Traditionally during Week 3 of the first academic term The Banda School’s Year 8s begin their final year with the arduous, exciting and for some, daunting task of conquering, perhaps the most beautiful mountain in Africa, Mt. Kenya. Alongside Savage Wilderness, the outdoor experts who have been providing Banda pupils with this unique and breathtaking experience, this year was just as extraordinary and unforgettable.
Departing on Sunday 17th September 2017 Year 8 set off to conquer the Mountain!
A very merry band, full of excitement and nerves piled their gear and themselves into Savage Wilderness’ coaches. Waving madly at their parents not accompanying them most of our pupils were barely out of The Banda gates before starting to ‘tuck in’ to their sweets (provided by their Mums for those down moments on the grueling ascent)! Settling into the long drive to Nanyuki we began the gentle climb through mountain forests and mountain rain arriving at Judmier camp.
Here we embraced our first challenging day that involved, firstly, re-packing our own bags (because most of the pupils had clearly not done this the day before!) and then a long climb up into the mountain peaks and Liki North Valley. We were treated to some lovely sunny weather, which encouraged a brave few to wash in the natural COLD streams.
This would be a day that involved a shorter walk. Again we were lucky to have some decent weather and fantastic views of the main peaks as we walked towards our base camp, Shiptons Mountain Hut. We spent the afternoon relaxing and restoring our energy for the final ascent. The pupils were sent on an ‘acclimatization walk’ which would both relax and restore their energy before an early retirement to their sleeping bags!
Some ‘gentle’ persuasion, being woken at 2.00 am for the predawn summit attempt, the children were all up and ready to “go- ish!” Climbing steep frozen scree by torchlight and in below 0℃ conditions for more than two hours was daunting by any standards; even more so when the sun rose and we all realized we still had plenty to do. Through the Harris tarn and requiring a gallant final effort by all some scrambling on the final stretch of bare rocky track was required to reach the Pt. Lenana. Reaching the summit and witnessing the magical sunrise over the equator at 6.30 am we were rewarded with exceptional views above the clouds - Kilimanjaro surfacing 340kms to the south. Tired but absolutely ecstatic it was time for the 17km descent back to base camp. Descending on a trodden trail past the famed vertical bog was extremely exhausting and just to remind us that we were on the mountain we encountered very heavy rain and hail.
Our final day involved the four-hour walk on broadening tracks through bamboo and virgin rain forest to meet our vehicles at the park gate. Only from The Banda pupils: some even had the energy to run the last 100m.
Reflecting on our accomplishment since returning to school we are ALL incredibly proud of our feat that tested us both physically and mentally. The Banda extends a huge thank you to our expert guides from Savage Wilderness, the accompanying parents and staff members who were all part of this year’s memorable achievement!.
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