Fourteen members of Kent Wing Air Training Corps (ATC) have just returned from a two week expedition to Kenya thanks to the generous financial support of the Ulysses Trust, RAF Charitable Trust and the Singleton Trust.
The first week was spent climbing to the 4985mpeakofMtKenya. The group climbed via the Sirimon Route starting at 2700m, the first day was a steady climb on a main track in torrential rain to Old Moses Hut at 3300m. Day 2 a 15km trek, still in rain saw the team reach Shipton Hut at 4200m; having entered a more sub-alpine climate protection from the weather was limited. However as the clouds parted on reaching the hut they were rewarded with their first views of the triple summits of MtKenya. Day 3 was an acclimatisation day toMintosColat 4600m, taking the team above 15,000ft for the first time, before returning to Shipton Hut. Rising at 0200hrs on Day 4 the team were met with heavy snow making the climb slower and cold. Reaching Square Tarn for sunrise the team paused to take in the stunning views before continuing on to summit just before 0800hrs, with clear blue skies and a view of Kilimanjaro on the horizon.
For many of the cadets this was achieved against a real physical test. Not just the debilitating effects of altitude, for all of the cadets it was their first experiences above 1000m Above sea level, but also the fact that some of the team had suffered or were still suffering the effects of a vomiting bug brought from the UK that nearly all team members suffered from at some point on the trip.
However the day had only just started, another two hours took the team to Mintos Tarn where they had breakfast, before continuing to descend above the spectacular Chogoria Gorge to arrive at their campsite by theNithiRiverat 1630hrs, after nearly 15 hrs of walking. The following day was an easy descent to Meru Bandas where the team had showers, albeit cold, for the first time in a week. However the euphoria was short lived as they woke next morning to the news they faced a 12km extra walk to meet their support vehicles as the track was in such poor condition they could only reach half way along the exit path. This was emphasised by an “interesting” ride out in 4x4s.
Phase two was a community project based with a Maasai village in remote Maji Moto. Here the team lived amongst a traditional Maasai tribe where they not only learnt about Maasai culture but were able to undertake Maasai “Warrior Training” and undertook a walking safari with Maasai guides. They also met an inspirational woman who was trying to break the chain of denying young females education by setting up her own school for the children of Maasai widows. Visiting the school, and the nearby mixed primary school, the team helped plant trees with school children, installed a solar panel which they had fundraised for, and ran a sports day for the school leaving behind a large quantity of sports equipment and stationary they had managed to get donated.
The final two days were spent on safari where they saw the “Big 5” in a two hour period as well as just about every species the Maasai Mara has to offer courtesy of the wetter, more temperate weather.
Such was the effect of the Maasai experience that plans are already afoot to return in 2013 with two teams and build a new classroom block for the school so that more children will have the opportunity to get an education.
For more information on joining the Cadet’s visit www.serfca.org tel: 01252 357605