St Edmund's

School News

World Challenge Tanzania 2023

It’s safe to say that none of us had experienced anything quite like this before and we have come away safe in the knowledge that World Challenge is so named, because that’s exactly what it is Any preconceived ideas were blown out of the water immediately, as the Team St. Edmund’s were handed the Trip Phone on arrival at Heathrow Terminal 4 and given brief instructions, allocated initial roles and then ……. off we went, led through Departures by Gabs. 

Day 1 and 2 were spent travelling to Dar es Salaam, via Doha and Kilimanjaro. We negotiated the transfers brilliantly and even new team member, Pedro (Ali’s much coveted travel pillow), kept up! Everyone was in excellent spirits on arrival despite the long journey, and we were met by our lovely local guide Simon, who took us to our beach hut accommodation at Kipepeo, a beautiful location off the beaten track 

We had delicious chicken and rice for lunch at a local restaurant along the busy road, and after sorting the SIM card out for the team phone (easier said than done), we returned for a planning meeting. Decisions were made on team roles for the next couple of days logistics, finance and security, with everyone holding a share of the team budget in their money belts. 
We returned to the same restaurant for dinner, and experienced the traditional Ugali, a dense ‘porridge’ made from maize flour and water, used to soak up juices and accompany meat and fish dishes. There were mixed reactions to this meal but a good indication that we were fully invested in immersing ourselves in the local culture. Off we went for an early night in preparation for our 7am departure for the Zanzibar ferry. 

Day 3 

After an interesting night’s sleep, (including what sounded like a beach rave!) and woken by the Call to Prayer, the team were up and ever so nearly ready for our 7am departure to the Port. 10 malaria tablets later we arrived at the bustling and noisy port and were driven directly into the departure compound and then ushered through the chaotic security area. A beautifully smooth ferry journey saw us arrive in Zanzibar just two hours later. Again, a little chaos as we all ‘queued’ for immigration and that all important passport stamp! Half an hour later, we were at Karibu Inn in Stone Town, a short walk from the Port. The afternoon was spent exploring the historic old town, finding some lunch (chicken and rice) and embarking on our first shopping experiences. Kyla had a keen eye for bargain quality purchases, George and Roya haggled away, and most came away with a Zanzibar football shirt, amongst hand crafted salad servers and dishes. We were  starting to get the hang of the currency and some of us got a little over excited with our spending, to be honest… 

Our snorkelling trip for the following day was booked, and the evening was spent at the beach, watching the sun set, some beach football and some quite fabulous beach gymnastics from the locals!  

Dinner was in a slightly more touristy venue, and we all agreed that it was just not as good as Target, where we had eaten in Dar es Salaam.  

A long team meeting ensued before bed; Morgan, our team leader, needed to make sure that the Team knew how much money we had and to make some plans for the following days. The pupils were having to take in a lot of information and learning the need to work together.  

 Day 4 

Most made it to breakfast on time the following morning! Things were progressing in the right direction. With the excitement of the snorkelling trip ahead, we demolished our pancakes, toast and tea, and were ready to leave the Inn for our 9am excursion.  

Wet suits, fins, masks and snorkels fitted, off we went on the Gladiator 1, a superb old wooden vessel, heading for a local island reef, where the sea was turquoise and very inviting. Beautiful fish were seen, of all shapes and sizes, sea urchins were avoided and back to the boat we swam for a delicious snack and a short trip to the shipwreck site for more exploring. We were all very taken by the vegetable samosas! 

Star fish, coral and a puffer fish were amongst the wooden remains. Our captain allowed some diving and jumping from the boat, before returning to shore for an afternoon on the beach. The pupils joined some locals in the water for ball games and then we headed back to the hotel for a freshen up and dinner at a nearby restaurant. Card games were in full flow and the team was beginning to work together smoothly. 

Day 5 

Everyone was on time for breakfast .. hooray! Bags were packed, team roles swapped and our new guide, Fahad arrived to take us on to Fuoni, our home for 3 days whilst we took part in our community work at a local school.  

We arrived and were shown to our rooms – bunk beds and en suites – so much better than we had expected!  

A Swahili lesson followed before the ladies of the house cooked delicious lunch of mince and chapati with saladWe were all able to say Asante San’ (thank you) for this. After a short rest we travelled back to Stone Town for a guided tour. Elvis, our guide, showed us the tiny slave caves. And we visited the memorial statue of the slaves by the Anglican Cathedral.  

A strongly Islamic area and respect for the rules was vital, and the female members of the team adorned long scarves to cover their legs whilst we were here.  

There is a strong Arabic connection on Zanzibar, with many large wooden doors throughout Stone Town with brass knobs. The grandeur of the door and knobs was an indication of the wealth and status of the family and as we wandered through the town, we took in the variety.  

We stopped at the baraza for a gossip, Jaws corner and The African Hotel, with the Sunset Bar overlooking the ocean – a stunning vista.  

A little stop at the beach and the pupils went in for a swim. George survived a jelly fish sting admirably with Morgan administering his super first aid skills, picking the stings out with tweezers, and washing down with water It was then back to the house for dinner of rice and chicken, salad and an orange. We played a full team game of cards before heading to bed. 

Day 6 

We were up early for eggs and avocado, before walking to the school for our project. Cows, carts, goats, cats, buses, bikes and pedestrians use the same road but everyone is very respectful of one another, and very happy. We learnt a lot from our hosts and the surrounding community. 

The school children were delighted to see us and we set to work scraping, filling and painting the walls in the spare classroom. Everyone worked really hard. Kyla, Marcus and Roya did some fabulous pictures on the classroom and hall walls with fruit, fish and umbrellas amongst other images. We worked alongside a local artist .. he was mostly impressed .. particularly with Kyla’s brush skills. Lunch was delivered to us from the house by motorbike, with Ada balancing everything on her lap! Potato omelettes, salad and fruit were on the menu and again it was deliciousThe team took time to play and talk to the children after eating –  they were very sweet 

Once we had finished our work for the day, we returned to the house, cleaned ourselves up and set about making some posters to go up on the classroom walls. This was a great team effort again. The ladies of the team then cooked Mtori alongside the ladies of the house, a beef, green Banana and potato stew. We sat on the kitchen floor to prepare the meat and vegetables following our hosts’ instructions, and learning all sorts of Swahili along the way! 

We ate, had our team meeting, played cards and then headed to bed at 10pm, so we could be ready for tomorrow’s full day of work.  This was our favourite day of the trip to date as we felt like we made an impact.  

Day 7 

An 8am leave again after pancakes and avocado for breakfast. The children were on holiday today, so the school was quiet, although the children still came to see what we were doing. Ali, George, Iona, Gabs got to work finishing the classroom wall painting, whilst Kyla, Roya and Marcus carried on with their smaller pictures on the other classroom walls. It was a very satisfying and productive morning as collectively we transformed the school environment with brightly coloured images. Lunch arrived on the motor bike and, after eating rice, salad and pineapple, it was clean up time! We scrubbed the floors, washed paint brushes and rollers, and picked up litter. The Headteacher was very pleased with our contributions, and the charity money raised from our cake sale, non uniform day and summer fair stall will go towards building blocks and weather proofing the end of the building. 

We walked back through the community to our house, and after a quick turn around, set off for the Zanzibar Stadium to play some football and basketball. Fahad and Gerald had very kindly organised this for us and we enjoyed an hour or so on the court.  

We walked back through the community to our house, and after a quick turn around, set off for the Zanzibar Stadium to play some football and basketball. Fahad and Gerald had very kindly organised this for us and we enjoyed an hour or so on the court.  

They taught us a little African Dance which they were fond of – easier for some than others!

Dinner was arranged in historical Stone Town, at The African Hotel. This was a relaxing way to end our project and talk about the next few days. 

Day 8 

Early breakfast once more, and then a budget meeting to make sure we were on track. The team discussed, counted and redistributed cash to each person. Revo joined us for a team project debrief, thank yous were exchanged and goodbyes said. Onto the bus once more and off to the Port we went … Gerald called his brother and arranged for us to wait in the VIP lounge .. what a luxury!! 

Most of us sat on deck for the 90 min ride, and Simon was waiting for us to take us back to Kipepeo for the night. A quick ATM stop, back to Target restaurant for a very late lunch (we were all very hungry!), then back to Kipepeo for the night where we ate in the restaurant – pizza, pasta and burgers were a treat! 

Day 9  

This was a big travel day as we set off for Mikumi at 6am. The driving conditions were incredible, with seemingly very few rules, but drivers seemed to be ultra-aware of everything that was going on around them! Motorbikes, pedestrians, tuk-tuks, motorbikes, buses, lorries in all directions. We were amazed to only see one crash. We stopped on the way to buy some food for the evening cooking – the team’s first attempt. And it turned out to be a delicious pasta dish, followed by pineapple for pudding. Everyone was exhausted and a little grumpy after our journey, and we had missed lunch due to travel time constraints.  We had a reflective team meeting, picked up the positive mood again, and then prepared lunch for the following day’s safari. 

Day 10 

A nutritious breakfast of bread and chocolate spread started our day before being picked up for our Safari. The fabulous safari jeeps took us to Mikumi National Park, with baboons and giraffe lining the road. It was a hot day with full sun but we were well protected by the canopies over the jeeps and we saw plenty .. giraffe, zebra, monkeys, warthogs, wildebeast, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, and numerous birds and elephants. We had a quick lunch under the shade of some rather large Baobab trees (pasta and tomatoes, expertly crafted by Iona the previous evening) and then carried on our search for the big cats – to no avail unfortunately, but we couldn’t fault the effort of our guides. The team were interested to learn about how poachers used to hide in the trunks of the Baobab trees and then would emerge at night to steal the animals. This culture has been eradicated by the introduction of a ‘shoot on sight’ policy.  

Once back at camp, we were all delighted to be offered dinner, at no cost, in the restaurant at the campsite, rather than cooking on the camp fire again! The food was great, and everyone felt more energized. A game of cards or two ensued and then we all got ready for a 10pm bed time. 

Day 11 

Simon arrived, ready to take us on the next phase of our trip to Morogoro and the stunning Uluguru Mountains. It was raining hard as we put the first things onto the bus, but everyone rallied and we were organised and ready to go relatively speedily. Off we went to Morogoro and there, we met Charles, the Cheers Travel rep, who took us for lunch, a snack shop,  and then gave us instructions for the next part of the trip.  

We repacked day sacks, were driven to the start point of our trek whilst our big bags were driven up to our camp. A short 20 minute walk later and we were there too, under a tree canopy by a small waterfall. We pitched our tents and shortly afterwards, were joined by another school, from Taunton. We spent the evening dancing and singing around the campfire with a local band with drummers, xylophones and shakers. It was great fun! Ali was the lead conga dancer and played the drums for us too. 

Day 12 

A relaxed start to the day and after breakfast we began our climb to Morningsite, towards the top of the Uluguru mountains. The trek took us through banana plantations, tiny hillside villages and past the mountain primary school. The terraced farming on the mountainside was quite incredible, as were the views as we ascended. Hamasi (our trek guide) led us to his house for lunch, walking with some of the school children who were also making the 3 mile journey back up the mountain for their lunch. ‘Pike Pike’ was the shout every so often as a motor bike came past, normally overloaded with local produce! We completed our climb midafternoon and went about setting up camp on the grass terrace overlooking Morogoro. The ‘toilet’ at Morningsite must have one of the best views in the world!  

A relaxed afternoon in the sunshine followed, with lots of card games, eating dinner (rice and chicken) and then an early night. It’s amazing what effect the mountain air has!  

Day 12 

A cold water bucket wash for most started the day, followed by pancakes for breakfast. Trek plans were changed slightly as a little gastric illness had reared its naughtiness. Undeterred however, we set off to another local village along the hillside, for a pottery and weaving lesson. There were some stunning views and really interesting plant life and wildlife to admire. We were in awe of the clay pot making, and we tried our best to recreate something similar. Congratulations to George and Marcus who scored 90% for their elephant – to be fair it was the most ambitious project on show! There was an air of concentration (or was that confusion) for the weaving with some of the team really taking to this activity well! 

We managed to bring away a sample for future reference and juicy oranges to keep for later. We carried our clay creations carefully back around the mountain paths to Morningsite, with an added altitude walk, through a forested area to satisfy the need to be a little more active. Dinner of fish stew was amazing as we had come to expect from Hamisi’s wife’s cooking – so much better than having to fend for ourselves.

Day 13 

Down the mountain we came, in phases. 

The first stop was a beautiful 1913 German built Church, still used every Sunday by the local community.  We found lots of interesting plants along the way – the Vicks plant, black pepper, basil and cardamon. Hamisi was very knowledgeable. 

We headed for the much-anticipated waterfall paddle, but alas, the local Chiefs had met the day before and decided that for conservation reasons, tourists would no longer be able to access the waterfall. We were really disappointed and despite Hamisi’s best efforts, he simply couldn’t change the decision. We sat and ate lunch a little further down the mountain, then carried on back to Peponi Camp. We met so many locals on the way, with school children galore, and locals selling their goods at the side of the track. There was also the body of a huge python that had been caught nearby the previous day, much to our horror!  

A few of the team decided to have a nap on arrival and set up of tents. Others embarked on a game of Kilimanjaro – knocking the peak off the pile of staked rocks! It passed the time nicely 

Morgan very kindly arranged for the pupils to have a river dip at Peponi – this was a lovely end to the day and made up somewhat for the lack of waterfall.  

Dinner followed and we got ourselves organised for our last night of camping and the long journey ahead tomorrow.  

Day 14 

We all had our big bags ready to go by the allotted 7am – well done all! They were taken down to Simon’s bus, which was waiting for us at an appropriate meet point a little further down the hillside. We had breakfast and then set off on our final short walk down to the bus. Simon was waiting in his usual cheery fashion and we said our farewells to the staff who had been with us on the mountain. They had been so kind and caring over the last few days.  

The bus journey back to Dar es Salaam is a long one – but finally we had the technology to play some tunes to pass the time, sing and sleep along to! 

It was an eventful journey – a main road for all traffic between Tanzania and adjoining African countries, leads to an incredible amount of lorry and bus traffic, with the occasional Masai warrior crossing with a herd of goats. The police were out in force for document checks, and we were stopped twice along the way. Simon negotiated these encounters with extreme calm and we were on our way again before too long, having witnessed the scenes of cashew nut and sugar cane selling, amongst other items, through lorry windows and on the road side.  


We were delighted to arrive back at Kipepeo for our final night in the beach huts. A well-deserved final dinner took place at the restaurant, after one final budget check to make sure we still had enough funds for the journey home.  We were all rather full, rather quickly but luckily Marcus and Geoerge were happy to clear up the leftovers! A celebration and reflection of our quite amazing days in Tanzania and Zanzibar followed and awards were given to the pupils based on observations and moments over the fortnight.  

Gabs  – Professional Cards Player  

Ali – Lead Dancer

Roya – Safari Guide extraordinaire  

Kyla – Mountaineer and Village Artist 

Marcus – Solid Travel Companion  

George – Chief Haggler  

Iona – Expert Adventurer  

The pupils learnt a lot about each other; their ability to pull together as a team and appreciate strengths, weaknesses and individual needs. Their understanding of communication, budget and rules for safety certainly developed over the trip, as did the need for humour at certain points!  Mrs Lea and I were amazed at the hard work the group put into the trip, particularly at the School project where we all felt that we made a difference. We were all out of our comfort zones at points throughout but the camaraderie that grew between the group saw us through. Our sincere thanks must go to Morgan, for his calm and respectful approach to the trip, his individual care and consideration for each team member throughout, and for navigating us safely through a part of the world that none of us had visited before.  


"It’s safe to say that none of us had experienced anything quite like this before" Mrs Helene Millard