After the success of the previous World Challenge expedition to India a few years ago, another eager twenty-two challengers nervously embarked on a three week adventure to Zambia over the summer.
The trip consisted of three phases. First, the project phase. The groups travelled to Mwandi; a small village which consisted of a singular tarmac high street, around which mud huts were dotted, and, beyond that, just the wild African bush. There, we helped to build a hut for 70-year-old Mary and her eight children and grandchildren. Our work involved the two techniques of mud ‘throwing’ and ‘smoothing’, in which we tried to throw wet mud at the wall (or in some cases, at each other) and pray that it stuck. It took us (a group of ten or so 16-year-olds) a day to complete one layer; it took Mary (a 70-year-old woman) about three hours, putting us all to shame.
The second phase was the hardest of all; the trek phase. Though the beautiful views of the Batoka Gorge and the mighty Zambezi River did take the sting out of the four day trek, it was the nights sleeping in mosquito nets, on sandy beaches, staring at the Milky Way that made the sweat and aching muscles worth it. The true definition of wild camping, there were zero facilities other than a brief wash in the Zambezi and cooking on open fires.
Finally, there was some much required rest and relaxation in the last week of the trip. Of course, we could not leave Zambia without seeing mighty Victoria Falls herself, both from the safety of the viewing platforms, and also zooming past them on a zipwire, trying not to look at the 110m drop into the ‘boiling pot’ below. A sunset river safari on a private boat was idyllic to round off our time in Livingstone.
However, if we could pick out one thing, the highlight of the trip would be the safari in South Luangwa National Park, where we saw four of the big five. Most notably, we saw a male lion yawning mere feet away from the car and watched as a leopard protected his dinner from a prowling hyena.
Needless to say, it was an exciting trip, but also a challenging one, and the invaluable skills and memories we have made will stay with us forever.
Written by Lucia G and Elizabeth A