORLD CHALLENGE 2018

Full updates from all three teams will be posted here, for quick updates please see our Twitter page. https://twitter.com/SirHenryFloyd

Please be aware that the World Challenge Teams are finding internet access very unreliable so updates are hard to communicate. 

10th August - Team 2

We’re currently in Mozambique on our final night and none of us can quite believe the trip is so nearly over. We’ve spent the last week experiencing the beautiful city of Tofo, beginning with our marine conservation project. We spent three days with the lovely Kim, Katie and France of the All Out Africa team learning about their efforts to conserve the ocean life of Mozambique and helping out by humpback whale watching and completing a beach clean up. The best bits for many of us came with the exhilarating ocean safaris that we were able to take part in. On our first safari we were fortunate enough to see an incredibly high amount of breaching whales, with our project leader Kim telling us that it was the most humpback whales that she had ever seen on an ocean safari. Thinking our luck had run out, we took part in the other safaris thinking we’d seen the best already, but on our third excursion we managed to swim with an albino giant manta ray, see devil rays, humpback whales and, the highlight for many of us, swim with dolphins which was the most unforgettable experience. Throughout the rest of our R&R, we spent our time learning how to haggle in the markets of both Tofo and Inhambane, with varying degrees of success and some admittedly shocking deals made by certain members of the group in the first couple of days. Over the course of 6 days we somehow managed to buy a whopping 300 samosas, quite an achievement if you ask us! We also filled our time making eco-bricks on the beach, taking part in an African dance/fitness class (although this was a challenge that many of the boys and one of the teachers decided they couldn’t handle), and eating a traditional Mozambican buffet on our final night in Tofo.

9th August - Team 1

We are still in Tofo, a small beach resort on the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.

Our final phase of our expedition involved working alongside marine biologists to assist with their research on Tofo’s ‘Big 5’ (whale sharks, dolphins, manta rays, humpback whales and turtles). We have been split into two teams where we work on separate activities everyday, which is either based on scientific research or wildlife conservation. One of the daily activities has been humpback whale monitoring where we trek up sand dunes to watch the ocean using reticulated binoculars. The data is then used to understand the population migrating up and down the coast. The project also includes going out into the bay on ocean safaris for close encounters with the humpbacks. Sadly the whale sharks did not make an appearance.

On Friday we start our journey home - our bus to Maputo departs at 5:30am and takes 7-8 hours. Then on Saturday we fly to Johannesburg and to connect with our overnight flight back to London.

See you soon!

8th August - Team 3

Having lost a phone we have found emailing very challenging with poor or no WiFi. We have all been emersed in the trip and can't wait to share pictures and stories on our return. Tonight we have returned to Khotso horse farm having been on project in Lesthoto the most stunning country although as cold as prewarned. Our time in Durban will be refreshingly different! See you all as planned on Sunday.

8th August Team 2

Update 1 - We’ve just come back from our first R&R activity - zip lining at Malolotja nature reserve in Swaziland. Despite some initial nerves, we all kitted up and headed off to our first zip-lining platform, full of excitement and ready to get stuck in. After a couple of practice runs on the smaller zip lines, we were ready for the 8 100m+ zip-wires and suspension bridge overlooking the stunning views of Malolotja. With varying degrees of gracefulness, a lot of encouragement and a couple of screams from Kate on the suspension bridge, we all managed to complete the entirety of the canopy tour. The time flew by (as did we!) but we made sure to stop for lots of photo opportunities, incluAnother update from team 2! We’ve just finished our final day at the surreal Kruger National Park in South Africa. We began by meeting our two guides for our stay at Kruger, Rueben and Adrian, in their very short shorts and boarded our safari vehicles. We spent our three days on unlimited game drives as well as an incredible night safari and an early morning game drive, armed with lots of blankets. Whilst there were more breathtaking moments than we could count, some of our highlights included elephants walking out on the road right in front of our vehicle, seeing a leopard (one of the hardest of the Big 5 to spot) and, most incredibly, spotting two cheetahs just before the gates on our final day even though there are only 120 in the entire park. During our stay we made sure to fill up our memory cards with tonnes of photos to show everyone at home, and ended the visit with our first group meal out at the restaurant - a fitting end to our incredible Kruger experience.ding some action shots of our scared faces mid-zip line taken by the guides.

Another update from team 2! We’ve just finished our final day at the surreal Kruger National Park in South Africa. We began by meeting our two guides for our stay at Kruger, Rueben and Adrian, in their very short shorts and boarded our safari vehicles. We spent our three days on unlimited game drives as well as an incredible night safari and an early morning game drive, armed with lots of blankets. Whilst there were more breathtaking moments than we could count, some of our highlights included elephants walking out on the road right in front of our vehicle, seeing a leopard (one of the hardest of the Big 5 to spot) and, most incredibly, spotting two cheetahs just before the gates on our final day even though there are only 120 in the entire park. During our stay we made sure to fill up our memory cards with tonnes of photos to show everyone at home, and ended the visit with our first group meal out at the restaurant - a fitting end to our incredible Kruger experience.

7th August - Team 1

Team 1 update on R&R phase in Malolotja, Kruger and Tofu

After an intense two and half weeks of project and trekking, Team 1 began our well-deserved R&R phase with an epic zip-wire canopy tour in Malolotja, Swaziland. We crossed a suspension bridge and 10 zip wires, some of which were over 120m long and had vertical drops of over 200m. The views were amazing, but to be honest most people were having too much fun on the zip wires to always appreciate their surroundings! The campsite itself was also a unique experience, as not only did we share it with another World Challenge team from Essex, but also baboons and impala. All in all, it was a great day but we got an early night ready for the following morning where we travelled back into South Africa.

At around midday, we finally arrived at the infamous Kruger National Park. For most of us, this safari was the thing we were most looking forward to, and it certainly did not disappoint. In just the drive from the entrance to the campsite, we saw giraffe, zebras, wildebeest, impala, warthogs, kudus, and many other beautiful birds and animals. We were also fortunate enough to go on a sunset drive where we spotted a hyena and some mongoose - but none of them compared to the awesome view of approximately 100 buffalo drinking from the watering hole surrounded by crocodiles and hippos. From here, we went for our first meal out which included some of the biggest slices of cake that we have ever seen. This filled us up ready to begin our night safari which was such a spectacular experience. The highlight must have been pulling up alongside a lion who was sleeping on the side of the road. Watching the lion wake up and clean itself within only 1m of our vehicle was an experience that would become very difficult to beat. 

We woke up early the next morning to begin our entire day on safari. Obviously, our main aim was to see the Big 5 (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino), and we were very fortunate to do so. We’d seen many lions and buffalo, and a few elephants the day before, but the rhino and leopard proved difficult to find. We saw some rhino early in the day, which was extremely lucky as unfortunately they are the most hunted animal in Kruger. It would be fair to say we also had a rather stressful experience trying to find the leopard. We were split into two vehicles, and one group had found a leopard, which left the other group very jealous as they frantically tried to track it down. After about half an hour of waiting and searching, luckily the second group did eventually see the leopard and the Big 5 was complete within 24 hours of being on safari. 

Our full day on safari came with many highlights: notably an intense stand-off between buffalo and lions, and one of the most incredible elephant-sightings where two huge bull elephants walked directly in front our vehicles. However, the day was topped with one of the most incredible meals of the expedition so far: the biggest BBQ ever. For those of us who eat meat, we enjoyed a feast of chicken wings, and ribs, pork sausages, massive pigs in blankets, beef burgers - and even more exotic choices of impala sausages and wildebeest burgers. 

Then, after a full day of travelling, we finally arrived at Tofu in Mozambique. We camped at Mozambeats Motel, and we all agree that it’s the best place we’ve stayed. It has an awesome pool, live bands, and a dance floor, and has just been the perfect place to spend our last few chilled days of R&R. During the days, we’ve explored the markets where we attempted bartering with the locals, and have chilled out by the beach. Most of us took part in an ocean safari where we went out in a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) and snorkelled in the sea. We were even lucky enough to spot humpback whales, which came within metres of our boat. We also took part in what we thought was an African dance class, but turned out to be a fitness class, and although it was not what we thought, it still turned out to be really funny.

Tomorrow we change accommodation to Turtle Cove where we will begin our final phase (marine conservation project) before we begin our long journey back to Heathrow this weekend.

Love and best wishes to all family and friends of Team 1 xxx

6th August - Team 1

Just managed to get some WiFi that will send messages - not something commonly available!

The team update is a little outdated - more on Kruger and Mozambique to follow.

Our week in Swaziland began with a long day of travelling before setting up for the night at the beautiful Lidwala backpackers camp. Although it was a long day, it was definitely made worthwhile when we stopped at a service station and we were reunited with chocolate, sweets and pastries for the first time in a fortnight! It was from Lidwala that we had our briefing about the rest of our time in Swaziland, and it would be fair to say that we left Lidwala very excited for what was to come. We travelled to the Shewula Mountain Camp where we enjoyed a fantastic evening of Swazi dancing; a delicious, traditional Swazi feast; and the night was topped off with star-gazing in the mountains and watching the spectacular lunar eclipse.

It was from here that we met our amazing team of guides and porters that would be assisting us during the Lubombo Trail. Our Lead Guide, Phumlami, has been extremely helpful and has taught us a lot about the local area and wildlife. Our porters ( Vusi, Linda and Mbomgeni) have also provided many laughs, and have been extremely helpful in carrying most of our food. It must be mentioned that us challengers have made a particularly special bond with our final porter, Mgcibelo (who insists that we call him ‘Saturday’). He’s made the very difficult days extremely entertaining, and has been unbelievably helpful in teaching us how to light fires and how to cook amazing food on open fire. Saturday has even performed the miracle of making us finally enjoy eating pup (boiled maize meal)! 

What has made our time in Swaziland so unique is not just learning about their different culture (such as the absolute monarchy) or trekking in the scorching heat that as reached over 30 degrees everyday, but it is the rare opportunity of wild camping in the African wilderness. This unique experience has provided the chance to see the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets (including the classic African red sun) but it hasn’t come without its interesting challenges. These have included no showers and using our trowel to dig a toilet in the ground! 

The actual trek itself has been very challenging. We followed the Red Rock route which has been very hilly with extremely rocky terrain. Although many of the grasslands is currently quite dry due to the fact that this is not monsoon season, the views have still been wonderful. One of the most beautiful areas was the caves and the river crossings that we did over rocks and thin, wooden bridges - thankfully none of us saw any of the crocodiles that we were told live there! Although we didn’t see any of the crocodiles, the Lubombo trail is famous for the wildlife it offers, and we haven’t been disappointed. We saw toads, wild rabbits, lizards, baboons, and, most spectacularly, we’ve seen zebras running through the valley too.

Now that the trek is over, we are very excitedly travelling to Malolotja for our zip wire canopy tour over the gorges and mountains for the start of our well-deserved R&R phase!

Love and best wishes to all family and friends of Team 1 xxx

30th July - Team 2 

Update 1 - Our first trek was the Giants Cup trek through the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa. It was a hard trek for our little team, especially the first night walking in the dark. We got to our hut eventually though with a lot of terrible singing (mainly ‘Tell Me Why’ Backstreet Boys), Bashford’s Hall of Fame game and an insane amount of politics chat. The food on trek was a challenge to say the least, but we got through it with some inventive thinking - our three course special consisting of French onion soup (onion water), country mash (smash) and deconstructed s’mores (our left over marshmallows and chocolate). We finished the trek after 3 days having walked 46km in total and went back to a cosy wooden lodge and a well-deserved three course meal ready to start the project phase of our expedition.

Update 2 - We began the project phase of our trek on horseback from South Africa to Lesotho, which was incredible despite some of the initial worries from the first time riders in our team. To get up to the school that we would be working on, we had to go in the back of a cattle truck which was so bumpy that most of us were surprised we all made it. Throughout our four days on project our task was to redecorate a classroom and put up a fence around the local school. While we started off on the first freezing cold morning unsure how it would all turn out, we ended up turning the back wall of the classroom into the solar system, brightened up the walls, painted educational diagrams on all the walls and used up all of our supplies constructing the fence. The most rewarding part of the project however was the interaction with the community. We all miss Mamohato, the village chief, and Benesh our bodyguard, or Kev as we called him. Mamohato gave us a tour of the village where we gave out our teddies to the children and handed over our gifts of clothes and school supplies for the village, which was an incredible experience even though we managed to accidentally ask for a census, making the tour spread across two days it was so long. Just before we left, we sang a song to say ‘thank you’ to Mamohato and her committee for having us which was, of course, our Backstreet Boys anthem ‘I want it that way’.

Update 3 - We began our second trek in Ngwempisi Gorge in Swaziland fresh back from project, ready to begin the next phase. Despite a very early start (especially difficult for the many members of our team who are definitely not morning people) we made great progress and arrived at our first night wild camping in time to pitch tents and watch the beautiful lunar eclipse. Although many in the team were slightly nervous about wild camping, aka our four least favourite words “little to no facilities”, the sights from our tents in the morning of the river were stunning. It also meant we had a chance to get everyone in the freezing river for a swim, after splashing and eventually just pushing the more reluctant members of the team in. Our final full day of trek ended with a very steep 2km ascent, which really challenged our group motto of “Easy Peasy Ngwempsi”, but it was all worth it when we saw the amazing rock lodge where we would be staying the night. After all having an outdoor shower with the best view of the mountains, we were able to watch the sun set on the roof - a perfect end to our final trek of the trip.

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26th July - Team 1 update on the Giants Cup Trek in the Drakensburg Mountains

On Sunday, Team 1 travelled along the Sani Pass to begin our 46km trek. Carrying bags as heavy as 15kg (which included all of the food and safety equipment we would need for the next four days), Day 1 saw us work our way through many river crossings, and lots of technical climbing sections where we needed to use specialist equipment such as a sling and karibena. Some of us were even brave enough to jump into the freezing Ngenwa Pool as a way to cool off, but despite the cold many laughs were had! Our first day was a 13.3km trek where we finished the day at the Pholela Hut - after eating lunch in a cave, it felt very special to be eating dinner around a table!

Day 2 was our shortest day distance-wise where we travelled 9km to the Mzimkhulwana Hut. It was on this day that we got the best view of the spectacular Giants Cup, but to be honest, all of the views have been stunning. In the middle of the morning, we were encouraged by our expedition leader to take a 10 minute silence in order to effectively reflect on the experiences we have had so far. It would be fair to say that we were all amazed at how powerful that reflection was, and the beautiful views off the Siphongweni Ridge only added to our awe. However, after another very warm and dry day on the mountains, the highlight came when we reached the hut to find another natural swimming pool to cool off in. As it wasn’t as cold as the Ngwena Pool from Day 1, most of us got in - yet to say the water was any where near warm would still be a massive exaggeration! 

We set off from the Mzimkhulwana Hut quite early the next morning to start our 12.2km climb to the Winterhoek Huts. After the hard day before, we started quite sore and tired, yet we quickly found our optimistic selves and powered through. We headed up Bamboo Mountain and Little Bamboo Mountain (we are still not sure why Little Bamboo is the larger mountain!), and yet we still made it to the huts for lunchtime. We were all very excited when we got to the huts and learnt not only that we had crossed the border into No Mans Land between South Africa and Lesotho, but also that we would be staying in traditional rondavel huts. The night was topped off by a big fire that we shared with other trekkers, and some chocolate Angel Delight!

After waking up at 4am with the frost still on the ground, we began Day 4 by trekking over the Garden Castle as the sun rose. Whether it was the energy from the fact that we knew this was our final day trekking, or the promise of a warm wash at the end - we smashed through the 12.8km trek in just 5 hours and 15 minutes, beating the expected time of 6 hours for experienced trekkers. The trek began with a climb of 300m of altitude in the first 2km, but the views were nothing short of spectacular. Although we were exhausted, it would be fair to say we were extremely proud of ourselves when we reached the Swiman Hut which is where the bus picked us up from to take us to our log cabin where our well-deserved comfy beds and warms baths awaited. 

Tomorrow we leave South Africa behind for a little while as we travel to Swaziland, where we will take on our second trek on the Lubombo Trail.

Love and best wishes to all family and friends of Team 1 xxx

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21st July - Team 1 update project in Lesotho at the Black and White Cow School

On Monday, Team 1 travelled by horseback across the beautiful, frosted Drakensburg mountains at sunset to arrive in Lesotho. For many of us in Team 1, travelling by horse was a new experience and much fun was had when we allowed our horses to gallop - and thankfully no one fell off! The stunning views of the mountains and the gorge through which we rode, was only beaten when we finally arrived in Lesotho and saw the beautiful location of the Black and White Cow School where we would be living and working for the next few days.

Although we were told to prepare for the cold and we knew it was winter, the altitude and unseasonably cold weather took us by surprise. There are hard frosts at night which means that the water pipes freeze over, but the days have been sunny and dry which has meant that we can be extremely productive in the day. We are all based in one classroom which has become a home away from home; we have created a kitchen, bedrooms and even have room for candlelit dinners every night!

We are very privileged to be the first ever World Challenge team to come to this community and we have been welcomed with open arms. The chief of the village (a formidable lady), Mamohato Sehahle, was kind enough to take us around the village which was a humbling experience for all. Although her English is often difficult to follow, she has provided us with two workmen and lots of advice.

Within the brief of our project we were asked to provide a bright and colourful classroom; a 770m fence around the perimeter of the school; and reparations to the fence around the vegetable garden. The classroom is finished with pink, blue and yellow walls, and beautiful paintings of animals. Although we have done all we can with the two fences, it will be up to the other SHFGS teams to finish the whole perimeter! We were all very excited to bring in a water tank to the village (which was paid through our own group fundraising) as there is a very short supply of running water due to how dry it is in the winter. It was also a joy to provide toys, clothes, teddy bears and sanitary towels to the wonderful children in the village who were very happy to meet us.

Although we are sad to leave the kingdom of Lesotho behind, the next phase of our adventure is to tackle the world-famous Giants Cup Trail in the Drakensburg mountains!

Love and best wishes to all family and friends of Team 1 xxx

 

 

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