From Inverness to Glasgow (by bus 4 hours); Glasgow to Dubai (9 hours); Dubai Airport (5 hours); Dubai to Johannesburg (9 hours); and finally by road to Camp Itumela in Palapye (9 hours) – it was a pretty intense but exciting 36 hours of travelling!
Arriving at the school on our first day, the welcome we received was overwhelming, no one could believe quite how enthralled the students were to finally meet us. One of the African girls that had been to stay with us in Scotland commented that we were like celebrities to them – and that‘s exactly how it felt. It was really humbling to see that our little contribution (to improve their toilets, paint a mural and visit their classrooms) could have such a lasting impact.
From there we travelled up through Botswana and on our way we were presented with some pretty outstanding sights. It‘s not every day you have to stop on the road to allow a herd of elephants to cross! We visited some impressive locations like the Rhino Sanctuary which held some of the endangered and hunted rhinos remaining in Africa. We also went on two other safaris where we got the opportunity to view some of “Africa’s Big Five” in their native habitat.
video by Michaela Kent (S6)
Some of the animals we saw were elephants, giraffes, hippos, zebras and thousands of monkeys! Visiting the salt pans was quite incredible; you could see nothing for hundreds of miles in every direction and got to witness a beautiful African sunset. Towards the end of the trip we crossed into Zimbabwe for a day to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world – Victoria Falls! We walked along the side of the falls and spent some time watching people bungee jump off the bridge. Those of us who didn‘t rent raincoats were soaked to the skin by the end of the day (it was almost like being back in Scotland!) After the Falls we went to a typical Zimbabwean market to barter and buy some African crafts… Some of us even traded clothes and shoes for gifts!
It was amazing to see so much of Africa in so little time. The journey flew by but at the same time it felt like we‘d been there for months! It‘s safe to say that everyone who experienced Botswana would jump at the chance to see more of Africa and would whole-heartedly encourage you to embrace this opportunity!
George Ashton, Mhairi Maclennan and Michaela Kent 6S