This year's World Challenge expedition saw the group of young explorers travel to India for an incredible, once in a lifetime experience. Here, our World Challenge leader, Mrs Frisby, talks us through their trip.
This summer a team of 3 members of staff and 14 students, Year 11 to Upper Sixth, ventured to India for a 3 week expedition, which had been carefully planned by the students themselves.
The journey to the Himalayas was a real eye-opener to the delights of road transportation in India, what with the horns constantly sounding and the fear of skidding off the narrow road down the valley, our nerves were tested. Arriving in the Himalayan town of Manali, the team had chance to acclimatise to the altitude before heading out on our trek. Manali, a popular Indian honeymoon destination, was a mixture of tourist trinket shops and backpacker hangouts with the raging glacial River Bea flowing through the town. Lots for us to explore during our afternoon stroll!
After our numerous training weekends back at home, it was finally time to put our skills to the test. With provisions purchased, we were picked up by our trek operator and driven to the start of the Hampta Pass Trek. The team quickly established a trek routine of waking at 7.00am, tents down, breakfast at 8.00am, morning songs led by our trek guide, Vinni, and out walking by 9.00am. The food on trek was fabulous with so many fresh vegetables and spices, truly a taste sensation.
Cooking Tent Dining Tent Fresh Ingredients
As the relationships with our guides developed, the team played Kabaddi and cricket and sang songs late into the evening, further cementing memories that will last a lifetime. After 4 days of walking, during which we were treated to the most spectacular views, we reached the summit of Hampta Pass and watched Vinni perform a Hindu blessing.
Hampta Pass summit Breath-taking views
Our arrival in Uaipur signalled the start of our community engagement at the D.a.a.N Foundation, an after-school facility for children. We quickly established what needed to be done to improve the facilities for the young children who were using the centre and set about our work. Over 4 days we built a wall to create a silent reading and homework area, plastered the walls of the toilets on the roof terrace, planted medicinal plants to be used in drinks for the children, decorated the walls with pictures and invested in new furniture to enable the children to complete homework at desks.
Working at the D.a.a.N Foundation
After long days working in the Rajasthan heat until 4.00pm, the children would arrive at the centre to greet us. We would then spend 1 ½ hours each day playing games, singing songs and teaching the children magic tricks. They loved the magic tricks so much, we are sure that everybody in the town will have seen them by now!
Fun and games with the children at the D.a.a.N Foundation
As our expedition drew to a close, we entered the final stage - what World Challenge call the rest and relaxation stage! It was during this time that we could become stereotypical tourists and visit the must see attractions of Amer, Jaipur and Agra. The architecture did not disappoint, with plenty to marvel at including the Wind Palace of Jaipur, Amber Palace, Agra Fort and Taj Mahal.
After three weeks in India, it was time to head home. The students invested a lot of time fundraising, training and planning for this trip for 18 months and it was amazing to see them really embrace the adventure.