Swaziland Expedition - Summer 2013

Deputy Headboy, Stephen Cox, was one of 15 Sixth Form Students who took part in The Misbourne World Challenge Expedition to Swaziland this summer.    Stephen has written this report about their experiences.

World Challenge’s Fearless Fifteen

From 20 to 31 July, 15 intrepid Misbourne explorers plus two members of staff and expedition leader Mark Oliver went to Swaziland in the continent of Africa to take up many different challenges, some of which were potentially deadly.  For all 18 it was a part of the world that they hadn’t explored before and it clearly took everyone by surprise seeing the extreme poverty and how remote the country was, with just beautiful terrain from every viewpoint.

However, with the first part of the challenge being a trekking phase through Malolotja nature reserve in the North West of Swaziland it didn’t feel like we were in Africa.  For many of us this was a brilliant way to kick-start the expedition with a canopy tour.  This included 11 zip wires across a canopy with some reaching 60 metres long and it really showed us how different Swaziland was from England - with life far more on the edge.  Moreover, with the terrain being so treacherous and temperatures exceeding 20 degrees across the two days we only covered around 7 kilometres.  This threw up another challenge because we had to stay at an unexpected campsite, Campsite 10.  Here we were incredibly exposed to the potent wildlife and were cramped in a tiny site where there was barely room for five tents let alone the eight we required to put up, but we managed.  

A large part of this trip was about managing the condition; our budget and learning to shop efficiently as well as making the best of the wood we had for fires.  We were truly into living life like a Swazi lander being on the edge.

After the trekking phase came what was for many people the highlight of the trip, the project phase where we could give our bit back to our host country. Our job was to help complete a water storage facility which would provide clean water to the village of Elangeni. We were very effective in how much we managed to achieve. 

We finished the bricklaying and laid the concrete for three 10,000 litre tanks to sit on.  In addition, we half-completed a trench that would carry the water from its natural source to the tanks.  The builder, Michael, was very impressed with our efforts and said we were the hardest working group who had helped with the project.  It was incredibly tiring but truly worth it to see the satisfaction it gave the builder and knowing we have helped the village to stay away from lethal illnesses.  

We were given the Saturday afternoon off to play the builders in an international football match because we had worked so hard.  It was an amazing affair with a whole host of villagers coming to view the match.  The final score was England Misbourne 8 – Swaziland builders 6.  The Misbourne was the first World Challenge team to beat the builders thus it was a monumental achievement that holds many dear memories and enabled us to make lots of new friends.  This whole phase was a real eye opener as it taught us that actually you can be happy with very little which they truly are, the children in torn clothes, the security guards working night shifts and the drivers being at our beck and call, yet they were always happy.

Our final phase was rest and relaxation which took place in Mlilwane Nature Sanctuary where we went on a safari.  Firstly we went on a horse ride through the savannah seeing wildebeests, warthog and zebra, being just metres from them.   Around the water’s edges we got to experience being very close to a crocodile and seeing the hippos glide through the water, animals you would never dream of seeing in England.   In the evening, the team went on a sunset jeep safari up to Execution Rock which stands at 1110 metres and is the place where in the past prisoners were made to walk up in order to be hurled off to their death.  Watching the sunset over Ezulwini Valley was remarkable and a very satisfying end to a fabulous trip.

Finally, the team would like to say a huge thank you to “All Out Africa” who were excellent hosts and made us feel incredibly welcome in Swaziland; to our security guards who kept our equipment safe; as well as to our teachers who gave up their holiday so we could take part in such an adventure.  A big thank you must also go to our expedition leader who led us with authority and made sure we were always safe but at the same time allowed us to have a large amount of fun. Overall, going on a World Challenge expedition  is something the whole team would recommend as it changed our perspective of the World completely and it taught us one hugely important moral, always be grateful for what you have and live life full of happiness.

Stephen Cox

To view a video of the trip click here.

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